Rediff has an article today listing the 40 best directors (??) in the world today. I saw this article and later George’s post on this list as well as the original article from Guardian Unlimited.
However several questions arise. The first one being - why did Rediff not link to the actual article! The second question is what made them list 40 directors? Is it because, by shortening the list to 40, they could exclude some usual suspects which would in turn raise my third question. My last question is kind of linked to the third. But more on those questions later.
The Guardian Unlimited article lists the 40 directors with a small write-up on each of them. Several of my favorites make the top twenty. David Lynch, whose Mulholland Drive was recommended highly (to me by my co-workers), tops the list. My man Scorsese comes second.
The third in the list comes as a pleasant surprise. The Coen Brothers (Ethan and Joel) who have risen up in my chart in the last couple of months, during which I have seen Fargo and O’Brother Where Art Thou? (both of which were unfortunately trashed by some of my friends), feature at third on the list. I am yet to see Raising Arizona which I don’t know how I missed given my extensive must see movie list. But that list has not been updated for quite some time now due to my inability to borrow tapes from the college library. I missed Intolerable Cruelty for the sole reason that word of mouth opinion about the movie made my friends shy away from it and I don’t like to watch movies in the theatre all by myself.
Steven Soderbergh and Terrance Malik round of the top 5 in the list. Quentin Tarantino figures in the top 20 at 17 while Ang Lee (he, of The Hulk fame, yuck!) and Michael Moore make the top 30 at 27 and 28.
Now for some of the usual suspects who don’t make the list. Hold your breath. Steven Speilberg and Ridley Scott !!. These ommisions with respect to some of the people in the list makes this list pointless. While I agree with George who questions the validity of this “top 40” list, I cannot agree with his statement that guys like Ridley Scott, Steven Speilberg deserve to be out of this list. But these people have been the ones in the forefront of the technological advances in cinema in the last two decades.
Looking at Ridley Scott’s filmography at IMDB, we find that, after some TV series in the 60s, his movies from the second half of the seventies have spanned every genre. From science fiction in Aliens and Blade Runner (difficult to pinpoint whether this movie is from the film noir genre or is pure science fiction, but perhaps the darkest movie of its kind) to drama like Thelma and Louise and Hannibal and historicals like his Christopher Coumbus biopic, 1492 and Gladiator, which was nominated for a dozen Oscars incl. Best director and won 5 of them, incl. one for Russel Crowe for Best Actor. If this variety is not influential, what is?
As for Steven Speilberg, the guy has epitomized technical brilliance all through. But is grandeur detrimental to critical acclaim? It seems so, as his absence from the list indicates. Another guy who fails to make the list is John Lasseter, the brain behind the cartoon hits like Toy Story and A Bugs Life. So does that mean that cartoons do not deserve their acclaim? Food for thought!