Something that I’ve been thinking about lately, as I get more into this movie-blogging thing (thanks for coming along, by the way; I’m having a blast and hope you are, too) is that I feel sort of woefully uninformed when it comes to directors. I guess just because I tend to focus on the actors, or the script, or the plot, and less on who is making the whole thing come together.
So when Ruth over at FlixChatter tagged me on a meme that involves listing 15 directors who have influenced my movie-watching over the years, I thought “Oh no! I will have to admit my ignorance! I feel like such a fraud!!” But then, I really started looking into the movies I love, and their directors, and was somewhat surprised to realize that names did start to emerge over and over again. There are even a few directors whose involvement can almost guarantee that I will want to see the movie, perhaps regardless of who is starring in it. And so, here’s my list. I’ve included all movies seen by me, even those I disliked (note TDK) just to show that everyone has missteps sometimes. My favorites are italicized. Hope you enjoy, and maybe find something you want to see!
In alphabetical order:
Robert Altman (M*A*S*H, Popeye, Cookie’s Fortune, Gosford Park, A Prairie Home Companion) : Off-beat, known for unusual “angles,” use of ensemble casts, dark comedy.
Kenneth Branagh (Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing, Frankenstein, Hamlet, As You Like It) : Better known as an actor, perhaps, but the best interpreter of Shakespeare since Olivier.
Mel Brooks (The Producers, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, History of the World: Part I, Spaceballs, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Dracula: Dead and Loving It) : Comedy genius, and definitely someone who has influenced today’s humor as well (even if I don’t like it).
Charles Chaplin (The Gold Rush, The Circus, City Lights, Modern Times) : The great-granddaddy of modern comedy? Perhaps. I would certainly say I can see his influence in Brooks and Edwards, at the very least.
George Cukor (The Philadelphia Story, Adam’s Rib, My Fair Lady) : Classic, fast-paced comedy, plus, My Fair Lady, c’mon.
Stanley Donen (On the Town, Singin’ in the Rain, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Funny Face, Charade) : Started out as Gene Kelly’s partner (shares credit for On the Town and SitR), strong in musicals, comedy.
Blake Edwards (Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Pink Panther, Victor/Victoria) : Another comedic giant. Not a fan of The Pink Panther, but those films definitely carry on the slapstick tradition. I love Breakfast at Tiffany’s … so stylish.
Howard Hawks (Bringing Up Baby, His Girl Friday, Hatari!) : Cukor’s equal for witty, fast-paced comedic dialogue.
John Hughes (Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles) : Better known as a writer, but worth being included for TBC and Ferris Bueller. The father of the “teen comedy” as we know it today.
Vincente Minelli (Meet Me in St. Louis, The Pirate, An American in Paris, Brigadoon, Gigi) : Look at these musicals!! Enough said.
Christopher Nolan (Memento, Insomnia, Batman Begins, The Prestige, The Dark Knight, Inception) : Clearly the most modern listed, fascinating attention to detail, fun twisty plots, darker sensibilities.
Ridley Scott (Blade Runner, Legend, Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, A Good Year, American Gangster, Body of Lies, Robin Hood) : Known for graphic/sweeping battle scenes, but also capable of personal story-telling along with humor and romance.
Steven Spielberg (Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Hook, Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, Artificial Intelligence: AI, Munich, Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull) : I am a child of the 80s. Spielberg spans an interesting range of imaginative action (Indy films) to simply amazing dramatic works (Schindler, Ryan, Munich).
Robert Stevenson (Darby O’Gill and the Little People, Mary Poppins, That Darn Cat, The Gnome-Mobile, Blackbeard’s Ghost, The Love Bug, Bedknobs and Broomsticks) : I waffled about including this one until I started to think about what he was working with. Yes, those are all kid’s movies, but Disney projects during that period of time were arguably the most imaginative stuff out there. Note the use of animatronics (Gnome-Mobile, TDC), special effects (Darby O’Gill, Blackbeard’s Ghost) and actors alongside animation (Poppins, Bedknobs) … this guy was doing cutting-edge stuff back in the day. Looks clunky now, but a lot of people owe him a lot.
Peter Weir (Witness, Dead Poets Society, The Truman Show, Master & Commander) : Very personal films, incredible eye for detail and accuracy.