Robert Altman on the set of Prairie Home Companion with his "standby director", Paul Thomas Anderson, who agreed to that role for insurance reasons.  In between is some actress.

Robert Altman (#33) on the set of Prairie Home Companion with his “standby director”, Paul Thomas Anderson (#28), who agreed to that role for insurance reasons. In between is some actress.

This is the penultimate ranked list of those directors who have been nominated for Best Director by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.  This is part 8 of the series, with one part still left to go.  As always, you can find the previous seven posts in this series by going here.  There is also an introduction here, which explains the scope of the project as well as my scoring system.  I have been focusing on finishing this series this year, both so that I go do the bi-annual update of the Top 100 Directors of All-Time and because I want to do it before another Oscar season and some more directors potentially end up needing to be ranked.

In a reversal of the last group, these are the more experienced directors.  With the exception of four Studio Era workhorses, the 25 directors in the last post had only averaged 7.76 films.  This time, we have seven directors (Lucas, Olivier, Coppola, Fosse, Malick, Mendes, Anderson) who have only directed a combined 39 films – an average of 5.57 (I’ve seen all but two of those – the two now out or about to be in theaters).  The other 18 directors have averaged 19.83 films – or if you cut out Lynch, Branagh and Leigh, you have 15 directors who have made 325 films (21.67 each), of which I have seen 308.  I have also seen 95.2% of these films – only missing more than one film by Renoir (4) and Capra (9).  And the only film I’m missing from both Truffaut and Malle are on TCM in the next month.  And this just about caps it for the less experienced directors.  The only director in the last post with fewer than 10 films to his credit is Tarantino.

The other demarcation point between this group and the final group is the number of great (****) films they have directed.  Of the final 25, only one has directed fewer than 5 great films – Francis Ford Coppola, at #25, and he’s got four.  Only four others have directed just five – Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles (both of whom have smaller amounts of total films), Clint Eastwood and Elia Kazan.  But how many directors have directed more than five great films and aren’t in the top 25?  Just five – all of whom are here: Stephen Frears (which is how he ranks this high), Steven Soderbergh, Pedro Almodóvar, Frank Capra and Francois Truffaut.  They all have six great films.  All sixteen directors who directed more than six great films are in the final group. (more…)

Patterns form where none exist for John (Russell Crowe) and Alicia Nash (Jennifer Connelly) in A Beautiful Mind.

The 74th annual Academy Awards for the film year 2001.  The nominations were announced on February 12, 2002 and the awards were held on March 24, 2002.

Best Picture:  A Beautiful Mind

  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
  • Moulin Rouge!
  • Gosford Park
  • In the Bedroom

Most Surprising Omission:  Mulholland Dr.

Best Eligible Film Not Nominated:  The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain

Best Eligible English-Language Film Not Nominated:  Mulholland Dr.

Rank (out of 84) Among Best Picture Years:  #6 (more…)

I’m a Lord of the Rings fanatic with a thing for Cate Blanchett. What were you expecting to see here?

My Top 20:

  1. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
  2. Moulin Rouge
  3. The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain
  4. Mulholland Dr.
  5. Memento
  6. Gosford Park
  7. In the Bedroom
  8. The Royal Tenenbaums
  9. The Others
  10. The Man Who Wasn’t There
  11. Ghost World
  12. Amores perros
  13. Monster’s Ball
  14. The Princess and the Warrior
  15. A.I.  Artificial Intelligence
  16. Vanilla Sky
  17. Black Hawk Down
  18. The Devil’s Backbone
  19. Monsters Inc.
  20. Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone


A nice family dinner in GoodFellas (1990) - never mind the guy dying in the trunk

My Top 20:

  1. GoodFellas
  2. Dances with Wolves
  3. Miller’s Crossing
  4. The Grifters
  5. Presumed Innocent
  6. Cinema Paradiso
  7. The Hunt for Red October
  8. Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams
  9. May Fools
  10. The Killer
  11. Longtime Companion
  12. Reversal of Fortune
  13. Avalon
  14. Jesus of Montreal
  15. Edward Scissorhands
  16. White Hunter, Black Heart
  17. Total Recall
  18. The Nasty Girl
  19. Misery
  20. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (more…)

Elias (Willem DaFoe) and Barnes (Tom Berenger) - the light and darkness of Platoon.

The 59th annual Academy Awards for the film year 1986.  The nominations were announced on February 11, 1987  and the awards were held on March 30, 1987.

Best Picture:  Platoon

  • Hannah and Her Sisters
  • A Room with a View
  • Children of a Lesser God
  • The Mission

Most Surprising Omission:  Blue Velvet

Best Eligible Film Not Nominated:  Blue Velvet

Rank (out of 82) Among Best Picture Years:  #15 (more…)

the brilliant ee cummings says it all in a caption from hannah and her sisters

My Top 20:

  1. Hannah and Her Sisters
  2. Platoon
  3. A Room with a View
  4. Blue Velvet
  5. Stand By Me
  6. Mona Lisa
  7. My Beautiful Laundrette
  8. Aliens
  9. The Decline of the American Empire
  10. Something Wild
  11. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
  12. Salvador
  13. The Sacrifice
  14. Little Shop of Horrors
  15. Peggy Sue Got Married
  16. The Assault
  17. The Color of Money
  18. True Stories
  19. Vagabond
  20. F/X (more…)
Four Friends and an Oscar

Four Friends and an Oscar

But What I Really Want to Do is Direct

Actors have been getting nominated for Best Director since the beginning of time. Or at least the beginning of the Academy Awards. No exaggeration. Charlie Chaplin was nominated for Best Comedy Direction in the initial awards in 1928.


Francis Ford Coppola with his three Oscars from The Godfather Part II (1974)

Francis Ford Coppola with his three Oscars from The Godfather Part II (1974)

Best Director: The Film School Kids

Of course, I could point people to Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, the pre-eminent book about this era, but there is the caveat: he is known for twisting things around as can be seen here. Still, it is fascinating, if nothing else.

This was the era where the kids from film school made their mark on Hollywood and film history, though the two most prominent of them (Spielberg and Scorsese) would wait quite a while for their actual Oscars. In fact, oddly enough for two people whose films bear their mark, both Spielberg and Scorsese got their first Best Picture nominations in the mid-70′s (Jaws in 75 and Taxi Driver in 76) and both of them were passed over for Best Director nominations for foreign directors (Spielberg for Fellini, Scorsese for Bergman). (more…)

Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock

These are actually two different genres of film that are often combined.  I will be separating them out and giving a top 10 for each.  The essential difference is that in a Mystery, the audience (and characters) are trying to find out what has happened, while in a Suspense, you are trying to find out what will happen next.  In other words, in a Mystery, you chase someone and in a Suspense film you get chased.

Of course the bald man to the left was the master of suspense films.  He’s got four in the top 10 and four more in the next 10.  The other 16 films are by 16 different directors (unless you believe the rumor that Orson Welles directed a lot of The Third Man), and surprisingly, Stanley Kubrick is not one of them. (more…)


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