Sure, there’s been plenty of talk about who and what was the best of the last 10 years, but I’ll throw another on the pyre as we head out of the aughts. There is no question in my mind that the 2000s were the decade of Steven Soderbergh. What’s so fascinating is that when I mention this to people the first response is “what’d he make again?” Even among these forums, his relevance this decade has been mentioned, but not quite as strongly as other auteurs. I’m linking to my site for a lengthier breakdown if you like, but I want to talk about this here because I love the conversation among these forums.
Director of the Decade: Steven Soderbergh | the candler blog
I think there are 2 main reasons why Soderbergh eludes so many cineastes when it comes to picking his name out as a master. First off, we forget that he created the idea of 1990s American Independent cinema with Sex, Lies, and Videotape. Before that film, Robert Redford’s vision for Sundance was just a pipe dream. It was Soderbergh, who was brought up in the Sundance Lab, who showed the world that there was a legitimate cinema movement brewing in the US. The result is a flocking of artists to the fest and labs, which leads to Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith, Robert Rodriguez, Alison Anders and all the others who really exploded the American scene in the 1990s. All while Soderbergh basically disappears from the scene. Until the 2000s, of course.
The other reason is that we can’t, as a cinema community, reconcile his strength in Hollywood. He no longer fits the mold of underdog cineaste since he keeps proving his strength in mainstream cinema. Personally, I think that is nuts. He is gaming the system from the inside out. I believe Ocean’s 11, 12 (especially 12) and 13 are among the best American films of the decade. He has honed his talents so well that even his establishment work is moving us forward. He keeps his “street cred” with films like Bubble and Che, but they’re all the work of a visionary artist.
If that’s not enough, it’s important note that he does not sit on the outside and let the industry push him. He is moving the business of cinema forward. His devotion to the RED Camera has resulted in both an improved camera system and widespread adoption of the new technology. Soderbergh knows when to throw his weight behind something. His contract with HDNet Films, which Bubble was produced under, allows him to relese films in theater, on TV, on DVD, and on the web at the same time. The Girlfriend Experience, for example was released on Amazon before its theatrical run.
Anyway, I’ve said too much. What do you have to say on the matter? I really want to know.
Tho I admire his ability to go back and forth
I find his Hollywood films poor
and the only passable small films are Bubble (which is great) and che (which is good but overlong)
I guess we’re on different sides of this, Den. I find his Hollywood work as visionary as his smaller films. I’m really excited to see where he takes this momentum in the future.
i agree that the “ocean” films are brilliant. theyre fluid and seamless in a classical hollywood way. the effortless work of a great director on top of his game. theres such energy in the films that i can watch them over and over again. and i dont think ive ever seen such chemistry among an ensemble cast of actors.
that being said, ive seen very few soderberg films.
I believe that is a very good argument, Jonathan. I do not care for Soderbergh much specifically, but in general I support his ability to do what he does. He’s living the dream very many people have had about becoming a director who is a friend to everyone, and appreciated at least in some way by anybody.
the Ocean films suck, NEXT!!!!
that being said, i also feel Soderbergh possess a private versatility on what he does be it stupid, mainstream Hollywood or semi-independent artistry. sometimes Hollywood fares well (Traffic), sometimes his indie period atones himself from mainstream bullshit (Kafka instead of Good German) and sometimes he combines both (Che films)
whatever happens to Soderbergh in the future, his worst films will always be the Ocean films….end of story…
as director of the decade? i HIGHLY doubt it..
Yes, they do, NEXT!!
I can’t stand Soderbergh.
His more fun films like Oceans 11 and The Informant are at least successfully entertaining, but when he tries to be topical it gets kind of ridiculous. He keeps making these overlong dragging multi-threaded epics that portray themselves as realistic but are completely one sided and barely even seem researched.
I would give the title of director of the decade to one of the following: Wong Kar Wai, Pedro Almodovar, Alfonso Cuaron, Joel/Ethan Coen.
let’s keep this thread to Soderbergh films for now because Cuaron is even worse after he started going in between countries….and the Coens are definitely INFERIOR!!!
I don’t know why people are so harsh on the Oceans films. I’d like someone to explain, please. Ocean’s 12 in particular is a great revenge film. But I don’t think I need to work so hard to convince you. Just watch them again without commercials.
And one more thing: perhaps other filmmakers made better films in the decade, but I think Soderbergh earns this for being so relevant throughout the entire decade. His films couldn’t exist in another time. They are products of this era. In other words, if we can’t rationally discuss whether or not he is the best director of the decade, then can we at least consider whether or not he is the best director for the decade?
“then can we at least consider whether or not he is the best director for the decade?”
sure we can…but why oh why this director necessarily has to be either American, French, Italian, Japanese, Spaniard, German or British?
Jonathan, they are completely devoid of thought or any type of cerebral qualities, and exist simply to be cool.
The first one is not as awful as Kung-Fu Panda at least.
“The first one is not as awful as Kung-Fu Panda at least.”
haha, yes, Eli is definitely spot-on here ;)
Thank you very much.
(Picture Of Elvis Here)
Dimitris you are so right!!!! I should have prefaced that in the criteria for choosing my bests of the decade on my site, we limited our choices to filmmakers whose films had wide US releases. You are absolutely on target in bringing up that this limits the playing field considerably. But that’s where best of lists and declarations (yes, like this one) are just full of crap.
It is impossible to say that any one filmmaker is the best for every audience. But for an American audience, I still say Soderbergh fits the bill.
And Eli, I truly believe that Ocean’s 12 is a statement of America finding its place in the world (both politically and cinematically) in the 2000s. Sorry but you’re going to have to bring the cerebrum the film, not the other way around.
And Eli, I truly believe that Ocean’s 12 is a statement of America finding its place in the world (both politically and cinematically) in the 2000s.
That’s fine to believe, but this part:
Sorry but you’re going to have to bring the cerebrum the film, not the other way around.
is silly. If I really wanted to I could make American Pie into an artistic statement about sex hunger in our society and the extremes we go to bring pleasure to ourselves. I could make anything into art.
I could make anything into art.
Where’s the downside to that? Why shouldn’t we look at American Pie analytically? I never understand why people split films up into ones that you can read into and ones that you can’t.
This is probably going to devolve fast, so I’ll chill for now.
Jon, I HAVE looked at American Pie analytically, and try to do so with all films, but it doesn’t always generate positive results.
Soderbergh’s career defines this decade. So does George Bush’s. Next decade please. Now!
“So does George Bush’s.”
uumm…..aren’t all decades then defined by fuckin’ U.S. presidents aka members of the Worldwide Fascist Politician Team?
I love Soderbergh, and he’s rocked this decade, yeah, but I also must say that this decade seemed to belong to Chris Nolan as well, from Memento onward.
(I would love to say Linklater, as well).
As to the American Pie flicks, while I personally don’t think they’re trying to make big, bold statements, I do find that they’re a lot of fun, and I enjoy watching them (JUST the American Pie ones, not the knock-offs that they keep producing under that tag). Are they art? More or less, I think.
No, not all of them. George Bush is a special case. A nutcase.
“uumm…..aren’t all decades then defined by fuckin’ U.S. presidents aka members of the Worldwide Fascist Politician Team?”
So far, unfortunately, yes. Next Decade!!!!!!!!
Zach, I enjoy the first two, but they aren’t art. Now ANCHORMAN, that’s art!
Linklater was part of the 90’s expulsion Zack ;)
Nolan is of the zero decade….
to Soderbergh again……i really feel Kafka and Che will be considered his most undervalued works in the future (and amongst his best) and i bet most American movie-buffs know of the Forest Gump Oscars instead of the Golden Palm for sex, lies and videotape ;)
There’s a big difference between movie-buff and cinephile.
" First off, we forget that he created the idea of 1990s American Independent cinema with Sex, Lies, and Videotape. Before that film, Robert Redford’s vision for Sundance was just a pipe dream. It was Soderbergh, who was brought up in the Sundance Lab, who showed the world that there was a legitimate cinema movement brewing in the US. The result is a flocking of artists to the fest and labs, which leads to Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith, Robert Rodriguez, Alison Anders and all the others who really exploded the American scene in the 1990s."
So he’s responsible. It’s like the Godfather with Barzini. I thought it was Tarantino, but it was Soderbergh all along!
I am embarrassed that I haven’t seen more than three of Soderbergh’s movies, Sex, Lies & Videotape, Ocean’s 11 and The Informant!.