There are some very interesting choices on this thread. It’s one of the better threads I’ve seen.
(Anyone that says cinema is dead or worse off lately just isn’t watching the right films. As this thread demonstrates, there are some real quality filmmakers churning out great films. They may not be seen by a mass audience, but I would hardly blame cinema itself for that.)
Anyway, the ones that jump out at me are:
- Soderbergh (pretty impressive decade – aside from the sheer quantity, there are, I’d say, 5 gems in that productivity – Che Pts. I+II, The Girlfriend Experience, Bubble, Traffic)
- Jia Zhang-ke (The World, Unknown Pleasures, Still Life and Platform – I have yet to see 24 City. Wow, quite a lineup.)
- Gus Van Sant (Gerry, Elephant, Last Days, Paranoid Park, Milk)
- Bela Tarr’s Werckmeister Harmonies (echoing Poopbutt here – didn’t think I’d ever say that – in calling it the best of the decade. Tarr makes my list for this 1 incredible achievement alone.)
- The Dardenne Brothers (L’enfant, Le Fils – have yet to see Le silence de Lorna)
- David Lynch (Mulholland Drive, Inland Empire and this awesome clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wKiIroiCvZ0)
I have a lot of love for Herzog, Clint, Scorsese, PT Anderson, Linklater, Woody Allen, Miyazaki, etc. but their work from the past decade didn’t push cinema ahead as much (naturally, in my opinion) as the others. Of course, my choices lean towards a certain aesthetic and content that I prefer, but that’s to be expected.
Also, based on the other posts, Hong Sang-soo is definitely on my radar now. Thanks for that.
RICHARD KELLY did two of the most impressive and original movies of the decade, real pastiches that are not ashamed of themselves and are really really entertaining and thought provocking movies.
QUENTIN TARANTINO is on the same level as Richard Kelly in his homage movies, which are not ashamed of what they really are, an abstract of what movies have in the entire history, and I think that is the quid on defining this decade for movies.
MICHAEL MOORE has finally made the documentary genre open for public, which is good, no matter what you think about how he does his films (I think the four I’ve seen are awesome).
PETER JACKSON has brought back the feeling and entertainment of the movies in the past days, creating the modern epic, alongside MASTER AND COMMANDER, the movies that you thoubht would never see again are here, again resonnating with the nostalgia factor, essential for this decade.
HAYAO MIYAZAKI is the master of animated film of this decade, bringing back the fairy tales and those special emotional moments back, bringing them from the core of our souls and hearts.
PIXAR is an auteur now, and a great one.
DAVID LYNCH has made two of the most impressive and thoughtful female portraits in the history of movies, and he made both of them in this decade, which is really a good sign of what is to come for him, with his movements, web series and shorts.
CHAN-WOOK PARK is one that has managed to stay true to the politics and culture of his own country and still make movies that are important to his landscape and for the entire world. He had made a total of six movies, and all of them work at an impressive and amazing level, specially in terms of cinematography and acting.
DARREN ARONOFSKY is really important, and his three movies talk a lot about what the is capable of, in genre as well as with the conflicts of feelings and the mind. He has gone way over his PI and is just going up.
CHRISTOPHER NOLAN has combined the efforts of independent cinema with the big stars and franchises, becoming one of the most versatile, yet at the same time consistent filmmakers of our age.
CLINT EASTWOOD has really made a name, beign able to crack out many movies in a short period of time (as it is a decade) and with an incredible quality attached to all of them, which is only repeated by PARK.
Of the top of my head, it’s all I can think of.
michael haneke for his twisted fucked up long shots, paul thomas anderson for his delicious milkshake, and pedro almodovar for his consistency at being kitsch. geniuses.
Off the top of my head and therefore probably forgetting people:
Jia Zhang Ke
Gus Van Sant
Lucile Hadzihalilovic (why hasn’t she made another film!)
Tsai Ming- Liang
Gus Van Sant
Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne
Manoel de Oliveria
PT ANDERSON (only 2 films, but definitely my personal favorite director of the decade)
SOFIA COPPOLA (hated Marie Antoinette, but she has a hell of an eye, so I still believe in her)
ALFONSO CUARON (mostly for Children of Men)
GUILLERMO DEL TORO (mostly just for Pan’s Labyrinth, some of his other stuff is pretty crappy)
Alejandro González Iñárritu
DUNCAN JONES (I Love MOON! Shows sooo much promise!)
… and probably many others I’m not remembering or have yet to catch up on… yea, lots to catch up on…
OLD FAVORITES STILL GOING STRONG (mostly):
PETER JACKSON (haven’t seen Lovely Bones yet, looks OK… but he will always have my love for LOTR)
WONG KAR WAI (I don’t know about Blueberry Nights, looks kind of bad, but ITMFL and 2046- absolute masterpices))
DAVID CRONENBURG (nothing but awesomeness this decade, the man is on a winning streak)
COEN BROTHERS (they are an awesome streak as well lately, the most productive guys in Hollywood for sure)
PEDRO ALMODAVAR (as long as he and Penelope say together, greatness seems to ensue)
HERE’S HOPING THEY CAN SQUEEZE OUT 1 OR 2 MORE GREAT ONES BEFORE THEY CROAK:
DAVID LYNCH (Mulholland Drive was one of his best, but Inland Empire one of his worst, so I don’t know if he’s lost it or what)
TERRY GILLIAM (haven’t seen Parnassus yet, but it looks to be great and will hopefully break his losing streak)
TERRENCE MALICK (New World is beautiful, as always, but I thought a little flat emotionally, maybe I need to see it again… we’ll be lucky if he makes 2 or 3 more in his lifetime at his rate of work)
FRANCIS COPPOLA (I though Youth Without Youth was deeply flawed but admirably ambitious and showed real promise, but then Tetro was flat-out terrible, so I dunno, he’s getting pretty old, I hope he can yet do something really cool with all those wine sales)
ROMAN POLANSKI (The Pianist was an incredible piece of work, and broke his streak of total crap in the 90s, I know he has something new in the works, but obviously his personal situation is a little fucked right now)
David Lynch (Mulholland Dr.)
Gus Van Sant
Ooops, I forget one of my long-time favorites, JIM JARMUSCH, under “Still Going Strong”. Broken Flowers was just OK, but LIMITS OF CONTROL was brilliant, among his finest. Pretty sure he still has a few great ones to come…
Guy Maddin. Cowards Bend the Knee stands as my pick for best of the decade, and he has support in the form of The Saddest Music in the World, The Heart of the World, Brand Upon the Brain, My Dad is 100 Years Old and My Winnipeg! He hasn’t struck out once, in my opinion, and his films are always both touching and visually impressive at the very least.
A lot of people have overlooked one of the greatest auteurs. This list is exclusive to directors begining their careers in either the 2000s or 1999.
“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”
“Synecdoche, New York”
“Lost In Translation”
“Me and You and Everyone We Know”
“Stranger Than Fiction”
“The Kite Runner”
“Being John Malkovich”
“Where the Wild Things Are”
David Gordon Green
“All the Real Girls”
“Thank You for Smoking”
“Up in the Air”
“Away From Her”
So this was actually not a bad decade for movies!!!!
and all though Guy Maddin started in the early 1990s, he is still a damn good Canadian auteur.
Todd Field was probably my favorite director of the decade. Nothing beats the “In the Bedroom” and “Little Children” power combo.
hmmm…….Clint Eastwood is good, but i find his movies a little too simplistic at times. morally, and even aesthetically. His style is perfectly functional, and that’s both a good and a bad thing, ‘Mystic River’ and ‘Million Dollar Baby’ were good though. Flags could have been more interesting if it was made by a more adventurous director.
I’ve seen Van Sant mentioned a lot. ‘Last Days’ goes to amazing lengths to put you inside the head of its central character in a way that few films would even dare. ‘Elephant’ and ‘Gerry’ were interesting conceptual pieces that, while satisfying to a certain degree, never fulfilled their initial promise IMO. His use of Arvo Part’s music in ‘Gerry’ really annoyed me too!! hehe.
as for cinema being dead, it certainly isn’t dead, but there is less innovation happening now i believe, even if more quality films have been released in the last few years after a dry spell in the mid 00’s.
anyway, without further ado, my favs of the decade:
Del Toro(mostly for Devil’s Backbone though, one of the most layered ‘horrors’ ever made. The symbolism is almost literary. It’s close to an art film at certain points, but not quite. Good job)
James Gray(visual and film making style unlike anything else from the U.S right now. ‘We Own The Night’ was a standard cop film on the surface but it was full of unexpected subtext. Two Lovers was like a throwback to the tortured romantic dramas of the 70’s.)
Haneke(Hidden was Haneke up to his old pretentious tricks, but i loved ‘The Piano Teacher’, ‘Time Of The Wolf’ and’Code Unknown’)
Theo Angelopoulos(The Weaping Meadow was excellent. One of the few real, uncompromising arthouse directors left in the West. Not attempts to be ‘hip’ or cool here. He makes guys like Van Sant and Jamursch seem like posers).
Must say i’m quite surprised to see Spike Lee get so many ‘votes’ because the consensus is that he dropped off a long time ago. I’d say his films are messy, but interesting. ‘Bamboozled’ points the finger a little more decisively at the black community for their role in perpetuating negative stereotypes, but ‘She Hate Me’ was amazingly confused. Spike couldnt figure out what the focus was. In my opinion, it had the potential to be a great film about sexual politics from the male side of the equation. About how much men feel sexually and emotionally undervalued, debased and exploited in today’s poitical economy—in short, how the sexual revolution has turned against men—but instead the film plunges into an obvious treatise about corporate, civil and individual responsibility. It totally betrays its promise.
What’s the St.Anne film like?
Wong Kar-Wai,for sure.In the Mood for Love is the best film of the decade.And with “2046”,he made one of the most beatiful movies in history of cinema.
Clint Eastwood has made many good(Gran Torino,Iwo Jima) and very good movies(Mystic River,Million Dollar Baby),but none that I could name real masterpiece.So,he’s far from being director of the decade.
Peter Jackson surely deserves a place in the top director’s list.Lord of the Rings is a great cinematic achievement.He took a book,that many said it could never be turned into film,and made really great,epic films out of it.
Jason Reitman must be the worst director ever. I have only watched Juno and Up in the Air, and they’re both highly conservative films that manipulate audience’s vision of relevant subjects (such as young pregnancy and the massive firing of employees) by turning them into pleasant and likeable little spectacles.
Such a difficult decision…
I would give it to PTA if Magnolia wasn’t in 1999, I would give it to the Coens if The Big Lebowski wasn’t in 1998, I would give it to Wes Anderson if Rushmore wasn’t in 1998, I would give it to Tarr but he didn’t put out enough films in this decade, I would give it to Weerasethakul if his first few films were as good as his recent shorts and Syndromes, I would give it to Kaufman but technically he has only made one film, I would give it to Haneke but then I would feel like it was only because of The White Ribbon, I would give it to Lynch but he’s only got two films this decade, I would give it to Jia Zhangke but I don’t feel like he has reached his potential yet, I would give it to Wong Kar Wai if he had just one other film as good as In the Mood for Love, I would give it to Gus Van Sant if he had had just one more film as good as his Death Trilogy, I would give it to Tarantino if he actually had made a film with some depth, I would give it to Aronofsky if he had had another film on par with his others, I would give it to Soderbergh but his films just aren’t that good and it would be awarded out of output, I would give it to Malick but he only made one (great) film this decade, I would give it to Noe but I just don’t feel right giving to a guy with only two films this decade…It’s impossible!
Filmmakers who have made consistently interesting films:
Jia Zhang Ke
Nuri Bulge Ceylan
Filmmakers who have disappointed since their earlier films were generally better:
Lars von Trier
Pedro Almodovar (Is he overrated? I need to revisit his earlier films)
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Terrence Malick (The New World is very slight)
David Lynch (though Mulholland Drive is one of the best of the decade but IE shows giving artists complete control would not necessarily produce good results)
Some usual suspects who are not the most horrible filmmakers but way overrated:
Paul Thomas Anderson
Gus Van Sant
Guillermo Del Toro
Filmmakers may have been in (any)one of the above lists but I haven’t seen a sufficient number of their (recent) films to decide:
Lucrecia Martel (La Cienaga is very good)
Jean Luc Godard (Eloge de lamour is fine)
Laurent Cantet (Time Out is one of the highlights of the decade)
Michael Winterbottom (24 Hour Party People and Tristram Shandy are very good)
Manoel de Oliveira
Filmmakers I can’t decide on:
Wong Kar Wai
David O. Russell
Bruno Dumont (Earlier films were good but Flandres is not)
Bela Tarr (Werckmeister Harmonies is great but the Man From London was a big miss)
Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men is technically excellent but…)
Tsai Ming-Liang (I like portions of his films but…)
And finally, Lodge Kerrigan is a filmmaker of note and Keane is a nice exercise but that is his only film in the 00s.
I disagree with some stuff on your list…
How are the Coens “Filmmakers who have disappointed since their earlier films were generally better” coming off of No Country for Old Men and A Serious Man?
Jonathan Demme: a truly varied decade, great documentaries but questionable fiction films (like scorsese) all in all interesting work
Neil Young Trunk Show (2009)
Rachel Getting Married (2008)
Jimmy Carter Man from Plains (2007)
Neil Young: Heart of Gold (2006)
The Manchurian Candidate (2004)
The Agronomist (2003)
The Truth About Charlie (2002)
Todd Field and Guy Maddin
I couldn’t get excited by No Country for Old Men. It is as if they were going through the motions to get everything technically right but there was no ‘heart’ in it. I think others would also regard A Serious Man among Coen brothers’ least accomplished films in the long run.
“I think others would also regard A Serious Man among Coen brother’s least accomplished films in the long run.”
It just comes down to very different tastes then.