Roberto Benigni is only the second worst director – but would you recognize a picture of Frank Perry?

Here is the start of the list of all the 210 directors who have been nominated for Best Director at the Academy Awards.  Using my point system (explained here), I have ranked all of them.  This initial list is only the bottom 10, but the rest of the lists will cover 25 directors at a time.

  • #210:  Frank Perry
  • #209:  Roberto Benigni
  • #208:  Adrian Lyne
  • #207:  Martin Brest
  • #206:  Mel Gibson
  • #205:  Michael Anderson
  • #204:  Richard Rush
  • #203:  Harry Beaumont
  • #202:  Irving Cummings
  • #201:  Scott Hicks

Most of the categories below are fairly self-explanatory.  For those directors with a Sarris Category, that is the classification assigned to the director by Andrew Sarris in his seminal book The American Cinema.  Since Sarris published that book, the first real guide to rating directors, in 1968, many directors aren’t listed.  All quotes noted from Sarris are from that book while all quotes noted from David Thomson are from the 2002 edition of The New Biographical Dictionary of Film.

It’s an interesting little tidbit that of the worst five directors, four of them are ostensibly still active, though, since 2003, only Mel Gibson has directed any films, and even he hasn’t been behind the camera in five years now.

Overview of #210-201:

So, these are the 10 worst directors to ever receive a Best Director nomination from the Academy Awards.  Does that mean their nominations were all horrible?  No.  I am using my overall ranking for each director.  Sometimes, the choice isn’t a bad one at all, because their Oscar nominated film is much better than the rest of their career (Richard Rush), but many of them were awful choices.  Three of them were Oscar-nominated for their best films, while Adrian Lyne was nominated for his worst.

So what groups these 10 together?  The person with the lowest scores for average film, top 5 films and top 10 films isn’t here (Michael Cimino for all three).  But none of these ten have good numbers in those categories – the highest average film is Harry Beaumont, with a 59.7, which is still only a **.5 film, and three of them (Lyne, Benigni, Perry) have an average film that only rates two stars.  Michael Anderson has the highest top 5 (68) out of the group, but most of them still can’t break the *** mark (only Mel Gibson in this group has fewer than 5 films, so his top 5 is the same as his average).  I’ve only seen more than 10 films from three of these directors (Cummings, Beaumont, Anderson), so their Top 10 is usually the same as their average and we have 6 of the bottom 10 for this category.  But in five categories they all, or almost all, score zeros.  None of them have any four star films, only Richard Rush has a film in my Top 1000 (The Stunt Man), and only three of them have films in the external Top 1000 (Martin Brest, Frank Perry, Adrian Lyne) and the latter two’s films haven’t been on the list in several years.  Also, only Hicks, Rush, Anderson and Benigni earn any director points from me and only Rush earns more than 1.  And none of them earned more than 1 Oscar nomination, with only Gibson winning the Oscar (his 25 points for Weighted Total are six more than anyone lower than 190th).

But of the 10 directors here, they combine for only 4 films better than 3 stars (Life is Beautiful, Midnight Run, Beverly Hills Cop, The Stunt Man), while they combine for 13 films worse than 2 stars.  Only Martin Brest has more very good films than truly awful films.  Had he not made Gigli, he wouldn’t appear until the next post.

Frank Perry

  • Born:  1930
  • Died:  1995
  • Rank:  #210
  • Score:  190.60
  • Nominations:  Oscar
  • Oscar Nominations:  David and Lisa  (1962)
  • Feature Films:  14
  • Feature Films I’ve Seen:  10
  • Best Film:  Trilogy
  • Worst Film:  Mommie Dearest
  • Films:
    • ***Trilogy, The Swimmer, Last Summer
    • **.5Diary of a Mad Housewife
    • **Ladybug Ladybug, David and Lisa, Play it as It Lays
    • *.5Rancho Deluxe
    • *Hello Again
    • .5Mommie Dearest
    • haven’t seen:  Doc, Man on a Swing, Monsignor, Compromising Positions
  • Sarris Category:  Oddities, One-Shots and Newcomers

Career:  Frank Perry actually began his career as an Oscar-nominated director.  David and Lisa, a story about two disturbed young lovers, somehow managed to earn an Oscar nomination for Best Director in spite of its melodrama, terrible script, boring performances and the fact that it’s not a good film.  Perry’s next film, Ladybug Ladybug wasn’t much better.  He never did make a truly good film.  The best of his career was in the late sixties, with films like The Swimmer, Last Summer and TrilogyDiary of a Mad Housewife at least had good performances and gave some hope, but by the late seventies he was making terrible films and then he made Mommie Dearest, certainly on the longlist of worst films ever made.  Sarris mentions that most of the credit for David and Lisa at the time was credited to Perry’s wife Eleanor who wrote the script, and it’s interesting that she wrote all the scripts until they divorced in 1970, after which his films got much worse.  If you stopped his career after the divorce, he would at least move up above Benigni and Lyne.  Thomson seems to hit it on the nail, noting “His approach is to probe a human relationship until realism gives way to Freudian melodrama.”  That is a pretty good explanation of the weaknesses of David and Lisa and Diary of a Mad Housewife.

Oscar Nomination:  A truly awful choice.  I didn’t think any more of the script for David and Lisa than I did for the direction.  Out of 100 films I have seen from 1962, I ranked it #95.  It tries desperately to approach a social issue, but it is quite boring and not well acted and much of that must be laid at the direction.  And that Perry was nominated over Morton Da Costa, who had directed The Music Man (which received a Best Picture nomination) is terrible.  But to also nominate him over John Ford (The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance), John Frankenheimer (The Manchurian Candidate), Stanley Kubrick (Lolita) or Sam Peckinpah (Ride the High Country) is embarrassing.  Only the Oscars nominated him – both Kubrick and Frankenheimer received DGA and Globe noms but were passed over for Perry.

Roberto Benigni

  • Born:  1952
  • Rank:  #209
  • Score:  205.10
  • Nominations:  Oscar, DGA
  • Oscar Nominations:  Life is Beautiful  (1998)
  • Feature Films:  8
  • Feature Films I’ve Seen:  8
  • Best Film:  Life is Beautiful
  • Worst Film:  Il Piccolo Diavolo
  • Films:
    • ***.5Life is Beautiful
    • ***Nothing Left to Do But Cry
    • **.5You Disturb Me
    • **Johnny Stecchino, Tiger in the Snow, Il Mostro
    • *.5Pinocchio
    • *Il Piccolo Diavolo

Career:  Roberto Benigni is one of those people who popularity eludes me.  He was a popular actor in Italy who then moved into writing and directing.  He is sometimes compared to Chaplin because he began as a clown and then moved into taking control of his films.  Except, Chaplin is one of the most talented people ever to work in film – comparable only to Orson Welles in terms of overall breadth of talent – while Benigni is an aggravating actor, a terrible director and an extremely unfunny writer.  He managed to break in with U.S. critics by directing his Holocaust comedy and somehow managed to parlay that into an Oscar nomination for Best Director and, more surprising, an Oscar for Best Actor, something which I think many Academy members would like to have back.  Since Life is Beautiful, he has made two terrible films, though his Pinocchio, while widely reviled, is not as bad as his hit Italian comedy Il Piccolo Diavolo, but most Americans haven’t seen that.  An interesting note on Benigni is that the Academy nominated him for what is by far his best film.  If you take out Life is Beautiful, Benigni sinks down to a 172.6, by far the lowest score of anyone for whom I have seen more than 3 films (though, for comparison, Ed Wood gets a 28.0).  His average score would drop to a 41.4, barely above Michael Cimino for worst on the list and his top 5 to a 49.2, even lower than Cimino, but that’s not really fair, as Cimino gets a far bigger boost from his best film; if not for The Deer Hunter, Cimino would have an overall score of 140.07.  In fact, because Life is Beautiful doesn’t get four stars from me, it only raises Benigni’s score some 30 points.  He doesn’t quite make the group of directors who are massively boosted by making one truly great film: John Singleton (score raised 80 points by Boyz N the Hood), Anthony Harvey (scored raised 87 points by The Lion in Winter), Roland Joffe (score raised 94 points by The Killing Fields) and Cimino (score raised 130 points).

Oscar Nomination:  “Few events so surely signaled the decline of the motion picture as the glory piled on that odious and misguided fable.”  (Thomson, p 68)  Now that is a bit of a harsher statement than I would make on Life is Beautiful.  I do think it is misguided, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call it odious.  I will have to re-watch it soon for the 1998 list, and as it has sank lower and lower in my estimation through the years as I think about it, it will be interesting to see where it ends up after seeing it again.  Nevertheless, it is his best film and the glory piled on Life is Beautiful isn’t nearly as appalling as the glory piled on Braveheart.

Adrian Lyne

  • Born:  1941
  • Rank:  #208
  • Score:  212.90
  • Nominations:  Oscar, DGA, Golden Globe
  • Oscar Nominations:  Fatal Attraction  (1987)
  • Feature Films:  8
  • Feature Films I’ve Seen:  8
  • Best Film:  Lolita
  • Worst Film:  Fatal Attraction
  • Films:
    • ***Lolita
    • **.5Foxes, Jacob’s Ladder
    • **Unfaithful, Flashdance, 9 1/2 Weeks, Indecent Proposal
    • *.5Fatal Attraction

Career:  “He dragged the full-length film down to the tense gestures of a commercial – then allowed length to ruin the trick.”  (Thomson, p 545)  That pretty much sums up Adrian Lyne’s career.  He started out with a mediocre film (Foxes), made two films that garnered a lot of attention but are actually pretty bad (Flashdance, 9 1/2 Weeks), and then he made Fatal Attraction and somehow managed to convince people that it was a good film and even earned an Oscar nomination out of it.  In the nineties he made an interesting but uneven film (Jacob’s Ladder), a bad film with more sex (Indecent Proposal) and somehow didn’t completely screw up Lolita.  In fact, there could be an argument made that Lyne actually is okay with actors, given Diane Lane’s Oscar nomination for Unfaithful and the performances in Fatal Attraction and Lolita.  But there is also a lot of talent involved and it’s quite possible that better directors would have gotten even more out of them.  Regardless of the performances, the films, aside from Lolita, are not good, and his directorial style drags down what could have been several enjoyable sexy films into trash.  Clearly the big influence of Lyne was the teaming up of Joe Eszterhas on Flashdance.  They never worked together again, but all of his films feel like the ones that Eszterhas has written – with the sleaze drowning out the sexy.

Oscar Nomination:  When I wrote about it before, I said “Fatal Attraction is an embarrassment to the actors involved.”  It is extremely badly directed, though with a script that bad and a tacked on ending that stupid, there was probably no amount of good direction that possibly could have redeemed the film.  I downgraded it while watching it from original estimation, then, when writing the review, downgraded it even further until it now ranks as the third worst film ever nominated for Best Picture.

Martin Brest

  • Born:  1951
  • Rank:  #207
  • Score:  231.33
  • Nominations:  Oscar
  • Oscar Nominations:  Scent of a Woman  (1992)
  • Feature Films:  7
  • Feature Films I’ve Seen:  6
  • Best Film:  Beverly Hills Cop
  • Worst Film:  Gigli
  • Films:
    • ***.5Beverly Hills Cop, Midnight Run
    • ***Going in Style
    • **.5Meet Joe Black
    • **Scent of a Woman
    • .5Gigli
    • haven’t seen:  Hot Tomorrows

Career:  Martin Brest began with two smaller films – one good (Going in Style) and one difficult to find (Hot Tomorrows).  Then he hit his stride with two very good examples of the action-comedy genre: Beverly Hills Cop and Midnight Run.  Both of them were fun, funny, exciting and moved well.  But then he made a terrible choice that was compounded by the Academy making an even worse choice.  He re-made the Italian film Scent of a Woman and it was awful.  He allowed Al Pacino to ham it up for well over two hours and didn’t bother to do any directing at all.  But the Academy responded by giving Pacino an Oscar and Brest a nomination, and Brest decided that he was a serious film-maker.  He then spent years before he came out with Meet Joe Black – a film so slow and boring (and another re-make as well) that a group of us decided that rather than sit through that to see the Phantom Menace trailer, we would rather watch Waterboy.  He then took another five years before he came out with Gigli, one of the most critically derided films of all-time (which is not quite as bad as that, but oh, it is not anything resembling good either).  That appeared to have finished him, as he was only 52 when it was released, but it’s been almost a decade now and we’ve had nothing more.

Oscar Nomination:  Scent of a Woman is the worst Best Picture nominee of the last 20 years.  I realize there are people who like it, but I’ve never met anyone who could come up with a critical argument for it being a good film – they simply explain how they like it.  It is a bad film, badly written, badly acted, badly directed and it takes way too god damn long.  It got a huge bump from winning three Golden Globes and somehow the Academy thought it belonged on the list instead of The Player.  The Picture nomination is more appalling, but perhaps the Director nomination was more damaging, because it put Brest on a terrible path that resulted in only two more films, neither of them good.

Mel Gibson

  • Born:  1956
  • Rank:  #206
  • Score:  234.75
  • Awards:  Oscar, Golden Globe, BFCA, Satellite
  • Nominations:  Oscar, DGA, Golden Globe, BAFTA, BFCA, Satellite
  • Oscar Nominations:  Braveheart  (1995)
  • Feature Films:  4
  • Feature Films I’ve Seen:  4
  • Best Film:  Man Without a Face
  • Worst Film:  Passion of the Christ
  • Films:
    • ***Man Without a Face
    • **.5Apocalypto, Braveheart
    • **Passion of the Christ

Career:  Gibson started out as a promising actor (Gallipoli) and then emerged as an action star before deciding to turn to directing, apparently to satiate a greater need for violence than being an action star could provide for him.  His first film is his most ignored, but absent the extreme violence, it is actually his best film.  He won the Oscar the second time around with Braveheart, when his main competition – Ron Howard (Apollo 13) and Ang Lee (Sense and Sensibility) – failed to earn nominations, an irony that became greater when they would both go on to win Oscars.  Gibson’s prediliction for violence and his prejudices were on full display in Passion of the Christ.  It proved once again that Gibson knows where to place the cameraman, but also knows how to get maximum gore and doesn’t really know how to direct actors.  Apocalypto was more of the same – technically good but overwhelming in its violence.

Oscar Nomination:  It was a terrible choice.  The choice of Gibson as Best Director wasn’t nearly as appalling as the choice of the film for Best Picture.  But Gibson’s inability to direct actors and his fascination with violence are both on ample display here.  I’ve already gone on about the choice here.  But when it comes down to it, the direction isn’t nearly as bad as the writing.  And it isn’t the worst direction to win an Oscar – that would be Norman Taurog for Skippy.  It isn’t even the worst combination win – I think Minnelli’s direction in Gigi is worse, though I think Gigi is a better film than Braveheart.  But it is the worst Oscar for Best Director (and for Best Picture) since the 50’s.

Michael Anderson

  • Born:  1920
  • Rank:  #205
  • Score:  236.33
  • Nominations:  Oscar, DGA, Golden Globe
  • Oscar Nominations:  Around the World in 80 Days (1956)
  • Nighthawk Globe Nominations:  Around the World in 80 Days (1956)
  • Feature Films:  33
  • Feature Films I’ve Seen:  24
  • Best Film:  Hell is Sold Out
  • Worst Film:  Murder by Phone
  • Films:
    • ***Hell is Sold Out, Around the World in 80 Days, The Dam Busters, The Quiller Memorandum, Chase a Crooked Shadow, Shoes of the Fisherman, Shake Hands with the Devil, Wreck of the Mary Deare
    • **.5Summer of the Monkeys, Conduct Unbecoming, 1984, The Naked Edge, Millenium, Flight from Ashiya, Jeweller’s Shop
    • **Pope Joan, Logan’s Run, The New Adventures of Pinocchio, Operation Crossbow
    • *.5Dominique
    • *Second Time Lucky, Orca, Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze
    • .5Murder by Phone
    • haven’t seen:  Private Angelo, Waterfront Women, Night was Our Friend, Will Any Gentleman, House of the Arrow, Battle Hell, All the Fine Young Cannibals, Wild and Wonderful, Separate Vacations
  • Sarris Category:  Miscellany

Career:  Though many of them are hard to find, it seems like the black-and-white British part of Michael Anderson’s career was the best of it.  Outside of his nomination and the Best Picture win for Around the World in 80 Days, Anderson’s career is fairly undistinguished.  Later in his career, he started to direct absolute crap, unable to get the good films anymore.  If you divide his career in 1970, the first wave ends with Shoes of the Fisherman, which earned several nominations and actually won Best Picture from the National Board of Review.  The second wave begins with Pope Joan, a legendary cinematic disaster.  I have seen 12 films from each period.  The first half averages a 61.5 – almost a three star film.  The second half averages a 38.5 – the very bottom end of a two star film, bordering on *.5.

Oscar Nomination:  Sarris commented “The fact that Michael Anderson was also the director of the much-applauded Around the World in 80 Days does not deserve even the dignity of a footnote.” (p 252)  That’s a bit harsh.  It has solid direction film for a solid film.  Not great, not very good, just solid.  Enjoyable.  A bloated film in a year full of bloated films.  But the direction of the film was almost irrelevant.  It was Mike Todd who made this film happen and it was Todd who won the Oscar, while Anderson would have to settle for a nomination.  He makes my list of Globe nominees for the year mostly because the year is so weak on comedies (it barely makes my Top 20 Director list overall), that after The Lady Killers and The King and I, there wasn’t much to go with and it did at least earn some points from me for its direction.

Richard Rush

  • Born:  1929
  • Rank:  #204
  • Score:  244.60
  • Nominations:  Oscar, DGA, Golden Globe
  • Oscar Nominations:  The Stunt Man (1980)
  • Feature Films:  12
  • Feature Films I’ve Seen:  10
  • Best Film:  The Stunt Man
  • Worst Film:  Color of Night
  • Films:
    • ***.5The Stunt Man
    • **.5Hell’s Angels on Wheels, Freebie and the Bean, Getting Straight
    • **Too Soon to Love, Psych Out, Thunder Alley, Savage Seven, Of Love and Desire
    • *.5Color of Night
    • haven’t seen:  Cup of San Sebastian, A Man Called Dagger

Career:  If you were just to look at an overview of Richard Rush’s career, you would think “How the hell did he end up with an Oscar nomination?”  He starts out with cheapie biker flicks, moves on to strange out of the mainstream odd comedies in the 70’s, then suddenly breaks through with an Oscar nomination.  Then he just disappears, with only one more film, a complete disaster nearly a decade and a half later to finish off his career.  Rush, like Benigni, actually had his best film (by far) as his Oscar nomination.  If I were to take out The Stunt Man, he drops to 200.93 points and below Benigni.

Oscar Nomination:  That Rush was nominated for The Stunt Man is no less amazing than the story of how the film even came about.  It took Rush nine years to get the picture together because no studio would finance it.  He finally got a shopping center owner to produce it, then he couldn’t get anyone to distribute it.  Two years later, he finally got it shown in one theater in Seattle and it did so well that Fox finally decided to release it.  It then took a director known for biker films and earned him two Oscar nominations.  It’s my #11 film of the year and Rush is my #9 director of the year for 1980, so it’s not a bad choice at all, and Rush pushed out Michael Apted who directed Coal Miner’s Daughter, and Rush’s film is far superior, so kudos to the directors for their better choice.  In fact, this is the best directed film (and the best film) from any of the 10 directors on this initial list – it earns more points (4) than all the other films from the other directors combined (3).

Harry Beaumont

  • Born:  1888
  • Died:  1966
  • Rank:  #203
  • Score:  250.97
  • Nominations:  Oscar
  • Oscar Nominations:  The Broadway Melody  (1928-29)
  • Feature Films:  33
  • Feature Films I’ve Seen:  12
  • Best Film:  When Ladies Meet
  • Worst Film:  When’s Your Birthday
  • Films:
    • ***When Ladies Meet, Our Dancing Daughters, Dance Fools Dance, Speedway, West of Broadway, Beau Brummel
    • **.5Lord Byron of Broadway, Laughing Sinners, The Show-Off
    • **The Great Lover, The Broadway Melody, When’s Your Birthday
    • haven’t seen:  Babbit, One Increasing Purpose, Forbidden Hours, Single Man, Great Day, Children of Pleasure, Florodora Girl, Those Three French Girls, Are You Listening, Unashamed, Faithless, Made on Broadway, Should Ladies Behave, Murder in the Private Car, Enchanted April, Girl on the Front Page, Maisie Goes to Reno, Twice Blessed, Up Goes Maisie, Undercover Maisie, Alias a Gentleman

Career:  It would be unfair to judge Harry Beaumont’s career just based on the fact that he directed the worst Best Picture winner of all-time.  His average film (59.7), while not good enough for three stars, is good enough that he escapes the bottom 30 on the list.  And films like When Ladies Meet and Our Dancing Daughters are enjoyable.  But he had only the one film that people tend to remember and it’s awful and not nearly enough of his films seem to be around for people to watch and get a better opinion on his career as a whole.  He is the third lowest director in terms of percentage of his films I have seen (36%) out of all 210 directors.  He doesn’t have a career full of dreck like Michael Cimino, Hugh Hudson or Roland Joffe, but he doesn’t have one really good film to help with his numbers in other categories to lift him up either.

Oscar Nomination:  The Broadway Melody really is a terrible film, not only the worst winner, but even squeaking into the list of 10 Worst Best Picture Nominees of All-Time.  The direction is not as bad as the film itself, namely because the script is so awful it brings the whole film down.  Beaumont does a decent job of directing the spectacle and does get a good performance from Bessie Love, even if everyone else in the film is simply awful.

Irving Cummings

  • Born:  1888
  • Died:  1959
  • Rank:  #202
  • Score:  252.00
  • Nominations:  Oscar
  • Oscar Nominations:  In Old Arizona  (1928-29)
  • Feature Films:  46
  • Feature Films I’ve Seen:  23
  • Best Film:  Louisiana Purchase
  • Worst Film:  Everything Happens at Night
  • Films:
    • ***Louisiana Purchase, Down Argentine Way, Lillian Russell, Double Dynamite, The White Parade, The Story of Alexander Graham Bell, Springtime in the Rockies, The Impatient Years
    • **.5Vogues of 1938, Girls Dormitory, Poor Little Rich Girl, My Gal Sal, What a Woman, Curly Top, In Old Arizona, Little Miss Broadway, Hollywood Cavalcade, Just Around the Corner, That Night in Rio, The Dolly Sisters, Sweet Rosie O’Grady
    • **Behind That Curtain, Everything Happens at Night
    • haven’t seen:  Brute, Dressed to Kill, Port of Missing Girls, Romance of the Underworld, Not Quite Decent, Cameo Kirby, On the Level, A Devil with Women, Holy Terror, Cisco Kid, Attorney for the Defense, Night Club Lady, Man Against Woman, Man Hunt, The Woman I Stole, Mad Game, I Believed in You, Grand Canary, It’s a Small World, Nobody’s Fool, White Hunter, Merry Go Round of 1938, Belle Starr

Career:  Irving Cummings would be one of those standard studio directors that I wouldn’t even be bothered to think about were it not for the fact that he received an Oscar nomination.  Most of his films quickly slip away into the background of the mind.  None of his films are really good enough to be remembered, and very few of them are bad enough to stick in the memory.  The one I remember the best, of course, is In Old Arizona, because I have seen it twice, but most of the rest of them fade away into the blur of the spreadsheet.  It’s just a whole lot of mediocre musicals.

Oscar Nomination:  In Old Arizona was one of those films that took a big hit when I saw it a second time for my Best Picture project.  It’s really not a particularly good film and the IMDb lists it as only a Cummings film, when the film itself clearly credits Raoul Walsh as a co-director (which is sad, because Walsh was never nominated for an Oscar and he’s a much better director than Cummings).  But what it does really well, better than any film from 1929 is integrate the sound into the film itself.

Scott Hicks

  • Born:  1953
  • Rank:  #201
  • Score:  252.40
  • Nominations:  Oscar, DGA, BAFTA, Golden Globe
  • Oscar Nominations:  Shine  (1996)
  • Feature Films:  8
  • Feature Films I’ve Seen:  5
  • Best Film:  Shine
  • Worst Film:  No Reservations
  • Films:
    • ***Shine, Hearts in Atlantis
    • **.5Snow Falling on Cedars
    • **The Boys are Back, No Reservations
    • haven’t seen:  Freedom, Sebastian and the Sparrow, Call Me Mr. Brown

Career:  Hicks began his career with shorter almost feature-length films in Australia, then directed various documentaries for a decade.  He then made three films in Australia that are hard to find in the States.  With Shine, his biopic of troubled pianist David Helfgott, he finally established himself outside of Australia and made a star out of Geoffrey Rush.  The film, the kind of movie that the Oscars have long loved, was a critical success and paved the way for him to adapt a couple of books: Snow Falling on Cedars and Hearts in Atlantis.  The former was hampered by a weak script and a weak performance from Ethan Hawke and the latter by the larger complications of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series that make it hard to understand outside of the context of the book.  In the decade since, Hicks has made two more documentaries and only two feature films, neither one of them particularly good.  If not for Shine, Hicks would drop into the bottom 4.

Oscar Nomination:  Shine is a good film, but never really breaks the standard biopic routine and never really raises itself to a Best Picture level.  There is nothing about the direction or the script that really makes you notice them – it is really the performances that dominate the film – not just from Rush, but from the entire cast.

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