Who would you describe as a legendary director? Hitchcock? Sure! Scorsese? Probably! Spielberg? You bet! Ridley Scott? Why not!
But with younger directors the word “legendary” seems premature. With two or three great films under their belt, a filmmaker might still end their career directing episodes of a TV show on basic cable, all but forgotten.
Take Michael Ritchie for instance: in the mid-70s the director seemed as good a bet as any to enter the pantheon of the great masters. The dark and witty political satire The Candidate, followed by the well-received Smile and the adorable The Bad News Bears - that’s three pretty great films in a row!
But for rest of his career, Ritchie lived up to the title of his (also quite good) feature film debut: Downhill Racer. Still, I have to confess that I would have bet on the man back in the days. The Bad f***** Nes Bears, anybody!!
I am ready to put my presumably terrible soothsaying abilities to the test and predict who the next “legendary” directors will be. The (arbitrary) preconditions: the directors in question need to be under 50 and have at least two good-to-great films under their belts.
Here are my seven picks for future directing legends:
Paul Thomas Anderson
43 years of age, has already made two historical psychodramas of massive scope (There Will Be Blood, The Master), two ensemble pieces, rich with indelible characters and one weird little -starrer. His debut feature, Hard Eight is every inch as good as the Coen’s similarly noir-ish first film, Blood Simple.
He made do this:
And chew the scenery and like that:
These two clips are hardly indicative of the subtle and fantastic work, Anderson tickled out (I am presuming he is a tickler) of the awesome assemblage of actors he already directed.
My movie-buff legs shiver with excitement when I think about what Anderson might still accomplish if those responsible still give him enough money, and there indeed remains such a thing as movies in the future.
Next movie: Inherent Vice
I reckon many of you folks agree with the choice of . Still, I type his name with a bleeding heart. The career of this great director, (probably only) in my opinion, has steadily gone south since his phenomenal second movie, Memento. Sure there were the occasional highs (The Prestige, Insomnia) but I found myself terribly dissapointed by the bloatedness of The Dark Knight trilogy and Inception, both in need of a rewrite or two.
But there is no way around acknowledging that the director is now one of very the few current filmmakers who does huge, intelligent (not as much as he thinks), ballsy, non-superhero genre movies - which turn out super-succesful!
If he manages to keep doing exactly that, he’ll sure end up as one of the (overrated) greats!
Next movie: Interstellar
Guillermo del Toro
has such a unique style and vision that even Blade 2 cannot be mistaken for anything else than a Del Toro movie... not a very good one, but still: it’s a Del Toro movie. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for the director for that adorable lovesick crooning of Michael Bolton's "Can't Smile Without You" in Hellboy II: The Golden Army.
Now, that's in a friggin superhero movie!
The Mexican filmmaker alternates between small-ish film fare with strong fantastical elements like Pan’s Labyrinth or The Devil’s Backbone and giant blockbusters like Pacific Rim.
The director, who at the ageof 49 just managed to squeez through the door crack of this here list, will surely be considered a legendary filmmaker at a later point - if he doesn’t collapse due to his ridiclulously busy work schedule too soon.
Next Movie: Crimson Peak
A pulpy psycho-horror movie set in the ultra-competetive world of ballet dancing, the tragic story of a broken down wrestler on the path to self-destruction and the Kafka-esque tale of a mathematician trying to figure out the secret of the universe: sure knows an interesting setting when he sees one!
He also tends to direct the hell out of these settings, as can be witnessed in Requiem for a Dream, where the freneric editing tries to simulate the effect of taking drugs. While I still feel kind of woozy from those unvelievable last 15 minutes of Black Swan, I find myself sometimes whispering to myself "now, that was a bit much". A bald Hugh Jack floating through space in a giant crystal ball in The Fountain was one such instant.
There can be no doubt however, that Aronosky is one of the great working filmmakers. His movies are filled to the brim with terrific acting ( won an Oscar for Black Swan, arguably should have won one for The Wrestler), technical wizardy and beguiling music, thanks to his longtime collaborator Clint Mansell.
Next in line is a giant bible epic starring . Consider us intrigued!
Next Movie: Noah
Wes Anderson's style is so distinct that he has already inspired a bunch of less talented epigones who imitate his wistful offbeat filmmaking. and his shallow Garden State come to mind (sorry, I really don't like that film). The term offbeat seems somewhat out of place too, now, as Anderson's visual language has become part of our pop culture.
All that said, I think that Anderson will very much become a legend.
Much criticism of his films seems to stem from the fact that the naysayers want Anderson to do something different. While this wish is understandable, if the melancholy and cutesy weirdness of his movies isn't in your ballpark, it seems somehwat misplaced is you tend to like them. Nobody asked Ingmar Berman to stop spreading his doom and gloom and do a sci-fi movie, for a change.
Just look what Anderson has already done for screen history. He has given us what is possibly 's best performance in Rushmore. He tailored the role of Royal Tenenbaum to the legend that is Gene Hackman who never was more of a loveable scoundrel on screen.
Next Movie: Grand Budapest Hotel
What a debut feature 's Hunger is! The gut-wrenching (and stomach turning) prison drama basically runs about 40 minutes without much dialogue, or a clear protagonist, then heads into an over 20-minute-long dialogue scene, in which two men deliberate the morality of a hunger strike. There are about 5 cuts in said scene. This is followed by the martyrdom just deliberated upon. If this sounds vaguely boring to you: it's not... although it certainly is artsy!
While I thought his second movie, the sex addiction drama Shame was somewhat underwhelming, it was so on a very high level, and there are scenes there which will take your breath away.
His next movie, 12 Years a Slave will be his most expensive, ambitious, and well-cast picture to date. As his two earlier features were only watched by a few arthouse aficionados, it'll be interesting to see how a bigger audience reacts to McQueen's unflinching style.
Next Movie: 12 Years A Slave
David Gordon Green
's filmography is certainly one eclectic mix of mildly douchy comedies (The Sitter, Pineapple Express) and -y indie dramas (All the Real Girls, Undertow).
As I enjoy both very much, I love Green to pieces (well, the films...). Even something as crappy as The Sitter still has quite wonderful poetic moments like the following:
Green's best film to date (if you don't count his directing duties on Eastbound & Down), at least for me, is also his most recent one, Prince Avalanche.
The sweet tragicomedy is weird, funny, emotional, and highly poetic. It's so effortless and modest, there's some danger people will miss how easily Green conjures up something this heartfelt and beautiful.
Next movie: Joe
These were my seven picks. They are unashemedly subjective and, with he exception of , I brazenly left off the list directors I don't find particluar sympathetic (here's looking at you ).
Which directors do you think will end up being legends? Tell us in the comment section below!