Friday, May 02, 2008

Top Twenty Directors Of All Time

I put together the New York Film Academy's Top Twenty Directors of All Time post on their blog. Below I have reposted it for my readers to enjoy.

#20: Sam Peckinpah
The unprecedented cataclysm of blood-soaked violence that wrapped up Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch was a cinematic watershed.

#19: Billy Wilder
Wilder, a young screenwriter struggling to make a name amid the bohemian decadence of pre-War Berlin, heard a tap on his window.

#18: John Ford
When John Ford self-deprecatingly introduced himself with, 'My name's John Ford, I make Westerns', he had a canny sense of the way he would be remembered.

#17: Sergio Leone
After the muscle-man quickie The Colossus Of Rhodes, Sergio Leone directed a mere six films.

#16: Oliver Stone
Where do you start with a problem like Oliver?

#15: Francis Ford Coppola
Age 35, Francis Ford Coppola departed the 1974 Academy Awards clutching statuettes for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay, a place in film history assured.

#14: James Cameron
The future is what we make for ourselves,' is a refrain repeated throughout James Cameron's first film, The Terminator, and it's a phrase he's clearly taken to heart.

#13: The Coen Bros.
It was as dreamy teenagers one soporific 1960s Minnesota summer that Joel and Ethan Coen decided they should make a film.

#12: Sir David Lean
What is often forgotten amid the beautiful reaches of his vision, his rapturous storytelling and tireless quest for perfection, is what a practical soul David Lean was.

#11: Clint Eastwood
When Clint Eastwood decided to direct the thriller Play Misty For Me, with its cautionary view of celebrity, in 1970 he inadvertently took the first step to a kind of cinematic respectability that had thus far eluded him.

#10: Woody Allen
If ever a line has come back to haunt Woody Allen it is the one spoken by one of the aliens in Stardust Memories, an uncharacteristically sour moment of introspection he borrowed from Fellini: "We like your films, especially the early funny ones."

#9: Orson Welles
"The biggest electric train set any boy ever had," pronounced Orson Welles in 1940, surveying his new domain — or, at least, that corner of it occupied by RKO, the studio that had lured the 24-year-old wunderkind to Hollywood with the promise of absolute freedom to make his directorial debut in whatever fashion he saw fit.

#8: Quentin Tarantino
It must be every film geek's wildest wet dream: you start out as a humble video-store clerk, and wind up slamming an adrenaline-loaded syringe into the solar plexus of the American indie movie scene, becoming a filmmaker so influential, film critics turn your name into an adjective.

#7: Peter Jackson
Peter Jackson is a director who seemed to arrive on the Oscar podium a fully formed auteur without the decades of turmoil to back it up. Before making the biggest trilogy of all time, outside a dedicated fanbase and New Zealand, there was awareness of an ability to realise the most complicated book, bar The Bible, in a way that would be so stunningly lauded both by critics and fans.

#6: Akira Kurosawa
Strip away the literary fabric that now shrouds the works of Akira Kurosawa, delve beneath the Japanese costume and external architecture, and you will discover the throbbing heartbeat of the Everyman.

#5: Sir Ridley Scott
Poor old Tony Scott. He may be one of the finest crafters of blockbuster action working today, but he will forever be huddled in the shadow of his elder brother; the auteur to his movie director.

#4: Stanley Kubrick
It has been six years since Stanley Kubrick died, and if he'd kept to his familiar stately schedule, a movie every six or seven years, we'd be due his 13th. Maybe now is when we really start to feel the loss.

#3: Martin Scorsese
When the Academy convenes in a year a Martin Scorsese film is in contention, the phrase "America's greatest living director" seems to magnetically attach itself to sentences containing the director's name. It's rather odd, then, that Scorsese has never won an Oscar.

#2: Alfred Hitchcock
Take a flight of fancy and imagine if Alfred Hitchcock was plying his trade in Hollywood today. Back at his old Universal stomping ground, he'd probably knock off a Collateral or two, play himself on The Simpsons, exec produce episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents CSI Leytonstone (the place of his birth) and still find time for the odd curio designed to rub everyone up the wrong way --perhaps a shot for shot remake of Good Will Hunting.

#1: Steven Spielberg
In analyzing Steven Spielberg, the first thing you need to do is clamber past Steven Spielberg. The success, the deification, a near unquantifiable contribution to not just cinema but modern culture itself, and the reams of praise that smother him like a giant quilt. Given such a position, it almost feels moot to extol virtues that have been ringing in his ears for years. Thus it is to the films, in the end, you must return, to cut them loose from the hallowed tag and understand again why this small guy from Cincinnati, Ohio stands so tall over the medium.

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