Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My 100 Favorite Directors - UPDATED AGAIN!

43 Reasons Movies Are Vital


      Commercial aggrandizement is the creed of Hollywood. So entrenched is the impetus for profit that vehicles like Movie 43, indicative of a certain creative malignancy, enjoy the buoyancy of a wide release. Well, power resides in the populace. The public recognized the near fraud perpetrated on their senses and allowed Movie 43 to harshly experience the reality of an inferior product. It sunk.
      While I acknowledge that the impulse to decry Hollywood's next befuddling incarnation is dramatic and ultimately not emblematic of some sweeping declaration of cultural degradation, I'll admit still such instances are perplexing. And lampooning blatant offenders is amusing. So few are opportunities emboldening our impulse to be cynical. Well, that can't be true, but I digress.
      Though the worthless dysfunction calling itself Movie 43 will escape my eyes so long as I maintain a will to resist said worthless dysfunction, it does not require the critical longevity of, say Roger Ebert, to discern the creative filth simmering before you. In fact, much of the "guilt-tripped stars" refuse to even promote the movie, which I'm sure explains why in the hell it took four years to make. Corralling top-talent under false or duplicitous pretenses is not a tactic any self-respecting person should condone. But such is the fraudulent road that led to Movie 43. 
      One question still demands an answer, though. How can films that would not have slipped through the cracks under even the most clement of artistic methodologies be given opportunities to flourish? That films of this decrepit ilk proliferate our marketplace and metastasize an institution of merit is troubling. That the march for merchandise is steeped in such avarice is despicable. But show is nothing without the business. While these films engender our disgust, they also ensure the preservation of more ennobling aesthetic fare. These are films that sustain our disparate tastes, trigger our creative pursuits. These are films worth championing. 
      Renewing our faith in cinema's potential for amazement are forty-three directors, so aptly named, who embrace our collective yearnings for entertainment, art, philosophy, spiritual fulfillment, and intellectual stimulation. Here are forty-three directors that I am now adding to my ongoing list of favorites, which for those anathema to arithmetic now equates to an oddly numbered 154.    
      These directors are culled from an extensive history with cinema, a relationship spent rejoicing in the toils of many a great filmmaker. They reflect my passion for what I feel demonstrates its inherent beauty. The ability to visually and narratively astound is what I consider the hallmark of film; to stretch our imaginations to heights seldom seen, to invigorate our senses, to broaden or challenge our world views. The objective behind every production that necessitates an alliance between movie and moviegoer, the very social contract that sustains the enterprise, should never be dealt with narrow consideration. There's no question that the filmmakers I've added to my favorites, a diverse and representative mix, affirm this dynamic. And since I've expended enough words denouncing a film that degrades the appeal, it's only fair that I supply an equal share illustrating my abiding affection. 
      As my immersion into the vastness of film intensifies, as my education persists and I'm exposed to the pivotal works of so many great filmmakers, my understanding of what actually constitutes "great" no longer strains credulity. Distinguishing between a deserving work that demands a keen understanding of the medium and something insubstantial or pretentious is the bedrock of criticism. A sufficient grasp of the language of cinema, of composition, movement, lighting, lenses, color, performance and its rhythms, reveal a commitment to the craft. It arms viewers with insight necessary to discover or rediscover salient moviemaking, replenishing our thirst to be awed. 
      The directors I've listed are all exceptional custodians of the cinematic experience. And as I've discovered more of their work in the last six months, I'm finally able to appreciate what enduring impact their mark on the medium has had. They quite simply harness an awareness of what greatness in cinema means and what our conception of that awareness is despite the soul-crushing creative devastation wrought by movies like Movie 43. 
      Cinema is and will always be an enterprise of discovery, artistic or otherwise. When it strives to be something beyond a venture purely for profit, it reaches altitudes that accommodate limitless creative discovery. Whether the purpose of the filmmaker (or producers, etc.) is to demonstrate, entertain, educate, engage, reflect, or incite, a connection to our consciousness is sparked. And if no connection is triggered, the filmmaker has failed. Because I choose to cherish positive sentiments and because I refuse to strengthen the reactionary calls of acrimony, proclaiming Movie 43 to be the "death of cinema," I've listed forty-three amazing filmmakers whose careers I've examined sufficiently enough (I had to have seen at least four of their films) to confer recommendation. These directors reflect the vitality of cinema and are indisputable evidence that film nourishes our senses visually, intellectually, artistically, spiritually, and emotionally.

      *Here's my initial post of "My 100 Favorite Directors"
     *And here's my updated "These Go To 11 Favorite Directors" (i.e. #'s 101-111)

Abbas Kiarostami
Abbas Kiarostami Picture
Where is the Friend's Home, Close-Up, Life, and Nothing More..., Taste of Cherry, The Wind Will Carry Us, Certified Copy

Alain Resnais
Night and Fog, Hiroshima mon amour, Last Year at Marienbad, Mon oncle d'Amerique

Alan J. Pakula
File:Alan J. Pakula.jpg
Klute, The Parallax View, All The President's Men, Sophie's Choice

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu arrives at the 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at The Beverly Hilton hotel on January 16, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California.
Amores Perros, 21 Grams, Babel, Biutiful

Aleksandr Sokurov
Aleksandr Sokurov Picture
Mother and Son, Russian Ark, The Sun, Faust

Anthony Mann
Anthony Mann
T-Men, Raw Deal, Winchester 73, The Naked Spur, Bend of the River, The Man From Laramie, Man of The West

Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Blissfully Yours, Tropical Malady, Syndromes and a Century, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

Carl Theodor Dreyer
The Passion of Joan of Arc, Vampyr, Ordet, Gertrud

Carol Reed
Carol Reed
Odd Man, The Fallen Idol, The Third Man, Oliver!

David O. Russell
Three Kings, I Heart Huckabees, The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook

Don Siegel
Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Coogan's Bluff, Dirty Harry, The Shootist, Two Mules for Sister Sara, Escape From Alcatraz

Douglas Sirk
Magnificent Obsession, All That Heaven Allows, Written on the Wind, Imitation of Life

George Roy Hill
George Roy Hill
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting, Slap Shot, The World According to Garp

Jacques Audiard
Read My Lips, The Beat That My Heart Skipped, A Prophet, Rust and Bone

Jacques Becker
Paris Frills, Casque d'Or, Touchez Pas au Grisbi, Le trou

Joseph L. Mankiewicz
File:Joseph L. Mankiewicz.jpg
All About Eve, Julius Caesar, Guys and Dolls, Sleuth

Jules Dassin
Brute Force, The Naked City, Thieves' Highway, Night and the City, Rififi, Topkapi

Ken Loach
Ken Loach
Kes, Land and Freedom, My Name Is Joe, The Wind That Shakes the Barley

Ki-duk Kim
Ki-duk Kim
The Isle, Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring, 3-Iron, Pieta

Mike Leigh
File:Mike Leigh (2008).jpg
Nuts in May, Life is Sweet, Naked, Secrets and Lies, Topsy-Turvy, Vera Drake, Happy Go Lucky

Milos Forman
Milos Forman Picture
The Fireman's Ball, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Ragtime, Amadeus, The People vs. Larry Flynt, Man on the Moon

Norman Jewison
Norman Jewison
Cincinatti Kid, In the Heat of the Night, The Thomas Crown Affair, Fiddler on the Roof, Moonstruck, The Hurricane

Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Distant, Climates, Three Monkeys, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

Otto Preminger
Laura, Fallen Angel, Where The Sidewalk Ends, Angel Face, Anatomy of a Murder

Paul Verhoeven
Soldier of Orange, RoboCop, Total Recall, Basic Instinct, Starship Troopers

Peter Bogdanovich
Peter Bogdanovich Picture
The Last Picture Show, Directed By John Ford, What's Up, Doc?, Paper Moon, 

Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Rainer Werner Fassbinder Picture
The Merchant of Four Seasons, The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, The Marriage of Maria Braun, Berlin Alexanderplatz

Raoul Walsh
Raoul Walsh
The Thief of Bagdad, The Roaring Twenties, High Sierra, They Drive By Night, White Heat

Robert Aldrich
Kiss Me Deadly, Vera Cruz, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, The Flight of the Phoenix, The Dirty Dozen, The Longest Yard

Robert J. Flaherty
Robert J. Flaherty
Nanook of the North, Moana, Man of Aran, Louisiana Story

Robert Siodmak
The Phantom Lady, The Spiral Staircase, The Killers, Criss Cross

Samuel Fuller
Pickup on South Street, Forty Guns, Shock Corridor, The Naked Kiss, The Big Red One

Sam Mendes
Sam Mendes Picture
American Beauty, Road to Perdition, Jarhead, Revolutionary Road, Skyfall

Satyajit Ray
Satyajit Ray Picture
Pather Panchali, Aparajito, The Music Room, The World of Apu, Charaluta: The Lonely Wife

Stanley Kramer
Inherit the Wind, Judgment at Nuremberg, It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner 

Takeshi Kitano
Sonatine, Fireworks, Kikujiro, The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi

Terence Davies
Terence Davies Director Terence Davies poses during the 'Deep Blue Sea' portrait session at the 55th BFI London Film Festival at the Vue West End on October 27, 2011 in London, England.
Distant Voices, Still Lives, The Long Day Closes, Of Time and the City, The Deep Blue Sea

Theo Angelopoulos
Theo Angelopoulos won the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 1998 for his film Eternity and a Day.
The Travelling Players, Landscape in the Mist, Ulysses' Gaze, Eternity and a Day

Victor Fleming
Victor Fleming
Treasure Island, Captains Courageous, The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind 

Vincente Minnelli
Meet Me in St. Louis, Lust for Life, An American In Paris, The Bad and the Beautiful, The Band Wagon

Vsevolod Pudovkin
Mother, The End of St. Petersburg, Storm Over Asia, Life Is Beautiful 

Walter Hill
Walter Hill Headshot - P 2012
Hard Times, The Driver, The Warriors, 48 Hrs., Streets of Fire

Wim Wenders
Wim Wenders Picture
Alice in the Cities, Kings of the Road, The American Friend, Paris, Texas, Wings of Desire


  1. Great as these guys are, they are once again all men, I am so disappointed, Matt. You could not add at least one woman to your list. Is Kathryn Bigelow already on there? What about Alison Anders? Jane Campion? Barbra Steisand? Mira Nair? Julie Taymor? Margarethe von Trotta? Come on Matt, give something to the ladies. What are your criteria?

    Sorry to be such a downer, but after our last discussion I was really hoping to find some ladies on here.

    1. Sorry to disappoint you, Melissa.

      In order to even qualify, I had to have seen at least four of their films and the simple fact of the matter is there aren't that many women directors who've made four films that I've either seen or warranted inclusion. Chantal Akerman is among my favorites already, Jane Campion is likely to be added in the foreseeable future (of her films I've only seen The Piano, which is a masterstroke), Lynne Ramsay is also an almost inevitable future addition (We Need To Talk About Kevin is brilliant), Claire Denis, Mira Nair and some of those you've listed are also potential additions ONCE I'VE ACTUALLY DEVOTED TIME TO WATCHING THEIR FILMS.

      Learning about film has been an autonomous pursuit. The literature I've perused has generally-almost exclusively- focused on male directors. For instance, I've used as guidelines, "Scorsese's 85 Films You Need To See To Know Anything About Film," the World's Best Films, They Shoot The Pictures, Don't They, Sight and Sound, Empire, The Guardian, Ebert's Great Movies, and myriad other documents and rarely if ever are the works of female directors included. Is that my fault? No. Should I rectify that? Yes.

      It's not as if I'm purposely avoiding their careers. To suggest as much is offensive. It is unsettling, though, that I look at my Favorites and fail to see more than one woman director in the fold. I will make a concerted effort to further explore the careers of the directors I've named above, as well as seeking out others. The next time I update My favorites, I'm sure you'll be pleased to see that a number of women have made the cut because I fully expect it.

      Thanks for the wake-up call, Melissa! I truly need to expand my education more broadly to encompass the fairer sex and I can't wait to see what greatness lies ahead.

      P.S. Barbara Streisand, really? I suppose you were justified to scold me, but to highlight her directorial career as if it was a paragon of achievement or even remotely on the level of those I've named is perplexing. What four films has she made that eclipse the careers of those I've included? The same goes for Allison Anders because she is quite simply a director of TV series', and I'm only concerned about cinema. Also, I really enjoyed Frida, so once I witness more of Julie Taymor's films, I'll be able to offer a concrete determination as to her merits. Same goes for von Trotta.

      Once again, thanks!

    2. Sorry I offended and came out swinging. I threw out Babs because she did receive a mom from the Academy for her directing. Yentl and Prince of Tides are great dramas. Alison Anders has done most of her film work in the 90's thus far, but she still qualifies as her films are powerful.

      It is still one step at a time and the unfairly male dominance of directing will fall eventually. I hope I'm here to see it. I'm happy to hear that you will be including some ladies next time. And again, sorry! :)

    3. All is well in blogging and war, right? Haha ;)

      Admittedly, I found your recommendation of Babs a bit confounding. While she explores some robust dramatic ground with Princes of Tides, and is fairly effective, Yenti screams "I'm a novice director," which I suppose is to be expected. It was her first film. I always look at her as an extraordinary performer. Someone with terrific presence and no doubt a vocal talent. But her work behind the camera left me quite underwhelmed. Matter of tastes is all, so no big deal.

      I hope so, too, Melissa. It seems I have so much to look forward to.


  2. Good to see you Matty! Some fine new additions here. And to address the 800 lb. gorilla - there is a lack of the distaff side of cinematic genius. I know you're going to look into it. Ida Lupino. So there you go!

    1. Great to see you too, Craig! Thanks for stopping by :)

      Haha, it is an 800 lb. gorillia. And you are correct. I will be rectifying this injustice pronto. Lupino is on the list, though I always look at her as more of a stalwart on TV than film. Still she is enormously talented.

  3. Some fine additions, although hopefully Hill did not end his career with Streets of Fire.
    While there may not be any women on this list, in your defense Matt, there aren't a lot of women directors, at least not very many that have directed multiple films. Bigelow and Foster are the only two that come to my mind at the moment. (Sondra Locke directed four, but they were not quality.)

    1. Hi, Alex!

      Haha, Walter Hill is an interesting case. His work in the late 70s is spectacular. I'm a huge fan of The Driver and The Warriors. But I look at his filmography and not much since that formative period really jumps out. At least he is still making films, so I can't be too myopic.

      Thanks for the defense. It is downright shameful that very few women directors populate lists of the greatest. Bigelow is one film shy of making the grade. Of her work, Point Break, The Hurt Locker, and Zero Dark Thirty position her as a formidable talent. I was terribly unimpressed by K-19, but last time I saw it was in high school and there's no doubt my sensibilities have matured considerably since then. Maybe that suggests I need to revisit it. Regardless, after her next film I'm sure she'll be a fixture on my list of favorites.

  4. Replies
    1. Big and A League of Their Own are worth mentioning because they're obvious classics. Let me not forget they ignited the career of one Tom Hanks. But outside of those two films, I'm not much impressed by her work. Renaissance Man was enjoyable when I was 10, but I look at it now with sheepish disgust.

      Thanks again!