Jackson. Obviously Jackson isn’t on this list without The Lord of the Rings but the momentous achievement of that masterpiece cannot overlooked. I count The Lord of the Rings as one film in the same way I count Dekalog or Kill bill as one film. However, I do put more weight in the size of this 10 hour masterpiece than I do with some masterpieces that I feel are even on the same level as LOTR (which is tough to reason out logically but whatever). It’s been a rough stretch for Jackson since King Kong in 2005 and that’s the weakness. Still, King Kong is good (and has ton in common visually with LOTR) and Heavenly Creatures another strong achievement so he’s no one-hit wonder either—even if, in 2019, he’s done.
Best film: The Lord of the Rings. It’s almost tough to overstate this one. For lists purposes the fact that it was released as 3 separate films make it tough to gauge where critics are on it.
total archiveable films: 3
top 100 films: 0
top 500 films: 1 (The Lord of the Rings)
top 100 films of the decade: 2 (The Lord of the Rings, Heavenly Creatures)
most overrated: I don’t have one for Jackson. There’s nothing according to the TSPDT consensus (they have both Fellowship of the Ring and Return of the King between 600-900 of all-time—both of which are underrated) but some people like one or both of his early horror-shtick films Dead Alive and Bad Taste, and I don’t think either is worthy of the archives.
most underrated: Heavenly Creatures should definitely be in the TSPDT top 1000 and it isn’t. I think it’s easily Jackson’s second best effort and an unbelievable film debut for a 19 year old Kate Winslet. The editing here is also clearly an aesthetic choice and highlight.
gem I want to spotlight: This film has fantastic acting, writing, but it’s really the immersive (and once thought to be un-filmable) world-building that most amazes. It’s filled with gorgeous production design and Jackson’s visual inventiveness– that is the star. You can see some of his horror roots, surrealistic, and gothic touches in Heavenly Creatures evident in LOTR as well. It’s Tolkien of course, but this film is truly Peter Jackson’s piece of art.
stylistic innovations/traits: I’ve mentioned all of it above but Jackson does have a clear talent and penchant for production design. The way he integrates the sort of schizophrenia or surrealism of his leads in LOTR and Heavenly Creatures is genius (and reminds me of Aronofsky a little). His visual detail is stupendous and, in particular, I also need to mention the gorgeous work with miniatures for establishing shots. It could be the best I’ve ever seen on film.
- The Lord of the Rings
- Heavenly Creates
- King Kong
By year and grades
|1994- Heavenly Creatures
|2001- Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring
|2002- Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
|2003- Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
|2005- King Kong
*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film
MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film
HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film
R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives