The 141st Best Director of All-Time: Hal Ashby

Ashby. Ashby is an important figure in the American New Wave of the 1970’s or the “New Hollywood”. Look at his seven first films below, an extraordinary run, and he stays in the decade. He would pass away in the 1980’s at a young age (59) and had some issues before that essentially stopped his streak—but these are justifiably iconic films. For the purposes of this list he’s hurt by the fact that only one of his seven films landed in the top 100 of the 1970’s (though 4-5 others are between 101-150 I’d guess). He came up as

The 141st Best Director of All-Time: Hal Ashby2020-07-03T10:28:31+00:00

The 140th Best Director of All-Time: Mike Leigh

Leigh. I did some of the metrics for my project here before I did a thorough Mike Leigh study from November 2019 to January 2020. Leigh’s place will change over time but I couldn’t put anyone else ahead of him on this list—I was so thoroughly impressed with his work.  For the purposes of this list his 12 archiveable films all bear his recognizable stamps of authorship. That is deep body of work. Naked is one of the best films of the 1990’s and Mr. Turner absolutely blew me away when I got to it a second time recently.

The 140th Best Director of All-Time: Mike Leigh2020-07-03T10:28:31+00:00

La Terra Trema – 1948 Visconti

La Terra Trema is a major achievement for Visconti, Neo-realism, character blocking mise-en-scene and 1940’s cinema It is Visconti’s second film (a long delay) after 1943’s Ossessione (what a 1-2 punch to start a career). One a major film in noir, another a major film in neo-realism There’s a preface—titles explaining these are non-professional actors and that although this one is specific to this one family in Sicily, that “…every year in every country – men oppress other men”. This is a damning indictment of capitalism, a meditation on greed, but also to tie to many of Bunuel’s works

La Terra Trema – 1948 Visconti2021-07-16T20:29:29+00:00

The 10 Best Male Actors of the 2010s

I’ve been doing a “best male actors on the planet” list for years now but this is my first attempt at doing a male actors of a decade list. Here we go: Leonardo DiCaprio – DiCaprio had almost a perfect decade. It’s not worth dwelling too long on 2011’s J. Edgar’s miss--- but it is actually the easiest way to talk about the rest of the decade because the other six films he worked in were absolutely brilliant (and he is brilliant in them). He started the decade in 2010 with Inception and Shutter Island, 2012 brought us Django,

The 10 Best Male Actors of the 2010s2021-06-19T11:51:54+00:00

Long Day’s Journey Into Night – 2018 Gan Bi

If 2015’s Kaili Blues (Gan Bi’s debut) was a strong sketch of a burgeoning auteur, 2018’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night is the arrival of a confident, (and more accomplished) talented new voice in cinema.  No connection (except for a somewhat literal take on the title) to the Eugene O’Neill play Starts with the camera in bed on our protagonist in a long shot—dreaming, the strobe light, talking about memories while looking at the ceiling and then the camera reframes (in the same shot, something he does skillfully and often) on the window in the mirror (in a really

Long Day’s Journey Into Night – 2018 Gan Bi2021-07-29T10:53:30+00:00

Monsoon Wedding – 2001 Nair

Mira Nair skillfully handles the ensemble drama with swift pacing and strong characters. There’s the central family, the event planner and maid romance, the story of the niece who was a victim of abuse who is now older and trying to protect it from againAn excellent narrative-- family and generational conflict – authentic, painful one minute and humorous the next—the term “universal” used by almost every criticA few quick musical interludesUnfortunately the camera and some of the visuals are about as adventurous as a sitcomAlternating languages (often within the same sentence) feels essential and genuine to these characters Recommend

Monsoon Wedding – 2001 Nair2020-01-27T14:20:59+00:00

Kaili Blues – 2015 Gan Bi

An exciting debut from 26-year old (in 2015) Chinese auteur Gan Bi—it is very rough drafty compared his follow-up 2018’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night but there is a clear vision here- a uniqueness that is confirmed (and made richer) with his more polished sophomore effort reoccurring images, dead characters dogs that come in and out of scenes (there's a Tarkovsky trait there) Shot in long takes (including one very long take which seems to be a trademark now) The tone is dream-like- surreal, closer to Apichatpong Weerasethakul than David Lynch a stunning sequence in a tunnel A strong

Kaili Blues – 2015 Gan Bi2021-07-29T10:53:06+00:00

The 10 Best Female Actors of the 2010s

I’ve been doing a “best female actors on the planet” list for years now but this is my first attempt at doing a female actors of a decade list. Here we go: Emma Stone – Emma Stone runs away with the #1 slot here with only four films from the 2010’s decade in the archives. Four isn’t a lot (unless you’re Daniel Day-Lewis), but included in those four are Birdman, La La Land and The Favourite and she’s sensational in all of them. Those are three of the best sixteen films of the decade. Stone’s standout performance, the one

The 10 Best Female Actors of the 2010s2021-06-19T11:53:13+00:00

Inside Llewyn Davis – 2013 Coen

Saw it twice in theater in early 2014 and then a third time in March 2018 and a fourth in January 2020I don’t want to overreact to a recent viewing but I think it does go down as the Coen brothers’ best workI was wrong in 2014 to think this was a narratively-led film. I mean the narrative is absolutely brilliant but this is a tremendous visual triumph, hyper-atmospheric in its detail (bleak,  freezing)—absolutely beautiful. The period detail is impeccable—the lighting—the Coen Brothers showing they don’t have to work with Deakins to create a film that looks like this

Inside Llewyn Davis – 2013 Coen2020-07-03T10:28:33+00:00

The 10 Best Directors of the 2010s

I’ve been doing a “best directors on the planet” list for years now but this is my first attempt at doing a directors of a decade list. Here we go: Christopher Nolan – I don’t think there’s another answer here. He has two of the ten best films (tied with Iñárritu for the most), four of the top 100 (nobody else had four) and didn’t make a film this decade that wasn’t one of the best 100 of the year. Over the 2010’s he’s proven himself capable of making truly beautiful cinematic images (not always the case in the

The 10 Best Directors of the 2010s2021-06-19T11:53:06+00:00

Toni – 1935 Renoir

Toni is a prime example Renoir’s trademark poetic realism—and it foreshadows both Italian neo-realism (the subjects being Italian doesn’t hurt when thinking about this comparison) movement and the Hollywood noir antihero’s that would pervade so many quality films from the 1940’s-1970’sIt starts with a prologue about Babel and the immigration story and how it is a true story (the prologue is clearly marked and set apart from the rest of the film)Renoir’s elegant fluid camera. Walking with the immigrants as they get off the train and listen to diegetic guitar music to open the film (which will make for

Toni – 1935 Renoir2020-07-03T10:28:33+00:00

The Best Films of the Decade: The 2010s

The Tree of Life - Malick The Master - P.T. Anderson Roma - Cuaron Dunkirk - Nolan La La Land - Chazelle Birdman - Iñárritu Inception - Nolan The Revenant - Iñárritu Mad Max: Fury Road - G. Miller The Grand Budapest Hotel - W. Anderson The Social Network - Fincher The Turin Horse - Tarr Ida - Pawlikowski Black Swan- Aronofsky Inside Llewyn Davis - Coen The Favourite - Lanthimos Cold War - Pawlikowski Midsommar - Aster Burning - Chang-dong Lee Shame - McQueen Moonrise Kingdom - W. Anderson Melancholia - von Trier Columbus - Kogonada Once Upon

The Best Films of the Decade: The 2010s2021-06-19T11:52:58+00:00
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