Amir here, to bring you the first edition of Team Top Ten, a communal list by all of Film Experience’s contributors that will sit in for our regular Tuesday Top Ten list once a month. For our first episode, we’ve decided to rank the best new directors of the 21st century. These are all directors who have made their first film after 2000. (Short films, TV and theatre work didn’t render anyone ineligible. Only feature length fiction and documentary films were considered.)
I had a blast compiling the 18 lists of our contributors to arrive at the final ten because their submissions were incredibly eclectic and surprising. I’d made a bet with myself that Steve McQueen (Hunger, Shame) would top the list, and lo and behold, he failed to make the cut altogether, though by a very fine margin. Korean director Bong Joon Ho was also left off, despite showing up on more than a handful of lists. Jason Reitman, Joshua Marston, Rian Johnson and David Gordon Green all came very close too but this was a tightly contested race, evidenced by the three-way tie for our tenth spot. Overall, 71 directors got at least one vote. We travelled all the way from Japan to Portugal, from Greece to Mexico, via documentaries, comedies and superhero films. We loved stories about Muslim families, gay romances, World War II and the beautifully painted worlds of Sylvain Chomet. What we didn't like very much turned out to be actors-turned-directors, as current Oscar champ Ben Affleck got only a single vote, and George Clooney and Tommy Lee Jones failed to manage even that.
In the end, these are the twelve men and women Team Experience considers the best (thus far) of the 21st century crop:
=10. Michel Gondry
Human Nature, Eternal Sunshine, The Sciene of Sleep, Block Party, Be Kind Rewind, etcetera
Gondry's films are shaggy fantasies powered by a boundless imagination. They're more than a little goofy, speaking quirky as if it were a language, and they have an endearing handmade quality, with their maker's fingerprints visible around the rough edges. Bent as they are toward romance and optimism, Gondry's miniature worlds provide a little solace from reality.
- Andreas Stoehr
11 more directors after the jump
[Editor's Note: My apologies to Deborah Lipp (and you!) Since I forgot to post her review of her favorite Easter movie this weekend. Pretend it's still Easter for us! Here's Deborah to sing that movie's praises. - Nathaniel R]
The Wicker Man is one of my favorite movies. There's a lot to be said about it, and I'm not going to say it all here. I'll start with the obvious: Different people perceive this film in very different ways. It's horror, it's a musical, it's kitsch, but it's also, quite blatantly, religious. Despite the fact that it takes place around the Pagan holiday of Beltane (May Day), I am going to argue that it's an Easter movie, dealing with sacrifice and resurrection.
May Morrison (to Sergeant Howie): You'll simply never understand the true nature of sacrifice.
The Wicker Man's horror centers on the conflict between two spiritual world views that are alien and opposite to one another. Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward) is a pious, not to say priggish, Christian, while the residents of Summerisle are Pagan. (Spoilers aplenty once you proceed.)
My apologies but the regularly scheduled first April Fools Year in Advance Oscar Predictions -- foolish because who knows this early! -- are going to be delayed by a week or so.
Things have come up on my end. I know that patience is rarely a virtue among Oscar watchers (I'm also guilty! Hence the countdown on the left hand sidebar) but experiment with it, alright?
Alexa here. This Easter/Passover time of year is always replete with biblical references; for me, most are tied to film. For instance, my main understanding of the significance of Passover is through my repeated childhood viewings of The Ten Commandments. As one of the heathen mob, I am more likely to light a candle to mourn the loss of Ryan Gosling from the screen than ask saints for intercession. Religious or not, I thought TFE readers would enjoy some curios that aid in the practice of film idolatry, like these devotional candles from this etsy shop.
More false idols including Tim Burton, Steve Buscemi and The Avengers after the jump...
Easter is quite a benevolent holiday what with the fluffy bunnies, pastel eggs and resurrection from the dead sans zombie feelings. But the world wanted big explosive violence and big muscled men at the movies. Does anyone remember on Monday how troubled GI Joe: Retaliation once was, what with the very expensive "oops, we're not going to release it after all!" that it went through last year.
1,000 + Screens
01 GI JOE: RETALIATION $41.2 *NEW*
02 THE CROODS $26.5 (cum. $88.6)
03 TYLER PERRY'S TEMPTATION TO PUT HIS NAME IN EVERY TITLE $22.3 *NEW*
04 OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN $14 (cum $54.7)
05 OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL $11.69 (cum. $198.2) Review
06 THE HOST $11 *NEW*
07 THE CALL $4.8 (cum. $39.4) comment discussion
08 ADMISSION $3.2 (cum $11.7) on Tina Fey / on Paul Rudd
09 SPRING BREAKERS $2.7 (cum $10.1) False Advertising?
10 THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE $1.3 (cum. $20.5)
So the gamble to waste all that prep P&A last year and pull the movie last minute in 2012 for a safer spot pre-summer movie season in 2013 paid off. In very limited release I don't think you can say that wasting your early press and publicity efforts paid off at all.
Ginger & Rosa and On The Road are two more pictures to add to the endless pile of "one week qualifiers" that have worked hard to win attention at festivals and on the Oscar circuit in one year only to not let anyone spend money on them until well into the following year when people have moved on and are confused when the movie is brought up again as a "new" film. It's a strange strategy that almost never pays off and yet distributors keep trying it! Eternal optimism.
For what it's worth both pictures have plenty to recommend them even if they aren't home runs: Ginger & Rosa is a completely rare beast - a thoughtful intelligent picture about teenage girls flinging themselves into politics and hormonal indulgences with a terrific emotionally expressive performance by Elle Fanning; On the Road is beautifully shot but more hit and miss with performances but man does Garrett Hedlund ever hit it as the object of everyone's erotic and creative attention.
Having revisited Tarantino's love of little piggies and Jackie Brown's Best Shots we end the Tarantino 50th Birthday festivities at the appropriate place given the director's love of circular plotting: The Very Beginning. When Quentin Tarantino was, essentially, a nobody, he was still Quentin Tarantino. Long before he was training his camera on knives and hands threatening Jamie Foxx's upside down junk in Django Unchained, he had the balls to open his debut feature with a monologue about big dicks... or Madonna's suggested love for them in her then 8 years old hit single "Like a Virgin".
This is the very first shot of Reservoir Dogs (1992).
Over the black of the credits Mr Brown (Quentin Tarantino) has introduced his thesis "The entire song is a metaphor for big dicks." more...