Edgar Wright. Wright has the talent to make a masterpiece, but hasn’t made one yet. While we wait, there’s so much to admire in the body of work of the five films he’s made in total since his debut in 2004. He’s best known for his Cornetto film trilogy starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost—uproarious collaborators– but, a strong case could be made for both of his other films: Scott Pilgrim and Baby Driver, to actually be his best work. Wright is a strong technician. His films are more crisply edited (I’ll get to more on his editing below) and often have more stylistic high-water marks than the films, directors, and genres he’s parodying. For the purposes of this list, not having a top 100 of its respective decade hurts—I am a little surprised a single entry didn’t make it myself. However, the depth (especially for someone who debuted in 2004 only) and consistency of the voice is truly there—these are Edgar Wright films—the world he’s created.
Best film: Hot Fuzz
- It’s simply one of the better edited films of the 2000’s decade—there is such care and artistic decision and rendering in each transition- it’s really inspired (and funny)
- It doesn’t stop at the editing- there’s great freeze frame work and zooms. Yes, it’s meant for partial (if not total in some spots) parody but it works on its own to enhance the narrative (which is solid) and on its own as a purposeful imaginative venture form Wright
- I’ve seen it twice and it blew me away the second time. I think with my first viewing I was just so hung up on how it borrows from bad films Bad Boys II bad 80’s and early 90’s (last action hero) cop movies
- Other (better) influences include Eastwood’s Leone films (Pegg on a horse with shotguns on his back), Point Break, Chinatown
- A hilariously patronizing melodramatic string musical score
- Pegg’s voice augmentation for comedic effect worth of praise
total archiveable films: 5
top 100 films: 0
top 500 films: 0
top 100 films of the decade: 0
most overrated: Shaun of the Dead. Shaun sits at #9 of 2004 on the TSPDT 21st century list and I’d have it another 10 slots lower—not a big difference- but enough to note. The consensus is that this is his best work—and I don’t think the films themselves bear that out.
- I think it initially gained traction because of the laughs (Pegg and Frost are brilliant) but Edgar Wright sure shows promise here behind the camera- it’s very rare to see a very nice tracking shot like this is a straight comedy. The repetition of the tracking shot (from his house to the convenience store) is not only technically superb but crucial for the comedy of the scene to work
- Requiem for a Dream– Aronofsky-like zoom editing- edited with passion and fervor
- Heavily influenced by Romero- especially Dawn of the Dead– which already had a lot of humor in it
- Very nicely edited car chase- bodes well for Baby Driver
- Loses me a little in the last 20 minutes of slapstick
most underrated : The consensus ranking would also indicate Wright’s strength is that his worst film (whichever it may be—for my money it’s The World’s End– but it is arguable)—is still damn good. All five of his films have landed on the TSPDT consensus top 1000 for the 21st century—quite a feat! Hot Fuzz is #28 of 2007—underrated. Scott Pilgrim is #25 of 2010. The World’s End is #36 for 2013. I think it is Baby Driver– #27 currently of 2017 that is the most underrated.
gem I want to spotlight : Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
- Again, Wright’s film begins and ends for me with the editing. The transitions are just so inspired.
- It’s really an orgy of style- split screen, great editing, animated flashbacks, swirling titles, Seinfeld-like music with audience laugh track cues much like Oliver stone’s Natural Born Killers
- The narrative gets tough to stomach at times — but wright’s editing keeps driving the story forward
- Talented young cast from Cera, Pills, Larson—Schwartzman is perfect as a smug producer
- Bill Pope – the DP from The Matrix here as well
- A true hipster anthem in many respects- oodles of ironies and sarcasm
- A genius of an editor – crisp, such creativity and inventiveness in the freezes, zoom edits (like Aronofsky in Requiem) and especially the transitions (often graphic or wipes)
- Genre parody—horror, action – again, often with style surpassing the originals
- Tracking shots in Shaun of the Dead, Baby Driver
- Wright has all the cinematic tools in the tool belt (I think his greatest strength is editing, something you can’t take a screenshot of really, and there were no shortage of options for this page), a talent for symmetry in the framing (World’s End), great blocking of faces in the frame and composition work like Kurosawa (below), the staggering of faces walking into the frame in semi-profile like Scorsese (The Color of Money, Casino)—an eye for color (especially in Baby Driver)—the shot of the swings in the snow in Scott Pilgrim is just a flat out cinematic painting—gorgeous
- Hot Fuzz
- Baby Driver
- Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
- Shaun of the Dead
- The World’s End
By year and grades
|2004- Shaun of the Dead||R|
|2007- Hot Fuzz||HR|
|2010- Scott Pilgrim vs. the World||R|
|2013- The World’s End||R|
|2017- Baby Driver||R/HR|
*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
The trailer for Last Night in Soho came out recently and I’m very excited for this one. Looks like a departure from the usual Edgar Wright fare in terms of it being a psychological horror with little (or no) comedy. But I wouldn’t be surprise if his talent for editing was on display here, and some of the uses of colour in the trailer look fantastic.
@Declan- I’m excited for this one as well. Edgar Wright is a great filmmaker. He strikes me as someone who is capable of a masterpiece, even if he hasn’t made one yet (not to say his films aren’t all excellent already).