Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Year of the Docs

With 10 nominees this year, most experts, amateur bloggers (such as myself), and critics have started to look at a variety of movies they would have never considered before. Sci-fi, foreign, and animated films are now being talked about in terms of Best Picture like they never have before. Another group that strikes me as interesting are documentaries. This year has seen some good and popular documentaries. The question is: can one of them take one of the 10 slots? While I'm not currently predicting any to get in, I think this is a question worth keeping in mind. Here are a look at some possible Best Picture nominess from the documentary category.

Capitalism: A Love Story - Even my liberal self thinks Michael Moore is crazy. However, like most people I also think he is a talented filmmaker. While I think this movie is not even comparable to say Bowling for Columbine or Fahrenheit 9/11, I feel that his massive controversial nature and good reviews make this movie one to watch.

Good Hair - While there has been some backlash against this Chris Rock doc, the overall reception has been warm. While the Academy usually goes after the darker subjects, many may find it hard to resist the good nature, and interesting storytelling of this movie. I think it will still get a Documentary nod, but if its fan base is big, anything can happen.

Michael Jackson's This Is It - While it may have missed the mark for the Documentary category, this movie is getting rave reviews, and definitely still has a shot at making the top ten. Also, in the wake of Jackson's death, he is extremely popular, and many may feel that it is appropriate to give him one final honor. I'd keep an eye out for this one.

Anvil! The Story of Anvil/ The Cove - This earlier release got raving reviews, and while time has passed, I think both of them were pretty popular and have a great shot at at least a Doc nomination. If their fan base is passionate, there may be a push to get these into the bigger category, however, I think the three previously mentioned ones are just a little bit newer, and a little bit more exposed, which is a key in Oscar voting.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

State of the Race: Best Actor

While there are still some question marks on this year's docket, this race is starting to see some frontrunners emerging. The newest addition is Colin Firth in A Single Man. Apparently both he and Julianne Moore are now considered not only locks for a nomination but potential winners as well. George Clooney is looking at another nomination with the high-flying Up in the Air now being considered the frontrunner for the win (Along with Precious). While the new Invictus trailer leaves much to the imagination, and the accent of Morgan Freeman seems to waiver, I still think he is in the top five simply for this reason: he's Morgan Freeman. The last two spots have been switched around and moved so much its hard to tell who stands where anymore. Right now I am sticking with my gut by saying that the Best Actor Race will include at least one newcomer (The Actress race is chocked full of them) in the likes of Jeremy Renner from The Hurt Locker. If the movie sustains its buzz, he could see his name called come Oscar morning. In the last spot I was going to put Daniel-Day Lewis, but it is my guess he will, like Gere in Chicago, be left in the dust by the female-centric cast which could see a plethora of nominations depending on the reception for the film. So in my last spot I am going with Robert DeNiro in Everybody's Fine, the trailer doesn't give us much, but word is DeNiro is fantastic (as is the rest of the cast), and if the movie is a big holiday hit, it could give him the boost he needs to get back into the Oscar ring. Other contenders include: Hal Holbrook "That Evening Sun", Micheal Sheen "The Damned United", Johnny Depp "Public Enemies", Matt Damon "The Informant", Viggo Mortensen "The Road", Michael Stuhlbarg " A Serious Man", Hugh Dancy "Adam", Sean Penn "The Tree of Life", and Ben Whishaw "Bright Star".

Colin Firth "A Single Man" (Winner)

George Clooney "Up in the Air"

Morgan Freeman "Invictus"

Jeremy Renner "The Hurt Locker"

Robert DeNiro "Everybody's Fine"

Monday, October 26, 2009


1) Vera Farmiga has officially been bumped to supporting actress. Good news for her, could we see both her and Kendrick get in? Or is it one and done? We'll have to see, but I think this move really boosts her chances.

2) Ricky Gervais is hosting the Golden Globes! It's many many moons (long before I even knew what the Globes were) since they've had a host, and what a better choice than Ricky Gervais. He's quirky, hilarious, and hip, something all awards shows need to try to master a little bit better. I can now say that I can't wait till the Golden Globes!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

State of the Race: Best Actress

Now that Hilary Swank has been officially eliminated, this means that there is an opening in the spots. I think 2 newcomers are starting to solidify themselves as locks. Of course I am speaking of Carey Mulligan for "An Education" and Gabourey Sidibe "Precious". Critics are hailing them as breaths of fresh air, and serious contenders for the top prize. While I still think Meryl Streep could go either way, most are still considering this a lead performance, either way (Lead or Supporting) her role in Julie & Julia is in. Abbie Cornish is still a distinct possibility, but her odds are less likely, because although it got great reviews, the buzz seems to had calmed down a lot, which hurts an unknown's chances. The last spot is a toss up. I am going with previous nominee, and the girl Steven Spieldberg predicted would win the Oscar, Saoirse Ronan, for The Lovely Bones. The verdict is still out on whether she'll be pushed as lead or supporting, but if the movie gets the reception I am expecting, she could be a sure-fired contender. Some other contenders include Annette Benning "Mother and Child", Marion Cotillard "Nine", Michelle Monaghan "Trucker", Tilda Swinton "Julia", Helen Mirren "The Last Station", Penelope Cruz "Broken Embraces", and Robin Wright Penn "The Private Lives of Pippa Lee".

Carey Mulligan "An Education" (Winner)
Gabourey Sidibe "Precious"
Meryl Streep "Julie & Julia"
Abbie Cornish "Bright Star"
Saoirse Ronan "The Lovely Bones"

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

State of the Race: Best Supporting Actor

Initially I thought this was going to be a a boring category, but a lot of interesting contenders are emerging. Unlike last year where the late, brilliant Heath Ledger was a shoo-in, this year seems to be pretty interesting, precursors will determine who comes out a frontrunner. Right now, we know a few are already contenders. Christoph Waltz was brilliant as a Nazi in Inglourious Basterds, and since day one has been a contender. I feel that he is the performance from the first half that stays with us the entire season. We also know from screenings that Robert Duvall in The Road, and Richard Kind in A Serious Man. Duvall has the legend status, and supporting roles tend to be havens for character actors and comedic performances a la Kind. Alfred Molina is getting rave reviews for An Education, but it remains to be seen whether Mulligan will outshine him so much that people forget; that goes for Peter Sarsgaard as well. Stanley Tucci has two big performances, and if The Lovely Bones proves to be as good as it looks, he is a shoo-in for a nomination, and there are a lot of people in Hollywood who have been waiting to give this guy the recognition he deserves. Right now, I am going with a guy, who although he is an Oscar winner, has never won an acting Oscar, and has two baity roles with a lot of potential. Of course I'm speaking of Matt Damon. If Invictus is loved by the Academy as previous Clint fare, I think he becomes the frontrunner. Other major contenders include Christopher Plummer for "The Last Station" (A huge possibility), Christian McKay "Me and Orson Welles", Paul Schneider "Bright Star", and Anthony Mackie "The Hurt Locker".

Nominees as of now:
Matt Damon "Invictus" (Winner)
Robert Duvall "The Road"
Alfred Molina "An Education"
Christoph Waltz "Inglourious Basterds"
Stanley Tucci "The Lovely Bones"

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Review: Paranormal Activity

There is something truly frightening about the things you can't see. This is where Paranormal Activity rises above the mundane, and places itself as one of the best underground hits of all time. Last night, I joined the hype with two of my friends and went to a late night showing of this little gem. To be honest, I had no idea what I was about to get myself into.

With 4 actors, $11,000, and little to no special effects, first time director Oren Peli shows us a mastery of the camera (A home video camera) that many directors never truly capture. You never see this demon (well, maybe once, technically), but somehow, the slience, the loud bass that thuds when it enters a room, the slamming of a door, the strange noises, and the creepy viloceraptor footprints amount to more shrieks and squeals than 90% of the horror movies out there today.

Part of this fear also stems from the fact that it feels so real, even much more so than its mockudocumentary predessor The Blair Witch Project captured. This feels like a real couple (It might actually be in real life), their lives are real, their house is real, and their fear/our fear is real as well. Peli also seems to have a nack for calming his audiences with scenes that are really funny, then scaring the shit of them, something most horror movies fail to even attempt.

I'll be honest, I'm not a huge horror movie fan, and maybe some who see them all the time will find this slow and boring. But for me, it was tense, shocking, and real. This viral hit shows us that small independent films are not dead, they are simply reinventing themselves.

Grade: A-

State of the Race: Best Supporting Actress

A couple of weeks ago, this was a one woman show: Mo'Nique's. I still think she is the frontrunner, and I definitely think she is a lock for a nomination. But now, a slew of women are starting to put the heat on her, making this a really interesting category to watch. Julianne Moore is getting raves for her role in A Single Man with Colin Firth, and after missing out so many times, this could be the year they choose to bypass the newcomer and reward an Oscar veteran. Early word about Nine says that its going to be a good one, and two names in the supporting category are popping up: Penelope Cruz and Judi Dench. They have both won Oscars and are really respected in the industry, look for their names. Another duel possibility comes from the team of Rachel Weisz and Susan Sarandon in The Lovely Bones. Again, two Oscar winners playing in one of the biggest contenders of the year. This must be the year of two, becasue the Up in the Air duo are also in contention, but now word is that Vera Farmiga is going lead, which paves the way for newcomer Anna Kendrick. Some earlier contenders such as Marion Cotillard from Public Enemies, and Melanie Laurent for Inglourious Basterds are definitely in contention. Other contenders include: Rosamund Pike and Emma Thompson "An Education", Nicole Kidman and Kate Hudson "Nine", Sigourney Weaver "Avatar", Drew Barrymore "Everybody's Fine", and Mariah Carey "Precious". Of course the biggest question mark is Meryl Streep. If she goes supporting, there will be a three way blood bath for the crowm

Current Predictions:

Mo'Nique "Precious" (Winner)

Susan Sarandon "The Lovely Bones"

Penelope Cruz "Nine"

Judi Dench "Nine"

Julianne Moore "A Single Man"

Friday, October 16, 2009

State of the Race: Animated Feature

Yesterday, it was announced that one of the 16 potential animated films was deemed ineligible. This is significant because in this incredible year of animation, now we will most likely have only 3 nominees instead of 5 (maybe something out of nowhere will save the day!) So in terms of three nominations here are my current predictions:
The Princess and the Frog
The Fantastic Mr. Fox

Maybes: Ponyo, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Coraline, Astro Boy, and Mary and Max.

Up I feel is a lock, at least for a nomination, and I think it is the best chance for an animated film to get nominated for Best Picture. The next two slots are tricky. I'll probably regret not including Ponyo considering the Academy's love of Hayao Miyazaki, but for now, I feel it may be swallowed up by bigger contenders. Coraline was an incredible movie, but it's early release date (Up has Pixar behind it, early release date means nothing) may really hurt its chances. Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs was a surprise critical favorite and box office hit, and it may be rewarded with a spot. However, I feel that the quirky Fantastic Mr. Fox (which has good early word), which has names like George Clooney and Meryl Streep behind it, could see itself in the finals. The final spot, in my opinion may go to The Princess and the Frog. Disney's return to classic animation combined with an old-fashioned story with a new twist, and chocked full of upbeat Randy Newman songs, might just be the perfect combination.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Those Who Didn't Make the Cut

I would like to start off saying...I personally apologize for the exlusion of Ingmar Bergman.

Now that that's out of the way, here is a short list of other potential directors that didn't make the cut....Maybe soon I will revise my list, tweak it, etc. But for now I wanted to recognize these directors for being finalists.

Ingmar Bergman
John Cassavetes
Joel and Ethan Coen
Roger Corman
Cameron Crowe
George Cukor
Michael Curtiz
Cecil B. De Mille
Jonathan Demme
Walt Disney
Howard Hawks
Ron Howard
Peter Jackson
Stanley Kramer
David Lean
Spike Lee
Jerry Lewis
Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Michael Mann
Lewis Milestone
Mike Nichols
Alexander Payne
Tyler Perry
Sydney Pollack
Ridley Scott
Peter Weir
Sam Wood

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Top 30 Directors of All Time: Part 7

1. Alfred Hitchcock - Was there really ever any question of who was going to be number 1? With most horror movies being considered absolute failures nowadays (This year Drag Me to Hell and Paranormal Activity were the exceptions), it makes us want to go back and be in the glory days of film, especially with the horror movies of Alfred Hitchcock. Hitchcock has many nicknames to his greatness such as, "British Master of Manipulative Terrors and Thrillers", "Master of Suspense", and "The Most Imitated Director of All Time". But for me, I'll go with the Tina Turner song, "[Simply] the Best". His classics include the greatest thriller/horror movie of all time, Psycho. No one, with the exception of Hitchcock, could have created such a widely popular, and psychotic character as Norman Bates, and none have ever since. Combined with that brilliant masterpiece, you have the greatest collection of films. These include: The Lodger, Blackmail, Murder!, Rich and Strange, The Man Who Knew Too Much, The Thirty-Nine Steps, Sabotage, Secret Agent, Young and Innocent, The Lady Vanishes, Jamaica Inn, Foreign Correspondent, Rebecca, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Suspicion, Saboteur, Shadow of a Doubt, Lifeboat, Spellbound, Notorious, The Paradine Case, Rope, Under Capricorn, Stage Fright, Strangers on a Train, I Confess, Dial M for Murder, Rear Window, The Trouble With Harry, To Catch a Thief, The Man Who Knew Too Much, The Wrong Man, Vertigo, North by Northwest, The Birds, Marnie, Torn Curtain, Topaz, Frenzy, and Family Plot. To put it simply, No one has done more for cinema and popular culture than Alfred Hitcock, and to think, he never won an Oscar....

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Top 30 Directors of All Time: Part 6

4. Martin Scorsese - I know most people would not have put him this high of the list, so this is a personal favorite for me. I love Marty's movies. They are brutal, engaging, hard to watch, and go down like ice cream at the same time. He combines his signature style, which is engaging, and adapts it to the times. His gangster classics like GoodFellas, Casino, The Departed, The Color of Money, and Mean Streets show his Coppola-esque quality. Combine that with a horror (Cape Fear), religion (The Last Temptation of Christ), sports (Raging Bull), compelling dramas (Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore), and history (The Aviator, Gangs of New York), and you have a signature American collection.

3. Francis Ford Coppola - Speaking of the Coppola-esque quality, this is the man that transformed the gangster movie into the greatest film series in our history. In my opinion, no movie tops The Godfather, it is the center of movie perfection, and is the pinnacle of movie greatness. Not only that, it gives us the greatest performance of our time by the late, great Marlon Brando. Ok, so maybe I am going a little over the top here, but it is a great movie. Part II showcases the rare occurence where the sequel is actually incredible, and even Part III was better than most of the trash coming out. Throw in classics like Apocalypse Now, The Conversation, The Outsiders, The Rainmaker, Rumble Fish, and Dracula, and you see why he is "the Godfather" of movies.

2. Frank Capra - Probably the most popular American director, Frank Capra's movies were American classics that showcased great performances, incredible movie moments, and always left us feeling better about ourselves. Some of his collection was funny and romantic. Hits like Arsenic and Old Lace, Lady for a Day, It Happened One Night, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, and You Can't Take It With You, were some of the first blockbuster comedies in America. Then, in my opinion, you have to include probably his two greatest films, starring the great Jimmy Stewart, being Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and the Christmas classic, It's a Wonderful Life. These to me, are some of the best movies you can possibly see. They are inspiring, heroic, and epic in the sense of pure joy. Capra was a legend.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Top 30 Directors of All Time: Part 5

7. Orson Welles - He is known for his uncompromising nature, his veracity, and his pure talent as an actor, writer, and director, and there is no one else quite like Orson Welles. His smaller, lesser known movies such as The Lady from Shanghai, The Magnificent Ambersons, The Trial, Macbeth, Othello, are all eceletic and show his pure talent and uncompromising nature. However, nothing in this list even compares to Citizen Kane, the American Film Institution's Number 1 movie (my personal # 2). It has been overtly studied, consistently watched, and constantly praised. It is considered the peak of movie greatness, and has cemented Welles' name in history.

6. Billy Wilder - With 21 Oscar nominations, and 6 wins (2 directing), no list is complete without his name on it. In my opinion, all the great comedic directors (Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, Judd Apatow) all owe their careers to this brilliant man. His films like Some Like It Hot, The Fortune Cookie, The Apartment, Sabrina, Stalag 17, and Ball of Fire were absolutely hilarious. Don't think that he didn't have a dark side too. His classics like Sunset Boulevard, Double Indemnity, The Lost Weekend, and Witness for the Prosecution were simply brilliant, and showcased the fact that this man was a chameleon with a gift for film.

5. Steven Spielberg - Some people just never grow up. Thank God for us that Steven Spielberg was one of those people. In modern film, no name has quite the prestigous or honored recognition as Steven Spielberg. He is the Michael Jordan of movies. He proves that horror, sci-fi, and a story about an alien that teaches us all a little something about life can not only be huge blockbusters, but also timeless films. Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the Indian Jones movies, E.T., Jaws, and the Jurassic Park movies, all prove that he is still a kid at heart. But no one has also done for for historical dramas than Steven as well. Munich, Saving Private Ryan, Amistad, Schindler's List, and Catch Me if You Can, all proved that he is capable of compelling, factual, and incredible drama.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Top 30 Directors of All Time: Part 4

10. Woody Allen - No one is quite as weird, or talented as Woody Allen, while his off-screen personal life has made our eyebrows raise, his genius behind the camera is enough to forget all about that other stuff. I know what your saying...he is more of a writer than a director. That may be true, but since he does double duty most of the time, you can't mention one without the other. Allen has always had a way to make us laugh, and his quirky character dissections are the stuff of legends. With films like Manhattan, Annie Hall, Mighty Aphrodite, Bullets Over Broadway, Vicky Christina Barcelona, Sweet and Lowdown, Deconstructing Harry, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Hannah and Her Sisters, and Match Point, and hopefull many more to come, Allen has given us a unique and undeniably-Woody collection.

9. Stanley Kubrick - If you think Woody Allen's weird, you have never seen a Stanley Kubrick film. He is first and foremost known for his science fiction dissections (A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Dr. Strangelove) that went so much further than the average sci-fi romp, and made us truly question our own lives. They wer controversial, political, and brilliant. Many also forget his looks at history and war such as Full Metal Jacket, Barry Lyndon, Spartacus, and Paths of Glory, his mysteries like The Killing, and his horror classic The Shining. I don't think this man ever made a bad movie.

8. William Wyler - While this name may not be recognizable to many modern movie lovers, the films and stories he created may ring a bell. The epic, Ben-Hur, the horror of The Collector, the romantic Roman Holiday, The Heiress, and The Best Years of Our Lives, the western Friendly Persuasion, the mysterious Detective Story, the dramatic Mrs. Miniver, and of course The Little Foxes, The Letter, Dodsworth, and Wuthering Heights. His films are timeless, romantic, epic and eclectic. The man was nominated for 14 Oscars, winning 3, and is one of our finest directors. Period.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Top 30 Directors of All Time: Part 4

15. Mel Brooks - In terms of comedy, no one even slightly compares to the talent and raunchy-ness that is Mel Brooks. While his only Oscar win came as writer, he has never even been nominated as a director, a travesty that has caused a scar on the Academy. From his take on Westerns (Blazing Saddles), to his spoof on a classic (Young Frankenstein, Spaceballs), to his dissection of Broadway (The Producers), and finally to his "historical" takes (HIstory of the World Part I, Robin Hood Men in Tights), only a person made of stone can sit through his collection without peeing in your pants from laughter.

14. Charlie Chaplin - While many remember Chaplin as the greatest silent film actor of all time, many forget that he is also one of the greatest silent movie directors as well. In modern society there is never enough love and respect for the silent movie, and that is a true travesty. Chaplin transformed our modern culture. He was a pioneer, and his films (The Great Dictator, City Lights, etc.) were the beginning of popular cinema as we know it today. Thanks Charlie!

13. Robert Altman - The father of ensemble-driven movies, no one could pull together a large cast, and many diverging stories together quite like the great Robert Altman, although that hasn't stopped people from trying. His films have become a signature American art form, and he is on that list of directors who never one an Oscar (seriously if the Academy looked at their history, they would hide in shame). Nashville, Short Cuts, Godsford Park, The Player, and M*A*S*H, are all treasures, and only prove why Robert Altman will be missed so much.

12. D.W. Griffith - To most people, this name means absolutely nothing in modern pop culture. However, to those of us who are movie dorks, this is the man that started it all. With his first film in 1908, he was the pioneer of film. Then in 1915 his most famous and controversial work The Birth of a Nation, was released to much success. While its blatant racism makes my liberal skin crawl, I have looked past it, considered the time period, and realized that it was the first full-length blockbuster in film history, and that's gotta count for something.

11. John Ford - The man who toppled Orson Welles. In 1941, not only did Ford beat Welles for director, his movie, How Green Was My Valley, also beat out what is considered the greatest movie of all time (not by me, but whatever), to win Best Picture. That year aside, Ford created a lasting collection of movies ranging from westerns (Stagecoach, The Searchers), to powerful dramas (The Informer, The Quiet Man), and a variety of movies that contain his signature. Plus the man won 4 Best Directing Oscars, that's got to count for something.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Top 30 Directors of All Time: Part 3

20. David Lynch - He, Robert Altman, and Alfred Hitcock top by list of directors who never won an Oscar, and were completely robbed. Lynch is one of those underrated directors, whose cult classics have become a distinct part of our culture, and have left us thinking long after we left the movie theater. Some of these classics include Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive, and The Elephant Man. His 1986 crime masterpiece, Blue Velvet is still to me, one of the pinnacles of movie greatness.

19. Sidney Lumet - When I mentioned directors who had never won an Oscar, I forgot to mention this film genius. His movies are truly American, representing the judicial process (12 Angry Men, The Verdict), crime (Dog Day Afternoon), and made us all scream , "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" (Network). Some of his other classics such as Before the Devil Knows Your Dead, Murder on the Orient Express, The Pawnbroker, Prince of the City, and even The Wiz, all added to a signature collection only Sidney Lumet could have created.

18. John Huston - Not many can be one of the best actors and the best directors of all time like John Huston. Despite this, I always felt his directing was his greatest strength. From his first film, which is not considered one of the greatest movies of all the, The Maltese Falcon, to the great Western, The Treasure of Sierra Madre, to a plethora of signature American movies including Prizzi's Honor, Moulin Rouge, Moby Dick, The Asphalt Jungle, The Red Badge of Courage, The Man Who Would Be King, and Reflections in a Golden Eye, that all showcase the ability and depth of Houston.

17. Mike Nichols - With one line, "Mrs. Robinson, I think you're trying to seduce me...", Mike Nichols was forever cemented in cinematic history. Not only did he create one of the greatest movies of all time in The Graduate, but he created a collection of movies that truly showcased his talent as a director. Films such as Working Girl, Silkwood, Who's Afraid of Virgina Woolf?, The Remains of the Day, Closer, and Charlie Wilson's War, all showcase why Nichols is an American legend, pure and simple.

16. George Lucas - While many would argue that he only had one or two really great films, and merely produced, wrote, or at least oversaw the other movies that have his signature on it, I would ask them to take a gander at the impact of those few movies. American Graffitti was an underated teen drama that showcased the right of passage from a teenager to an adult. But then there was that one moment in time, a moment that had such an impact on film that we will be feeling its effects long after Lucas is gone. Two words: Star Wars.

Top 30 Directors of All Time: Part 2

25. Robert Wise – This is name a lot of people might not recognize of the top of their head, but Robert Wise is one of the most gifted, and chameleon directors. His films stretch across so many genres its hard to count. He created sci-fi classics such as The Day the Earth Stood Still (the original), Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and The Andromeda Strain. Along with that come some interesting and underrated dramas such as Executive Suite and Born to Kill. To mainstream audiences though, he might be remembered as one of the fathers of movie musicals with his two Best Picture winning classics West Side Story and The Sound of Music. Either way, he is one to remember.

24. Clint Eastwood – For most of his life, he was known as the bad guy of movies, with his stints in such classics as Dirty Harry. While he has been directing movies since the 70’s it wasn’t until his 1992 Western classic Unforgiven, that Clint suddenly became a directing legend. Since then he has directed another Best Picture Winner, Million Dollar Baby, and two other nominees, Letters from Iwo Jima and Mystic River. His compelling, and very dark dramas have become a staple in modern cinema, and his upcoming Nelson Mandela pic with Morgan Freeman should be another classic to add to his collection.

23. Quentin Tarantino – One of my personal favorites, Tarantino is one of the most eclectic, outrageous, and brilliant directors in Hollywood today. His films are overdramatic, cheesy, violent, unnecessary gory, and, more importantly, purely Tarantino, and we love him for it. His hits such as Pulp Fiction, Reservoir dogs, and the Kill Bill movies have become cult classics, as well as box office draws, a combination so rarely seen today in modern cinema. Some of his other classics including Jackie Brown, From Dusk Till Dawn, Grindhouse, and the new Inglorious Basterds has only enhanced one of the most unique collections in Hollywood.

22. Elia Kazan – The man won two Oscars throughout his career, and I think I can safely say that they weren’t enough. While his name is not one that is thrown around a lot in modern conversations, his movies are. On the Waterfront, East of Eden, Gentlemen’s Agreement, A Streetcar Named Desire, America, America, Baby Doll, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and The Last Tycoon. Any of these ring a bell? From the looks of it Kazan had one of the most successful and acclaimed careers in the history of cinema.

21. Victor Fleming – In classic American cinema there are certain films that just stand above the rest. Such films as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Gone with the Wind, and The Wizard of Oz, are so synonymous with greatness that people tend to forget that one man was behind these classics. Starting from before the invention of sound in movies, Victor Fleming is considered a pioneer in the development of the modern motion picture. Not only did he create two of AFI’s top ten films of all time, but an enduring and passionate collection.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Top 30 Directors of All Time: Part 1

In the lull between end of summer/Emmy season, and the beginning of the fall/Oscar season, I decided to take on a similar project to the one I did early in the summer. This time I am naming my 30 favorite directors of all time. I hope you enjoy the list!

30. James Cameron – While it had been almost twelve years since he has made a major motion picture, we can all agree that we still have “My Heart Will Go On” ringing in our years. Not only did he create the highest grossing movie of all time, but he gave us an epic in Titanic, that has not been matched since. To the rest of the world this is his greatest accomplishment, but to those of us who love sci-fi movies, Cameron is genius and a legend. His creations including: Aliens, The Abyss, The Terminator, and Terminator 2: Judgment Day rank among the best in the industry. With Avatar coming up, we will soon see where his sci-fi streak can stay firmly intact.

29. Roman Polanski – While shunned from the United States, because of sex offender charges (and recently arrested), Roman Polanski has still managed to create some of the most interesting and infamous movies of our time. Way back in 1968 he brought us one of the most disturbing, and classic horror movies of our time in the form of Rosemary’s Baby. Since that time, he has become one of the most recognized directors in American cinema. His creations including the romantic Tess, the incomparable Chinatown, the underrated The Ninth Gate, and the film that gave him his Oscar, The Pianist. Through these works, we have seen a variety of portrayals that all have his signature style attached to them.

28. Wes Craven – While his inclusion on the list might make some laugh, everyone can agree that no one has done more for the horror industry, with the exception of Hitchcock of course, than Wes Craven. His movies have spawned sequels and remakes, including The Last House on The Left and The Hills Have Eyes. On top of that, his more recent efforts such as Scream, have not only given the genre a boost, but they have even made fun of themselves in an ironic, and stylish way. Other entries such as the underrated Red Eye, and the surprising Meryl Streep music-inspired Music of the Heart, have only added the mystery and range of Craven’s abilities. Love or hate him, you’ve gotta respect him.

27. Tim Burton – The fact that Tim Burton has never been nominated for an Oscar for directing is a shame only matched by the fact that Robert Altman never won one. Burton is so strange, and quirky that many people are turned off by his movies. But if you accept the mind-bending effects, and the psychedelic worlds of his mind, you can grow to appreciate his style, and talent, and realize that there is no one else like him. From his Batman movies, which are in their own right great movies, to his strange character dissections such as Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Beetlejuice, Big Fish, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, add a musical (Sweeney Todd), and you have collection so unique, even Burton himself would probably be surprised. Plus his upcoming Alice in Wonderland film looks incredibly cool.

26. Oliver Stone – While some can’t stand Stone for his ultra-liberal views on life, everyone can admit that there is something endearing about his vision and his movies. From his Presidential musings (JFK, Nixon, and W.), to his heartfelt military endeavors such has the Best Picture winning Platoon, and the Tom Cruise led Born on the Fourth of July, Stone has given us an endearing body of work, with his signature liberal style written all over it. I also personally like some of his more underrated films such as Any Given Sunday, Talk Radio, and World Trade Center.