Saturday, October 01, 2005

My Top 101 Favorite Directors, 61-70

I do a lot of last-minute shifting around on these lists, and sometimes I come to regret it later. I'm not sure which judgement is better - my initial thought on where a director belongs or my last-minute reconsideration. Am I more honest when I make a snap decision on where to put someone, or when I second-guess myself right before actually publishing the post to the blog?

Anyway, a few of these guys were higher on initial consideration, and have moved way down. I'd say it's still an honor to be in the 60's, but that's just me...

70. David Gordon Green

He's only made three films total, but they are all breathtaking, fanciful works that deserve more attention. Though he's often compared to Terrence Malick, another Southern Gothic director whose movies encapsulate the mysterious, languid atmosphere of their settings, but only Malick's Badlands is, to my mind, on a par with Green's first three films in terms of intelligence or sophistication.

MY FAVORITES: George Washington, All the Real Girls, Undertow

69. Ridley Scott

I hate that thing Rid does now all the time with his action scenes, where he shoots them in slo-mo and removes frames to make everything look like a vaguely Russell Crowe-shaped blur...But there's no doubt he's one of action-adventure filmmaking's most, well, adventurous auteurs. He makes oversized, grandiose and visionary productions that are, well, sometimes unfortunately kind of shallow and dumb. But, hey, the guy made Alien. Who am I to talk shit?

MY FAVORITES: Alien, Blade Runner, The Duellists

68. Clint Eastwood

Clint's movies (particularly his early movies) kick such unholy amounts of ass. He learned by working on so many great speghetti westerns and action films over the years, I suppose. He's a really subtle, simple, direct kind of filmmaker, which makes his Westerns stand out in particular, and his straightforward, unshowy style really brings out the best from his actors.

MY FAVORITES: High Plains Drifter, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Unforgiven

67. Michaelangelo Antonioni

His movies aren't for everybody. They're long, they aren't much for actual narrative, they're full of odd symbolism. His characters are lost and adrift within expansive and imposing settings. And yet Antonioni movies have a seductive kind of stillness to them - you find yourself paying more attention to the movie the less there is going on.

MY FAVORITES: Blowup, Red Desert, L'Avventura

66. John Boorman

Okay, so Beyond Rangoon isn't really all that. Back in the 70's and early 80's, John Boorman helped define arguably the greatest decade of American film. His movies were outrageous, brutal and hallucinatory, and some of the imagery in his films has become nothing short of iconic. Though he's generally associated with violent crime films and thrillers, he's also responsible for, thus far, the definitive King Arthur film, Excalibur.

MY FAVORITES: Point Blank, Deliverance, The General

65. Elia Kazan

Kazan made some of the greatest human dramas of all time (and has the distinction of being my grandmother's favorite all-time director). One look at his filmography lets you know this guy's importance to film history, and particularly to the concept of Method film acting. He directed two of our greatest actors, James Dean and Marlon Brando, in their most iconic roles, and the nuanced social commentaries underlying each of his films were light years ahead of their time.

MY FAVORITES: East of Eden, On the Waterfront, Streetcar Named Desire, A Face in the Crowd

64. Todd Solondz

Solondz makes extremely awkward comedies. Or, to put it another way, he makes horrific tragedies that just happen to be hilariously funny. Solondz manages to find universal, relatable themes within stories about desperate, pathetic or perverse people. His comedies aren't caustic satires (like Alexander Payne's) or harsh moralizing tracts (like Neil LaBute's), but rather compassionate portraits of weak, horribly flawed individuals. And that's why he made the list and those two guys came close, but didn't quite get there.

MY FAVORITES: Happiness, Welcome to the Dollhouse, Palindromes

63. John McTiernan

3 sensational movies in a row. That's the only reason McT finds himself on the list. Seriously, you guys thought I came down hard on Rob Reiner for his shitty present-day output? McTiernan today makes that guy look like goddamn Sergei Eisenstein. (By the way, Sergei Eisenstein? Not on the list!) Words can't even describe how deeply it hurts me that the guy who made Rollerball is on my list of all-time Favorite Directors. But what can I do? Those 3 titles all completely rock; they're among the most distinctive and effective of modern action and suspense films.

MY FAVORITES: Die Hard, Predator, The Hunt for Red October

62. Jules Dassin

Dassin started his career in America, where he made some of the definitive film noirs, beautifully warped stories about the seedy underbelly of proper society, the hidden world of criminality. After being declared a dirty filthy pinko commie red in the early 50's, Dassin moved to France where he...kept right on making smart, graceful noir-y crime movies. One of the great geniuses of the noir genre, and one of the key architects of the modern caper movie.

MY FAVORITES: Theives' Highway, Night and the City, Rififi

61. James Whale

My favorite of the classic Universal horror directors, Whale's films aren't so much scary as witty, audacious and strange. These films were made around 70 years ago, and they are still eye-popping marvels of ingenuity, particularly the 1933 classic The Invisible Man. It's clearly one of the greatest effects films ever made. Whale is one of the more underrated directors on the entire list, a guy I never see on lists of the greatest directors who has clearly earned his place in the pantheon.

MY FAVORITES: The Invisible Man, Bride of Frankenstein, The Man in the Iron Mask

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