Wednesday, March 23, 2011

These Are a Few of My Favorite Directors

A while back I figured if I wanted to become a film director I should learn from the best.  So I started compiling a list of the greatest movies ever made, determined to take it on and learn what I could simply through observation.  I quickly developed a love for certain filmmaker's works, and I made a list of my favorite directors, both past and present.  Regardless of whether I ever get into film in any way, I've enjoyed watching these directors' works and analyzing their common themes and styles.

I enjoy making lists, so I thought I'd list all the movies I've seen from my favorite directors and talk about the ones that struck me.  I only list directors of whose movies I've seen at least five, with one exception.

#1 - Alfred Hitchcock

He was astronomically ahead of his time, and was the master of absolute simplicity.

The 39 Steps
The Lady Vanishes
Rebecca - Don't tell me that burning monogrammed pillow wasn't an influence on Citizen Kane.
Rope - Could've been better edited by today's standards, but I love the idea of a single continous take.
Strangers on a Train
Dial M for Murder - Hitchcock's under-appreciated one-setting murder mystery.
Rear Window
To Catch a Thief
The Man Who Knew Too Much
Vertigo - Still the best twist ending to any movie I've ever seen.  Absolutely haunting.
North by Northwest
Psycho - Simplicity doesn't get better than this.
The Birds

#2 - Stanley Kubrick

What can you say?  Immensely influential and a strong candidate for the best director of all time.

The Killing - Great use of the alternative plot structure about 40 years before Tarantino.
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
2001: A Space Odyssey - An existential masterpiece.
A Clockwork Orange - Really disturbing, but unforgettable.
Barry Lyndon
The Shining
Full Metal Jacket - The best war movie I've ever seen.  Friggin' brilliant.
Eyes Wide Shut

#3 - Clint Eastwood

A simple but powerful filmmaker, when he gets the right script he knocks 'em dead.

The Outlaw Josey Wales
Unforgiven - The darkest, most powerful western I've ever seen.
Mystic River - A cold tragedy about mistrust, deceit, and treachery.
Gran Torino

#4 - Martin Scorsese

A visionary auteur with at least four timeless classics, he's still producing high-quality work.

Taxi Driver
Raging Bull - A masterpiece that contrasts gut-wrenchingly violent with exquisitely filmed.
Goodfellas - Gets better with each watching.
Cape Fear
The Aviator - An underrated period epic, with great montage.
The Departed - Smart and fast, with unforgettable characters in an epic struggle.
Shutter Island

#5 - Terry Gilliam

Not as good a story-teller as the others, but his visions are so unique they demand watching.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Brazil - An incredible dystopian vision, with some tiny semblence of hope.  Sort of.
Twelve Monkeys
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - It owes a lot to Johnny Depp, but it's absurdly hilarious.
The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus - Really cool visuals with that signature cock-eyed humor.

#6 - Quentin Tarantino

He's got a great, unique style, but he wouldn't be this good without his extremely clever writing.

Reservoir Dogs
Pulp Fiction - Innumerable unforgettable scenes, and a mixed-up plot that come together perfectly.
Jackie Brown
Kill Bill: Vol. 1 - Slick and stylish
Kill Bill: Vol. 2 - But with a moral message at its heart.
Death Proof
Inglourious Basterds

#7 - David Fincher

With a good script he's the best in the business, and his future is looking really really good.

Se7en - The most underrated movie on this entire list.  A chilling, elemental horror/thriller masterpiece.
Fight Club
Panic Room
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Social Network - Perfectly suited to its time period, but it'll soon be a timeless classic as well.

#8 - Christopher Nolan

The most original writer/director in movies today, he's not getting the recognition he deserves...yet.

Memento - A perfectly executed, original thriller with a fantastic twist.
Batman Begins
The Prestige - A character study on obsession with another great twist.
The Dark Knight - Elevates a superhero movie to questions of fundamental morality.
Inception - The most original movie in ten years (at least), thought-provoking and visually stunning.

#9 - Darren Aronofsky

A little explanation: I had watched his first two movies as a part of my list, and I was very impressed.  I loved his most recent movie, Black Swan, so much that I decided he deserved a place on the list just for that.  He's got a promising future in store, I'm sure more of his movies will appear here soon.

Requiem for a Dream
The Fountain
The Wrestler
Black Swan - As stunningly beautiful as it is paralyzingly terrifying, I couldn't look away.

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