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Saturday
Nov302013

Team FYC: Edgar Wright for Best Director

Wright's Feature Filmography: Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and The World's EndIn this series Team Experience sounds off (individually) on their favorite fringe awards contenders. Here's Michael Cusumano on Edgar Wright


Four features into his career it is clear that Edgar Wright is building a body of work that will end up ranking with the greats of film comedy. It is time the Academy recognizes this fact (and their aversion to comedy) and honors The World’s End, his best film to date, with a nomination for Best Director. 

Stop and consider everything Wright's latest film accomplishes, all while staying as light and zippy as classic screwball by the likes of Hawks or Sturges. The World’s End is simultaneously a genre spoof, a farce, a biting social satire, a character study, and a moving comedy about middle-aged friendship. And above all else it’s funny. Wright keeps the pace jumping throughout and unlike other directors he never sacrifices the integrity of the material for a gag.

If the fact that Wright deserves it on the merits isn’t enough to sway voters how about nominating him because of the message it sends about the state of comedy in 2013. Look at the top box office comedy hits for the year. It’s an embarrassment. Identity Thief, Hangover, Grown Ups. Even the few bright spots like The Heat or This is the End still exhibit a “Who cares?” attitude about visuals and screenplay structure and are content to lean on the charisma of the stars and coast on the fundamentals. 

Edgar Wright, on the other hand, holds his film to a standard as high as any prestige Oscar bait and he is in control of every element of every frame of this baby. Everyone is rowing in the same direction on The World’s End, from the quicksilver editing to the witty production design to the cast, including stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost whom Wright guides to career-best performances. That is the stuff of which Best Director nominations should be made.

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Reader Comments (18)

I completely disagree with this one. The World's End's first two acts are flawless, but the third is just terrible. Just bad writing. The movie completely implodes. I do think Right deserved a nod for Scott Pilgrim and Shaun of the Dead, though.

November 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

I'm the opposite of Sad man. I think the first act is not very good but then picks up into an excellent sci-fi/comedy feature. It's way too slow and dare I say sitcom-like at first for me. It starts to get going at the hotel and finally hits something when the bars are all transformed from their memories.

With that sad, I would have no problem with The World's End sneaking in for Editing, Visual Effects, Makeup, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Best Director, and even Best Actor for Simon Pegg. I wouldn't begrudge a Screenplay nomination just because Wright combines so many different subgenres in an unexpected way that comes together nicely in the end.

November 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

I am agnostic about Wright mostly. I mean, he does have solid comic timing as a director and there are wonderful passages in nearly all of his movies. But I never think they quite come together into something extraordinary in the end. Of his movies I like Scott Pilgrim and Shaun of the Dead best.

oddly enough, I think this is his worst film instead of his best so Michael and I are at opposite ends here ;)

November 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I just don't get the great reviews for this one. But the actors were charming!

November 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

I think SCOTT PILGRIM is his - i don't want to say "worst" - most problematic film. I fall in between Sad Man and Robert. Loved the middle act. First was okay, but marred by Simon Pegg's performance that I just didn't quite believe. Third act was kind of a clusterfuck of everything and the kitchen sink. I would've been there for a Wright and HOT FUZZ FYC a few years back though.

November 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

I'll join the chorus of those who consider this film inferior to his last 3 (I loved every one of those 3). This one has its moments (of course), but as a whole I thought it was a bit of a mess.

November 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterScottC

Did not care for this one at all. I'm always grateful for the opportunity to see Rosamund Pike, though, even when the role is not worthy of her.

November 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJan

I just love his stuff, generally. I wouldn't say The World's End is "his best film" (in my view that's still Shaun of the Dead), but it IS (for me) his second best. Scott Pilgrim is, actually, the one I'd grade most harshly (but even then I couldn't honestly dip it below a B grade), but that's mostly due to an overblown LOVE of the title character that wasn't even present in the source material (it was more ambivalent about Scott than anything, even at the very end.) Still, I'm looking forward to what he does with that Ant Man movie (the focus is probably Scott Lang, if the reports that it's a "heist film" are any indication), even if it's unlikely the Academy will be interested in a Marvel Comics heist film. (Though they've (possibly) casting Rashida Jones as The Wasp. (Sigh) Normally, I'm not against race lifting (I'm not even offended at the idea of the Storm's being a mixed family or anything and I CERTAINLY wasn't offended at making Idris Elba Heimdall OR having Laurence Fishburne be Perry White), but The Wasp is the ONE (read: ONE) I'd actually be wholeheartedly against. Her superhero name is kind of supposed to be A PUN, a pun on the fact that she starts as just A SHELTERED WHITE SOCIALITE and (ultimately) becomes an awesome superhero. That's awesome and in it's own weird way inspiring. Ultimate "Wasp" is (sigh) a "mutant" hiding her powers who Mark Millar envisioned as Lucy Liu.)

November 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

I'm fully in the tank for Wright and think The World's End was one of the best films of the year. No my favorite film from him, but probably his best one, if that make sense.

November 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBifferSpace

I think Scott Pilgrim is his best work, but it's also his most obvious "Look at me! I'm directing!" showcase.

November 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

Meanwhile I believe he has yet to make a bad (or problematic- I'd love to hear explanation of how SP is problematic especially when I think Wright made the right call in changing aspects of the source material) film and that the decision to go there with Gary King as a character was one of the boldest choices of any film this 2013.

FYC for Director, Screenplay (I like how it how it builds up and 'implodes' literally, it is in total keeping with the trilogy), editing, Visual Effects, and Actor.

November 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

YESSS totally on board this one. I haven't watched it more than once so it's hard for me to judge whether my gut reaction of 'The World's End is better than Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead!!!' will hold, but that was my gut reaction. I love that he didn't just had the same satire/spoof he had in the previous two but allowed the movie to grow up. I actually found the ending pretty depressing as a part of that - but good depressing, not bad depressing.

Scott Pilgrim.. does have some issues that don't exist in the other three but overall it's very enjoyable. If your worst movie to date is Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, you're in a damn good place as far as I'm concerned.

November 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPitry

I've seen them all! And liked them.

One plot construction that I don't want to see in his next movie is the numbered sequence that must be got through. With Ramona's 7 exes, I sometimes wished they could cut one, instead of methodically plodding through them all. With the pubs, I sometimes thought there was too many to get through. It's like the seven quests, the 12 tasks, the x number of horcruxes, etc.

November 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteradri

He's one of the best writer directors working today. He's makes Individual, smart, entertaining films. Also Spaced was a wonderful series, and he directed every episode. Can't wait to see Ant Man.

November 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTy

adri: If I would recommend one of the exes for him to have cut from Scott Pilgrim, it would, easily, be the Roxanne Richter portion. If I were to grade each of the six sections independently:

Ex 1: B+
Ex 2: B+
Ex 3: B
Ex 4: C- (they ended it with a misplaced swipe from the original conclusion of the Ex 3 section, even though (in the original context) that moment was a crucial moment of character planting for Scott that could get no payoff in this new (truncated) structure. It's a TOXIC moment that poisons that entire section of the film.)
Ex 5 and 6: A- (The aesthetic climax of the piece, such that I almost wish Wright could have added a bit more to it.)
Ex 7: B+

November 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

@Volvagia: I am in awe of your amazing memory!

December 1, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteradri

"Shaun of the Dead" is horror comedy classic.

December 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

I'm going to risk censure/ridicule and say that for generation-defining movies, Scott Pilgrim > The Social Network, and even though I agree that some of the changes from the source material made it weaker as a narrative.

December 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPaula

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