By Jeff Labrecque
Updated September 21, 2011 at 05:04 PM EDT
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Steven Spielberg will receive the 2012 David O. Selznick Achievement Award in Motion Pictures from the Producers Guild of America next January. And while the Guild is falling all over itself to congratulate the filmmaker, calling him “one of the most prolific filmmakers of all time,” whose “continued genius, imagination and fearlessness in the world of feature film entertainment is unmatched in this industry,” you have to wonder why it’s taken the PGA so long.

Spielberg made Jaws nearly four decades ago. E.T. was 30 years ago. Back to the Future, which he produced, was a quarter-century ago. Then there’s The Color Purple, Roger Rabbit, Schindler’s List, Men in Black, Saving Private Ryan, Jurassic Park, Band of Brothers… and that only brings us up to 10 years ago. During this span, the PGA overlooked Spielberg to reward Roger Corman, Jerry Bruckheimer, and Clint Eastwood. Titans all who deserve recognition, but if Spielberg didn’t have a Selznick Award, is the honor worth anything at all? In the last two years, the PGA honored Scott Rudin and Pixar’s John Lasseter, so I don’t buy the argument that the award is reserved for filmmakers at the tail-end of their careers. Why didn’t Spielberg get his Selznick Award 20 years ago?

Spielberg is the top-grossing director of all time, and his greatest films have populated the dreams of multiple generations of movie fans and aspiring filmmakers. (See: Super 8. ) The PGA has recognized him before — they named Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan the best movie of their respective years — but this honor now seems weighed down by its embarrassing belatedness.

Is there any reasonable explanation for Spielberg not having this honor sooner? I’m all ears.

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