Monday, March 06, 2006

MOVIES: Top Ten Directors

During my epic Oscar liveblogging last night, I threw out the suggestion that Robert Altman may be the greatest director ever. I stand by my assertion that he's our greatest living director (only Scorsese challenges him, I think; sorry, Ian, I'm not a Bergman fan), but greatest ever was overstating it. Who would I say is the greatest ever? Tough. I don't know if I could nail it down to just one, so I'm going to throw out my list of who I would consider to be in the top ten. This is off the top of my head, and in no particular order, and I reserve the right to completely change my mind on any of them, because I'm fickle like that.

  • Robert Altman

  • Martin Scorsese

  • Orson Welles

  • Frank Capra

  • Alfred Hitchcock

  • Akira Kurosawa

  • Stanley Kubrick

  • Sam Peckinpah

  • John Ford

  • John Huston

Now, what can you surmise from that list? Well, for one thing, I like Westerns. Also, I'm pretty American-centric. There are only a couple of British names (was Kubrick British? Or just an American expatriate? I can never remember, and I don't feel like looking it up right now*), and only one non-English language director on the list. I don't care for Bergman; I'm no fan of Fellini. Maybe I haven't been exposed to enough great world cinema to be a fair judge, but screw it, there's enough great American cinema to fill my movie life a hundred times, and I don't think anyone could genuinely dismiss any of my choices -- without getting a poke in the eye from me, that is. (Though I bet Peckinpah's inclusion raises the most eyebrows.)

Ten other directors who could've made the list:

  • Francis Ford Coppola, if he had stopped making movies after 1979

  • Joel and/or Ethan Coen, whichever one directs their films**

  • Steven Spielberg, who can be schmaltzy and syrupy and corny, but when he's good -- man, he's good

  • Sam Raimi, just to get a genre*** name in there (aside from Spielberg, of course)

  • Roman Polanski, who directed my favorite film of all time, Chinatown

  • Sergio Leone, because, as we've already established, I like Westerns

  • Clint Eastwood, who has directed some brilliant films among some pretty schlocky ones

  • Charlie Chaplin, though I haven't really seen enough of his work to name him by more than reputation alone

  • Woody Allen, who was probably #11 on my top ten list

  • Steven Soderbergh, who may still have the biggest career ahead of him of all those I've named

Your turn. Which really obvious name whose films I definitely love have I forgotten? Which name do you think I'm stupid crazy for including? Which crappy-ass director that you like but I hate are you outraged that I excluded?

*Okay, I looked it up. He was born in the Bronx.
**It's Joel.
***Fine, Westerns are a genre, too. Aren't you Mr. Smarty Pants for wanting to point that out. Genres other than Westerns, okay? And yes, I do know Raimi has directed a Western, too.

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