Steven Spielberg always has and always will be, one of my all-time favorite directors. Not just because he directed my all-time favorite movie — Jaws — but he’s a masterclass, creating his own genre at this point. The Fabelmans only continues the tradition of Spielberg telling the story he wants to tell — this time his own — the way he wants to. The Fabelmans is a magnificent love letter to filmmaking, told as only Spielberg could.
There will undoubtedly be some who feel like The Fablemans is just another bit of Oscar-bait — not that there’s anything wrong with that — but Spielberg showcases a family constantly on the brink of disaster, with the oldest child doing everything he can to steer the ship and keep it from sinking. All while trying to find where he himself fits into life, the universe, and everything.
Following young Sammy Fabelman (Gabriel LaBelle) from childhood (Mateo Zoryon Francis-DeFord) to late teens, we learn how life is for a young Jewish boy after the fallout of World War II. Being pulled along from New Jersey to Arizona, all Sammy wants to do is make movies, but doing so comes with discovering a secret that could very well tear his family apart.
The multiplex may be packed right now, The Fabelmans is emotionally fulfilling and flies by. The cast work incredibly well together — a shoe in for any ensemble nomination — with Michelle Williams giving her all in every scene. Thankfully, Spielberg has found a huge talent in LaBelle, who carries the film on his shoulders and never falters. Featuring stellar score work and cinematography from Spielberg’s standard partners in crime — John Williams and Janusz Kaminski — you’ll be seeing all three nominated come Oscar time.
The Fabelmans is far from just another fairy tale — and never tries to be some sort of cautionary tale — that would just make the whole thing feel incredibly phony. After finally letting loose with his dream project last year — West Side Story — Spielberg sets his sights on autobiographical, and gives us one of his most fluid films in years. Incredibly paced, magnificently acted, and meticulously directed, The Fabelmans is not just another home run for Spielberg, he hits it out of the park for all of us during the holiday season.