Mar 25, 2010

March Madness: Best Film Director, Round Two

Indiana's WEEKEND have published their second-round brackets for Best Living Film Director. For theirs check out the link. What follows are my choices, with any disagreements highlighted. We are in broad agreement in the Veterans category.
1. Martin Scorsese ("The Departed," "Shutter Island") vs. 9. Terrence Malick ( "The New World")

5. Clint Eastwood ("Changeling," "Invictus") vs. 4. Roman Polanski ("The Ghost Writer")

11. Oliver Stone ("World Trade Center," "W.") vs 3. The Coen Brothers ("No Country For Old Men," "A Serious Man")

10. Michael Mann ("Miami Vice," "Public Enemies") vs 2. Steven Spielberg ("Munich," "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull")
The Weekend guys had Woody Allen rather than Malick, but they ended up with the same result: Scorsese goes through. They also had Danny Boyle beating Roman Polanski, but it's also moot: Eastwood beats both of them. The Coens go through, as does Spielberg. The person who gets the roughest deal here is Michael Mann for caming up against Spieberg so early. That's like playing Federer in the second week of Wimbeldon. Otherwise, he might have made the quarter finals. I'm sure he'll suck it up by browsing books on titanium stress fractures like De Niro in Heat.

Moving onto the
Newbies bracket, I have:—
16. Jon Favreau ("Zathura," "Iron Man") vs 8. Judd Apatow ("Funny People," "Knocked Up")

5. Pedro Almodovar ("Volver," "Broken Embraces") vs. 4. Guillermo Del Toro ("Pan's Labyrinth," "Hellboy 2")

6. Jason Reitman ("Thank You For Smoking," "Juno," "Up in the Air") vs. 3. Sam Mendes ("Jarhead," "Revolutionary Road," "Away We Go")

Sofia Coppola ("Marie Antoinette") vs. 15. JJ Abrams ("Mission: Impossible III," "Star Trek"
I would chose, as second round winners: Apatow over Favreau, Del Toro over Almodovar, Mendes over Reitman (just), and Coppola over Abrams. The Weekend guys are with me except for the last: they have it as a match between Coppola and Cuaron with Cuaron going through. I think they're making a mistake to bank everything on one movie (Y Tu Mama Tambien) and even if it were down to one, Lost in Translation is still the better film. Moving on.

My second round Indies bracket looks like this:—
1. Quentin Tarantino ("Death Proof," "Inglourious Basterds") vs. Gus Van Sant ("Paranoid Park," "Milk")
5. David Lynch ("Inland Empire") vs. 13. Ang Lee ("Brokeback Mountain")
6. David Fincher ("The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "Zodiac") vs. Darren Aronofsky ("The Wrestler," "The Fountain")

7. Steven Soderbergh ("Che," "The Girlfriend Experience," "The Informant!") vs 15. Richard Linklater ("A Scanner Darkly," "Me and Orson Welles")
Finally, a decent dust-up. The Weekend bracket looks wildly different from mine. They have Ang Lee going out in the first round: a major, major mistake. Lee has range, power and longevity— the only A-lister other than Eastwood and Spielberg who can actually move an audience. They have Aronofksy beating Fincher: a close run thing, between tweedle dum and tweedle dee, but again a mistake. (The Wrestler is the only Aronofksy film that repays rewatching; Fincher has Se7en, Panic Room and Zodiac.) They have Wes Anderson beating David Lynch which is myopic, modish and unpersuasive: Blue Velvet blows Anderson's corduroy pants off. And they have Paul Thomas Anderson beating Soderbergh and Linklater. There's more of a case to be made here, but it rests entirely on There Will be Blood, a loveless and overrated film in my opinion. Linklater's films have tenderness and humor — qualities on scant display in this bracket. I'd go for Tarantino over Van Sant, Lee over Lynch, Fincher over Aronofsky, and Linklater over Soderbergh.

Moving onto the Populists, we have:—
1. James Cameron ("Avatar") vs. 8. Ron Howard ("Frost/Nixon," "Angels & Demons")

5. Peter Jackson ("King Kong," "The Lovely Bones") vs. 4. Tim Burton ("Sweeny Todd," "Alice in Wonderland")

6. Robert Zemeckis ("Castaway," "A Christmas Carol") vs. 3. Ridley Scott ("American Gangster," "Body of Lies")

7. Frank Darabont ("The Mist") vs. 2. Christopher Nolan ("The Prestige," "The Dark Knight")
My winners are: Cameron over Howard, Jackson over Burton, Zemeckis over Scott, and Nolan over Darabont (just, and again solely because of Memento). Weekend favor Scott over Zemeckis who they have going out in the first round – pure craziness. Scott is too chilly, with a lack of curiosity about his fellow human beings. Zemeckis is hardly Mr Empathy but there's a whiz-kid exuberance to Back to the Future and Roger Rabbit that is contagious and inherantly cinematic. I suspect a lingering case of anti-Gumpism.


  1. I'm with you again bar one - I think Scott trumps Zemekis.
    The latter's films often make me uneasy with violence that's on the outer edge of my comfort zone; I'm thinking of the finale of Roger Rabbit and the ghosts in Christmas carol which I found really alarming - I'm obviously a great big girl's blouse!
    Meanwhile Ridley has Blade Runner. No contest.

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