Saturday, January 16, 2010
More directors I'm excited to see more of this decade
Little do you know it, but Todd Field... who is a fairly well-known character actor... has made two of the most captivating, compelling dramas in the last decade (In the Bedroom and Little Children). Both films have their own flavor to them with In the Bedroom being my favorite of the two. It's not just that these films have some of the most unforgettable scenes, but the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. They are the type of films that you will think about for quite some time.
What's more impressive is that Todd Field has only made two films in his career. The fact that his directorial debut is In the Bedroom is very impressive. Like some of the directors in my last post, he takes quite a bit between projects and that's probably not going to change. But if we're going to get more films like the two I just mentioned, then I'd say we're in for quite a treat this decade. Blood Meridian is apparently his next film which should be exciting to see another great director try to adapt a Cormac McCarthy novel, but it'd be great to see what else he can do. He's probably the most underrated director working today.
Andrew Dominik is another director that is supposedly working on a Cormac McCarthy novel (Cities of the Plain), but that's apparently not coming out for at least another two years. I hope we get to see more out of Dominik after his brilliant film The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. If you are one of the many, that is, too many, people who hasn't seen Assassination of Jesse James, then you're missing a brilliantly shot movie with great performances from Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck. The look and the feeling of the movie is so authentic and it's such a long, sprawling, engrossing movie that once it's over, you sort of have to shake your head and collect yourself after being sucked into such a movie. He only made one other film last decade, Chopper, but I haven't seen it and don't know how to get a copy of it. But nevertheless, this is another potentially great director who can only go up from here. I just hope that the financial failure of Assassination won't make his next project too difficult to produce.
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Alejandro is an interesting case. Here's a guy who has made three films last decade. One is a masterpiece (Amores Perros), the other is a great drama (21 Grams), and the other is a mixed, heavy-handed drama that is too thematically similar to his other two films (Babel). So while I did not like his last film, his first two films are too great to be ignored. His next film, Biutiful, is apparently in post-production so it'll be interesting to see what kind of reaction that gets. All I know is that I can't wait for more of Inarritu's work in the future.
This may be a "controversial" pick depending on your thoughts and feelings on Mr. Apatow, but I happen to think he's a great director. Not only that, he's a growing director. You can tell, with "Funny People," that he's a director in transition that wants to be taken seriously. He has the potential to make some great films that aren't simply looked at for comedic value. All of his films have very human stories even if the jokes may be too lowbrow for some people. He may have to move away from his cult of actors if he truly wants to be taken seriously as a director and it would be interesting to see him work with more serious actors. Either way, he has a lot of potential as a director and I think people have to stop giving him flack. The fact of the matter is that his first two films (Knocked Up and 40 Year Old Virgin) are two of the funniest of the decade. Once his material was starting to feel a bit familiar, he had the balls to go in another direction with Funny People. Is Funny People perfect? Absolutely not. It certainly has its fair share of flaws and it may have ran on too long. But, it definitely puts the "he makes the same type of movie" argument to rest. Hopefully he continues to go in the direction that Funny People took him and makes movies that garners him respect from moviegoers all over.
The sky is the limit for Jason Reitman (Thank You For Smoking, Juno, Up in the Air). It's arguable that Reitman has topped himself with each movie. Personally, I prefer Smoking over Juno. Nevertheless, I feel that Up in the Air is his best film yet and if that is any indication and consider that he's only 32 years old, it's exciting to think about what he's got up his sleeve next. He's commented from time to time about how he's afraid that nepotism will affect the way people view his success. But his father never made the type of films that Jason has. Jason Reitman's films have mature characters who are dealt with real life dilemmas in very realistic circumstances. And is it that crazy to imagine the son of a famous director also being a great director? I think of it as with the Mannings. Should we fault Eli and Peyton Manning for being the sons of Archie? Absolutely not. They're all talented in their own right. Anyway, Reitman so far has made films at a much quicker pace than the others on this list so we could be looking forward to up to 5, maybe 6 films from Reitman in the upcoming decade. Nice.
Out of all the directors on this list, this is the only one who is primarily known for how hilarious his films are. While Apatow has also had his characters in rather dramatic situations, Edgar Wright is a true original of comedic films. Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz are both great films. Great films that happen to be hilarious, of course. His next film "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" looks promising and hopefully he works well with Michael Cera. But I'm looking forward to seeing more hilariously goofy films from him in the 2010s.
I was not very big on Darren Aronofsky a few years ago. He came off to me as someone who was all style and no substance. Someone who wanted to be treated as an auteur, a master director without having the substance to back it up. While Requiem for a Dream and the Fountain are good films, its "look at me" style came off as more obnoxious than anything else, to me. Then "The Wrestler" came out and it made me re-think my stance on Aronofsky. Yes, this man knows how to successfully tell a story on screen. The thing is that The Wrestler is just as technically sound as his other films, they just aren't as showy or, dare I say, gimmicky as something like Requiem for a Dream. But I think The Wrestler has shown how much he has grown as a director. Therefore, I think the future is very bright for him. He has a new film, Black Swan, coming out this year so it should be interesting to see how he starts off the new year.
David O. Russell
This polarizing fellow may have to earn his spot on the list once "The Fighter" comes out this year. But I feel confident when I say that Russel, while a crazy asshole of a person, can make great films in his sleep. Flirting with Disaster and I Heart Huckabees are very smart, very slick films. Three Kings is an underrated gem. This man can make great films, he just might not win any popularity awards anytime soon. He's a director who takes a long time to make films so we might not see many from him this decade, but I hope the films he does wind up making help clear his name a little bit.
Sam Mendes has definitely had an interesting decade after he made the Oscar-winning American Beauty in 1999. People expected a lot out of him with his second film and I think Road to Perdition may not have gotten as much attention as it should have. He kind of reminds me of Mike Nichols in that he is a successful theater director whose main skill is getting the best out of his actors. Revolutionary Road, his best film of the decade, showcased that talent with Dicaprio and Winslet turning out amazing performances. Away We Go was a little mixed and perhaps this is a director who is best at taking time between projects. I actually haven't seen Away We Go to judge myself, but I will. There's a lot to look forward to from Sam Mendes in the next decade.
It's weird, but Christopher Nolan has kind of gotten a bit of a backlash because of his success. Which is, stupid. Memento, Dark Knight, and Prestige could all seriously be considered some of the best movies of the decade. Batman Begins and Insomnia are certainly nothing to sneeze at either. Inception looks to be the most interesting project to come out next year and with the possibility of another Batman movie, we can expect a lot more great movies from Nolan in the future.
Perhaps the most interesting one in this list because he's only actually made one film. But, what a film it was, huh? It's shocking to believe that District 9 was somebody's first film. Its special effects and aliens are seamlessly integrated into the movie with the actual actors. The story was brilliant and inspired, the acting perhaps underrated, and the action should not disappoint any action movie fans. But where do you go from there? How does he follow up such a great Sci-Fi film? There are so many ways, so many directions he could go in. That's what makes him so interesting.
The Coen Brothers, Spielberg, Scorsese, Gus Van Sant, etc.
I suppose I should make an entry for the Coen Brothers even though they've made enough great films and are well-established enough as filmmakers. They're still making high-quality films, but they've made a lot in the last decade. Even if they never made another great film, they already have a rich enough filmography. I know they probably will make more great films in the next decade so I guess I should put them on here.
But they are on a list, like Spielberg, Scorsese, Almodovar, David Lynch, Cronenberg, to a lesser extent, Gus Van Sant, and some other directors I know I forgot... these guys have been around long enough and I wanted to highlight some of the younger, newer members of the filmmaking elite. So obviously Scorsese probably has a few more tricks up his sleeve and Van Sant is always going to make something interesting, but don't we know that already? Anyway, I'm sure we'll get great films for these guys and I can't wait to see what they can do in the next decade.