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…)