10 Behind-the-Scenes Facts You Might Not Know About ‘The Fabelmans’

Steven Spielberg's semi-autobiographical Best Picture nominee is littered with Easter eggs from his personal life and his other films.
10 Trivia Facts You Might Not Know About Best Picture Nominee Steven Spielberg's "The Fabelmans"
Scenes from "The Fabelmans" and Steven Spielberg at the 2023 Writers Guild Awards
Courtesy Getty Images/Everett Collection

However the Academy Awards shake out on Sunday night, it’s safe to say that “The Fabelmans” will be a major factor. Steven Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical film was one of the most acclaimed movies of 2022, and the fact that it was made by one of Hollywood’s most beloved (and under-awarded, if we’re being honest) filmmakers only adds to its awards potential.

Told through the eyes of obvious Spielberg stand-in Sammy Fabelman (Gabriel LaBelle), the film tells the story of the formative experiences in Spielberg’s youth that led him to become a filmmaker. It explores the knack for photography and storytelling that Spielberg demonstrated at an early age, as well as the traumatizing effect that his parents’ divorce had on his artistic worldview. 

Given the subject matter and Spielberg’s famously sentimental approach to filmmaking, many expected the movie to be a Love Letter to The Movies on par with “Belfast” and “Empire of Light.” But the film largely steers clear of that kind of mushiness, focusing instead on the way artistic pursuits can alienate us from our loved ones. It also explores why people keep making art despite that knowledge. 

After a buzzy premiere at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival and a lengthy Oscar campaign, the film picked up seven Academy Award nominations. Spielberg is nominated for Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Original Screenplay, sharing the latter two nods with co-writer and executive producer Tony Kushner. Michelle Williams is nominated for Best Actress for her performance as Spielberg’s mother, while Judd Hirsh scored a Supporting Actor nod for his performance as the eccentric Uncle Boris. On the crafts side, John Williams is nominated for Best Original Score, and Rick Carter and Karen O’Hara are nominated for Best Achievement in Production Design. 

Like any great movie, there’s a lot more to “The Fabelmans” than initially meets the eye. As you finalize your Oscar ballots, it’s a great time to do a deep dive into the things you might have missed. Keep reading for ten interesting facts about the making of the 2023 Best Picture contender.

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