The Revenant – 2015 Iñárritu

A masterpiece of staggering beauty and cinematic aweOpens with a dream montage – incredible imagery, and then we’re off and running with the hunting scene starting with the camera aimed down at the stream and capturing a complex tracking shot. Iñárritu brings back a variation on the drum score from Birdman, the framing of character faces from I Am Cuba and low-angle work from WellesThe very next sequence is a complex battle tracking shot at magic hour—it is Saving Private Ryan meets The Thin Red Line and the best of both- muscular filmmaking- sumptuous photography and complex blocking/choreography The

The Revenant – 2015 Iñárritu2020-07-03T10:28:25+00:00

Death in Venice – 1971 Visconti

A stylistic break for Visconti for the most part— there is some nice blocking and framing in the dining sequences (flowers galore), beach sequences (see below) but here- Visconti mostly uses the slow zoom as his major weapon--- giving us insight into Dirk Bogarde’s Gustav von Aschenbach’s mind, memory and gaze. Zooming in on his nuanced and often tortured face in dialogue-less long sequences and eyeing’s the young TadzioThe music of Mahler a character in the film for sureZooms in to show memory and reflectionDécor isn’t The Leopard or Visconti’s best work—but there’s a dedication to the floral arrangement

Death in Venice – 1971 Visconti2020-07-03T10:28:25+00:00

Prisoners – 2013 Villeneuve

A very strong opening frame from Villeneuve and DP Roger Deakins—gorgeous picture of the woods and then the Lord’s prayer from Hugh Jackman’s Keller Dover A very strong opening frame from Villeneuve and DP “Roget Deakins—gorgeous picture of the woods and then the Lord’s prayer from Hugh Jackman’s Keller Dover Jackson’s performance is big—showy- but appropriately so as the religious survivalist but family man under incredible circumstances Gyllenhaal walks away with the film from a performance standpoint – and this is some feat with a cast that includes Terrence Howard, Viola Davis, the aforementioned Hugh Jackman, Paul Dano, Melissa

Prisoners – 2013 Villeneuve2020-07-18T13:20:14+00:00

The 160th Best Director of All-Time: Steve McQueen

McQueen. McQueen has the latest debut of any auteur on this list thus far (2008). He burst on the scene with Hunger- a film that landed solidly in the top 500 of all-time on my most recent update—the only film of McQueen that is eligible for the all-time top 500 since I have a 10 year moratorium on all new films. He’s started his career with 4 straight top 100 of their respective decade films and there’s no film in there that’s fringy—they’re all in the top 50 of their respective decade actually. It’s one of the strongest starts

The 160th Best Director of All-Time: Steve McQueen2021-04-18T10:53:05+00:00

The 159th Best Director of All-Time: Henri-Georges Clouzot

Clouzot.  We’re at position #159 here so an auteur with a top 500 film of all-time (Diabolique) and another great film not far behind (Wages of Fear) and in the top 100 of its respective decade is getting rarer and rarer. That’s a strong 1-2 punch and certainly the reason Clouzot is on this list. He’s a technical master, mostly emotionally cool films that build tension, brick by brick, through superior craftsmanship. Certainly the lack of depth here hurts Clouzot’ case- just two archiveable films. Best film: Diabolique. The consensus experts (on TSPDT) differ with me here but the

The 159th Best Director of All-Time: Henri-Georges Clouzot2020-07-03T10:28:25+00:00

The Leopard – 1963 Visconti

Made at the height of the era for the epic genre—Visconti’s masterpiece stakes a legitimate claim to be named one of cinema’s most beautiful films It opens with a series of sumptuous establishing shots of the castle where Burt Lancaster’s Prince Don Fabrizio Salina resides. It’s not quite an ellipsis in the editing but close--- we drift in through the door It opens with a series of sumptuous establishing shots of the castle where Burt Lancaster’s Prince Don Fabrizio Salina resides. It’s not quite an ellipsis in the editing but close--- we drift in through the door (not unlike

The Leopard – 1963 Visconti2020-07-03T10:28:25+00:00

The 158th Best Director of All-Time: Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Jeunet. Jeunet isn’t here without Amelie (less and less top 500 all-time films remaining as we’re at the #158th best director of all-time) but that 1-4 below is very solid. The films are imaginative, handsomely shot, and idiosyncratic in all the best ways. Just one film in the top 100 of its respective decade isn’t great – but even the least of Jeunet’s efforts carry his own brand of authorship. Jeunet has only made a total of 7 films and nothing in the archives since 2004—still clearly a force from 1991 to 20001. an imaginative retro garbage art set

The 158th Best Director of All-Time: Jean-Pierre Jeunet2020-07-03T10:28:25+00:00

The 157th Best Director of All-Time: Anthony Mann

Anthony Mann. Mann has fourteen (14) archiveable films—unreal—that’s the most at this point with the auteurs remaining who I haven’t yet mentioned as the best 156 directors of all-time. Still- it’s not just about quantity- he has three films that land in the top 100 of their respective decade (his case) even if there are no films of Mann’s landing in the top 500 of all-time (certainly a weakness). Mann is known for those psychological westerns with Jimmy Stewart but he had some strong noirs in there as well. Best film: Winchester 73’. Mann isn’t an auteur with the

The 157th Best Director of All-Time: Anthony Mann2021-11-23T11:58:21+00:00

The 156th Best Director of All-Time: Baz Luhrmann

Luhrmann. Baz is the Australian expressionist auteur who is a style-plus director with a abbreviated filmography. Finding a style-plus director outside of my top 150 directors is rare- so that’s the main case for Baz plus he has a top 500 of all-time film (Moulin Rouge!). Taken as they’re released in real time, it has been a rough stretch for Luhrmann after Moulin Rouge! in 2001--- just one archiveable film is the period since. However, his signature style and personal stamp is all over these three films – big, loud, bold—uncompromising visions. Best film: Moulin Rouge! The greatest evidence

The 156th Best Director of All-Time: Baz Luhrmann2020-07-03T10:28:27+00:00

Welcome to L.A. – 1976 Rudolph

Alan Rudolph’s third film and the first of eight films in the archives Certainly Rudolph is the most Altman-like of all the Altman acolytes—he worked with him and on projects like Nashville and The Long Goodbye as second assistant director—this is “Robert Altman presents” before the title and heavily influenced by Nashville. It is an ensemble portrait of a town and time with music playing a central part (this has Richard Baskin- who wrote songs for Nashville pervading throughout the film, shots of him in a recording studio) The cast is all Altman, too—Geraldine Chaplin (Nashville), Keith Carradine (Thieves

Welcome to L.A. – 1976 Rudolph2022-01-03T16:00:25+00:00

The 155th Best Director of All-Time: Jean Cocteau

Cocteau. Cocteau may be the most inventive mind in an arftorm filled with geniuses-- some of the 20th and 21st century’s greatest artists. His case is those top two films—both on the top 100 of their respective decade—and his influence. In many ways he’s the godfather of fantasy. The case against Cocteau is the lack of body of work here- Cocteau wasn’t just a filmmaker- he was a poet and the depth here in the filmography is telling (3 total archiveable films). Best film: Beauty and the Beast. I wouldn’t have a big problem if someone wanted to argue

The 155th Best Director of All-Time: Jean Cocteau2020-07-03T10:28:27+00:00

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – 2014 Iñárritu

Three viewings- two in theater in 2014 and again February 2020Utterly astonishing cinematography in the Bordwell definition of cinematography—the camerawork—audacious--- Iñárritu is a virtuoso--- it is Rope, Russian Ark, The Shining, I Am Cuba- Iñárritu talks about I Am Cuba and Ophüls but the hidden cuts here (16 visible edits) line up a bit better with Rope (even if I agree with him that the free flowing nature of the camera is closer to La Ronde or something). I actually admire how innovative each invisible edit is—whether they tilt the camera to the sky or use a blank canvas—each

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – 2014 Iñárritu2020-07-03T10:28:27+00:00
Go to Top