“In the theatre there are 1,500 cameras rolling at the same time- in the cinema, only one,” as quoted by Orson Welles, the prolific director of the most studied film of all time, Citizen Kane.
Within the last century cinema has grown from pioneering silent films into orchestrated musicals, “spaghetti westerns” and has taken us deep into space for one purpose: entertainment. Before the development of celluloid, which allowed motion pictures to be created, stories were told verbally and left to the imagination. After the silent film era (1888-1929) a new breed of directors emerged to create movies as we know them today. Beginning in 1929 and ending in the present year, the following are the most influential and perhaps greatest directors of the century.
Hungarian director Michael Curtiz is best known for the movie Casablanca, a starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. Curtiz directed other well known movies such as The Adventures of Robin Hood, Yankee Doodle Dandy, and White Christmas. Curtiz placed much emphasis upon the environment of the movie, which he influenced by his visual direction. During the Warner Brothers “golden era” of the 1930’s and 40’s Michael Curtiz became renowned for his multi-genre films.
In 1939, two of the most acclaimed movies of all-time were created, The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind. Victor Fleming, an American-born director was the man who made them possible. Working alongside the likes of D.W. Griffith and George Cukor, Fleming created other films such as Treasure Island, Bombshell, and Red Dust. He reached prominence through his work at MGM, but died of a sudden heart attack in 1948, cutting short a brilliant career and ending a life to soon.
After receiving a bullet wound while serving the French Calvary in World War 1, Jean Renoir discovered cinematography. Renoir directed more than forty films beginning in the silent era, and ending in the 1960’s. Films such as La Chienne, La Marseillaise, and La Bete Humaine received much attention at the international level. Upon his death, colleague and friend Orson Welles wrote an article for the Los Angeles Times titled, “Jean Renoir: The Greatest of all Directors.”
William Wyler, born Wilhelm Weiller in the French region of Alsace, is a three time academy award-winning director and served as a major in the United States Air Force during 1942-1945. Credited for works such as The Best Years of Our Lives, Mrs. Miniver, Wuthering Heights, and Ben Hur the style utilized by Wyler earned him multiple Oscars for Best Director and Best Picture. Wyler’s work spanned several decades.
Charlie Chaplin is known the world over for his groundbreaking performances in the silent era of film. His work during the 1930’s is often overlooked, but no other individual encompassed the definition of film-maker more than Chaplin. Acting, scripting, directing, and producing many of his own films accredits Chaplin to being one of the greatest directors to have ever lived. His films Modern Times and City Lights were hailed as the end of the silent era, as cinema had begun converting to “talkies” or movies with sound. Chaplin worked until his death in 1977 influencing many of the robust directors from 1930-1969.
Born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York George Cukor is an Academy Award winning director who specialized in comedies and literary adaptations of novels. One of MGM’s finest directors of the 1930’s he is known for his works; A Bill of Divorcement, Dinner at Eight, David Copperfield, Romeo and Juliet, and Camille. He also worked as dialogue director in the classic war movie, All Quiet on the Western Front. Cukor possessed an impressive resume, and was nominated multiple times for Best Actor in his movies.
American-Irish director John Ford has won the Oscar for Best Director at the Academy Awards a record four times. His career spanned more than fifty years, and he directed over 140 films. Ford is widely regarded as one of the most influential directors of his generation. His films Stagecoach, The Searchers, How Green Was My Valley, and The Grapes of Wrath earned him prestige among the world of cinema. Ford was well known for tearing pages out of scripts to cut down on dialogue. Ford introduced John Wayne, easily one of the most recognized actors in American cinema, to film.
October 30th, 1938 CBS aired an adaptation of H.G. Wells’ novel The War of the Worlds over radio. The episode, narrated and directed by Orson Welles caused widespread panic as they reported an actual Martian invasion was occurring. The show propelled Welles to fame, and from the radio he found cinema. Orson Welles directed the most studied film of all-time, Citizen Kane. His other works such as Touch of Evil, Chimes at Midnight, and The Magnificent Ambersons are widely accepted as masterpieces of not only himself, but of his generation. Welles wrote, acted in, directed, and produced many of his own films accomplishing him as one of the finest directors of the twentieth century.
Howard Hawks joins the echelon of directors from the classic Hollywood era of the 1930’s and 40’s. His films such as Sergeant York, The Big Sleep, Red River, and His Girl Friday captivated audiences. He worked with high profile actors and actresses such as Gary Cooper, John Wayne, and Marilyn Monroe. Hawks filmed many genres including westerners, gangster films, sci-fi, comedies, dramas, and film noir. Howard was a known Anti-Semite, and was reported to fervently comment of his hatred for Jews.
Born in Austria-Hungary, Fritz Lang traveled the world until his early twenties, where he served in the Austrian Army fighting in Russia and Romania during World War 1. Fritz was known mainly due to his work in film noir, which deals with the issues of moral ambiguity, paranoia, and fate. He directed the titles Western Union, Man Hunt, Cloak and Dagger, Scarlet Street, and The Woman in the Window. After his naturalization as a citizen of the United States in 1939 he directed twenty-one pictures over the span of twenty-one years.
Lewis Milestone was born Lev Milstein in Bessarabia, Russia. He became a naturalized United States citizen in 1919 after joining the U.S. Signal Corps. He is known for his films such as All Quiet on the Western Front, The General Died at Dawn, and Of Mice and Men. Two Arabian Knights and All Quiet on the Western Front earned him two Academy Awards. His career spanned from the silent era until the early 1960’s, with his most acclaimed work coming from the classic Hollywood era.
Frank Capra was born in Sicily, Italy and in 1903 immigrated to the United States with his family. Capra enlisted with the United States Army in 1918, teaching ballistics and mathematics to artillerymen. He became a citizen in 1920, and turned his talents toward film-making. His movie, It Happened One Night, was the first movie to ever win all top five Oscars including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay. It’s a Wonderful Life and Mr. Deeds Goes to Town also saw magnificent success. Capra was also a well-known supporter in anti-Communism social circles.
Walt Disney is without a doubt one of the most successful and known directors of American cinematography. He directed, produced, narrated, animated, and voice acted for many of his works. His company, The Walt Disney Company, earns annual revenues of approximately $35 billion. He received fifty-nine Academy Award nominations and won twenty-six Oscars, giving him more nominations and awards than any other individual in history. His creations such as Mickey Mouse, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Cinderella, and Donald Duck are classic films that millions have seen.
Italian film director Federico Fellini leaves his mark in cinema with his distinct style that blends fantasy and baroque images. Known for La Dolce Vita, Nights of Cabiria, and Casanova, Fellini left an indelible stamp on his films due to their combination of memories, dreams, desires, and fantasies. Many of the greatest directors of the later decades credit Fellini for influencing their work. The word “paparazzi” was derived from Paparazzo, the photographer in Fellini’s La Dolce Vita.
Alfred Hitchcock, nicknamed the “Master of Suspense,” directed over fifty films in his six-decade career. He is one of the most recognized and popular directors of all-time, and many of his works are still popular today among all demographics. During the 1950’s he directed some of his best work including Strangers on a Train, Dial M for Murder, Rear Window, To Catch a Thief, Vertigo, The Man Who Knew Too Much, and The Wrong Man. His famous works The Birds and Psycho were filmed in the early 60’s. His technical innovations, as well as his themes and plots have been imitated by many directors. His meticulous script-writing and use of storyboards were innovative and gave evidence of Hitchcock’s impeccable style.
Japanese director, editor, producer, and screenwriter Akira Kurosawa directed over thirty films in his career, which spanned half a century. He is a recipient of the Academy Awards Lifetime Achievement Award. Scandal, Rashomon, Ikiru, The Seven Samurai, The Hidden Fortress, and The Lower Depths were all influential films of the 1950’s. Akira possessed a style of using telephoto lenses to flatten the frame, multiple cameras, and filming from distance. He edited his own work, which is rare among directors, but his perfectionism was precisely what catapulted him to prominence.
One of the most versatile and prolific directors of Hollywood’s “golden age” was Austrian-American journalist turned film-maker Billy Wilder. Wilder directed more than sixty films over the course of fifty years. His movies Some Like it Hot, Double Indemnity, Sunset Boulevard, The Apartment, and The Seven Year Itch are well-known. Four of his films were nominated to the American Film Institute’s top 100 American movies of the 20th century. Wilder died on the same day as two other comedic giants, Milton Berle and Dudley Moore.
American film-maker John Huston is best known for his titles The Asphalt Jungle, The Maltese Falcon, The African Queen, Moulin Rouge, and The Misfits. He is the father of actress Anjelica Huston and actor Danny Huston. Huston was nominated for 15 Oscars over the course of his career, and is still the oldest person to be nominated for an Oscar at 79 years old. In his early twenties he struck and killed a woman at the corner of Gardner and Sunset in Los Angeles, in which he was later cleared of any wrong-doing. John Huston was an affirmed atheist and was married five times.
Renowned for the projects he chose, technical perfectionism, variety of genres, and slow methodical approach to direction made Stanley Kubrick one the most thorough directors of his generation. He has directed a number of highly acclaimed and controversial films involving expressionism, surrealism, and ironic pessimism. His attention to detail was unlike any other director in the history of cinema. Fear and Desire, Spartacus, Lolita, Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, and The Shining are among his most prestigious. Kubrick was known to be hard to work with, and often combative about creative control over films.
Sergio Leone is the Italian director who is accredited with “spaghetti westerns.” A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly were all westerns filmed in Italy. Leone utilized extreme close-ups, lengthy long shots, and original soundtracks. Clint Eastwood became the symbol of the American tough-guy after Leone’s movies were released. Other acclaimed films directed by Sergio Leone include Once Upon a Time in America, and Once Upon a Time in the West.
His wife Sharon Tate was murdered by the Manson Family, he survived the Holocaust in Poland during World War 2, and in 1977 fled to France to avoid prosecution of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. His name is Roman Polanski, and he is without a doubt one of the most controversial and publically noted directors of our time. His works include Rosemary’s Baby, Chinatown, The Pianist, and Oliver Twist. Polanski still resides in France, traveling back and forth to Poland, and is considered a fugitive by the U.S. Department of Justice. His films are marked by psychological suspense, detailed and panoramic camera angles, as well as long takes and deep-focus photography.
David Lean is one of England’s most noteworthy directors, having been nominated as the 9th greatest director of all time by the British Film Institute Sight and Sound. Four of his films are in the top 11 of the British Film Institute’s 100 Greatest British Films list. He gained notoriety in the 1960s with films such as Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago, The Bridge on the River Kwai, and A Passage to India. He became Sir David Lean in 1984 after being knighted by the Queen of England. Lean married six times and divorced five of his wives.
Robert Wise is an American film-maker who directs, sound edits, edits and produces many of his own titles. Wise had an artistic tendency to let the story dictate style, often opting to remain within the genre and confines of a budget. Nevertheless, Wise directed many great films in multiple genres including horror, science fiction, war movies, film noir, as well as musicals. The Sound of Music, West Side Story, Star Trek: The Motion Picture and The Sand Pebbles are a few of his Academy Award winning pictures.
Swedish film director, producer, and writer Ingmar Bergman impacted the film industry with his exploration in the human condition. His major themes were death, betrayal, insanity and illness and were exclusively filmed in Sweden. His motion pictures Wild Strawberries, Winter Light, The Silence, Shame, The Virgin Spring, and The Passion of Anna are all held in high esteem by many great directors of the past and present. Bergman wrote his own screenplays, taking great amounts of time to perfect them before script writing. In 1976, he went into self-imposed exile in Germany to avoid being charged with tax evasion.
One of America’s most provocative and ironically funny film-makers of all time, Woody Allen, has an immaculate resume as a director, screenwriter, actor, comedian, playwright, writer, and a musician. Allen is one of the most versatile of all directors, and his massive collection of films speak for his work ethic. Using concepts of psychology, sexuality, philosophy, and literature Woody Allen has created what some believe are the funniest comedies ever made. Annie Hall, Stardust Memories, Match Point, Manhattan, and Mighty Aphrodite are among the multitude of ingenious pictures directed by, and acted in by Woody Allen. Pioneering films concerning the great social issues of the 60s and 70s, Allen’s style was among the rawest, and most clever of the time.
Mel Brooks has accomplished a feat not done by many in this lifetime. He has managed to win an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony award. His three greatest works: Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, and The Producers are all ranked within the top twenty movies on AFI’s 100 Greatest Comedy Films of All-Time. Brooks has been a director, screenwriter, comedian, composer, lyricist, actor, and a producer of his titles. He also directed The Twelve Chairs, Silent Movie, High Anxiety, Spaceballs, and Robin Hood: Men in Tights.
Francis Ford Coppola
Perhaps the greatest mafia movies ever made, the Godfather trilogy continues to be one the most successful, respected, and popular series of movies ever assembled. Francis Ford Coppola placed his print upon history when he directed the classic mobster film The Godfather, which was an adaptation of Mario Puzo’s novel with the same name. Within the same decade Coppola directed other films such as The Conversation, and the controversial war film Apocalypse Now. Coppola is a vintner, magazine publisher, and hotelier when not directing, writing, or producing cinema. His daughter Sofia Coppola is also known for her films The Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation.
Martin Scorsese could be described as one of the hardest working men in cinematography. He is a director, screenwriter, producer, and film historian who created the World Cinema Foundation. The American Film Institution honored Scorsese with the Lifetime Achievement Award for all of his work in, and preservation of film. Scorsese has delivered excellent films such as Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, New York, New York, The Last Waltz, Cape Fear, Casino, Shine a Light, No Direction Home, Gangs of New York, and The Departed. His reach, like many directors, stretches decades, and he is unanimously heralded as one of the greatest directors of his era for his numerous contributions to the film industry.
Horror films were re-invented during the 70s and flawlessly executed during the 80s to scare the living hell out of the audience. One of the pioneers of the reinvigoration of horror films was John Carpenter, who directed Dark Star and Halloween. Halloween defined what is now known as the slasher flicks genre, with promiscuous teenagers being stabbed and mangled to death in a disgusting, yet entertaining fashion. Carpenter’s budget for the movie was $320,000.00 and the movie initially grossed over $65 million, making Halloween one of the most successful independent movies ever created. Carpenter excels in horror to this day. He lost steam in the early 90s, but replenished his career in the 2000s with several classic horror movie remakes.
While not using the slash and stab angle to sell horror movies, George Romero used, and is still using zombies to create films. He began in the 60s with Night of the Living Dead, and propelled further with titles such as Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead. His adventures into the midst of a zombie invasion have spawned and influenced video games, such as the highly prolific Resident Evil series. Romero has a huge cult following and fans regularly host events and movie viewings. Romero influenced horror directors starting in 1968 and continues to do so until this day.
Canadian director, producer, and screenwriter James Cameron has made a string of blockbuster films within many different genres. Cameron has grossed approximately $1 billion dollars for his efforts into the film industry. The Terminator, Rambo First Blood Part II, Aliens, The Abyss, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and Titanic are among his most successful pictures. Developing his own research into photorealistic CGI, Cameron is looking to venture in 3-D films and is currently working on projects Avatar and Battle Angel. Cameron won multiple Academy Awards for Titanic, including Best Director.
Brian de Palma
Known for his suspense and thriller films, New Jersey born director Brian de Palma has made some of pop cultures most popular, and infamous films. Although it was a box-office flop, de Palma’s Scarface quickly became one of the most watched movies by the 90s and 2000s. Other works such as Carlito’s Way, The Untouchables, Carrie, and Mission Impossible showcase his adaptability. De Palmas’ artistry, directorial abilities and style have often been compared to Alfred Hitchcock, as he spearheaded with other great directors the new age of film-making in the post-70s Hollywood.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…anyone who has grown up in America since the 1970s knows exactly what that means. Star Wars, a science fiction series of movies directed by George Lucas, is without question the most successful series of movies ever created due to its fan base, revenues, and continuing popularity. His other works such as THX 1138, American Graffiti, and the Indiana Jones series have paved the way for an extravagant and extraordinary career. Lucas has been awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the AFI for his contributions to film especially in respect to special effects. Lucas’ gave his alma mater, USC, $180 million to expand its film school. Lucas is estimated to be worth approximately $4 billion.
Cult horror films expanded in the 1980s and new waves of terror films were established. Pioneering the mixture of horror and comedy, Sam Raimi gave horror audiences something never before seen: horror to make you shriek in utter panic, then hysterical laughter at the absurdity five minutes later. Evil Dead, Army of Darkness, Crimewave, Darkman, and the Spider-Man trilogy are among his greatest works. Raimi has demonstrated his ability to weave in and out of genres at will, a skill not easily learned or practiced. Raimi accelerated the fame of Bruce Campbell, the star of the Evil Dead trilogy.
Premiere magazine him named the most influential and powerful man in modern day cinema. Forbes magazine has estimated his worth to be approximately $3 billion. Time magazine chose him as one of the 100 Most Important People of the Century. Life magazine declared him the most influential person of his generation. Quite an introduction for one man, but no other individual has accomplished what Steven Spielberg has in such a short time. Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T.: The Extraterrestrial, Poltergeist, The Twilight Zone, The Goonies, he co-directed Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List, and Saving Private Ryan were all directed by Steven Spielberg. Three of the aforementioned; Jurassic Park, E.T. the Extraterrestrial, and Jaws broke box-office records, each becoming the highest-grossing film at their respective times.
The only puppeteer to make such a strong impact on cinematography was Jim Henson. He was the creator of the Muppets, Sesame Street, and Fraggle Rock while contributing to other great films such as The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and Return of the Jedi. In 1992, Henson was posthumously awarded the Courage of Conscience Award for directing films for children that encouraged tolerance, interracial values, equality, and fair play. Since his death into 1990, his children have succeeded him and continued his legacy by building creatures for films such as Farscape, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, and Mirrormask.
John Hughes Jr.
As an individual, if you belong to Generation X, this next name will be instantly recognizable. He directed many of the 80s and 90s funniest and most successful comedies. John Hughes Jr., directed such films as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Weird Science, Planes, Trains and Automobiles and Uncle Buck. Hughes would re-cast his movies with cast members previously known, and since 1994 has retired from the public eye to live his life in privacy and relaxation.
In the 1990s, the dark and ominous films belonged to one man: Tim Burton. Never far from strange, the films of Burton have encompassed many genres. No matter what the project, he adds his touch and as soon as the movie starts with music by Danny Elfman, you know you’re in for a Tim Burton picture. Beetle Juice, Batman, Edward Scissorhands, Mars Attacks!, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Sleepy Hollow, and James and the Giant Peach, and Big Fish all have different stories but his versatility and directorial style produce great films. He regularly collaborates with the same group of people: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Christopher Lee, Michael Gough, Jeffrey Jones, and Michael Keaton.
Joel and Ethan Coen
One of the most impressive and promising duo of directors, producers, and screenwriters comes in the form of Joel and Ethan Coen, collectively known as the Coen Brothers. Many of their titles have seen admirable success such as Raising Arizona, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, Barton Fink, The Ladykillers, O Brother Where Art Thou?, and No Country for Old Men. The two brothers have the same vision for their movies, and have been nicknamed the “two-headed director.” Never disappointing their audiences the Coen brothers have reached into many genres of film and continue to see success into the 2000s. They are among very few directors who have both directed a movie and won the Academy Award for Best Director. Both Joel and Ethan live in New York City with their families.
Spike Lee is an African-American director, producer, writer, and actor. His films cover topics such as urban-life, crime, racial issues, and those living in poverty. Mo’ Better Blues, Jungle Fever, Malcolm X, 4 Little Girls, He Got Game, and Summer of Sam exemplify his vision and morality checks in cinema. Hard-hitting Spike Lee brings the issues front-and-center for each individual to evaluate for themselves. Spike Lee is currently directing the adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are. Contrary to popular belief, Spike Lee does not own or operate Spike TV. He filed a lawsuit against the station claiming they were using his fame to establish their image.
The “Japanese Walt Disney” better known as Hayao Miyazaki is one of the most successful Japanese directors to have worked in the film industry to this day. Miyazaki remained underground until Miramax released Princess Mononoke, which made Miyazaki mainstream in the United States overnight. Until then he had gained major success in Japan and Central Asia with his anime, a.k.a. Japanese cartoons. Time magazine hailed Miyazaki as one of the most influential Asians of the past sixty years. Spirited Away, another breakthrough anime quickly reached notoriety in the United States and is Miyazaki’s most distinguished creation. Themes Miyazaki explored ranged from good and evil, environmentalism, flying, politics, feminism, and children.
In the 1990’s the king of controversy and sultan of stewing the proverbial pot was Oliver Stone. Stone served in the Vietnam War as an infantry unit where he received two wounds. He was awarded the Purple Heart medal and the Bronze Star for extraordinary acts of courage under fire. His passion and experience of Vietnam is what excelled his movies of the Vietnam era; Platoon, Heaven and Earth, Born on the Fourth of July, and JFK. Multiple film formats and different cameras are a trademark of Stone’s directorial style, adding a more realistic feel to his plots. Stone has directed other films such as W., The Doors, Natural Born Killers, World Trade Center, and Wall Street. Stone is extremely political and is revered as one of the film industry’s toughest and spirited directors.
So who’s the most violent film-maker of the 90s? Would you be surprised to find he was also one of the most intellectual film-makers of the 90s? The answer is none other than Quentin Tarantino. Desensitizing violence and using non-linear storylines, Tarantino easily became one of the most recognizable and enjoyable directors of the 90s. Films such as Jackie Brown, Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, and the Kill Bill series showcased Tarantino’s ability to follow multiple storylines at once leaving the audience on the edge of their seats. Many critics claim Tarantino only knows blood, guts, and gore; however, this genre of film is what made him sensational. Children of the 90s will be quick to agree that Tarantino films always make for a great movie night.
The 80s saw their brand of comedy, and it served them well throughout their decade, but what about the 90s? Originality, sharp-witted jokes, and intellectual humor were on a decline. Then along comes Kevin Smith with his long-standing team at View Askew productions and executive producer Scott Mosier. Smith started small with a budget under $24,000 to make Clerks, which saw huge success. It was viewed in fifty markets and earned $3.1 million overall. His next film, Mallrats, didn’t do as well as Clerks at the box-office, but later became a cult classic. His other films, Chasing Amy, Jersey Girl, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Clerks II, and Zack and Miri Make a Porno have seen great success and made Kevin Smith the quiet storm that keeps on raining. Smith uses the same casts in most of his movies: Jason Mewes, Jason Lee, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Jeff Anderson, Brian O’Halloran, Scott Mosier, and Ethan Suplee.
M. Night Shyamalan
Indian-American director M. Night Shyamalan broke onto the scene with his chilling suspense film The Sixth Sense. Ever since then his movies have paired supernatural themes and plot twists with surprising and unexpected endings. His films Unbreakable, Signs, The Village, Lady in the Water, and The Happening never reached the level of success of The Sixth Sense, but demonstrated Shyamalan’s tenacity and elasticity to be able to bounce back from harshly criticized films. The critics can be harsh, but the majority of America still watches Shyamalan’s movies when they are released. One day we can hope he will stop making feature films, but wait, a plot twist…that will never happen – unless there is a surprise ending.
Do you feel lucky, punk? There are up and coming directors and already accomplished directors among the 2000 era, but move over for the man himself, Clint Eastwood. Eastwood is flourishing in the 2000 era as he directs blockbuster after blockbuster in his never-ending hit-movie producing fashion. Space Cowboys was his first project of the 2000 era, which saw success at the box-office. Mystic River won him the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild. Million Dollar Baby grossed an approximate $216 million dollars and became the top grossing film at the time. Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima were two prominent and extremely well-made war movies directed by Eastwood the depicted the times of World War 2. Recently, Eastwood acted in and directed the movie Gran Torino, which has grossed over $260 million making it the highest-grossing film of his career.
Three-time Academy Award winning New Zealander Peter Jackson is known for his larger-than-life epic tales. The Lord of the Rings series, the trilogy that made Peter Jackson, set the new standard of trilogies, just as Star Wars and the Godfathers had done. The third and final installment of the series, The Return of the King, collected a total of eleven Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director. Jackson is one of six directors to win an Oscar for producing, directing, and writing in the same year. His follow-up movie, a re-making of King Kong grossed approximately $550 million worldwide, and DVD sales set records for Universal Studios with its release. With four major releases to his name, Jackson is estimated to be worth nearly a half billion dollars.
British born director and producer Ridley Scott is arguably one of the sharpest directors as pertaining to attention to detail. His titles include Thelma and Louise, Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, Matchstick Men, Kingdom of Heaven, American Gangster, and Body of Lies. Scott enjoys Montecristo Cuban cigars, a robust and flavorful cigar that will excite even the most seasoned olfactory and gustatory systems. He is accustomed to numerous and long takes, and often scrutinizing actors and actresses for not delivering flawless performances. Ridley has won nine Oscars and has been nominated thirty-one times over the course of his career.
Chris Columbus is an often overlooked director, who is credited with such films as Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Bicentennial Man, Stepmom, Mrs. Doubtfire, and the first two installments of Harry Potter. He has a new project gearing up to hit the big screen titled “I Love You, Beth Cooper.” Although Columbus has directed very popular movies, he seems to fall by the wayside when being mentioned as an established and extraordinary director.
The newest, freshest, and most insanely clever director on the scene is England’s Guy Ritchie. Starting with Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, Ritchie captivated audiences with complex plots and characters who intertwine due to business, and good old fashioned fate. Ritchie does not follow a linear storyline, often moving around the times, stories, and giving you pieces of the puzzle to put together during the movie. Since 2000, Ritchie has directed nothing but smashing hits that entertain until the very last second. His body of work includes Snatch, Swept Away, Revolver, RocknRolla, and his newest work near to be released, Sherlock Holmes. Introducing multiple facets and commands of the English language, Ritchie’s films have an authentic feel, and definitely stand out from the crowd of usual suspects.
“What Dreams Are Made Of”
Hugh Hefner was once quoted, “the movies are what dreams are made of.” Within our society we spend countless hours and dollars on entertainment, and looking for the “hot, new thing” as we let classic films disappear into time, lost and only to be found by a certain few. Directors live fabulous and exotic lives, but remember like any other job they worked relentlessly to earn not only their living, but the prestige which follows. If you were to ask these men why they started making films in the first place you’re likely to receive the same answer from nearly half of them: to entertain. Let’s not lose focus, making money is what the film industry does and it’s extremely competitive; therefore, making it a lucrative business. Just as any other social structure operates, so does cinematography. Operating upon the foundation that the fittest will survive is inherently true in the film industry, because the great directors listed above managed to stay with the time and technology, and were never lost to archives, but rather placed upon the pedestals of motion picture history.