I sat down and thought about it for 30 minutes and these are the 20 directors I came up without thinking too much about it. What’s hard about this is there are going to be some long-time favorites of mine left off simply because they’ve stopped making good movies. They’d easily make a list of 20 favorite directors of all-time AND are living but fail to make the cut. I know, it’s complicated but that’s the way it is. Those directors should just start making better films!
20/ Ki Duk Kim. I’m starting off with two wild cards, one from South Korea and the other from Thailand. I’m putting them in because they both made one of my favorite films in years and I am really anxious to see what they do next. Kim’s 3-Iron (2004) is a slow moving, quirky romance that blew me away in its assured directness. His Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter….and Spring (2003) is also a beautiful and well thought out film. Kim’s early films are mostly a collection of intense genre pictures such as The Isle and Bad Guy, which makes what he’s done with his last two films I’ve seen pretty amazing.
19/ Pen Ek Ratanaruang. Ratanaruang is on here for one reason: Last Life in the Universe! I saw this in 2003 and it’s one of my favorite films this decade. Like a lot of my favorite Asian filmmakers, this is a slow, dreamy, beautifully shot (Christopher Doyle, probably the most artful cinematographer working in films today was the DP), romantic as hell and with doses of violence tossed in. I just love this movie enough that if Ratanaruang can come close to this I’ll be a fan for a long time.
18/ Takeshi Kitano. “Beat” (his nickname in Japan) is kind of an interesting guy who has dabbled in yakuza (his most known genre), broad comedy (Getting Any?), tragic drama and even swordplay (Zatoichi). His non-linear, high-art crime film Hana-Bi (Fireworks, from 1997) will make you reconsider what a crime film can be stuffed with as it unfolds and twists in time.
17/ Lukas Moodysson. This Swede is not afraid to tackle harsh subjects that will leave you either depressed or glad you are alive. Moodysson has captured youthful angst, anxiety, sadness and desperation in films such as Show Me Love, Together (a film I really, really love) and Lilya-4-Ever. I haven’t seen anything he’s done since Lilya-4-Ever as I just haven’t been in the mood for something to hurt me like his films do. I think Moodysson is one of those filmmakers you either love or hate—something a lot of my favorites probably share in common as you see the list unfold. I love Moodysson but then again, I’m not afraid of suffering when I watch movies. Movies are supposed to make you feel whether it is happiness, fear or heartache. Moodysson will bruise your heart with his raw films.
16/ James Cameron. This might be the weirdest and most surprising director on here but I love seeing a James Cameron movie! His films are just pure adrenalin and spectacle. Early films such as The Terminator, Aliens, The Abyss and Terminator 2 are some of my favorites over a 7 year span from 1984-91. Since then he’s made two not as good (you know, some film called Titanic) but he’s got this out there sci-fi 3D movie he’s filming now called Avatar that I’m dreaming of watching. His best films are in the science fiction realm and this one another step into the future with cutting edge technology. I can hardly wait.
Numbers 15-11 soon…