Saturday, September 24, 2005

My 101 Favorite Directors, 91-101

Well, here it is. My definitive list of favorite directors, ranked from the lowly (but still admirable) #101 all the way to #1. Well, okay, #1 is still a week or two off. I'm going to give these to you 10 at a time, to give you adequate time to fully digest the complex logic of my choices, and fully appreciate my reasoning.

And, you know, I still have to finish writing all the stuff. 101 separate commentaries about directors can prove pretty time consuming to actually write up. In fact, if I had known how much work it would be, I probably wouldn't have bothered and just drafted some other column blasting the President.

But I did bother, damn it! And then, Blogger deleted the entire list. So I bothered again! What can I say? I have a lot of free time and my roommates hog the DVR. Anyway, here are #101-#91. And remember, these are my favorite directors, not the greatest of all time, so if you see that I've ignored some greatly-admired, historically important filmmaker, please try to refrain from telling me that I've forgotten about them. I haven't. I remember that Fellini exists...I just don't dig his movies as much as Terry Zwigoff's. Sue me.

101. Paul Schrader

Schrader's movies are awesome, just not in the way he intends. The mad genius responsible for the searing scripts to Taxi Driver and Rolling Thunder directs deadly serious films about the moral decay of mankind that just happen to be fall-down funny. His diatribe on the tragic consequences of sexual addiction, Auto Focus, plays like some kind of sleazy-bag buddy comedy. True, there are some non-ironic great films on Schrader's filmography, but really I prefer the really bad ones. No one fails with more fiery passion and entertainment value.

MY FAVORITES: Hardcore, Auto Focus

100. Kim Ki-Duk

For the last five years, South Korea's Ki-Duk Kim has churned out brilliant, sumptuous and visionary movies at a fantastic rate. They weave a haunted, tragic spell with little to no dialogue, relying on dynamic, expressive performances and startlingly bright, colorful cinematography to convey complex, confused and even contradictory emotions.

MY FAVORITES: Spring Summer Winter Fall and Spring, The Isle, 3-Iron

99. Dario Argento

No one alive makes better, more stylish slasher films than Dario Argento. Granted, he kind of made the same slasher film over and over again for 35 years...But, hey, why mess with a perfectly good formula? Some of Dario's later work suffers from all the repetition, but it does have the benefit of starring his nubile daughter Asia, who gives pretty good blood-curdling scream and is extremely willing to go topless if the scene demands.

MY FAVORITES: Tenebrae, Deep Red, Suspiria

98. Steven Soderbergh

Soderbergh's brainy. Not just smart, but the kind of smart that's always making interesting observations and connections. Also, unfortunately, he's the kind of smart that feels the need to sometimes remind you that he's smart. Some of his films are nothing more than sophomoric wankery, tedious tracts consisting mainly of navel-gazing and self-congratulation. But, like I said, the guy is smart, and he knows a shitload about film, and if you give a smart, knowledgable guy a camera and a crew, sometimes he'll turn in a great movie.

MY FAVORITES: Out of Sight, Schizopolis, Sex Lies and Videotape

97. Neil Jordan

Neil Jordan movies just look so damn cool. The Irish maverick is a genius with atmosphere. I liked his movies way before I even knew he had directed them, just because of their gloss, wit and impeccable style. He makes crime films and horror films that are only nominally concerned with genre; they're more about tone than propulsive narrative or genuine scares.

MY FAVORITES: Mona Lisa, The Crying Game, The Good Thief

96. Alan J. Pakula

I love 70's paranoia thrillers and Pakula made some of the best ones. Three Days of the Condor gets a lot of undue attention, in my opinion, whereas something like the Warren Beatty conspiracy flick Parallax View really represents the best of the genre and have been all but forgotten by modern audiences.

MY FAVORITES: Parallax View, All the President's Men, Presumed Innocent

95. Guillermo del Toro

Guillermo's my favorite superhero movie director because his films are the only ones to capture the manic energy and adolescent wit evident in the comics. Surprisingly, his low-key Spanish-language horror films are even better, trading in the gleeful spazziness of his candy-colored graphic novel adaptations for unsettling stillness, shadowy atmosphere and slowly-encroaching dread. He seems destined to be one of thebest genre directors of his generation.

MY FAVORITES: The Devil's Backbone, Hellboy, Cronos, Blade 2

94. Gus Van Sant

People are always ready to declare Van Sant over, and he keeps finding new ways to reinvent his work to keep it fresh and challenging. Very few directors are as bold or brave as Van Sant, and though sometimes his tendency towards experimentation produces obscure, confusing or distracted films (like his ill-advised shot-for-shot remake of Hitchcock's Psycho), often it produces films of soft, dark and tranquil beauty.

MY FAVORITES: Drugstore Cowboy, Elephant, My Own Private Idaho

93. Richard Donner

Donner's no artiste. He started by working on pop culture-savvy, post-modern TV shows (like "Get Smart") and wound up making crowd-pleasing, big-budget Hollywood fare. But it's crowd-pleasing big-budget fare that's actually pleasing, and that actually has a scale and scope to match the inflated price tag. His movies were among my favorites as a young person, and many of them hold up for me now, 20-some years after their initial release.

MY FAVORITES: Superman, The Goonies, Lethal Weapon

92. John Lasseter

Really, the award should go to Team PIXAR, but that would be kind of unfair to everyone else. I'll give it to Lasseter because he did the two Toy Story movies. Toy Story 1 birthed the entire genre, and I feel that Toy Story 2 is probably the best CG-animated film ever made. Anyway, Lasseter has overseen the film division at PIXAR over one of the most inspired blossomings of innovation and creative artistry in animation history. These guys produce absolutely stellar, beautiful, funny entertainment for the entire family every single time out of the gate. It's amazing.

MY FAVORITES: Toy Story 2, Toy Story

91. Mike Hodges

Hodges has had something of a career resurrection here in the United States after he catapulted Clive Owen to international stardom in Croupier. This is cool, because he's been among Britain's best crime film directors for 30 years now, starting with the wonderfully nasty thriller Get Carter in 1971. Hodges films are complex, subtle and terrifically mean-spirited in a way that's very British and really refreshing. In particular, I'd recommend a BBC TV miniseries he made in 1994 called Dandelion Dead, based on a true story from turn of the century Wales about a lawyer who slowly poisons his wife over the course of 2 years.

MY FAVORITES: Get Carter, Croupier, Dandelion Dead

3 comments:

Lons' Mom said...

I don't know how you do it. I don't think I even seen 101 movies total...but I do recall watching Toy Story with you.
Looking forward to the rest of the list.

gohlke said...

Well, I'm pretty disappointed so far and all I can say is Schumacher better fit in somewhere between 1 and 90.

Anonymous said...

It's HIS list, not yours. Make your own top 101, fool.