10/ Wong Kar Wai. When WKW is good, I’m deliriously happy watching his films. Lush, romantic, dreamy, incredibly photographed (WKW works a lot with Christopher Doyle as his DP and Doyle is simply the best) stream of conscience works usually set in Hong Kong that take some effort to enjoy. WKW makes you work but the reward is films that exist as works of art as much as they do for the films themselves. Recommended WKW movies: Chungking Express, In the Mood for Love, 2046 and Fallen Angels.
9/ Alejendro Gonzalez Inarritu. This Mexican director’s last three films have packed serious punch and all three have made it into my year’s best list: Amores Perres, 21 Grams and Babel. Inarritu (with the help of screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga) is fond of dense, emotional, non-linear tales full of pain, sorrow and multiple characters coming in and out of each other’s lives. It’s the kind of thing you either love it or hate it but I really love it as to me these are visceral films incredibly well made. While some of the ties that bring people together in Babel are suspect—the film itself is an ambitious as hell project with multiple languages, multiple stories, the utilization of various film stocks, lots of non-professional actors and other elements that make it one of the bravest big budget films in years.
8/ Joel and Ethan Coen. The Coen Brothers might have been higher on this list a few years ago but they’ve made a few films that just didn’t feel right to me. Well, thankfully, they’ve got the much lauded No Country For Old Men (which I’ll watch this weekend) coming out so maybe it’s a return to glory for them. All I have to say is: Blood Simple, Raising Arizona, Miller’s Crossing, Barton Fink, The Hudsucker Proxy, The Big Lebowski and on and on.
7/ Tony Gatlif. I’ve always been into gypsies and thanks to Gatlif, I get to experience that world over and over. Gatlif, who has Rom roots, has dedicated his film life to stories set in the gypsy worlds all over Europe. His films always have lots of great music and are usually populated by non-professional actors (the French actor Romain Duris has been in a couple of them) with tense stories of survival and passion. His films will take you into a world that you are highly unlikely of ever getting the opportunity to see. Gatlif films I highly recommend: Latcho Drom, Mondo, Gadjo Dilo and Swing.
6/ Terrence Malick. Legendary director makes two films in the 1970s, Badlands and Days of Heaven, disappears for twenty years before returning with The Thin Red Line and A New World. A Malick movie has beautiful photography with natural lights (the man photographs the nature like he’s crafting a PBS documentary). Malick films are meditations on some subject that interests him that may or may not have anything to do with the story. He’s working on a new film called Tree of Life and I don’t care what it’s about or who is in it—I will be there on the first day to bask in the glory of Malick like any self-respecting film geek.