- Born: 1889
- Died: 1963
- Rank: 95
- Score: 484.10
- Feature Films: 6
- Best: La belle et la bette
- Worst: Les Parents Terribles
- Top 5 Films:
- La belle et la bette – 1946
- Blood of a Poet – 1930
- The Eagle Has Two Heads – 1948
- Orpheus – 1949
- The Testament of Orpheus – 1960
Top 10 Director finishes (Nighthawk Awards):
- 1933 – 5th – Blood of a Poet
- 1947 – 1st – La belle et la bette
- 1948 – 6th – The Eagle Has Two Heads
Jean Cocteau would have been well known even had he never directed a film. He was an accomplished writer and poet and his creative success was never dependent on his films. But he did direct films and he a masterful director. He directed one very good early film and then didn’t come back to film for another 15 years. He concluded his career with the Orphic trilogy. Those films alone would have earned him consideration for this list, but it was the film in between that actually got him on the list.
La belle et la bette – #1 film of 1947
The 1991 Disney version of Beauty and the Beast will long be remembered for being the first animated film nominated for Best Picture and the film where Disney finally broke free of the “princess needing to be rescued” storyline and it deserves to be remembered because it is one of the all time great animated films, but it still pales when measured up against Cocteau’s 1946 version (I do all my film awards based on what year they were Oscar eligible, thus it is my #1 film of 1947 because that was the year it was released in the U.S.).
Cocteau’s film is a visual masterpiece. We have statues that move and even fire arrows. We have tears that turn into diamonds. We need only know that this is a fairy tale, but we can actually see it come to life. And conveniently, it is available from Criterion, so it looks masterful on DVD.