The American Film Institute famously updates a list of the 100 greatest films of all-time every 10 years or so, but can you trust anything determined by a committee? Wouldn’t you rather just know the films a true cinematic master reveres? What if, say, Steven Spielberg handed you a list of movies, and said, “Go now. Watch these films. Study them. Watch them with the sound off. Listen with your eyes closed. And you will be a filmmaker, my son.”
Just such a list created some buzz on the Internet recently. An interesting collection of 206 masterpieces and underrated gems, from Adam’s Rib to The Young Lions, was advertised online as Spielberg’s Curriculum. The collection skewed old-school, with not one work from the last 20 years, but included many classic films from directors Spielberg has long admired publicly, like Frank Capra and David Lean. It seemed like a list Spielberg would recommend. But then Tintin co-writer Edgar Wright cast doubt on the list’s authenticity on Twitter. And today, a spokesperson for Spielberg finally burst the bubble in this statement to EW: “In all the many years I have worked with Steven, I have never seen or heard of such a list.”
I have mixed feelings. On one hand, I’m disappointed that this isn’t the list because it’s simply a cool idea. Wouldn’t it be great if all the great directors — Coppola, Scorsese, Fincher, Allen, etc. — put their lists out there? But I’m also glad, in a way, that this list isn’t Spielberg’s personal creation. It’s not the quality of films I question, but the quantity. 206 movies? Too many. I look forward to the master’s list of 50 or 100 must-see films. In fact, consider that a standing offer.
Did you find yourself believing the list was official? Or did the inclusion of The Godfather Part III make you suspicious?