People often talk about how great movies are and awards shows are mostly focused on the stars who win top honors for their acting. Many fail to see that most of the success of the movie relies on the men/women behind the camera, the writers who decide the flow of the story, and the directors whose vision sets the pace for the film. This post is intended to honor my favorite Hollywood filmmakers (constricted to writers/producers/ directors — separate post to follow about foreign filmmakers, cinematographers, costume/set designers and the like). I hope you all agree….
Gary Marshall — Who says that being an excellent filmmaker depends on a big budget, great effects, and 3D? Gary Marshall, who directed fell good romantic comedies such as Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride and Valentine’s Day can weave his magic just as well with a funny script and even funnier characters that audiences can relate to and cheer for.
James Cameron — The man’s resume has some of the best movies of all time — Aliens, The Abyss, Titanic, Terminator, and Avatar. Decades after his first popcorn movie Piranha 2: The Spawning, Cameron continues to push the envelope in the field of filmmaking, imagining new ways to innovate the art of making movies, and still using big budget studios to use their funds for quality outputs that the audiences enjoy and pay for.
Tim Burton — True, the guy looks like he hasn’t even met a hairbrush or even a decent comb. He appears to be perpetually grungy, like his movie’s characters, but his strength is in making movies with characters that are dark and damaged, emotionally vulnerable or mad with rage. His favorite cohorts are of course Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham character who appeared in most of his films including Ed Wood, Edward Scissorhands, Alice in Wonderland and Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
Ridley Scott — Black Hawk Down is one of my favorite war movies, and its also the first full length feature directed by Ridley Scott that I saw. I immediately became a fan of his ability to illustrate stories both in the center and in the background of certain events, ensuring that the emotional components of his work does not get overpowered by the action. Some of his best works include Gladiator, The A-Team, Body of Lies and Robin Hood.
Mel Gibson — So Mel Gibson is in a snit. It’s absolutely alright because this does not affect my view of him first as an actor, and second as a director. I base my list on quality of work, and even though Gibson has only come out with several movies under his name — Apocalypto, Passion of the Christ, Braveheart, The Beaver, I still consider him one of the best filmmakers in the US today because are all top notch.
Baz Lurhmann — Baz Lurhmann is a living proof that no one is perfect. After his amazing cutting edge take on Romeo and Juliet starring Leo DiCaprio and Clare Danes, and the riveting musical that was Moulin Rougue, Lurhmann got a bit carried away with the big budget flop that was Australia, featuring fellow Australians Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. No matter, his batting average is still good and he seems set to make up for it with his version of The Great Gatsby, which is currently filming.
Danny Boyle — Even before Slumdog Millionaire, I had a very high respect for Danny Boyle as a filmmaker. It was in a film appreciation class in college that I saw Trainspotting, starring a young Ewan McGregor as a druggie in the surreal classic book adaptation. I loved his work further with The Beach, Sunshine, and 127 hours. His best work are always those that deal with flawed characters who tell their story from their own point of view.
Christopher Nolan — My favorite Christopher Nolan movie was not The Dark Knight, although I admit that it was well crafted and executed. My favorite was actually his last offering — Inception (have you noticed that Leo has starred in many good movies? There have already been a couple mentioned on this list alone), which challenges viewers to think and not just sit and wait until the movie’s big reveal in the end. Inception draws its audience into the movie as they figure out the puzzle as the characters do on screen. Memento, featuring Guy Pearce as an amnesiac who tries to figure out and avenge his wife’s murder through notes and tattoos was also one of his masterpieces.
JJ Abrams — JJ Abrams is a big name on the small screen as he is the creator of action packed shows like Alias, Lost and Fringe. His transition into the big screen was no less successful with his tasteful reboot of the Star Trek franchise, as well as the inspirational Super 8, which deals with — surprise surprise, conspiracy and aliens.
Peter Jackson — The Lord of the Rings Trilogy was one of the most successful book adaptations on film to date. This was tall order considering the built in fanbase that the books had, but Peter Jackson was unfazed by the pressure as he filmed the three movies simultaneously in New Zealand and directed his ass off. District 9 was a successful follow up to his success (he produced the Neil Blomkamp film) and of course, the drama The Lovely Bones. I love this guy. Nuff said.
There were many runner ups to the list but alas I only had to pick 10. feel free to sound off if I missed your favorite. 🙂