Michael Mann

Public Enemies (2009) starring Johnny Depp and Christian Bale

Public Enemies (2009) starring Johnny Depp and Christian Bale

  • Born: 1943
  • Rank: 98
  • Score: 477.95
  • Awards: National Board of Review
  • Nominations: Oscar, DGA, BAFTA, Golden Globe
  • Feature Films: 9
  • Best Film: Last of the Mohicans – 1992
  • Worst Film: The Keep – 1983

Top 5 Films:

  1. Last of the Mohicans – 1992
  2. The Insider – 1999
  3. Heat – 1995
  4. Collateral – 2004
  5. Manhunter – 1986

Top 10 Best Director finishes (Nighthawk awards):

  • 1992 – 3rd – Last of the Mohicans
  • 1995 – 8th – Heat
  • 2004 – 8th – Collateral

People usually think of Michael Mann as the creator of Miami Vice, especially after he directed the film version in 2006, but he is so much more than that. He is the premier director of crime films – whether it be a heist film like Thief or Heat, or a film about an assassin like Collateral. He could make a film about cigarette smoking seem suspenseful. He managed to direct both Will Smith and Jamie Foxx to Oscar nominations and reign in the kind of excess that has ruined many recent Al Pacino performances.

There is no question that Public Enemies is one of the most anticipated films of the year and given that it’s right in Mann’s wheelhouse, it should only move him up the list. Depp and Bale play perfectly into this type of film and Mann is the right director for the job.

Last of the Mohicans – #3 film of 1992

I use this as a perfect example of a read the book, don’t see the film (as I showed here).  But you should definitely see the film.

There are many reasons to see a film.  A story is one (and this one has a great adventure and love story).  The acting is another (Daniel Day-Lewis may be the finest actor who ever lived).  But there are also the technical reasons for seeing the film.  Of course, great films combine all of these (and much more), and this is a great film, but the technical aspects of this film are one of the reasons that we make technology like DVDs and Blu-Ray and HD, so that we can get a better look at such things.

There are three major technical categories – editing, cinematography and score.  Those are the ones, when put together properly, can make a scene magnificent all on its own.  The four minutes in real time of Star Trek II after the Genesis device has been activated are a perfect example of moving a film from very good to great.  The single greatest shot in Lord of the Rings is not a visual effects extravaganza, but rather the shot over the mountains of the beacons being lit with the music playing.  Likewise, the key to this film is the final few minutes, from the minute that the Chief makes his decision and Nathaniel starts to lead Cora away.

Everything has been put together perfectly in this scene.  There is no dialogue because there is no need for dialogue.  There is the music (which I love so much that this piece, “Promentory” is the number one played thing on my ITunes), the cinematography, which perfectly frames every shot and the editing, which puts it all together.