Steven Spielberg: David James
August 08, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

An EW film critic on the best-all-around director

Which director has achieved the greatest success both commercially and critically in the past 25 years? — Michael Eckerman

That’s a trick question, right? Steven Spielberg is so easy an answer that you’re probably looking for something fancier, like Chris Columbus for his box office clout, or Abbas Kiarostami for his piercing Iranian vision. Still, when you add accrued commercial success to accrued quality of work produced, I think Spielberg is the terrestrial to beat.

How can the French make a movie about the relationship between a harried businessman and someone with Down syndrome and make it look good, instead of the embarrassing cringefest that Americans would? — Andre Bayhansen

You must be talking about a film unreleased in the U.S., because it certainly wasn’t ”The Eighth Day,” a 1996 French-Belgian cringefest starring Daniel Auteuil as a harried businessman and Pascal Duquenne as his pal with Down syndrome. Visit the Cannes film festival, Andre! You’ll see that cringeability knows no geographic borders, only differing national styles.

Send questions to askthecritic@ew.com, or post them below.

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