Filmmakers routinely dive into their little bags of tricks to find that certain something that’ll turn the audience into putty and evoke the perfect response out of them when needed. Wes Anderson uses the itemization of precious affects to create an immediate sense of character, the Coen Brothers pan or trapeze away from action to drum up inevitable doom, and Michael Bay mixes scantily clad women and explosions to acheive his trademarked "action boner." As Kevin Lee of Fandor argues, no director in history has used a single “trick” as successfully as Steven Spielberg has with the “Spielberg Face.”
Lee’s video essay demonstrates what exactly the Spielberg Face is and how the director’s use of it makes him a “master of audience manipulation”:
After watching that video, we have a little Spielberg Face going on ourselves. Not like Laura Dern's "Holy shit, is that a Brontosaurus? How pretty! Nothing can go wrong here" face, but more like Harrison Ford's “Ohhhh great, the Ark of the Covenant is covered with snakes, I bet someone's head will melt before this is over” face.
Spielberg’s next two movies, War Horse and The Adventures of Tintin, come out right around Christmas. We're eager to find out if the Spielberg Face works on horses and computer-animated Belgian journalists.