Monday, 10 October 2011

My Top 10 Directors The Rationale: Welcome Aboard

Oh my love hate/relationship with Best Of Lists. I love making lists. I hate making final decisions.

But since I love love love the Battleship Pretension podcast, so when they called for a list of my top 10 directors, I agonised, deliberated, cogitated, hesitated, deviated and obsessed and eventually narrowed it down. Then put them in alphabetical order because ranking would take another 3 weeks.

Predictably I will lean more indie than mainstream (Peter Jackson probably being my most painful omission) and of course I HAVE to list at least one woman, one minority and one foreign language film maker - but you who know me, know I still like to mix it up and I am nothing if not egalitarian in my film going tastes so here's the list that in a few weeks, I will lament and rethink and obsess over.

a) I find their films unmissable
b) their body of work is woven into the fabric of my life
c) they have made a standout film which I can't imagine never having watched
d) consistently excellent casting choices
e) demonstrating imagination beyond words
f) they keep employing Michael Fassbender which is a gift to cinema which just keeps on giving.

1. Jacques Audiard
Read My Lips - original, passionate, creepy, The Beat That My Heart Skipped - intense and beautiful, A Prophet - haunting. He turns traditionally unsympathetic people into complex and likeable and compelling characters.
It was between him and Almodovar for my favourite foreign filmmaker I can watch again and again and in a head to head between my favourite films of those directors The Beat That My Heart Skipped beat All About My Mother. Then I started thinking about Michael Haneke and decided to quit whilst I was ahead.

2. Susanne Bier
Along with The Lives Of Others, After The Wedding is a film I try to get everyone I know to watch. A wonderfully played out situation, of being caught between a rock and a hard place. One of europes most critically lauded directors, and the director of the current Best Foreign Language
Film Oscar, she consistently makes high quality, dramas.

3. Kathryn Bigelow
I did a Women and Film course a few years back, and you can't fail to acknowledge that initally people will be surprised that Point Break, that great action movie, was directed by a woman. When you think of action directors you mainly think if men, so it is a testament to KB's skill that she's not hired for a "feminine touch" but rather a great eye. I was mesmerised by the opening sequence of The Hurt Locker and she obviously gets bonus points for that whole "only lady with a best director oscar" thing.

4. Danny Boyle
I loved Christopher Eccleston before Shallow Grave and worshipped him after. Actually this is probably the first contemporary director I followed becuase of him, rather than or in addition to the films "stars". Also I've had the opportunity to meet him and he's a proper gent. The first place in the UK you could see all his films up to Sunshine was the independent cinema in his home town of Manchester and he’s patron of the cinema and actively supports it in person. And he never sticks to one genre. He’s basically so awesome I can forgive him The Beach.

5. Tim Burton
From an aesthetic point of view - hands down my favourite director.
Beetlejuice is probably memorable for my parents for reducing both me and my sister to unaccustomed companionableness and near silence. And his awesome Depp and Bonham Carter casting never hurt. Also he regulary works with Mackinnon & Saunders, stop motion puppeteers (and so much more) based in Stockport who are part of a fantastic and talented team.

6. George Cukor
My Fair Lady and the Philadelphia Story in your repertoire. Nice work. He literally made my heart soar with song and introduced CK Dexter haven into my world. The ladies weren't just fair, they were feisty too!

7. John Hughes
I am a girl who grew up in the 80s and wasn’t rich. I’m also a bit of a nerd. And i discovered an american filmmaker, who understood my teen angst. I still own my video of Pretty in Pink even though I no longer have a video player. I wish to be buried to Don’t You Forget About Me.

8. Richard Linklater
He was partially responsible for my first job in independent cinema which led me to being able to see films for free for 3 years and go to press screenings and film festivals. For that alone, I love him. A perfect lazy Sunday for me would involve a pancake breakfast and a movie double bill : Before Sunrise & Before Sunset is usually that choice.

9. Steve McQueen – f + c = a
Is Spike Lee the best black filmmaker in the world? Possibly.
Is Steve McQueen gunning for that crown? I hope so.
Cool name, I'm a sucker for a man who rocks a bow tie, his accomplished debut made critics stand up and take notice. And his follow up collaboration with Michael Fassbender - Shame - is one of the films I am most excited about in the pre oscar season.
10. Christopher Nolan
Memento and The Prestige took me on thoroughly compelling and fun ride. With the Batman films & Inception- he has attracted and used the talents of some of my favourite actors out there Joseph Gordon Levitt, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Heath Ledger, Cillian Murphy and Jim Broadbent to name but a few. All he is missing is the Mighty Fassbander. And the eventual Christopher Nolan/Michael Fassbender project will be AWESOME (also my dream supporting cast includes Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy and Joseph Gordon Levitt brain digressed on what Inception would have been like with Fassbender instead of Leo DiCaprio. Hmmmm). I simply love watching his films, anticipating his films and occasionally ranting about how his films may have lacked substance and had a completely unnecessary snow expedition segment, but made up for it with JGL and folding up Paris.

And so to the cheating section:

11. Rob Reiner. He could be no other number.
The Sure Thing, When Harry Met Sally, Misery, This Is Spinal Tap, The Princess funny bone thanks you!

Please forgive me Peter Jackson, Duncan Jones, Michael Winterbottom, Martin Scorsese, Andrea Arnold, Joseph L Manciweiz, Howard Hawks, Baz Luhrman, Terry Gilliam, James Cameron, Wong Kar Wai, Coen Bros, Lucia Puenzo, Michael Haneke, Amy Heckerling, Jane Campion, Matthew Vaughan, Ridley Scott, Miranda July, Alfonso Cuaron, animators, documentary makers.... Don't worry next week I'll change my mind.

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