Monday, December 12, 2011

Top 50 Directors: Part I (#50-41)

Unlike actors, directors need to do much less to impress me. For an actor, their part in a movie could be as little as showing up at scheduled times and repeating lines that they've memorized off of a piece of paper. But for directors (especially great directors) the entire film, from the lighting and imagery to capturing the exact desired emotion put forth by their actors -- every detail must be scrutinized.

Because of this, I'm casting aside my usual "must have seen five of their movies" rule, and replacing it with three:

1. To show their talent/potential.
2. To show their range.
3. To show their consistency.

I had hoped that I could include more unconventional directors on this list (e.g. Alejandro Jodorowsky and Sergei Parajanov), but I found myself only admiring 1 or maybe 2 of their films, so many directors like this have been discarded -- though I do plan on releasing an honorable mentions list at some point in the future which would theoretically contain more goofball directors like that.

And now, the list:

50. David Lean

Perhaps best known for directing one of the most acclaimed motion pictures of all-time - Lawrence Of Arabia - David Lean had a lustrous career spanning four decades, and is often considered one of the greatest "epic" directors who ever lived. Though I don't place him in as high regard as most would, I still recognize him as a great and influential director.

Favorite movies:
- The Bridge On The River Kwai
- Lawrence Of Arabia
- Brief Encounter

49. Tim Burton

Considering Ed Wood is my all-time favorite movie, it would be insanely difficult for me to leave Tim Burton off of this list. And though his style has become redundant and lost much of its campy appeal over the years, his once-unique style and panache earns him a spot on my list.

Favorite movies:
- Ed Wood
- Beetlejuice
- Edward Scissorhands

48. Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Another incredibly stylistic entry on my list, Jean-Pierre Jeunet has an unmistakable look and feel that he brings into all of his movies. His ability to romanticize a setting is second-to-none, never allowing his fantasies to be anything less than fantastic.

Favorite movies:
- Delicatessen
- The City Of Lost Children
- Amelie

47. Jim Sheridan

Probably best-known for his collaborations with actor Daniel Day-Lewis, Jim Sheridan has directed some of the most powerful dramas of the past 25 years, and has successfully managed to continue producing solid material over the years. Not an "exciting" director, per se, but a very talented one.

Favorite movies:
- In The Name Of The Father
- My Left Foot
- The Boxer

46. F.W. Murnau

One of the most acclaimed silent film directors of all-time, F.W. Murnau's mastery of lighting alone could earn him a spot on the list. Having directed two of the most famous silent movies ever made (Nosferatu and Sunrise: A Song Of Two Humans), there can be little dispute that Murnau is one of the most important filmmakers of all-time.

Favorite movies:
- Nosferatu
- Sunrise: A Song Of Two Humans
- The Last Laugh

45. Terry Gilliam

Terry Gilliam's surreal animation back in the Monty Python days was successfully applied to his live-action pictures, resulting in some of the most visually terrific movies of his time. As you may have gathered at this point, I have a deep admiration for directors who have a style all of their own.

Favorite movies:
- Brazil
- 12 Monkeys
- The Fisher King

44. Christopher Guest

It would be hard for me to make a favorite directors list without including one of my favorite comedic directors, Christopher Guest. Often utilizing the mockumentary format and featuring hilarious ensemble casts, Guest's comedies are some of the most distinct and entertaining movies around.

Favorite movies:
- Best In Show
- A Mighty Wind
- Waiting For Guffman

43. Quentin Tarantino

I know a lot of people would protest his placing on this list, but despite the fact that Tarantino's movies feature some of the strongest scripts I've ever seen, I find myself disliking too many of his movies to place him any higher. Nevertheless, with such greats as Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs under his belt, it's hard to deny this man's talent.

Favorite movies:
- Pulp Fiction
- Reservoir Dogs
- Inglourious Basterds

42. Mike Leigh

With the impressive ability of not being able to make a bad movie, Mike Leigh is definitely one of the most dependable directors working today. His movies generally feature strong casts and wonderful scripts, so you can know what to count on going in, and seldom will you be disappointed with the result.

Favorite movies:
- Secrets & Lies
- Naked
- Topsy-Turvy

41. Sam Mendes

With one of the most impressive directorial debuts of all-time (behind probably only Citizen Kane) with American Beauty, Mendes was immediately catapulted into success, and has managed to continue to produce strong dramatic material ever since. Will no doubt be viewed as one of the strongest directors of modern times.

Favorite movies:
- American Beauty
- Road To Perdition
- Revolutionary Road


Matt S. said...

As much as I watch movies, I don't think I have seen any where NEAR enough to make this kind of list haha.

Good placing of Murnau, and i'm glad someone appreciates Road to Perdition as much as I do. Very underrated film.

Nice work Jeffrey, can't wait to read this rest! Haha

The Chad Reviews said...

I'm ashamed to have only a select few of the films on this list. Nevertheless, great work, even though I strongly disagree with your placement of Tarantino. But you can't really help not liking a movie.

Rodders said...

great work, even if I do disagree with Tarantino not being much higher

Sara C said...

yayy awesome start Geoff!! :) Happpy to see Mendes there and also like the fact Tarantino is lower down than most would put him. I of course haven't seen hardly any of these guys work cos I'm a lame-en!

Daniel Mumby said...

Good start Geoff, but I would completely disagree that Burton's style is redundant. With the exception of a few flops (Mars Attacks!, Planet of the Apes, Alice in Wonderland) he's remained consistently enchanting for me, in spite of studio involvement or other people immitations.

The person who deserves the label of 'redundant' most is Tarantino, who hasn't made a good film since Jackie Brown. Ever since Kill Bill he's been crawling up his own backside and seemingly has no intentions of coming out any time soon.

Tom_Film_Master said...

Great list here Jeff! good to see your posting again too. Can;t wait to see the next parts!

Nick L. said...

Nice beginning to a potentially great list. Although I expected Tarantino to be in a much higher rank, I still find your choices to be quite good.

Myerla said...

Love Brazil, to get that film produced there was a war between Gilliam and the studio. Recently I saw American Beauty for the first time, superb take on midlife crisis. Funny and satirical. Be interesting to see the rest of your list. Tim Burton is hit and miss for me, Edward Scissorhands good, Alice in Wonderful utter rubbish, just a collection of nice visuals and dresses and a dull story of Alice walking around.