Sunday, February 27, 2011

Academy Award Directors

Post by Trai Cartwright

Remember a disturbing little thriller called “Blood Simple”?  Or maybe 1987’s “Raising Arizona,” back in the days when Joel and Ethan were two of the quirkiest dudes behind a camera?  “Don’t you come back here with no baby, HI.”  I still teach that movie in my screenwriting classes.

Or maybe you remember Darren Aronofsky’s break-out movie in 2000 – “Requiem for a Dream.”  It had plenty of visual punch of its own (probably the best screen depiction of meth addiction yet), but it was preceded by a film that lit Sundance on fire called “Pi.”  It was a black and white mystery-thriller about devout Jewish mathematician trying to decode the secrets of the universe.

David Fincher, born in Denver, grew up to direct some visually and graphically stunning movies called “Se7en” and “Fight Club,” making a star of Brad Pitt’s hair and then later, his abs.  Both had shocking levels of gore and grit, artfully composed in complicated visual vistas, and twist endings that ripped at our sense of reality. 

Or what about David O. Russel?  He broke out of Sundance with a talky film called “Flirting with Disaster,” an indy romantic comedy that perhaps belied his true tastes, seen in a 1999 George Clooney film called “Three Kings.”  It was one of the very first Iraq invasion films, and stands as one of the most viscerally impacting war movies ever made.  Did I mention it was a black comedy?

I don’t know anything about Tom Hopper; he’s some Brit who had an across the pond hit with “King’s Speech.”  But I do know a lot about these other directors. 

They all came of age in the same decade; they all made debuts that knocked the socks off Hollywood and introduced new film language to the masses.  They all took hold of difficult, esoteric and controversial subject matter and made it their own.  They were all visionaries. 

And now they are all nominated for an Oscar tomorrow night.

I couldn’t be more excited and more torn about who’s reached their potential “the best.”  I only know that we’re living in a new golden age of directors (one in which Christopher Nolan of 2000’s “Memento” heartily belongs), and I’m awfully pleased to be here.

For once it’s true that it doesn’t matter who wins – they all genuinely deserve it.  


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