Hailed filmmaker Steven Spielberg has one of the most beloved bodies of work in film history, but it took him some time to witness his hard work become cast in shiny medal at a major awards ceremony. However, the deep resonation of Schindler's List amongst audiences and critics helped him win his first Oscars in 1994.
A professional filmmaker since the late '60s, Spielberg had been in the business for a while and had been putting out hit films from The Blues Brothers to E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial to Back to the Future, but he had yet to receive an Oscar for his work despite five nominations and an honorary Oscar as a producer.
Spielberg not only won his first Oscar in 1994 for the Holocaust-based Schindler's List but won his first two Oscars that night, adding Best Picture to his Best Director Award. Although he was joyful to have won the award, he was reminded in the pressroom of his initial hesitation in making the film after buying the rights to the story.
"I was very intimidated by the subject matter when I first read the book... I was just intimidated by the responsibility," he reflects in the flashback. "I just wasn't ready. Sometimes you're just not ready for these things...I woke up one morning and I said to Kate (wife), 'I've got to make 'Schindler's List,' and she said, 'Where did that come from?' and I said, 'I don't know, but I just have to make it.'"
While the influence of Spielberg waiting to take on the final product of Schindler's List will never be known, it never seemed a more brilliant decision for him as he stood there with fistfuls of polished trophies. After waiting years for that very moment, Spielberg reflected on the win.
"I could have dealt with never winning an Academy Award because I had practiced dealing with it for the last twelve years," he says. "So, this was a wonderful honor tonight. If I hadn't have gotten it, I probably would have been shattered...It's just great to win. It's just wonderful to win. I think all of us feel that way."
Spielberg went on to win another directing award five years later for Saving Private Ryan, but he has yet to take home another statuette since then.