Hooper. Tom Hooper is a British director who came up in television like so many directors and auteurs before him since the 1950’s. Depending on how you count his television work (I have one TV miniseries and TV movie below in the archives) he has made eight or nine films—and all but his most recent- Cats in 2019- land in the archives. It is a difficult time to mount a defense for Hooper with Cats as a supposed dumpster-fire disaster in 2019 (I have not seen it yet, but do plan to see it). Given his track-record though, if he were a stock, I’d buy it all right now while it is so low. My guess is he bounces back and his next film is exceptional just like The King’s Speech and The Danish Girl. Other great directors have won the infamous Golden Raspberry (Razzie) for worst film and/or worst director including Michael Cimino, Gus Van Sant, and Paul Verhoeven. The case for Hooper is the consistency in his work (both in content and in style) and the depth of filmography already (six archiveable films).
Best film: The King’s Speech. It is one of those films that would have been better off not to win best picture in 2010. No, it is not as good as The Social Network, Black Swan, Inception and a few others from 2010—but it is stunning to look at— and formally consistent with the proclivity for close-up shots— both within the film itself (set up right from the opening titles with a close-up) and Hooper’s larger oeuvre.
total archiveable films: 6
top 100 films: 0
top 500 films: 0
top 100 films of the decade: 0
most overrated: Tom Hooper does not have an overrated film. TSPDT didn’t bite on The King’s Speech like the Academy did (thank goodness) – but now they’re too far the other way and they are underrating having it as #23 on the top 1000 for the 21st century consensus list. It is the only Hooper film rated on either TSPDT list- hence nothing being overrated.
most underrated : It is The Danish Girl which is simply breathtakingly beautiful. It doesn’t land as one of the 43 films from 2015 on the TSPDT consensus list and should.
gem I want to spotlight : The Danish Girl. I hate to pick the same film—but I was struck by it in theater, and then upon closer inspection it was even stronger. It is like the lite version of Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner—the story of an artist- that also has artistic ambitions and compositions itself— certainly proof Tom Hooper is indeed an artist if The King’s Speech wasn’t enough.
- Close-ups– Hooper may have been surpassed by Barry Jenkins here and may not quite be up to the work of Jonathan Demme—but he is dedicated to shot choice and there are some strikingly shots here throughout his work. As I said above on The King Speech – his best work- he sets it up from the very outset. This often makes for some very good performances.
- Sort of “regal” period pieces, aristocracy (sort of Merchant Ivory meets Visconti) often about political and/or historical biopics – and despite the penchant for close-ups, there is a clear interest in the foreground/background.
- The King’s Speech
- The Danish Girl
- John Adams
- Les Misérables
- The Damn United
By year and grades
|2008- John Adams
|2009- The Damn United
|2010- The King’s Speech
|2012- Les Misérables
|2015- The Danish Girl
*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