Many people have favorite authors but few have favorite film directors. Film directors are almost entirely responsible for making a film what you see on the screen. Many directors also write the screenplays for their movies but even if they don’t, they are still essentially the “author” of the movie. This article will outline four great directors with whom you may want to start your list of favorite directors.
1. P.T. Anderson
Paul Thomas Anderson has only directed 5 films in about a decade but each one stands alone as a great piece of cinema. He is a master of the constantly moving camera and is one of few directors to emphatically use the techniques of cinematic grammar to portray a story. For beginners to film language, start with Punch Drunk Love. It may star Adam Sandler and have moments of comedy, but it is far from an Adam Sandler movie. Instead, it uses Sandler’s personal quirky and discomforting style to craft a disturbed and misfit character. Film techniques include keeping Sandler in a depressingly blue suit the entire film and having him set against a similar blue background at the beginning to imply a lack of strength and societal belongingness within the character.
Anderson’s four other films include Hard Eight, Magnolia, Boogie Nights, and There Will Be Blood. Entire articles can be written about each of these movies so all I can say is see them all and add P.T. Anderson to your list. Upcoming from him is a film about Scientology starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman.
2. Alfonso Cuaron
Cuaron is a relatively new director to Hollywood but has made excellent and varying films. His children’s movie, The Little Princess is critically acclaimed and was soon followed by the Spanish-language classic Y Tu Mama Tambien. Cuaron earned the right to work with a large budget after making what is considered the best of the Harry Potter movies with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. This enabled Cuaron to make one of the best sci-fi movies in recent years with Children of Men starring Clive Owen and Julianne Moore which painted a vivid and harrowing picture of the near future by commenting on what is wrong with society today.
3. The Coen Brothers
The Coens have become a studio favorite for always completing their films early and under budget. They made a huge splash last year with best film honors for No Country For Old Men. They are most known for Fargo but have made many other classics in their two decade career. The Coens explore many themes in their films and tend to use lighting, angles, and dogs to convey their stories. No Country for Old Men is notable for being incredibly suspenseful without using any background music at all. Furthermore, their movies can be dark and violent yet have moments of incredible humor that tends to ease the tension they artfully build up in their films. Notable films of theirs include Blood Simple, Barton Fink, A Serious Man, Fargo, and Raising Arizona, amongst others. Add them to your list and you won’t be disappointed with their past and future works.
4. Spike Lee
Lee has created classic films that stand the test of time. Most notably, Do the Right Thing. Lee creates dramatic and funny films that always target serious issues. He also employs a strong use of cinematic language to subliminally get his message across. This was done to a great extent in the controversial film Bamboozled. The movie begs for multiple viewings and an entire college class could be held on this movie. Viewers need to pay attention to everything from the camera angles to paintings and artwork located in the background of each scene. This is a tactic Lee regularly employs which make his movies multi-layered and re-watchable. No film collection is complete without at least one Spike Lee film. Must sees from Lee include Do the Right Thing, 24th Hour, Malcolm X, Inside Man, and Bamboozled, amongst many others.