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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Noah Catch-Up

Who Will Be… The Next Scorsese?
About seven and a half years ago, Esquire Magazine asked five film critics to nominate a young director to answer the question, “Who is the next Scorsese?” The man himself even offered up his own nomination.
Let us take a look at the filmmakers nominated by Esquire seven years ago, what they did to earn their nominations, and what they have done in the years since.

Ten Movies To Keep An Eye On This Fall
What follows is my list of the ten films that I think will be worth seeing, for one reason or another (in order of release):
I

117 Responses to “Noah Catch-Up”

  1. jeffmcm says:

    Wow, Sarris was out of his gourd on that one. I would say that, to be the new Scorsese, you should actually have some abililty to use the camera dynamically and expressively, not just park it in front of the actors and have them recite their dialogue.

  2. hendhogan says:

    yeah, on first glance i thought it was a list being proposed by noah. and that first one really scared me. almost didn’t read it when i saw 1. kevin smith.

  3. Noah says:

    So, who would you all nominate? In my e-mails, I’ve gotten a lot of people for Christopher Nolan, as well as Michael Mann, Darren Aronofsky, Judd Apatow, Todd Field, Alfonso Cuaron and one for Brett Ratner although I’m pretty sure that was a joke (let’s hope).

  4. jeffmcm says:

    The criteria for me would be: makes personal films that still appeal to a wide audience; makes Hollywood movies that are well-made and smart; visually dynamic and expressive. So at the top of that list goes Paul Greengrass.

  5. Crow T Robot says:

    Didn’t connect at all with whatever he was trying to do with Sandler and Punch Drunk Love, but if Paul Thomas Anderson drops the indulgence shit that plagues so many “Class of ’99” directors, the Next Scorsese title can still be his. The guy has a prodigious understanding of cinematic pathos and his ability to pull the best out of actors is unmatched (Wahlberg as Diggler is still one of the great holy shit performances). But most importantly Anderson’s work is really really really entertaining.
    Look for a big “For Robert Altman” tag at the end of his Daniel Day Lewis Western.

  6. TuckPendleton says:

    Hmmmm. I find it hard to get super-excited about anyone on that list. I do think that being the next Marty does require a certain level of technical skill, if not inventiveness, so that will eliminate some from consideration.
    But mainly, what the promise of “Scorcese” invokes for me is a certain level of giddyness and excitement, that makes me say, I cannot WAIT to see that movie, whatever the good or bad of it may be.
    Of the younger crop of directors, really only PT Anderson has that effect on me, currently. And to a lesser extent, Cuaron and Aronofsky.
    I think Mann (and DePalma and Spielberg, who I would also put in that category) are of, more or less, Mr. S’s generation, so that removes them from consideration, for me at least.

  7. TuckPendleton says:

    Crow T —
    While I initially agreed with you on Boogie Nights and Wahlberg’s performance, I don’t think it’s much of a revelation anymore. Wahlberg seems to have two modes: wide-eyed boyish enthusiast (Three Kings, Boogie Nights, Huckabees) or thuggery masquerading as attempted charm (Shooter, Four Brothers, etc.)
    Of course, that’s one more mode than most stars, so I probably shouldn’t nitpick too much.

  8. hendhogan says:

    why must there be a next scorsese? isn’t this part of the hollywood trap that dictates what was once successful must be beaten into the ground as many times as profitable?

  9. The Carpetmuncher says:

    I am huge fans of David O Russell, Wes Anderson and Paul Thomas Anderson, and hope they continue to make their kind of films.
    I agree that LIFE AQUATIC was solopsisitc bullshit, and hope Wes bounces back with his new one, but I have to say, I’m skeptical. I fear he will just sink further down into a world where he is more intersted in production design than in actual people. But I hope that isn’t the case.
    I disagree on HUCKABEES and felt that film was also a failure. While it is ambitious and has some great moments in the first half, in the end it was just too precioius for me and really, what the hell was it about? I’m not sure anyone knows except Russell, certainly not the actors who looked lost to me. But I hold THREE KINGS in high esteem, and think his early films are equal to the similar films from Alexander Payne, who I also like. But I think Russell has the bigger vision, and more potential (and ambition) to make revolutionary films.
    Paul Thomas Anderson as the best? Look, HARD EIGHT was better than average, but nothing special to me. BOOGIE NIGHTS was exciting and showed such potential. But MAGNOLIA? That film was just awful. As pretentious as anything any of these guys have made. And boring as shit. Yes, I dug the frogs – that was some wild cinema – but the time leading up to it was time I want back. I get that PT Anderson loves Altman, but copying him like that and doing it in such a corny way dropped him in my esteem by a lot. MAGNOLIA was Anderson’s NEW YORK NEW YORK, because they both had filmmakers trying to steal their idols styles (Altman, or Minelli) and just choking on it instead. The John C Reilly section was a low point. Those scenes are just laughable.
    But I do think PTA redeemed himself with PUNCH DRUNK LOVE, which has all the joy of early Godard, and is totally original. It was a big artistic comeback, and gave Adam Sandler his best role.
    And yes, I can’t wait for THERE WILL BE BLOOD. And have to agree with Poland that Daniel Day-Lewis is hands-down the greatest actor alive. I still can’t believe he didn’t win the Oscar for GANGS OF NEW YORK. Adrien Brody? Nice actor, but give me a break. There’s no question in my mind that Academy politics screwed that one up big time.
    Though I have to say, that Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance in his wife’s last film left something to be desired. But the film was a total disaster that was probably unredeemable.

  10. IOIOIOI says:

    Noah; very nice article but there’s only one Scorcese. He’s it. I would much rather have another David Lean. Nevertheless; CM the word you are looking for is solipsistic and what a bullshit response to The Life Aquatic. Apparently I am not enough of a cynical asshole to hate the Life Aquatic with the rest you. Schucks.

  11. jeffmcm says:

    If you like Life Aquatic so much, why not explain why instead of just calling people names?
    (I like it too but not enough to get pissed off about it.)

  12. ASD says:

    Interesting that this article resurfaced in this way as I’ve found myself thinking about it off and on for about a year now. I feel like most of the directors in that article have failed to grow much as filmmakers since being listed the notable exception being Alexander Payne (Tom Carson, ironically the only critic polled whose writing I’m not familiar with, was especially on the ball there) with a couple of them (the Wachowski “Brothers” especially) having flamed out in spectacular fashion. I think the lack of diversity in their work hurts people like O’Russell and especially Smith with the jury still out on PT Anderson (There Will Be Blood could be the film to define his legacy). Marty’s personal choice of Wes Anderson has his admirers but I expect Darjeeling to be a real bellwether. If it’s received as more of a cult-film in the vein of Aquatic he may be written off as a one-trick pony.
    I think what makes Scorsese “Scorsese” isn’t just his technical prowess or his gift for directing actors but an indelible stamp that shows through regardless of whether you’re watching Kundun or Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore or The Departed. There’s an energy and a point of view that remains consistent. Most of these filmmakers have a very clearly delineated comfort zone and have barely stepped outside of it.
    Couple of names I think should be argued for here are Sofia Coppola and Alfonso Cuaron. The former probably doesn’t have enough of a body of work yet to really pass judgment but, in my opinion, is heading in the right direction. She certainly has a point of view (claims that it’s still a bit shallow aren’t entirely without merit) and a style that’s her own and I think her willingness to make a film like Marie Antoinette in the way she approached the subject shows a real sense of boldness and experimentation that a lot of the men listed here haven’t yet displayed.
    Cuaron’s probably an easier sell but he’s also in his mid 40’s so he’s likely in a different category, but the man has jumped from genre to genre, working within an enormous budgetary range and seems incapable of making films that aren’t unique to his sensibilities, with possibly his greatest achievement being the sense of life he breathed into the Potter series 3-films in. I know I anticipate whatever he does next with the same sort of unbridled enthusiasm that I would whatever Scorsese does next.
    By the way, Nolan is a great choice but is ultimately too much of a journeyman (ironically so as he writes much of his material) to really be considered an heir to Marty. I don

  13. Noah says:

    Carpetmuncher, just a quick correction: it was me, not Poland, that called Daniel Day Lewis the greatest actor alive. And I thought his performance in Ballad of Jack and Rose was so subtle and beautiful and full of suppressed rage. What can I say, I think the man can do no wrong.
    Hendhogan, I agree that we should be appreciating the filmmakers on their own merits, but I thought the original Esquire article was so interesting and it made sense to use it as a way of evaluating what the nominees had done since.
    IO, I’m an asshole for not like Life Aquatic. I know. I got it.

  14. TuckPendleton says:

    ASD —
    Thank you for your “Scorsese” definition — I think you hit it on the head. While I personally think Sofia’s been all downhill since Virgin Suicides, I agree that she is at least has a unique style.
    But I am curious how you are arriving at your “journeyman” definition with Nolan? Is it because he works in genre? Or because he’s taken studio jobs, post-Memento? Or because he’s not a wunderkind/visionary behind the camera, but simply very good and competent?
    I ask because when I read “journeyman” I always think of names like Dennis Dugan or Peter Segal or Howard Deutch…directors working in middling fare with no vision at all.

  15. hendhogan says:

    noah, i got that right up til when you asked who should be on the list now.
    i’ll see you daniel day lewis and raise with gene hackman.

  16. The Carpetmuncher says:

    Ah ha, sorry Noah, I didn’t quite get that you were posting on Poland’s blog…but then my reading comprehension skills are not what they once were… Great stuff, though.
    I’m not sure you can call Nolan a journeyman either, but I get the intended point – he has been doing for hire work on his last few films.
    But by that defintion, we should call Bryan Singer a journeyman too, and yet both guys do have their own style and are just too good at what they do to be called a journeyman.
    But clearly there is a difference in the careers of say Nolan/Singer who have been doing studio tentpole work and say Alexander Payne, who more easily fits into the mold of the auteur, writing and directing original (or sort of original) material that seems to have a personal bent.
    Here’s hoping that soon Nolan and Singer put their considerable skills into making films that have more ambitious subject matter. Singer’s new one looks to fit that category.
    I love to see Cuaron beign talked of. I am Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN’S biggest fan, and love that he is working in what I’ll call the Soderbergh model for lack of a better term – where he swings between studio fare and more personal indie stuff, but never losing the quality. Very exciting filmmaker.
    It’s funny thought to see a discussion of “who is the next Scorsese” and not to see Quentin Tarantion’s name mentioned at all, when he was once considered the heir apparent by many.
    In terms of the original question, “who is the next Scorsese” I agree of course that no one will ever be that. But I think what the question implies is, “who is the best young filmmaker America (or Hollywood) has to offer” which is the title most gave Marty for years, “our best.”
    And I think you’ve got to put Soderbergh up there as one of our best. Yes, I’d like to see him make a wild, ambitious film like SEX, LIES again but he is always good IMO. And Ang Lee is one of the top dozen filmmakers in the world.

  17. Noah says:

    Carpetmuncher: Soderbergh is a really interesting choice. I’ll really have to think about that, as he is certainly a filmmaker that straddles the line between the commercial and the artistic. Hmm, that’s a good one.
    Hendhogan: I love Hackman. You know, I just watched Mississippi Burning on IFC again recently and he’s so damn good in that movie. Unfortunately, he has a few too many titles like “The Chamber”, “Extreme Measures” and “The Replacements” on his filmography. I still love the man, but I don’t think he’s the actor Day-Lewis is.

  18. ASD says:

    Journeyman is an admittedly weighted term that might have negative connotations to it but it doesn

  19. hendhogan says:

    and counter with “the crucible” & “stars and bars”
    i don’t think a desire to do more films detracts from the quality of the actor. when one does 82 films and the other does 17, it’s hard to hold to the quality/quantity argument. but i’ll gladly match extraordinary performance for extraordinary performance

  20. Noah says:

    I don’t think quantity has to do with it either, but I think Day-Lewis’ acting is great in The Crucible, even though the film is not so great. Same goes for Stars and Bars. For me, I think that Daniel Day Lewis could have done any performance that Hackman did (except, maybe, for Royal Tenenbaums, but maybe when he gets a bit older we’ll talk) while I don’t think Hackman could have done My Left Foot or In the Name of the Father. I just don’t see it.
    But, I still love the HackMan, don’t get me wrong and I assume we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one.

  21. ASD says:

    This is likely to be disagreed with, but I would call Tarantino the next Goddard before I would compare him to Scorsese. QT seems more interested in deconstructing the form to comment on itself than anything else. He

  22. The Carpetmuncher says:

    Hackman is just a lot more limited than Day-Lewis, as great as Hackman is. And his career has suffered lately because he is not acting so much anymore as working for a paychck. You don’t see Hackman chasing good roles in HW these days. He chases paychecks. In the last 15 years, in my mind Hackman has only given 2 A plus performances, Tennenbaums and Unforgiven. With a lot of nice paychecks inbetween.
    And anyway, I’m wouldn’t even put Hackman in a 10 Ten of best actors alive. He’s more like a Robert Duvall guy to me – a second tier great star, behind the Pacinos, DeNiross, Nicholsons.
    And even though he has totally lost his sense of humor and wants to be a director and not an actor, I still don’t think there are many actors out there who can hold a candle to Sean Penn in terms of sheer talent. Guy is a monster.
    But unless we are being totally sexist here, even though I’d probably still take Day-Lewis, I gotta say that Meryl Streep’s career is simply unimpeachable, and that she has a stronger body of work than almost any other actor out there and has consistently seeked out difficult, provocative roles where her peers like Nicholson, DeNiro, Pacino, Hoffman, have all sunk into the comfort of their stardom and have not been able to match the brillance of their early work.

  23. hendhogan says:

    well, noah, that’s a hard way to do it too as one is a leading man and the other is a character actor. it is much harder for a character actor to get the opportunity to pull of a leading role than a leading man to pull off a character role. and i’m just talking about opportunity there.
    i also don’t think day-lewis has the comic chops that hackman does. the range is broader.
    and as you say, hackman is good in those stinkers as day-lewis is in his. i do like day-lewis as well
    but yes, agree to disagree.

  24. Nicol D says:

    Part of the problem with this discussion is that it took Scorsese almost 2 decades and a lot of films to be THE Martin Scorsese.
    It wasn’t really until after Goodfellas in 1990 that a really good director named Martin Scorsese became MARTIN SCORSESE.
    He has been able to bridge both the art and the commercial and be influencial without pandering. Too many of the directors on this list either are too young or do not have a large enough body of work.
    But, as for PT Anderson, can we at least put him in the Scorsese visual stylist rip off club as opposed to heir to the throne.

  25. jeffmcm says:

    I don’t understand what you mean, Nicol. You mean Martin Scorsese wasn’t MARTIN SCORSESE when he did Taxi Driver or Raging Bull (I won’t even bother asking about Last Temptation)?

  26. Crow T Robot says:

    It should also be noted that PTA has a pretty terrific visceral streak. The firecracker scene in Boogie, the frog hurricane in Magnolia, even the opening car crash in Punch Drunk… the man is gifted director of action. If the makers of new 007s truly had the courage of their “lean and mean” convictions, they’d be right to consider him for Craig-Bond #3.

  27. hendhogan says:

    carpetmuncher:
    i’d much rather watch a robert duvall or gene hackman than pacino, nicholson or deniro. but i like your streep assesment. she had a period when she was cruising, but seems to be kicking it back up a notch recently.

  28. The Carpetmuncher says:

    Today, I might agree about having Duvall or Hackman, but in looking at their overall careers, I gotta go with the trinity of Nicholson, DeNiro and Pacino. I just feel their work in the 70’s was overwhelmingly brilliant. And yes, I also think they got the better roles for the most part, because Hackman and Duvall were often considered “character” guys.
    I also have to disagree that Marty didn’t become Marty until late in his career. Marty was Marty the moment he finished MEAN STREETS. That film set the stage for his entire career, and the seeds of his best work can still be found in that film, which I still consider his best. It’s his BEFORE THE REVOLUTION. Like his forebearer Bertolucci, he made films with more scope and technical virtuosity afterwards, but never one with more heart. And even then, other filmmakers and cinema buffs knew he was someone to recon with. RAGING BULLS wasn’t a coming out party so much as a coronation – it is the film “our best” needed to make to give him the ultimate stamp of approval. Anyway, even if you don’t buy that, clearly Marty arrived with TAXI DRIVER, 15 years before GOOD FELLAS.
    I do agree about PTA having a great visceral sense and totally agree with all the scenes you mention, Crow. The firecracker scene in particular was one where I was like – whoa! The film’s opening was like homage to Marty and Goodfellas, but the firecracker scene was like, “I’m gonna one-up the master.” Just awesome stuff.

  29. The Carpetmuncher says:

    As to Hackman v Day-Lewis, to me Hackman is Karl Malden to Day-Lewis’ Brando. Both amazing, but one guy leaves you in awe.

  30. Nicol D says:

    Jeff,
    No, he wasn’t. Scorsese the director as icon did not emerge until after Goodfellas. It solidified his rep as a director of ‘mafia’ type crime dramas. That’s when he finally defined himself. Goodfellas allowed a lot of loose threads in his work to be tied together and the icon emerged. The 80’s were not very kind to Scorsese (even if I love his 80’s output).
    He was well respected in 80’s, but nowhere near as revered as after Goodfellas. He was not the household name he is now. He was still an acquired taste back them.

  31. hendhogan says:

    ouch, carpetmuncher, ouch.
    but i see your point. problem is you like your strokes broad. “my left foot” is a great performance, but it’s like hoffman in “rain man.” once you’re locked into the choice, it’s just a matter following the choice consistently. to me, it’s a lot harder to make an ordinary man like in “hoosiers” interesting.

  32. jeffmcm says:

    Maybe he wasn’t MARTIN SCORSESE, icon, but before Goodfellas he was still Martin Scorsese, highly acclaimed, Academy Award-nominated director. So obviously if one of these younger directors was on the iconic level we’d already know it, the question is about the pre-iconic quality of work.

  33. Noah says:

    Hendhogan, I agree with you in general about making an ordinary man interesting and how that is much more difficult to do. However, I don’t think that My Left Foot falls into that category of drunks and disabled, simply because the character does go through quite a lot of emotional changes throughout the film and many of them had to come across using only Day-Lewis’ eyes. In Rain Man, Hoffman is the same exact person at the end as he is in the beginning, but Day-Lewis goes through extraordinary changes in My Left foot.

  34. hendhogan says:

    i thought we were agreeing to disagree, noah

  35. The Carpetmuncher says:

    I can’t deny your logic about HOOSIERS, which is just a fantastic performance. But I could also see Robert Duvall, or (the good) John Voight, or Nick Nolte being just as good in that role.
    And I do get your point about MY LEFT FOOT, and as much as I like the performance tend to agree with your assessment that this eccentric type of roll isn’t always as tough on an actor as something that demands more subtlety.
    But I just can’t see anyone else doing what Day-Lewis did in UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING, or LAST OF THE MOHICANS, or IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, or what he did in GANGS OF NEW YORK, which was stunning.
    Could Liam Neeson have done those films? Sure. But just not as well. He doesn’t have that level of charisma in my book. UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS is one of those roles that demands so much, maybe a young Nicholson could have pulled that off, but I’m hard pressed to think of anyone else. Brando maybe. Who is the only person really comparable to Day-Lewis for me, in the sense that they had a similar aura about them, a mystery that grew as they worked less. But also skills. Such mad skills that you almost think they’ve got to be crazy. Which is part of the appeal.
    But look, like great movies, great actors are such that once you reach a certain level of greatness, no one can really surpass you. They can be at your level, but can’t really rise above. Whatever difference there is between actors like the ones we are discussing is so small as to be almost invisible. It’s like asking who is better, Bill Russell or Wilt Chamberlain. There are arguments to be made for both, but we can all thank the basketball (or movie) gods that we got a chance to see them play.
    Although I for one can never get enough of talking about great films and great actors!
    Some people say we shall agree to disagree – I say we shall agree to continue to disagree, because the conversation after the movies is what truly makes them so great.

  36. hendhogan says:

    i was not a big fan of the “gangs of new york” performance. a little too over the top for my tastes.
    and i agree this is a difference on the atomic level. but i wasn’t the one to declare someone the best living actor in the world!

  37. IOIOIOI says:

    Noah; I used schucks. How does that suggest that I believe you or anyone else is an asshole? Stop being so defensive. You right on the internet for fuck’s sake. SACK UP YOUNG MAN! Nevertheless; Jeff, it’s a whacky movie about family that may piss off the cynical.

  38. jeffmcm says:

    IOI, you called anyone who doesn’t like Life Aquatic an asshole. Saying “Schucks” isn’t a get out of jail free card. Neither is doing one of these :)

  39. The Carpetmuncher says:

    I think the term IO used was “cynical asshole.”
    :)

  40. IOIOIOI says:

    Jeff; that’s what you thought. You are wrong. Carpie; I was just trying to throw you a bone. Nice use of solipsistic even though I totally disagree with you.

  41. Noah says:

    IO: “Schucks”, just because I “right” on the internet doesn’t mean that I’ll tolerate being called an asshole, even passively, just for having a different opinion than you. I even say as much in my first column. Just because it’s the internet, that doesn’t mean that you can treat me like some spectre. I’m a real person behind these typed up words.
    Hendhogan: We’ll continue to agree to disagree, although Carpetmuncher makes a great point about the fun of disagreeing. In accessing the merits of varying actors, I like to employ a baseball stay called VORP (Value Over Replacement Player). I think that Gene Hackman’s role in Mississippi Burning, if you gave it to anyone else it might not have been as good but it wouldn’t ruin the movie. Daniel Day-Lewis in In the Name of the Father or The Boxer or Ballad of Jack and Rose, if you gave it to a replacement “player”, the movie would suffer greatly. Of course, this is just my opinion. Also, you make a great point about the difference between in Hackman being a character actor as opposed to a leading man, but I think Day-Lewis is a better character actor as well, as evidence by Gangs of New York. But apparently you weren’t a fan of that one, so I can only go back to agreeing to disagree!

  42. jeffmcm says:

    IOI: No. If I wrote “You’re a fucking idiot. Just kidding!” doesn’t erase the fact that you just called someone a fucking idiot.

  43. hendhogan says:

    noah:
    yeah, not gonna buy character actor argument. i would counter with popeye doyle in “french connection” as an irreplacable role. as they tried it with ed o’neil to disatrous results. i also don’t think anybody else could have done “night moves.”
    but maybe we’ve played gene out. what if i brought up anthony hopkins? he’s another with a handful of dreck films, but day-lewis could not have done “remains of the day” like he did. we know cause we saw how he handled a similar role in “the age of innocence.” they even competed head to head in the same year.

  44. IOIOIOI says:

    Jeff; I do not see the world like you do. So I would hope in the future — that someone such as yourself — would not assume we act the same. That’s how I roll. Maybe you should learn to embrace this http://dictionary.reference.com/search?r=2&q=facetious . It might help you in the future. If not; bugger off. You bloomin sod. :)
    This guy who lives in New York with his girlfriend stated; “IO: “Schucks”, just because I “right” on the internet doesn’t mean that I’ll tolerate being called an asshole, even passively, just for having a different opinion than you [It’s not your opinion as much as the way you phrased things and the obvious cynicism to everything you WRITE. Yes; I can spell on occassion… yay.] I even say as much in my first column [You have a freakin continuity? Does someone else writing your column for you represent retconning? Or is it still canon?]. Just because it’s the internet, that doesn’t mean that you can treat me like some spectre. I’m a real person behind these typed up words.” You are a real person — who seemingly thinks I have an agenda against you. Nah… not really… I even gave you dap for this most recent article. We disagree and unlike some jokers on this earth — JEFF — I am a real joker. So I can call you and ASSHOLE and not really mean it. I am also not a cynical asshole. Forgive me for not have your world view that the entire internet supports and praises.

  45. Noah says:

    I thought Daniel Day-Lewis in “Age of Innocence” was miles beyond what Hopkins accomplished in “Remains of the Day.” I think Day-Lewis was so subtle in that film, but so moving.
    I think the larger point is that Hopkins WOULD sign on to do shitty movies like Fracture, Bobby, Hannibal, The Edge etc. Daniel Day-Lewis simply wouldn’t do those kinds of movies, which I think says a lot about how these two actors feel about their craft. Most people treat it like a business, but he treats it as an art.

  46. hendhogan says:

    ok, there are two things there. first, i’ve never seen a role more significantly underplayed for impact than hopkins in “remains of the day.” i’m not saying day-lewis was doing kabuki, but if you didn’t see that in hopkins, well…i’d strongly urge you to watch again, but then if still after that i’d be speechless. and i’m gonna be petty and point out one performance got nominated the other didn’t.
    second, a movie by mamet was shitty? no, no, that’s not my second point. i just had to say it.
    second, an actor’s approach to the craft of making movies doesn’t indicate a greater or lesser talent. remember “the crucible” and “stars and bars” were shitty movies too. “eversmile, new jersey” not so good either.
    you could just as easily say one actor doing more films is trying to challenge themselves with movies that don’t have it on the page. can it be made to work? it’s in the failures that everybody learns. no one learns from the successes.
    and, if you’ll excuse the analogy, you could say day-lewis’ approach to the craft is like barry bonds refusing to swing at a pitch unless it’s right in his wheelhouse. he’ll average more homeruns that way, but at the expense of some good sinlges or doubles.
    p.s. i thought “bobby” was supposed to be good. i didn’t see it, but that’s what i heard.

  47. Noah says:

    I’ll start with the Barry Bonds analogy and use it myself. I think that because Day-Lewis takes less “at bats”, a strikeout has a better chance of effecting his “average”. I think it says a lot that he won’t swing at a pitch like Fracture. I wasn’t equating the not doing more movies thing with Day-Lewis having more talent because I don’t think it’s just about talent here. I think it has to do with the approach. Hopkins and Day-Lewis might be equally “talented”, but one of them views acting as an art form and the other a business. It’s the difference between one actor wanting to be a better actor and one wanting to be a better movie star. But, this is all obviously opinion. Also, I think some of the best performances don’t get nominated (DiCaprio got nominated for Blood Diamond over The Departed! Plus, Damon didn’t get a nomination for The Good Shepherd, which in my opinion was last year’s best performance).
    As for your first point, I’ll need to check out Remains of the Day again as I haven’t seen it in ages. But Day-Lewis’ performance in Age of Innocence haunts me and Hopkins’ has been something I’ve forgotten. But the great thing is that we can both enjoy both of them and we’ll both be right and we’ll both be rewarded with some great acting. This much, I believe, we can agree on.

  48. hendhogan says:

    that’s actually my point of the analogy. the goal, you see, is not to have a good average. it’s indicative of a certain selfishness (not exactly what i’m implying with day-lewis, btw). film-making is a combination of both art and business and needs to be in balance to be declared “the best.” you may value one side more than the other (which is okay). but in my mind, the best has to have a balance between the two.
    i also don’t think “the departed” was oscar worthy period, but am happy marty finally got his. but it was an admittedly petty point to begin with on my part.
    and, yes, no losers in the argument. but i am off now to get something to eat, starving. look forward to your reply in the morning

  49. Noah says:

    Well, I would say that not swinging isn’t indicative of selfishness since getting on base certainly helps the team. But now I’ve lost sight of what the analogy meant! This all started with me saying that Daniel Day-Lewis is the greatest actor alive, but I think you’ve made a very persuasive argument and while I disagree with your assessment, I still think you made some valid points.

  50. The Carpetmuncher says:

    Bobby was not so great, except for montage at the end with the ghostly voiceover, which I thought was incredibly moving. But it did have a lot of nice performances – from Lindsay Lohan, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Nick Cannon, Sharon Stone & Freddy Rodriguez.
    Not so great a performance from Hopkins (or Laurence “don’t call me Larry” Fishburne). Smug, empty, lazy work all the worse because it’s like the washed-up version of their best work (i.e., Remains of the Day & Boyz in the Hood). Kind of the same performance Hopkins gave in Fracture. And most of All The King’s Men.
    Hopkins was a great actor, but to me he is not in Daniel-Day Lewis’ class. Hopkins seems like a “trick” actor. Who is great only when he has an eccentric crutch that he can base his peformance around. What someone earlier alluded to in describing Dustin Hoffman in Rainman or Day-Lewis in My Left Foot. I happen to agree about Hoffman, but disagree about Day-Lewis. Because Day-Lewis doesn’t seem to rely on tricks. The character is approached from another angle. Now, I do agree that the approach is meaningless in the end – what’s on screen is what matters. But with so many of Daniel Day-Lewis’ performances, there is a depth of feeling, a complexity of emotion, that bubbles up from below and in my mind separates him from almost every other actor. To me he is in the class of a Brando, or Montgomery Clift. Of his generation, I’m not sure who’s in his league. Johnny Depp is totally brilliant. But Day-Lewis has so much more gravitas. Sean Penn has that gravitas, but I worry he’s descended into a dark place that could suffocate his future performances unless he takes a serious dose of Spicoli one of these nights.
    Hopkins is a great actor, but to me he is way past his prime. What has he done of high quality lately? Excellent in The Human Stain, and even though it was looney, I sort of dug what he did in The World’s Fastest Indian. But before that I’d have to go back maybe ten years to Nixon to find him at his best. That film – which to me is close to a masterpiece – might have just taken all the life out of him. (Sort of like what Stone did to James Wood’s during Salvador).
    Maybe Daniel Day-Lewis does stay out of bad performances by not doing as many roles. It’s only logical. But I can’t hold that against him, anymore than I can hold taking a check against Hopkisn (or Ryan Gosling opposite him in Fracture). But when you do it for what is essentially a decade as Hopkins has, you’re precariously close to becoming John Travolta. I’d still take Hopkins over Travolta in an celebrity actor death match, but not by as much as you’d think.
    Noah, that stuff about VORP (Value Over Replacement Player!) is brilliant. I gotta put that in my pipe and smoke it…

  51. James Leer says:

    I’m a little suspect of ya now, Carpetbagger, because Mary Elizabeth Winstead?? All she does in “Bobby” is say “Can I take your order? How you boys doin’?” and look hot. And no one else does anything of note except for some hammy acting (Demi Moore, Laurence Fishburne) and one actual good performance (Sharon Stone…I know!).

  52. James Leer says:

    I mean “Carpetmuncher.” But you do get a pass for your Meryl Streep citation. She refuses to rest on her laurels and you can’t say that about any of her peers.

  53. lazarus says:

    Hope I can jump in here before this runs out of steam. Good observation about Hopkins, Carpetmuncher. He has a very mannered style that just doesn’t work for me when he goes too quirky, like in Silence of the Lambs. What worked for me so well was his restraint in Remains of the Day. The performance was still mannered, but for playing a repressed butler it worked perfectly. I thought he was great in The Elephant Man is well. I don’t think he’s a bad actor by any means, but I often don’t feel it’s very human.
    I feel the same way about Depp. Way too mannered for my taste, and I never feel like I’m seeing a real individual behind the acting. Ed Wood was the closest he’s come for me, but even that is pretty hammy. And not that the Method is the only thing that works, but neither of these guys is Method enough for me.
    I agree that Day-Lewis can do no wrong. While he may have been slightly miscast in Age of Innocence, there are so many great reactions and line readings that he saves it anyway. And what can you say about someone who can play Christy Brown, Newland Archer, AND Bill the Butcher? He’s just versatile and always brings it.
    Also, I disagree that DDL was too broad in Gangs, because while the character was over the top, he managed to still infuse Bill with a humanity that lesser (or washed up) actors would have failed to do. I’ve referenced this before, but there was a great article by Amy Taubin in Film Comment (which I can not find link to) about DDL’s perf, which she felt was a feat only equalled by Brando in The Godfather, in that both were able to fashion iconic, towering performances and do nuanced character work at the same time. Brando holding the kitten, scratching his face–he feels lived in. While the Butcher is a lot louder and brasher than Don Corleone, you can still see the little things that flesh him out. No other actor that I know could have pulled this off.

  54. jeffmcm says:

    I think a lot of this discussion has to do with peoples’ criteria – I would value Hackman highly because he’s entertained me in a greater variety of roles, from serious (French Connection, Unforgiven) to comedic (Superman, Young Frankenstein). But I don’t know if any of his roles have touched me as emotionally as Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot or The Age of Innocence. There’s not a lot of argument about what each guy has done, it basically comes down to a value judgment about which types of performance are more important to the individual.

  55. Mr. Gittes says:

    First of all, Daniel Day-Lewis is the greatest living actor. I don’t really want to explain why but just see his films, ’nuff said.
    What a horrible list. Kevin Smith? The Wachowski Brothers? Was someone on drugs when they nominated these people?
    I told my dad to watch Boogie Nights and after he did, he asked me if Scorsese was nominated for it…P.T. Anderson could be the next Marty. Or Christopher Nolan. Those are my choices but damn — The Wachowski Brothers?

  56. IOIOIOI says:

    Gittes; the list is SEVEN YEARS OLD! Go back and think about the year 2000, and the list makes some sense to you. It’s still a stupid proposition in terms of Scorcese and our NEEDING another one. Unless we clone Marty again around 2060, then this one is good enough for the infinite.

  57. hendhogan says:

    gittes:
    well, of course, we’ve seen the films. if you’ve been following the thread, you’ll see that. i’m sure DDL (love that abbreviation) appreciates your unqualified stamp of approval.
    and i know i dropped the ball on meryl streep as well, but that is a good contender as both carpetmuncher and james point out.
    oh, and one more thing while we are on the business side of choosing a role. it’s not always money. sometimes it’s a desire to work with a particular actor or director or writer, etc… doesn’t always turn out for the best, but certainly a factor.

  58. bipedalist says:

    There simply isn’t ever going to be another Scorsese. We don’t grow directors like we used to. They are either hyped and given the golden key to the crapper and thus “ruined” or they are Michael Bay wanna-bes. Visionaries like Scorsese are one of a kind. There is a reason he is who he is. He was raised Catholic, Italian, a weird outcast who was over-protected by his parents. He had serious health problems and later drug problems. He is a film scholar. Will there ever be another Orson Welles or Spielberg or Bergman? What you all seem to be talking about is who will have the visual style of Scorsese perhaps. Danny Boyle is the only one that comes to mind.

  59. hendhogan says:

    i’m not as concerned about who will be “the next” anything. imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but makes for bad film-making. after all, how many actors have been burdened with being the next laurence olivier?
    and i think these comparisons can create some major stumbling blocks when people in power start to wonder if they were wrong.

  60. mysteryperfecta says:

    If she worked more often (and made a studio pic or two), Julie Taymor might warrant some consideration. She certainly has a unique vision and is visually dynamic. Look know further than Titus and Frida. The trailers for Across the Universe also fit that bill.
    Soderbergh is a reasonable nomination. I’d love it to be so, but I cannot forsee Wes Anderson ever getting a Scorsese budget to make a big studio film that broadens his appeal.

  61. The Carpetmuncher says:

    Julie Taymor has a very exciting visual style but I’m still skeptical she’s even a real filmmaker, because she has yet to make a film that totally worked as a story.
    And for me the key to being a great filmmaker is great storytelling – the visual brilliance just adds to that.
    Otherwise, we’d be talking directors like Catherine Hardwick here, who like Taymor knows how to make a pretty frame but has issues telling a story.
    I do hope Taymor figures it out, and am excited to see ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, but in terms of this kind of visual filmmaker, I’d take Spike Jonez and Michael Gondry over Taymor any day of the week. Because both of those guys have actually delivered on the promise with great or near-great films.

  62. swordandpen says:

    Surprised no one has mentioned David Fincher. Although my opinion is more with bipedalist that there’s only one Scorsese.
    We should be looking at directors who are original and continue to challenge themselves with each film rather than those who seem like they’re the next so-and-so.

  63. TuckPendleton says:

    Carpet —
    That’s a good point on Taymor, and an illustrative one for the discussion as a whole…when we talk about Scorsese, we are talking about a uniquely AMERICAN director, meaning that he works within the traditional American approach to filmmaking — the narrative one. (Where I would say someone like Gondry or Del Toro is much more interested in spectacle, style or mood than telling a coherent story. And there’s nothing wrong with that.)
    So, if we are to find the next Scorsese, I think we need to look for someone who can be visually inventive/commanding while still stringing together a great story. (That person doesn’t need to be American necessarily, but does need to follow the American narrative tradition.)
    That’s why I like Soderbergh, extremely proficient technically, if not in the pyrotechnic way Scorsese is, then at least as interesting in his subtlety, and certainly a director working with a strong narrative sense.

  64. Alan Cerny says:

    This all reminds me of that scene in SINGLES at the matchmaking service where the lady points to Tim Burton (a cameo) and says, “He’s going to be shooting you. He’s the next Martin Scor-SEEZE.”

  65. jeffmcm says:

    Catherine Hardwicke isn’t in the same league as Julie Taymor. Puh-leeze.

  66. The Carpetmuncher says:

    Of course there will never be another Martin Scorsese. I think we’re taking the question a little too literally here. Marty has long been considered “our best” and I think that is the essence of the question.
    Fincher is a really exciting filmmaker, certainly worthy of being included in this discussion.
    And while not American, two filmmakers I consider strickingly original and ambitious and among say the top 10 most important directors working today, are Pedro Almadovar and Wong Kar Wai. Though if we’re talking style, Pedro is more Woody Allen, and Wong Kar Wai is more Godard.

  67. mutinyco says:

    I don’t expect there to be a new Scorsese because I’m not sure the conditions still exist to ferment one. When I think of Scorsese, it’s not his camera moves, editing or critical success.
    The first thing I think of is his background, and that he was nurtured by an immigrant community. He grew up in an ethnic tenement bubble and was further isolated by ill health. It was only when he got into NYU that he was really exposed to the rest of the world. This is partially why his work has always been so conflicted between Cassavetes (rough, improvised) and Welles (highly stylized).
    When he started making his movies they were a reflection of that world he came from. Nowadays, most filmmakers come from much more homogenized backgrounds (notice some of the Mumblecore criticisms).
    I would say, a new Scorsese, if one should emerge, might come from a rough Latino immigrant community or something of that sort. Somebody who comes from the streets, but aims higher.

  68. Noah says:

    In regards to Taymor, I think she is very much a stage director while Scorsese is a director of films all the way.
    I think part of the discussion here should also be about what it means to be the next Scorsese to you. You could take it literally and be offended by the question or you could step back and try to have a little bit of fun with it. I too think there is only one Scorsese, but even the man himself too part in a discussion about who is the next HIM, so I think it’s okay that we talk about it too.

  69. Mr. Gittes says:

    Yeah I obviously didn’t read close enough.
    This is off topic, but I read a script review of a biopic of Edgar Allan Poe on iesb a couple months back and wouldn’t it be perfect if Chris Nolan did with Bale as Poe? Nolan was about to do a biopic of Howard Hughes until Marty’s version got the go ahead…
    I agree that there won’t be a next Scorsese, but I think a lot of this themes are in Nolan’s films. Guilt, redemption, finding your identity, etc. Although I suppose these themes are in a lot of films, Scorsese and Nolan seem to show them the most effectively and compellingly.

  70. The Carpetmuncher says:

    In a vacuum, I’d say Julie Taymor is much more talented than Catherine Hardwicke. But if we do what we should and compare the actual films and not just the people, I’d take Hardwicke’s output over Taymor’s (having not see ACROSS THE UNIVERSE yet).
    While not entirely successful for the storytelling reasons I cited earlier, I think Taymor suffers even more from this. FRIDA was less a story than a series of scenes. There seemed to be very little narrative drive holding those scenes together, and the second half of that film was like a good excuse for a cocaine habit. Taymor also let Alfred Molina’s charismatic muralist take control of the picture, as Rivera’s greatness makes Khalo seem untalented and shallow. Now I thought the film was meant to raise Khalo in our eyes. Maybe not. But by the end, I for one felt the film had either chosen the wrong subject, or that the director had failed to keep her narrative on point.
    TITUS has amazing moments of visual inventiveness, but towards what end? That film is a complete mess, and not even close to as good as the sum of it’s parts. And many of those parts are so overwrought with visual inventiveness, they seem to not require a story or actors at all. Which makes me question if she’s working in the right medium. The fact that TITUS is (in my humble estimation) an inane and idiotic play just doesn’t excuse the film, which seems to throw the moral compass out the window in favor of sick laughs. It’s the kind of movie a seriel killer would love. And Hopkins mugging performance doesn’t help.
    Harwicke also has made films that lose their way in the second half, as the excitment and energy of the beginning just aren’t enough to carry the stories through to their finales. But she seems much more at ease in the medium to me and even though I’m not the biggest fan of THIRTEEN, I would still take that film and LORDS OF DOGTOWN (Ok, just the first half) and the slept on NATIVITY over Taymor’s work. I can see people taking Taymor’s work, but it’s certainly not a “pu-leeze” blow out, unless you are taking into consideration Taymor’s work outside of film, which is sort of like voting for a politician because of his personality and not his poltics.

  71. jeffmcm says:

    No, I’m just saying that, even though Taymor has shown that she has trouble dealing with narrative and story problems, she’s made films, whereas in my mind Catherine Hardwicke is basically working on the level of a Youtube video.

  72. lazarus says:

    I guess only Noah can say what he meant by The Next Scorsese, or maybe the writer of the original Esquire article. But I think Mutinyco described perfectly what separates Marty from the rest. It isn’t about genre-jumping so much as it is about the tug of war between the mise-en-scene and the montage, which we just don’t see as often today. Welles is another example of someone who was just as brillant with an actor-dominated long take as he was dazzling you with fancy editing. Marty’s background is completely different, but it was that film school maturation that led to the formalization of his style.
    If you compare modern directors, you have someone like Wes Anderson, the Coen Bros, Fincher or Guillermo del Toro who have great compositions but whose films don’t feel as organic, versus Cuaron, David O. Russell, Gonzalez-Innaritu, or Greengrass who practice a much looser verite style that suffers from not wowing you with distinct images.
    If that’s how we’re going to classify directors, I really feel that only Soderbergh and P.T. Anderson can be considered someone who balances these two as well as Marty or Welles has in the past. Both have given us some indelible images and know the power of a single frame, yet also are able to let the actors and dialogue carry a scene when they need to.
    For example. you can find similarities to GoodFellas in both Boogie Nights and Traffic; Anderson’s film feels more like it because it’s more visceral, and is partially an homage anyway. But Traffic seems sewn from the same seeds as Marty’s film in the way that it’s a rather personal, character driven film for something that could be more epic (3 Decades of Life in the Mafia, how the Drug War affects different people in completely different locations and walks of life).
    The question is, will Che be Soderbergh’s Raging Bull, or will There Will Be Blood be Anderson’s Last Temptation of Christ?

  73. The Carpetmuncher says:

    Great post, Lazarus.

  74. hendhogan says:

    the contrarian in me raises its head again.
    is scorcsese our de facto best? i like marty’s films, but with the exception of “goodfellas,” i have not been blown away by him in a very long time. caveat, did not see “casino” and was not a fan of “gangs of new york”

  75. The Carpetmuncher says:

    That’s a legit question, Hogan. Personally, even though the second half of his career has not been kind to his legacy, in the end Francis Coppola might very well be regarded as our best, because of the utter brilliance of The Godfather films, which speak to us (at least me) in a way that even the best of Scorsese (for me, Mean Streets, Taxi Driver & Raging Bull) never quite does.
    Even at his best, the technique often overwhelms what I would call the personal, for lack of a better word. Maybe it is because Marty has so much more anger in him, and his films are seem to fight the order of the world, almost as if he wanted to smash it to pieces, whereas in the Godfather films Coppola seems intent on finding order in the madness.
    Then again, you could say that Marty is a much more personal filmmaker than Coppola, because Marty is obsessed with the individual fighting the system, whereas in the Godfather movies Coppola is expansive, trying to make the system work for him.
    Marty as introvert, Coppola as extrovert?
    If made to choose “our best” based on their best work, I’d take Coppola. But Marty has had a longer run of quality, and overall has the more impressive career. Strangely enough, Marty was built for the marathon, where Coppola crapped out after blowing everyone else away in the sprints.

  76. hendhogan says:

    i was actually wondering about clint eastwood or sydney pollack.
    clint’s later movies are getting very good (although not a fan of “mystic river”). sydney’s earlier stuff not as iconic, but also quite good. “they shoot horses, don’t they” & “three days of a condor” & “tootsie” come to mind.

  77. jeffmcm says:

    If the subject is turning to ‘greatest living American director’ allow me to add to the discussion the name Steven Spielberg.
    Also, Sidney Lumet and David Lynch.

  78. Noah says:

    I think it was in Down and Dirty Pictures where Biskind quotes Soderbergh as saying he wanted to be the next Sydney Pollack. Which, let’s be honest, is kind of an odd aspiration. Pollack doesn’t have a true voice as a filmmaker, he’s more of a craftsman. Although, I’m a big fan of Tootsie and They Shoot Horses.
    Lazarus, I can’t say what it means to be the next Scorsese, only you can. And it seems like you have a pretty good grasp about what that means to you.

  79. hendhogan says:

    oh, yeah, i like lumet. that’s a good one!
    and is it greatest or best? nit picking, i know, but important distinction

  80. jeffmcm says:

    What would be the difference between greatest and best? I’ve been thinking of the difference between ‘career’ and ‘recent works’ because Lumet’s 70s run is better than his recent output (although I really liked Find Me Guilty).

  81. The Carpetmuncher says:

    Sydney Pollack? He always seemed like a producer/babysitter more than a director with any personality to me. A good guy to watch over your star vehicle, but hardly the type of guy to wow you. Though he has made a number of quality and provocative films. Just not really in the past 25 years.
    Clint Eastwood clearly has a lot of fans, but I can’t really say I’m one of them. Good director, but not even in the top 20 of what I would call our best.
    Yes, I thought UNFORGIVEN and A PERFECT WORLD were both amazing films, and I liked MYSTIC RIVER a lot more than some other people, though upon second viewing it wasn’t nearly as involving. MILLION DOLLAR BABY I thought was just god awful, and FLAGS/IWO JIMA while hard to hate are just excercises to me, hardly inpsired stuff, and for the most part, like watching paint dry.
    And can we just write off the decade of terrible films that came between A PERFECT WORLD and MYSTIC RIVER? Turds like BLOOD WORK, TRUE CRIME, SPACE COWBOYS, MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN, ABSOLUTE POWER??? And BRIDGES to me was a movie only a grandma could love. Until his recent cannonization as a great director, Eastwood was on his way to being a jouneyman chasing the next best seller.
    Now, I am a big fan of some of Eastwood’s early work, particularly THE OUTLAW JOSIE WALES and BIRD, but I just don’t think he’s in the class of a Scorsese. Really, Sydney Pollack is probably a better comparrison.
    Sidney Lumet has such an impressive and in many ways original filmography that you just have to respect the guy big time. Not as exciting as Scorsese, but he might have as many materpieces. A group of films that includes 12 ANGRY MEN, LONG DAY’S JOURNEY, SERPICO, NETWORK, DOG DAY AFTERNOON, and THE VERDICT can fuck with anybody IMO.
    And I feel like I was the only person who thought FIND ME GUILTY was great fun, and that Mr. Vin Diesel was terrific and finally showed some real range. Then again, maybe I’m the only one who actually saw the film…

  82. Noah says:

    I agree with you, Carpetmuncher, and Jeff that Find Me Guilty was way better than people gave credit for. Lumet is without a doubt a name that needs to be mentioned in any conversation about the greatest filmmakers today. For some reason, he flies under the radar. In addition to the ones you mentioned, Carpetmuncher, he also did Prince of the City which is absolutely riveting and the underrated Anderson Tapes. He’s also a true New York filmmaker like Scorsese, but Lumet’s been doing a lot longer.

  83. jeffmcm says:

    Jonathan Rosenbaum thought it was Lumet’s best film, period.

  84. lazarus says:

    I don’t know if steering this discussion towards “greatest living filmmaker” is going to bring anything but grief to this forum. It’s so subjective a question we’re just going to be playing one-upsmanship. Is it the fizzled-out visionary who made the best 2-3 films (Coppola), the populist who easily juggles the popcorn with the serious (Spielberg), or the outsider who until recently was too edgy for the Academy (Scorsese)? I think any other nominations aside from Godard (the only living international director worthy of consideraton at this point) are foolish. Lumet? Pollack? Love those guys but no way. Having a handful of great films ain’t enough here, and the sheer amount of crap Eastwood has directed (as recent as 2002’s Blood Work) automatically disqualifies him, despite his hot streak. And Lynch is a visual genius who disappears too often up his own asshole to lay claim to such a lofty title.
    With a question like “Who is the next Scorsese?” we can at least objectively break down stylistic similarities and differences and have a decent discussion.
    I like Carpetmuncher’s analysis of Coppola v. Scorsese, though I would say The Age of Innocence are both delicate and very moving films which show Marty’s not always out to shock the screen. There is a level of grandeur that Coppola has that Marty has only really emulated once, and that’s in The Aviator (which ironically closes with a shot that is an exact mirror of The Godfather’s opening shot). Marty’s other big films are much more in your face.
    These guys are more fun to think about in terms of their “failures”, however. I love contrasting New York New York with One From the Heart, or Cape Fear with Bram Stoker’s Dracula, for example.

  85. Noah says:

    And I forgot about The Pawnbroker, The Fugitive Kind, and Equus. Damn, what a filmmaker. Although he also directed my least favorite film of all time: The Wiz.

  86. jeffmcm says:

    If that’s your least favorite film of all time, you’re doing pretty good. Mine: PSYCHED BY THE 4-D WITCH.

  87. Noah says:

    Well I could say that House of the Dead or some such film would was a way worse movie than the Wiz, but then again I never expected much from House of the Dead or films like them. When it comes from someone with the pedigree of Lumet, it’s a much bigger disappointment. So it’s not the WORST movie I’ve ever seen, but it’s my least favorite. If that makes sense…

  88. The Carpetmuncher says:

    The Wiz! Now that is one of those films I liked enough as a kid that I should never watch again because it would kill all those nice memories (sort of like Forrest Gump).
    Funny how the musical is so hard on even the best directors, like Marty with NY NY, or Altman with Popeye. Or even John Huston with Annie…

  89. hendhogan says:

    jeff:
    i would say greatest denotes a leaning towards financial success, which can be in a not so good movie. best just looks at the work for the work.
    and i am bummed i didn’t come up with lumet. that is the perfect contender for scorsese. i’m definitely leaning towards lumet over scorsese.

  90. lazarus says:

    I think New York New York and Popeye, while not entirely successful, are both worthy additions to each filmmaker’s respective filmography, especially the first. That recent DVD release allowed me to reevaluate the thing, and it’s sad that it’s judged against the two masterpieces that came before and after. Great commentary on there, too.

  91. doug r says:

    Let me throw a couple of curveballs in here.
    James Cameron-a director who’s made sequels that were better than the picture they were based on.
    Edgar Wright-at least with his co-writer Simon Pegg. After their genre-busting in Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, what will they do?

  92. anghus says:

    Who will be the next Scorcese?
    Paul Thomas Anderson.
    10 Movies to look forward to this fall?
    There’s 10? Not from the list i’m looking at.
    The sorry state of Horror films:
    It goes in cycles. The seventies had hack and slash independent flicks that scared the hell out of people. People got bored and it scraped the bottom of the barrel for awhile. In the 80’s Iconic horror films started to become popular leading the way for Freddy, Michael Myers, Jason, Pinhead to crowd the theaters, but then people got bored and horror scraped the bottom of a barrel for awhile. Then Scream came along and the teenage slasher film became popular for awhile. Then people got bored, etc.
    Then they started remaking every asian horror film. Became popular. Got boring. Bottom of the barrel.
    Then someone made a film about torturing people. Became popular. Got boring real fast and was scraping the bottom of the barrel before you could say HOSTEL 2.
    Now they’re remaking all the old horror films. So in reality, what are we to look forward to?

  93. hendhogan says:

    i figure one is “aliens” – debatable as to whether better. but what’s the other, “t2?” cause that’s a sequel to his own movie.
    and gonna need a lot more movies before i’d consider wright.

  94. jeffmcm says:

    As much as I have enjoyed Edgar Wright’s films, he’ll need to make something that isn’t 95% pastiche before he can be considered to be a great filmmaker. Tarantino, who’s been accused of this, operates differently.

  95. hendhogan says:

    not willing to allow tarantino into this debate

  96. jeffmcm says:

    I just wanted to preemptively defend him.
    But as long as we’re talking about things people are tired of talking about: Hostel 2 is better than Saw 1, the movie that launched the subgenre.

  97. jeffmcm says:

    Sorry to be a broken record, and to be better than Saw 1 is not necessarily great shakes. We now return you to “greatest American directors” still in progress.

  98. Noah says:

    I think Tarantino couldn’t be considered because even though he apes Scorsese, he has a love for bad cinema that I don’t think Scorsese has. Marty seems to have an appreciation for truly great movies while Tarantino seems okay with anything as long as it dances on the screen.

  99. jeffmcm says:

    Yes, Scorsese wants to be Minnelli and Ford and Fritz Lang. Tarantino wants to be Jack Hill and DePalma and Robert Clouse.

  100. doug r says:

    Yes, Aliens and T2.
    While Alien is a good picture, I prefer fights like Aliens. You can tell Cameron is a Heinlein fan, always a plus in my book.
    T2 takes a depressing apocalyptic story and flips it on its head, especially the alternate ending. Perfectly put together.
    True Lies is also the best film that happens to be a remake of a French film. I remember the first time I watched it, in the first half hour as Trasker is running down the hill getting shot at and shooting back, thinking THIS is what the Bond films were missing. Finally Casino Royale tapped into some of this.

  101. leahnz says:

    doug r, i just had to chime in about ‘aliens’, it’s one of my favourite movies of all time, and to think it was made for a grand total of 18 million dollhairs… an unbelievable blend of action, suspense, science fiction, art, good acting, ingenuity, and just a pinch of cameron hockum for a laugh, very efficient filmaking on such a trim budget. one of my favourite ‘movie making’ stories is how the tea lady had to come onto the UK set every couple hours and open the gigantic doors to the abandoned , halting production and allowing all the steam and shit to escape, by his own admission control freak cameron nearly had an embolism toward the end when the tea lady would show up.
    may i ask, what is it with hollyweird’s obsession with having to label people ‘the new scorsese’ or ‘the next julia roberts’ or whatever? it would seem to highlight the progressive lack of originality in the film industry. many have said it but i’ll add to the chorus that no one could ever be another scorsese, he’s a product of a growing up in a very specific era, a very specific neighbourhood, etc. I’ve always appreciated scorcece most for the way he plumbs the depths of male psyche, examining all the contrasting brutality and beauty in a unique, complling way. my fave scorsese film will always be ‘after hours’, it’s one of a kind, as is he.
    you can’t really talk about the great american directors without mentioning james cameron, no one seems to have put his hat in the ring but i did skim the posts towards the end.

  102. leahnz says:

    oops, i meant to write ‘the abandoned cannery’ (or whatever it was i can’t really remember, it’s on the dvd extras) but i’ve been working all day and i’ve gone retarded

  103. lazarus says:

    Strongly disagree with the idea that Cameron’s sequels were better than the originals. Yeah, if you prefer action over atmosphere, Aliens is the better film. But I don’t think any self-respecting cineaste would really argue that Cameron’s film is superior filmmaking that what Ridley Scott achieved. Ridley’s a better director anyway, and I would place him way higher on an active filmmaker’s list than James Cameron.
    As for Terminator 2…yeah, really groundbreaking effects. Seemed super cool at the time. Bottom line, the first film had a much better screenplay. Making Arnie the cuddly hero of the second film was a really lame idea; he was much cooler as the viliain. How is this not as bad as any of Lucas’ prequel choices? It’s like when people actually started rooting for Freddy Krueger in the Elm Street sequels. Isn’t he supposed to be a frightening bad guy?
    I’ll leave the final word on T2 to David Foster Wallace, who wrote a great piece about FX porn before it became as widespread as it is now, and certainly made me reevaluate what I had seen:
    http://www.ptwi.com/~bobkat/waterstone.html

  104. doug r says:

    You know, DFW has got a valid point about Twister and Volcano, but I think his argument on T2 is a little weak.
    Learning to work with our machines turns into a subtext here. Machines started out as tools we make, capturing and reprogramming a killer cyborg is just reclaiming our creation. There’s even a mention of how the T-101 is the perfect father, he’s been reprogrammed that way.
    I think what DFW misses is that Cameron pushed the technology because that was his vision, the film didn’t suffer that much from it-that and the fact that the man is a freak about details-worked out well for him in this case.
    Now The Abyss, I could see where Cameron was trying to go with that and it almost works, especially the long cut, but meh…

  105. leahnz says:

    ‘but i don’t think any self-respecting cineast would really agrue that cameron’s film is superior filmmaking that what Ridley Scott achieved…’
    oh pahleeeeeze, lazarus, what a sanctimoneous, self-riteous, insulting comment; yet again the holier-than-thou stench rises again in here, i need a gas mask.
    i’d argue the point with you till the cows come home and i’m a self-respecting cineaste who works in the film industry, but the fact is that i adore both ‘alien’ and ‘aliens’, i think the films are up there with ‘godfather and godfather II’ as the greatest films/sequals of all time, so i wouldn’t bother.

  106. jeffmcm says:

    Let’s not forget that ten years ago, Ridley Scott was in the midst of his slump that included 1492, White Squall, and G.I. Jane. That’s a lot of bad films for a world-class filmmaker.
    I think that one of the marks of a truly great filmmaker is that you can enjoy even their bad films and find something of value in them. I can say that there’s stuff to appreciate in New York, New York or The Wiz or 1941. I can’t say that about Black Rain.

  107. anghus says:

    “Let’s not forget that ten years ago, Ridley Scott was in the midst of his slump that included 1492, White Squall, and G.I. Jane. That’s a lot of bad films for a world-class filmmaker.”
    Lackluster films, but deeming them “bad” is kind of a rookie move.
    And even if the masses did declare them as “bad”, all the great filmmakers have their fair share of failed experiments of misfires.

  108. lazarus says:

    jeffmcm, I wasn’t trying to suggest Ridley Scott is one of the best living filmmakers, but that he’d have to be considered way before James Cameron. I have to agree with you about Ridley’s crap being next to worthless. On the flipside, there isn’t one Scorsese film that isn’t worth watching, every outing finds him pushing the boundaries of what he’s done before, looking for new ways to tell his stories. If Cape Fear is slumming, then sign me up for low-income housing. And though I’m not a Spielberg fan, I’d give him the same credit.
    leahz, I have no problem being called a snob in this area. You think Alien and Aliens are on par with The Godfathers; there’s not much more to be said if you’re operating on Bovine Standard Time: the cows are already home.

  109. jeffmcm says:

    “Lackluster films, but deeming them “bad” is kind of a rookie move. ”
    How’s that? I’m pretty sure rookies and pros alike agree on these three. They’re bad films that could have been made by just about anybody without any trace of personality brought to them by a great artist.

  110. The Carpetmuncher says:

    I’d take Ridley Scott over James Cameron any day of the week – to me Scott simply has a far more exciting visual style, and Cameron is a dork on wheels whose lame personality seeps into his films. The epic lameness of Leo’s “I’m the King of the World” in Titanic is only superceded by the director’s epic idiocy at the Oscar’s repeating the line.
    At the same time, Ridley Scott does not really have a personality as a director. He does have a personality in his visual style, which is practically unimpeachable, but in terms of subject matter and themes he seems at times like a journeyman. Like a hired gun to shoot the best of the best projects. Uber-talented, but seemingly more intersted in making the gun sparkle as it falls to the ground than in digging deep into his characters’ lives and emotions. The movie as epic commercial just doesn’t do it for me, no matter how fabulous the frames.
    And for me, if you took away BLADE RUNNER, THELMS & LOUISE & BLACK HAWK DOWN, Ridley would turn into Tony, and Tony as much as I enjoy me some Top Gun is like Michael Bay’s godfather. More talented, but the lineage is clear.
    Cameron of course does have a (lame) personality, and has stronger themes in his films, but this is a guy more interested in pyrotechnics and technology than people. And when he does get down to actually dealing with people… Well, he does that only when there is a deadly machine or monster around the corner. Only as brief interludes so he can get to the next expensive set piece and blow more shit up.
    Cameron’s films are theme park rides, and hardly deserving of being talked about as one of “our best.” Because technical accumen simply isn’t a large part of my criteria in judging the best. If it was, Brian de Palma would have just as much a claim to being “our best” as Marty.

  111. anghus says:

    the rookie move jeff is calling them “bad”. it rings of an AICH talkbacker who just buckets everything into “Shit” or “Shine”, rather than realize there are levels inbetween.
    It’s also a rookie move to assume that every ‘great’ filmmaker doesn’t have a few films in their resume that might not have worked for any number of reasons.
    And looking back at all three of the films you mentioned in terms of critical consensus, and only 1492 was below 50% on Rotten Tomatoes.
    Ebert gave 1492 3 Stars.
    So, just sayng they’re “bad” is your opinion, and hardly that of the critics, and to use that poorly thought out blather as a foundation for an argument designed to weaken the case for Ridley Scott is, in fact, a rookie move.
    Just because the films ‘lack personality’ and ‘could have been made by anybody’ doesn’t make them bad.
    There are more adjectives availabe my friend. Putting movies into THUMBS UP and THUMBS down ruined cinematic debate.
    I know there’s a lot of Ebert love on this board, but the minute you start deeming GOOD or BAD, you’ve destroyed the very foundation of discourse. And now, when we discuss film, we see just how the influence of those godforsaken thumbs has dumbed down the potential for good debate.
    Ebert’s legacy will be the popularization of film discussion and reducing it to the lowest common denominator.

  112. jeffmcm says:

    Anghus, I’m assuming I must have hit a Ridley Scott nerve with you. Of course I agree that there are shades of gray. But how about this: 1492, White Squall, and G.I. Jane are “Not good”. If you want to make the case for them, go ahead, but until you do that, you’re the one lowering the discourse, not me.

  113. hendhogan says:

    wow, i go away for a little while and the name calling starts.
    as far as ridley goes, i love him. i don’t want to choose between “alien” and “aliens” because i love them both. and they are two completely different type of movies. “alien” is more horror and “aliens” is more action.
    “white squall” has a saving grace for me. during the storm when jeff bridges wife is trapped in the sinking ship and he knows he cannot save her, that scene hits with a powerful emotional impact. he’s holding on to the grating of the window as the ship pulls him down, knowing that as soon as he releases he will never see her again. for those who have challenged ridley’s interest in humanism, i offer this scene.
    and finally, i’m sorry to see the lumet/scorsese comparisons ended up getting the short end of the stick.

  114. leahnz says:

    total film’s ‘best 100 directors of all time’ list has scott at #39 and cameraon at #38, pretty damn close, really. so i guess not everyone prefers ridley to james after all… but they must be slightly stupid.
    lazarus, for all my bad spelling and typos last night when i was exhausted and dyslexic, have i spelled this right? w-a-n-k-e-r. that’s bovine standard spelling, in case you’re wondering.
    many sources site aliens as the superior film to alien (google it), and ‘aliens’ consistantly lands in ‘greatest films of all time’ lists far above ‘alien’ (recently aussie ’empire’ had it in the top ten of their readers pole best films ever). personally, like hendhogen, i love them both, and comparing them is like apples and oranges. my point was not that ‘alien’ and ‘aliens’ are on par with the godfather films, which is a matter of taste, my point was that there are very few original films and a sequal that have real respect and lasting impact in our popular culture, and ‘godfather/godfather II’ and ‘alien/aliens’ are two such rare beasts.

  115. anghus says:

    Scott isn’t even a Director i’m that passionate about. So, no, you didn’t strike a nerve at all.
    I just think your argument is baseless, and most of your comments come from the hip without a ounce of depth.
    makes it tough to take you seriously.

  116. jeffmcm says:

    That’s your opinion and I can’t do anything do change it. All I can say is that the discussion was going along fine until you took it into a personal direction, which I didn’t feel was necessary. Your comment is basically exactly the same thing that I had said, that great filmmakers sometimes make subpar films that are still worth watching and appreciating. My contention is that Ridley Scott’s subpar films don’t live up to that standard; Hendhogan at least made an argument to partially refute the claim.

  117. doug r says:

    Hey, I did say I was throwing a couple of curveballs in there. I guess I’m saying that directors that make perfect action pictures should be in the equation…

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“Well, actually, of that whole group that I call the post-60s anti-authority auteurs, a lot of them came from television. Peckinpah’s the only one whose television work represents his feature work. I mean, like the only one. Mark Rydell can direct a really good episode of ‘Gunsmoke’ and Michael Ritchie can direct a really good episode of ‘The Big Valley,’ but they don’t necessarily look like The Candidate. But Peckinpah’s stuff, even the scripts he wrote that he didn’t even direct, have a Peckinpah feel – the way I think there’s a Corbucci West – suggest a Peckinpah West. That even in his random episodes that he wrote for ‘Gunsmoke’ – it’s right there.”
~ Quentin Tarantino

“The thought is interrupted by an odd interlude. We are speaking in the side room of Casita, a swish and fairly busy Italian bistro in Aoyama – a district of Tokyo usually so replete with celebrities that they spark minimal fuss. Kojima’s fame, however, exceeds normal limits and adoring staff have worked out who their guest is. He stops mid-sentence and points up towards the speakers, delighted. The soft jazz that had been playing discreetly across the restaurant’s dark, hardwood interior has suddenly been replaced with the theme music from some of Kojima’s hit games. Harry Gregson-Williams’ music is sublime in its context but ‘Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots’ is not, Kojima acknowledges, terribly restauranty. He pauses, adjusting a pair of large, blue-framed glasses of his own design, and returns to the way in which games have not only influenced films, but have also changed the way in which people watch them. “There are stories being told [in cinema] that my generation may find surprising but which the gamer generation doesn’t find weird at all,” he says.
~ Hideo Kojima