Jonze. Exploded onto the scene in the now famous 1999 American Wave (along with wife at the time Sofia Coppola with dueling debuts in the year I believe they were married). His background before features was in making music videos- some of the most famous and iconic videos for Weezer, The Beastie Boys, Bjork and Fatboy Slim. It is no wonder that after his stunning debut (still his best film ever so slightly over Her) he was dubbed one of the generations most talented young wunderkind auteurs. For the purposes of this list, Jonze’s three films that land in the top 100 of their respective decade (and he’s only made four features) makes him impossible to ignore any further. My greatest hesitation with Jonze is the level of authorship when his first two features are so tied to the brilliant mind of writer Charlie Kaufman. To that end, Her was extremely important—he was on his own- and it’s superior to anything Kaufman has directed on his own (though those are strong films, too).
Best film: Being John Malkovich. What a shot of imagination and energy BJM was in 1999 and remains today. Again, Kaufman’s mad gonzo-script is genius—but Jonze’s pacing and visuals are unmistakably dazzling.
total archiveable films: 4
top 100 films: 0
top 500 films: 0
top 100 films of the decade: 3 (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Her)
most overrated: I hate this because I think Her has artistic transcendence in it- but it is currently #3 from 2013 on the TSPDT consensus list and that puts it ahead of Gravity, Ida, and The Great Beauty and I’m not there on it- at least not until further inspection.
most underrated : Both Being John Malkovich and Adaptation are progressing well on the TSPDT top 1000 consensus list- BJM is at #1213 and Adaptation at #1240 and those are strong showings for films so recent- but it has already been 20+ years—it’s time though- lets slide Jonze’s jaw-dropping debut into the real list already.
gem I want to spotlight : Her. The work in the production and color palette design of Jonze’s Her is immaculate—carefully curated and executed.
- Frustration in his protagonist, angst, often creative, insecure artists
- Steam of consciousness blending of surrealism and reality
- Just a voice with a seemingly endless supply of imagination
- The use of lighting in Where the Wild Things Are is a triumph as is dedication to color in the fantastically designed world in Her—we’re quite a few years removed from Her at this point so let’s hope Jonze isn’t done. Another film similar to Her in quality and artistic ambition would go a long way to boosting Jonze up this list
- Being John Malkovich
- Where the Wild Things Are
By year and grades
|1999- Being John Malkovich||MS|
|2009- Where the Wild Things Are||R|
*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
Hey Drake, I didn’t know Jonze started of by making music videos. That was a fun little fact I learnt.
Speaking of music videos, are they “filmmaking” but not cinema? Kinda like documentaries, right?
I guess you don’t assess music videos because you like cinema more, but it seems a lot of auteurs began with music videos.
@Azman- yeah there is a fairly large number of really great auteurs that got there start there, or still work in music videos. PTA, Fincher, Jonathan Glazer– I don’t really watch and study them (and archive them). Same with like Wes Anderson’s commercial– but there is little doubt there is artistic merit in all of these things
Are you planning a Her upgrade? Because look at those images you have for it, it’s easily one of the most beautiful films of the decade. Plus it’s highly intellectual and intelligent. It’s easily a MS for me. Phoenix is amazing.
Also I think Phoenix is excellent in The Immigrant. It’s an underrated performance. He plays such a complex character and completely slays it. He’s Cotillard’s equal. When you combine both his works in 2013, it’s a sensational year for him. What are your thoughts on his performance in The Immigrant?
@M*A*S*H- I am eager to see Jonze’s Her again- I hope you’re right. I think “easily one of the most beautiful films of the decade” is a stretch but I could certainly be mistaken. Phoenix is very good in The Immigrant- I did sort of reward him for his four James Gray collaborations in 2008 with Two Lovers.