Saturday, November 19, 2011

Disgruntled Monkey's Top 10 Directors

It’s weird that it’s taken me long to get to this list. But now is the time to look at my favourite directors. For this list I did a lot of looking about and tried to really figure out the directors whose work I admired the most. I also made sure I stuck to one golden rule. I had to like at least three of the director’s movies, which also means a director has to have made at least three movies. I think this one golden rule really helped me refine the list down. But for the people out there I will also list my favourite movies from the director. As if I didn’t have enough work already.

10: Mel Brooks (Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs, Robin Hood Men In Tights, The Producers, Young Frankenstein)

Mel Brooks was one of the directors who helped form my humour when I was just a kid. While other kids watched Star Wars over and over, to the point of memorizing every line, I did the same for Spaceballs. When Robin Hood Men In Tights came out I was performing the main musical number for many of my friends. But even with all the zany comedy a film like Blazing Saddles also has a message buried beneath all the great jokes. While I’ve listed above all my favourite movies, even those that didn’t land well with audiences I still enjoy. Yes that’s right I I’m one of the few people to like Life Stinks. Still at one point Brooks was a director who could never miss in making people laugh, and when he wanted to he could throw a little message along with the comedy.

09: Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Magnolia, There Will Be Blood)

The day I watched There Will Be Blood is the day I knew I didn’t need to watch any more movies done by Paul Thomas Anderson, he would always have a place in my top ten. It’s hard to describe how much of an impact that movie made on me, and honestly only a few movies have ever had that effect on me. It all had to do with the character of Daniel Plainview. While a lot of credit has to go to Daniel Day-Lewis for the performance, its Anderson’s focus on character in his movies that truly lets Plainview live. But getting away from that movie, he also managed to move me and make me laugh in his other efforts such as Boogie Nights and Magnolia all which really delve into characters and allow the story to truly breathe through them. While the movie isn’t on the list above I’ve got to give him a fair tip of the hat to for Punch Drunk Love which made me believe that Adam Sandler can do serious movies. Paul Thomas Anderson is a director that is able to create powerful movies that really highlight interesting characters and ones that we might not normally want to watch.

08: Quentin Tarantino (Inglorious Basterds, Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill)

Tarantino only get’s number eight on my list, I can already sense people grabbing their pitchforks and torches for a little mob justice. But I still like the man’s work and do watch Inglorious Basterds maybe a little too much for my own good. I think the ultimate testament to the man is he creates movies that influence the way people talk. Sometimes I real of a quote from his movies and not even realize it as it’s just the way I talk. Add to the fact that the man can create interesting stories that just eat up the time even though the movies are long. Tarantino also has a habit of putting people in films that suddenly propel their movie careers, or even rejuvenate them. I can’t wait for his next movie, as I really want to see what he does with a Civil War era story. Tarantino is a director that has been able to tap into the social conscience and manage to influence it with his work.

07: Frank Darabont (The Mist, The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile)

Frank Darabont is the man behind my favourite movie of all time. The Shawshank Redemption was the movie that made me take film seriously and is probably the reason why I’m blogging about movies. It was a movie about hope but it was set in one of the darkest of settings. It really shows the genius that is Darabont, as he really has a great handle on tone and atmosphere and how to use them to maximum effectiveness. But as if the man wasn’t cool enough, he also loves horror movies. The Mist is a fantastic horror movie, that really revels in the bleakness. He also helped write Nightmare on Elm Street 3 and The Blob as well as some other horror fair. Horror or drama, Darabont is one of those directors that always knows what he’s doing, and one that doesn’t shy away from the darkness of reality.

06: Wes Anderson (The Life Aquatic, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Fantastic Mr Fox, The Darjeeling Limited)

There is just something about Wes Anderson films that get to me. I can’t put my finger on it, but beneath all the quirkiness of the characters and settings, are themes that really resonate with me. More than any of his films The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou seems to emphasise this quality. Claymation sea creatures, film techniques that bring in to question the whole reality of what we are watching, characters that are delightfully weird, and a story that takes a left turn at Albuquerque, all hide the potent themes of family, love, loyalty, grief and revenge. Getting away from Steve Zissou and his crew, his other movies offer a lot in the same way, and when viewed as a whole he proves himself to be quite the auteur. Every movie of his that comes out I look forward to as I know I’m in for a fantastical ride, with a serious dose of heart.

05: David Cronenberg (A History of Violence, Eastern Promises, The Fly, Existenz, Crash, Videodrome)

Whether it is his earlier science fiction and horror work, to his more modern reality based work, Cronenberg has the power to utterly creep, disgust and disturb the hell out of me. Still no matter the era I like his fascination with body horror and the changes people go through. Even in A History of Violence themes of transformation are present as violence acts as a virus and changes the people around the main character once it’s introduced into the circle. At his best he can create movies that turn audiences away as they are confronted with imagery that just manages to get under the skin, yet if they stick around there are lessons to be learnt about the human condition. Crash is probably an excellent example of this, as while I had problems getting through some of the scenes I emerged better for watching the movie fully through. Cronenberg is a director that doesn’t shy away from the blood and gore of being, but is always asking interesting questions to go along with it.

04: Ridley Scott (Blade Runner, Alien, Kingdom of Heaven, GI Jane, Gladiator, Legend, Black Rain, Black Hawk Down)

When I was young I went to a movie night that was showing both Labyrinth and Legend. Labyrinth was the movie that I liked the most, but I couldn’t help but be impressed by the visuals of Legend. Having grown up I’ve come to appreciate Legend a whole lot more, and realised that Ridley Scott has been a director that has regularly popped up in my life. Blade Runner is one of my favourite Science Fiction film, and really did formalise what I like about Science Fiction. Gladiator actually made me like Russell Crowe, Black Hawk Down is one of my favourite war movies, Kingdom of Heaven is slowly climbing my list of all time favourite movies, GI Jane is a movie that I enjoy despite some issues and it also was the first film to introduce me to Viggo Mortensen one of my favourite actors. Finally who can forget Alien which gave me the Xenomorphs that I love so much. Ridley Scott has always been in my life influencing my taste in movies.

03: Christopher Nolan (Memento, Insomnia, Batman Begins, The Prestige, The Dark Knight, Inception)

Well first off he did two awesome Batman movies, but this isn’t the only thing that drew me to the director. Memento was an excellent film that played with narrative flow, Insomnia actually gave Robin Williams an meaty role to bite into and The Prestige was just an excellent period piece that gave us a look into illusions. What I like about Nolan is how varied his movies are, and how dedicated he is to each and every movie. But maybe the ultimate reason why he makes it so high on my list is this little movie called Inception. One of my favourite topics is dreaming so I was having an absolute riot with the movie. Everything about this movie was polished head to toe, and it offered a movie that was only as complicated as you make it. To me Nolan is just an example of a professional that wants to craft a well tailored product that manages to reach as many segments of the population as possible.

02: The Cohen Brothers (The Big Lebowski, Hudsucker Proxy, True Grit, No Country for Old Men, O Brother Where Art Thou? Millers Crossing, Intolerable Cruelty)

Thrillers, Comedies, Westerns, Crime; the genre’s that The Cohen brothers have done is impressive. What is truly impressive about the brothers is how they seem to be capable of working in any genre. Sure there have been some missteps, but the amount of films that people enjoy is astounding. That’s the other thing that the Cohen’s bring, films that are loved by people as well as being praised by critics. They truly seem to be in love with their work and it seeps onto the celluloid. No matter how I feel I can always reach for a Cohen Brothers movie and find something to suit my mood.

01: David Fincher (Fight Club, Seven, Alien 3, Zodiac, The Social Network, Panic Room)

So my favourite director of all time has to be David Fincher and simply put it’s because he hasn’t made a single movie that I’ve hated. Every movie is a work of art and the darkness that he seems to deal with mainly really inspires me. Fight Club was one of those movies that knocked me down like a freight train. The Social Network was truly inspiring as he turned a subject many mocked, into an interesting character study. Alien 3 while crapped upon is an excellent ending to then trilogy, and while it had its problems it tapped into a side of Ripley not yet explored. David Fincher represents one of the directors who’ll be remembered from this current age of cinema. I’m anxiously awaiting the remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as it’s just the sort of story that he can truly bring his dark visuals.


  1. Great list. Wes Anderson would be high up on my list as well. Probably second only to Woody Allen.

  2. Great list! Fincher's my number one too, must do a list like this of my own. Reckon we'd have about 5 in common.