Apr 3, 2010

March Madness! Film Directors, Third Round

We've had some surprise first-round flameouts out for Terence Malick, Spike Jonze and Wes Anderson; a series of rather brutal second-round smackdowns for David Lynch, Michael Mann and Steven Soderbergh, but we're finally down to the sweet sixteen. Here are the third-round brackets for best active film director, in the Veterans category.
1. Martin Scorsese ("The Departed," "Shutter Island") vs. 5. Clint Eastwood ("Changeling," "Invictus")

The Coen Brothers ("No Country For Old Men," "A Serious Man") vs 2. Steven Spielberg ("Munich," "Minority Report")
The fellas at Weekend give this to Scorsese unanimously, but I'd give it to him only after a long and protracted fight. Scorsese hasn't made a great film since Goodfellas, whereas Clint has Unforgiven, Mystic River, and Million Dollar Baby, all hefty blows to the solar plexus. Marty edges back only once you allow in all his seventies work: Taxi Driver, Mean Streets, Alice. I can't think of another great director whose oeuvre rests on such a narrow strip. I'd give it to Spielberg over the Coens without hesitation. Moving onto the Newbies bracket, we have:—
8. Judd Apatow ("Funny People," "Knocked Up") vs. 4. Guillermo Del Toro ("Pan's Labyrinth," "Hellboy 2")

3. Sam Mendes ("Jarhead," "Revolutionary Road" ) vs Sofia Coppola ("Marie Antoinette" "Lost in Translation")
Weekend reward del Toro over Apatow. I'd reverse that. Apatow has reconfigured the comic landscape. They also have a soft spot for Mendes, who is essentially a theatre director who hires great cinematographers to hide the fact. I'd give it to Coppola.

My third round Indies
bracket looks like this:—
1. Quentin Tarantino ("Death Proof," "Inglourious Basterds") vs. Ang Lee ("Brokeback Mountain")

6. David Fincher ("The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "Zodiac") vs. Richard Linklater ("Before Sunrise", "Dazed and Confused")
The weekend brackets by this point bear no resemblance to mine except for the presence of Tarantino. I'd give it to Lee easily, and Fincher over Linklater (just). Moving onto the Populists, we have:
1. James Cameron ("Avatar") vs. 5. Peter Jackson ("King Kong," "The Lovely Bones")

6. Robert Zemeckis ("Beowulf," "A Christmas Carol") vs. Christopher Nolan ("The Prestige," "The Dark Knight")
They give it to Jackson over Cameron — unwise, based on one trilogy. Cameron has reinvented the sequel, aced the action movie and reordered the molecular structure of cinema. They clearly have a weakness for big hits in the last few years: they also have Nolan winning for The Dark Knight. Single hits should not get you into the top 16. Zemeckis hasn't made a good film since Castaway but he gets it, like Scorsese, on the strength of his back catalogue.

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