Monday, May 21, 2007

My favorite directors

It's hard to be lieve I've been doing this for more than a year now and have never compiled a list like this.

Before I get started, some provisos. There are many more than 10 great directors in the world, so many great ones will be left off this list (even Martin Scorsese!) And, just to narrow it down, I've decided to confine this to living directors (meaning Robert Altman, who would be on the top, won't be making an apperance today.)

With that in mind, and in no particular order, here are 10 directors whose movies I will always shell out $10 to see:

Wes Anderson
I've drawn dirty looks from more than a few people when I said I didn't like "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou," but after watching it again I have to stand by that. Even so, Anderson's first three flicks are just my kind of comedy, especially "Rushmore," which I must have seen three times during its theatrical run. It seems like years since Anderson's even made a movie, but his Darjeeling Limited, starring Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman and Owen Wilson, is apparently nearing completion, finally.

The Coen brothers
My fellow cubicle slaves and I went out for a screening of "Raising Arizona" last week and it was just as funny as I remembered. I can only think of one Coen brothers' movie I didn't care for, "The Man Who Wasn't There" with Billy Bob. I even liked their remake of "The Ladykillers," which has one of the best gospel movie soundtracks ever compiled.

Spike Lee
Two of the smaller movie in Spike's body of work really show why I love him so much. The first, the documentary "4 Little Girls," is a surprisingly low-key but very effective movie about the bombing of Birmingham's 16th Street Baptist Church. And the second, "Get on the Bus," still probably my favorite Spike movie, bottled up all the emotions of the Million Man March in one very entertaining flick. As a side note, though I am not a black man, I was living in D.C. and was vastly underemployed at the time, so I actually went to the Million Man March.

Brad Bird
When pressed to name a favorite movie, I've been known to give 10 different answers, but one of them is always "The Iron Giant." Animated movies just don't get any more charming, and the tots at "Shrek the Third" laughed a lot louder during the trailer for "Ratatouille" than at anything in the main feature. I can't wait to see it.

John Sayles
John Sayles is the second thing, after Rob Reiner's "This Is Spinal Tap," that made me a devoted movie geek. When I first saw Joe Morton as that "Brother from Another Planet" I was instantly hooked. Sayles has made a few lemons over the years, but many more great movies. My two favorites would have to be "Passion Fish" and "Lone Star."

Mira Nair
I was hoping that the presence of Kumar would make Mira Nair's "The Namesake" play wide enough to reach my little corner of the world," but apparently not. I'm still hoping the Macon Film Guild will pick it up in August or so, because it's gotten nothing but rave reviews. If you haven't seen Mira's "Mississippi Masala," with Denzel and the simply radiant Sarita Choudhury, drop whatever you're doing and rent it now.

Hayao Miyazaki
About a year ago I somehow got it into my head that Miyazaki was dead, but luckily that's just one of the many things I've been wrong about. He's at work now on something called "Ponyo on a Cliff," which as far as I can tell is about a goldfish princess, or something crazy like that. Whatever it turns out to be, I'll definitely be there to see it.

Phillip Noyce
Noyce could make this list on the strength of his remake of "The Quiet American" alone. I really wouldn't consider it a remake at all, because it's a thoroughly original vision of Graham Greene's novel. Noyce's "Catch a Fire" was also one of the most criminally underappreciated movies of 2006.

Fernando Meirelles
I probably should have started this list with Meirelles, since he was the one who inspired it with the news that he's going to make a movie of "Love's Labors Lost" by Brazilian writer Jorge Furtado. Loosely based on the Shakespeare play, it follows the travails of a group of international students, and should just be tons of fun. Meirelles probably won't ever make a movie better than "City of God," but I'm hoping he somehow does.

Guillermo del Toro and Alfonso Cuaron
Since they're such good friends I'm sure they wouldn't mind sharing the last entry on this list (so I can, technically at least, keep it to 10.) Besides, they also shared my title of best movie of 2006 with "Pan's Labyrinth" and "Children of Men." I know del Toro is making another "Hellboy" movie (huzzah!), but I have no idea exactly what Mr. Cuaron is up to. According to the IMDB, it's a semi-autobiographical movie about his family's life in Mexico City in 1971. Sounds great to me.

So there you have it. Like I said at the outset, many, many great directors have been left off this list, so please feel free to add your favorites, and have an entirely bearable Monday. Peace out.


Tyg said...

Couple of names in there I don't recognise will have to have a look. Good to see Guillermo and Alfonso sneak in. Guillermo is also apparently at work on a Greystoke/Tarzan movie...

I'll throw a couple more names to the mix..
Darren Aronofsky - maybe doesn't have the back catalogue of some of the mentioned directors but a heavy hitter none the less, particularily Requiem for a dream.

Chris Nolan - again not a huge back catalogue but he's consistantly good and has Batman,Insomnia and Memento under his belt (and I gather the prestige is pretty good to but I haven't seen it).

jeremy said...

David Lynch, Gregg Araki, Todd Haynes, David O. Russell, Guy Maddin (whose new film sounds amazing), Wes Anderson, The Coens, Alexander Payne, Wong Kar-wai, Pedro Almodovar.

R.I.P. Veronica. (I've been crying all weekend.) I, too, will be boycotting CW--just as I am still boycotting Fox for dumping Firefly.

Reel Fanatic said...

Those are all definitely worthy suggestions, most of which almost made my short list ... Boycotting the CW should be easy, Jeremy, since it's now just a TV toilet

sanchapanzo said...

'the namesake' i thought is a pretty ordinary flick. trust you will feel the same after watching that flick.

would advise you to see mira nair's "monsoon wedding" - i thought it's a damn good movie.

all the best..

Reel Fanatic said...

I have seen Monsoon Wedding, Sanchapanzo, and I agree with you that it's just a wonderful little flick

Marina said...

Great list but I'd a few others to mine including David Lynch, Darren Aronofsky and Neil Jordan.

Reel Fanatic said...

I'm embarrassed to say, Marina, that in the starting list of 25 names or so, I didn't even include Neil Jordan .. That's what you get for writing someting at 6 a.m., I guess, but a definite omission on my part

Ashok said...

I would add Paul Thomas Anderson, Sam Mendes, David Fincher, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Christopher Nolan and can keep going on and on. But yeah these directors definitely will create some interest when their movie releases.

Reel Fanatic said...

I considered putting Inarritu in there with the other Mexicans (who I will NEVER call the three amigos), ashok, but to me he's just a cut below the other two ... I trust, though, that his movies will keep getting better and better, as they have so far in my book

Linda said...

Hard to pick a favorite director, your list is excellent. One of my favorites is Sofia Coppola. She's not afraid to be an artist, and understands her commercial appeal. I think her work has an interesting voice.

Damian said...

That's a good list, RF. It prompted me to think about who my favorite living directors were and although I tried to come up with a full 10, I could only think of seven filmmakers whose films I'd go see in the theatre regardless of what they were or how good/bad they looked. Here they are (in no particualr order):

1) Steven Spielberg: Come on now, admit it. Given my little "project" coming this August, you knew he was going be one of them.

2) Coen brothers: Definitely a great choice, RF.

3) Steven Soderbergh: probably the "newest" director to make the list, but truly an enormously talented (and bravely experimental) artist. Plus, he gave one of the best Oscar acceptance speeches I've ever heard.

4) Martin Scorsese: So glad he finally won his Oscar. Go, Marty!

5) Clint Eastwood: His films are so subtle, so beautiful and so thoughtful. My dad once said that he has "mastered the art of the mundane." I think that's a very astute observation. In my opinion Clint is the best actor-turned-director making movies today.

6) Woody Allen: Just when I start thinking that Woody Allen is "over-the-hill" or "past his prime," he'll do something like Matchpoint and remind me why he is a brilliant filmmaker and a national treasure.

7) Brian DePalma: regardless of how bad his story/screenplay might be (Black Dahlia, Mission to Mars, etc) DePalma is such a visual stylist that I always enjoy "looking at his movies."

8) Tim Burton - While not perhaps a "great" artist, I still love his movies, and I don't think you can deny he's one of the most distinctly unique filmmakers alive.

Honorable mentions: Terry Gilliam, Ridley Scott, Michael Mann, Bryan Singer, David Fincher, Brad Bird, Robert Zemeckis, Wes Anderson, Chris Nolan, Paul Thomas Anderson, Franics Ford Coppola, Guillermo Del Toro, Kenneth Branagh, Oliver Stone, Sam Raimi, Paul Verhoeven, Albert Brooks, William Friedkin

Damian said...

Oops. I said seven but I meant eight. My bad! :(

Reel Fanatic said...

Match Point is easily one of my favorite movies of the last couple of years, Damian, so I'll definitely take Woody Allen as a welcome addition ... There are few movies I love more than Manhattan .. And I'll take Sofia Coppola too, Linda, even though I simply couldn't stand Marie Antoinette ... Even though I saw it as a failure, it had a lot of her style, which is so much more than you can say about most directors working today

Damian said...

Manhattan is one of my all-time favorite films too, RF (I knew there was a reason I liked you).

Chalupa said...

Some of my favorites would also include P.T. Anderson, Kevin Smith and Clint Eastwood. Wes Anderson and the Coen Brothers are right up at the top for me with The Big Lebowski being one of my favorite movies of all time.

Reel Fanatic said...

Kevin Smith came close to making the cut, Chalupa ... I'd probably put him in a top 10 list of writers, but he couldn't quite make the director cut

Chalupa said...

That makes sense. Whenever I think of Kevin Smith though, him being a director, writer and actor all kinda mesh into one.

Mercurie said...

My favourite director of all time is Akira Kurosawa, followed by Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock, David Lynch, David Fincher, and Guillermo del Toro.

Elton said...

You forgot Quentin Tarantino! And I'm a fan of Christopher Nolan, myself. David Fincher is good, too.

Reel Fanatic said...

Quentin can indeed be seen as an omission on my part, Elton, but I didn't forget him .. He's definitely in my top 20, but didn't quite make the top 10

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