A semi-autobiographical tale from a master filmmaker could easily ooze self-indulgence, but Steven Spielberg’s latest Academy Award Best Picture nominee, The Fabelmans, is never intemperate. In fact, it’s purposefully sparing as the camera zooms in on Spielberg stand-in Sammy Fabelman’s coming-of-age journey, an enchanted childhood complicated by his mother and father’s marital strife.
We see Mitzi (Michelle Williams) and Burt (Paul Dano) through his eyes, sometimes literally, as they share with him their divergent perspectives: Burt is warm but pragmatic, while Mitzi—a dreamer—is luminous but elusive. As Sammy, young actor Gabriel LaBelle is an uncanny match for Spielberg, full of gentle charisma and ambitions so earnest they’re almost painful to witness. As Sammy’s family moves from one state to another, and he contends with overzealous girlfriends and school bullies, his most trusted companion is his own camera, through which he can shape the world as he understands it best.
The resulting film is a Best Director nominee’s beautiful homage to cinema, but more than that it’s a genuinely moving story of resilience, empathy, and storytelling as healing. To understand the hype best, you’ll want to watch The Fabelmans in theaters. But if the couch is impossible to resist, you have a few options for how to watch The Fabelmans online. They include:
It’s possible that, thanks to Universal Pictures’ deal with Peacock, the film will also be streaming on the platform in the future.
Lauren Puckett-Pope is a staff culture writer at ELLE, where she primarily covers film, television and books. She was previously an associate editor at ELLE.