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  #1  
Old 10-17-2012, 01:08 PM
Directors who don't have a "general consensus" choice for their best film

I've been thinking about how most directors seem to have one movie that people tend to identify as their masterpiece more than the rest of their films. With Orson Welles, even though Touch of Evil and The Magnificent Ambersons get cited by some, it's obvious that Citizen Kane is the go-to choice for most. More recently, I realize that a lot of people think Reservoir Dogs or even Kill Bill is Tarantino's best, but for the most part, the overwhelming consensus is that it's Pulp Fiction.

So which directors don't have obvious "general consensus" choices when it comes to their best films?

The first one that comes to mind for me is Luis Buñuel. According to the most recent Sight & Sound poll, he's the only one of the top 10 most cited directors to not have a film in the top 50, and I suspect it's because there's so little agreement on what his best film is. Plenty of voters agreed that he was great enough to have a movie in the top 10, but they couldn't agree on which one.

I'm tempted to say Kubrick since there are enough rabid fans of A Clockwork Orange, Dr. Strangelove, and The Shining to go around, but it would be a stretch to suggest that his most acclaimed film in the larger film community was anything other than 2001.

I do think Ingmar Bergman probably qualifies, despite Persona slowly becoming something close to a consensus pick.

What are some others?
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  #2  
Old 10-17-2012, 01:50 PM
Paul Thomas Anderson comes to mind. While There Will Be Blood seems to be collecting the "his masterpiece" accolades, many people (especially on our board) would cite Boogie Nights or Magnolia as his best work. I think the jury's still out. There are many varying opinions on what his best film is.

I'd also throw Sidney Lumet in there; Network, 12 Angry Men, and Dog Day Afternoon. All considered classics, but I never got a sense one stood out from the other in terms of a "general consensus".
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  #3  
Old 10-17-2012, 02:13 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by blankpage View Post
Paul Thomas Anderson comes to mind. While There Will Be Blood seems to be collecting the "his masterpiece" accolades, many people (especially on our board) would cite Boogie Nights or Magnolia as his best work. I think the jury's still out. There are many varying opinions on what his best film is.

I think it is much harder to compare current directors to retired ones. While there are some people still pulling for Boogie Nights, I have little doubt that by the time his career is finished, There Will Be Blood (if not some film he has yet to make) will be the one every one rallies around.

But on the topic of current directors, what about Terrence Malick? Would you say The Tree of Life will eventually win over, the way one imagines There Will Be Blood should for PTA? I always feel in the minority for saying The Thin Red Line is his masterpiece, but I usually find out that this gains a lot of support in conversation.
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  #4  
Old 10-17-2012, 02:17 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by blankpage View Post
Paul Thomas Anderson comes to mind. While There Will Be Blood seems to be collecting the "his masterpiece" accolades, many people (especially on our board) would cite Boogie Nights or Magnolia as his best work. I think the jury's still out. There are many varying opinions on what his best film is.
This is who I thought of. Magnolia is my favorite, TWBB is right behind, but I don't necessarily disagree with anyone who thinks Boogie Nights is his best. I said in '07 and I still believe that TWBB will eventually be considered his masterwork, but time will tell.
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  #5  
Old 10-17-2012, 02:23 PM
Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese are two of them. The general consensus can't decide which Godfather movie is superior, and I've noticed that with many Scorsese fans, the best film of his usually comes to a three-way tie between Goodfellas, Raging Bull, and my personal favorite, Taxi Driver.
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  #6  
Old 10-17-2012, 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Gordon View Post
I think it is much harder to compare current directors to retired ones. While there are some people still pulling for Boogie Nights, I have little doubt that by the time his career is finished, There Will Be Blood (if not some film he has yet to make) will be the one every one rallies around.

But on the topic of current directors, what about Terrence Malick? Would you say The Tree of Life will eventually win over, the way one imagines There Will Be Blood should for PTA? I always feel in the minority for saying The Thin Red Line is his masterpiece, but I usually find out that this gains a lot of support in conversation.
Very good point. It's hard to gauge currently, and with a generation or two removed, I can easily see TWBB being the "consensus" choice. I guess with Tkeyjw bringing up Tarantino, a current director who seems to already mailed in his best film, made me think of his contemporary.

Malick was another name I thought of adding. It's harder to judge if The Tree of Life will win over like TWBB. It certainly has its champions in the community (i.e. Roger Ebert), but it is such a divisive film that it's another "time will tell" scenario. I also think The Thin Red Line is Malick's finest hour (and sits somewhere in my all-time favourites).
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  #7  
Old 10-17-2012, 03:12 PM
Terrence Malick is a good pick. In fact, I've heard four out of his five movies cited as his best. The only one that wasn't was The New World, but I know people who believe Badlands is his best, people who believe Days of Heavenis his best, people who believe The Thin Red Line is his best, and people (such as myself) who believe The Tree of Life is his best film.
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  #8  
Old 10-17-2012, 04:43 PM
James Cameron - Specifically: The Terminator, Terminator 2, Aliens... though my pick is actually The Abyss. Then you gotta throw in award winning heavies Titanic and Avatar.
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  #9  
Old 10-18-2012, 12:12 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by magjournal View Post
Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese are two of them. The general consensus can't decide which Godfather movie is superior, and I've noticed that with many Scorsese fans, the best film of his usually comes to a three-way tie between Goodfellas, Raging Bull, and my personal favorite, Taxi Driver.
The first two who came to my mind.

Quote:
Originally Posted by magjournal View Post
Terrence Malick is a good pick. In fact, I've heard four out of his five movies cited as his best. The only one that wasn't was The New World, but I know people who believe Badlands is his best, people who believe Days of Heavenis his best, people who believe The Thin Red Line is his best, and people (such as myself) who believe The Tree of Life is his best film.
Make it five, because I have made arguments for the sublime greatness of The New World (and I think the wise Lady E would back me up on that.)
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  #10  
Old 10-18-2012, 12:34 AM
I think Hitchcock would probably qualify here. Rear Window, Psycho, Vertigo, Notorious, and possibly North by Northwest could all be considered his 'best' film. I prefer Rear Window but he undoubtedly made several classics.
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  #11  
Old 10-18-2012, 12:34 AM
How about Kurosawa?

Seven Samurai is his most well known, but you could also make a case for Ikiru and Rashomon.

Tarkovsky is another. Stalker, Solaris, and The Mirror. Maybe even The Sacrifice.

Billy Wilder has The Apartment, Some Like It Hot, and Double Indemnity duking it out.

I'll post more later if I think of them.

Last edited by Matchbox225; 10-18-2012 at 12:37 AM..
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  #12  
Old 10-18-2012, 12:38 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchbox225 View Post
How about Kurosawa?

Seven Samurai is his most well known, but you could also make a case for Ikiru and Rashomon.

Tarkovsky is another. Stalker, Solaris, and The Mirror. Maybe even The Sacrifice.

Billy Wilder has The Apartment, Some Like It Hot, and Double Imdemnity duking it out.

I'll post more later if I think of them.
Good call on Kurosawa. I'd probably add Yojimbo and Ran to the list as well.

The only Tarkovsky film I've seen is Solaris which I absolutely loved. I really should watch more of his films.

Wilder is my favorite director of all time. I'd go with my favorite film of all time - Double Indemnity - but I could see any of the ones you mentioned plus Sunset Blvd., Ace in the Hole, The Lost Weekend, or Witness For the Prosecution. I just love his work.

Last edited by smacaskill; 10-18-2012 at 12:41 AM..
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  #13  
Old 10-18-2012, 12:45 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by smacaskill View Post
Good call on Kurosawa. I'd probably add Yojimbo and Ran to the list as well.

The only Tarkovsky film I've seen is Solaris which I absolutely loved. I really should watch more of his films.

Wilder is my favorite director of all time. I'd go with my favorite film of all time - Double Indemnity - but I could see any of the ones you mentioned plus Sunset Blvd., Ace in the Hole, The Lost Weekend, or Witness For the Prosecution. I just love his work.
Fuck, how could I forget Sunset Blvd? *slaps head*

I love Ace In The Hole too.
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  #14  
Old 10-18-2012, 01:23 AM
What about Spielberg? Some people say their favorite of his is Jaws. Others say Raiders of the Lost Ark. And others say Schindler's List. I'm of the mind that Schindler's List is probably his best, but Jaws is my favorite.

Christopher Nolan - I think the general consensus is that Memento is still his best movie but there are definitely some who cite The Dark Knight as his best.
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  #15  
Old 10-18-2012, 06:37 AM
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Originally Posted by smacaskill View Post
The only Tarkovsky film I've seen is Solaris which I absolutely loved. I really should watch more of his films.
Stalker. It's what hooked me on Andrei.
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  #16  
Old 10-18-2012, 01:52 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchbox225 View Post
Tarkovsky is another. Stalker, Solaris, and The Mirror. Maybe even The Sacrifice.
It's funny you should bring up this question and bring about the responses you do, since I think the rather unambiguous answer is Andrei Rublev.

I have a quick question about Michael Haneke: Is The White Ribbon his masterpiece? I sort of realized that while I seem to think it is, this may just be me, not some sort of general consensus.
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  #17  
Old 10-18-2012, 02:05 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchbox225 View Post

Billy Wilder has The Apartment, Some Like It Hot, and Double Indemnity duking it out.
Great call on Wilder. I'd put him near the top in regards to this discussion. Outstanding body of work, where a few films could be many director's "best" film.

smacaskill - What's your take on Stalag 17? I feel it's just as brilliant as the ones you and Matchbox listed, and doesn't seem to get the same attention. I imagine that it's more of a testament to Wilder's work then anything else.
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  #18  
Old 10-18-2012, 03:14 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by blankpage View Post
Great call on Wilder. I'd put him near the top in regards to this discussion. Outstanding body of work, where a few films could be many director's "best" film.

smacaskill - What's your take on Stalag 17? I feel it's just as brilliant as the ones you and Matchbox listed, and doesn't seem to get the same attention. I imagine that it's more of a testament to Wilder's work then anything else.
There's no doubt in my mind that Stalag 17 is one of the best Prisoner of War films and William Holden, Otto Preminger, and Peter Graves are all fantastic in it. Many directors would love to have something like that as their best film. However I do think there are some Wilder films that surpass it and like you said it's a testament to Wilder's immense talent rather than an indictment of Stalag 17.
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  #19  
Old 10-18-2012, 04:41 PM
Alejandro Jodorowsky is the first to come to mind. People would say El Topo but I always end up hearing the praise for Holy Mountain and Santa Sangre as his "masterpiece." No one can ever decide with him.
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  #20  
Old 10-18-2012, 05:44 PM
I'd definitely say Fellini (La Dolce Vita vs. 8 1/2 vs. La Strada) and Bergman (The Seventh Seal vs. Persona vs. Fanny and Alexander, among others) are two filmmakers who have more than one magnum opus.

Same goes for The Coen Brothers. Maybe Fargo and No Country for Old Men stick out the most for many, but a case can also be made for The Big Lebowksi, Barton Fink, and Miller's Crossing (just to name a few).
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  #21  
Old 10-18-2012, 08:32 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gordon View Post
It's funny you should bring up this question and bring about the responses you do, since I think the rather unambiguous answer is Andrei Rublev.
That's another major film from a master I forgot, after Sunset Blvd. I still haven't seen Andrei Rublev, but plan to sometime.

I remember there were some videos where celebrites picked out a movie they would show future generations. Cate Blanchett picked Stalker and Juliette Binoche picked The Sacrifice.


Here's another one. Peter Weir

He's got his Australian output, including Picnic At Hanging Rock, The Last Wave, and Gallipoli. But he also has well regarded movies in America like Witness, The Truman Show, and Master And Commander.
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  #22  
Old 10-18-2012, 10:40 PM
Wes Anderson; its usually been a battle between The Royal Tannenbaum and Rushmore, but recently Moonrise Kingdom and Fantastic Mr. Fox are also brought up.

Stephen Soderberg; this guy has such an eclectic filmography, I dont think one film could be singled out.

David Fincher; I think it comes down to either The Social Network or Fight Club
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  #23  
Old 10-18-2012, 10:49 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gordon View Post
It's funny you should bring up this question and bring about the responses you do, since I think the rather unambiguous answer is Andrei Rublev.
I think that's probably true.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchbox225 View Post
I remember there were some videos where celebrites picked out a movie they would show future generations. Cate Blanchett picked Stalker
My love for her increases.
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  #24  
Old 10-19-2012, 12:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Pride View Post

David Fincher; I think it comes down to either The Social Network or Fight Club
Se7en
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  #25  
Old 10-19-2012, 12:48 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Badbird View Post
James Cameron - Specifically: The Terminator, Terminator 2, Aliens... though my pick is actually The Abyss. Then you gotta throw in award winning heavies Titanic and Avatar.
Cameron didn't even occur to me. I like your call on the Abyss, I actually just rewatched that movie recently with the pops. Titanic is probably still my vote for being the best he's done though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by blankpage View Post
Paul Thomas Anderson comes to mind. While There Will Be Blood seems to be collecting the "his masterpiece" accolades, many people (especially on our board) would cite Boogie Nights or Magnolia as his best work. I think the jury's still out. There are many varying opinions on what his best film is.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchbox225 View Post
How about Kurosawa?

Seven Samurai is his most well known, but you could also make a case for Ikiru and Rashomon.
I don't know Kurosawa is so legendary, and mostly because of seven samurai, it's hard to throw anything else out there. Maybe only to shake things up a bit. But still Seven is still probably his best.
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  #26  
Old 10-19-2012, 05:25 AM
Spielberg was the first that came to mind: Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark . . . among many others. I have a hard time determining which of his movies is my favorite.

I definitely think Hitchcock should be included. My favorite is Psycho, but I constantly hear and read about Vertigo, Rear Window and The Birds.

Kurosawa has had so many of his movies remade or referenced. From Seven Samurai, Rashomon, Yojimbo, Ikiru, Ran . . . even Star Wars alludes to Hidden Fortress in story and characters.
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  #27  
Old 10-19-2012, 01:53 PM
I'm not sure I'd put Kurosawa in this category. He's definitely made multiple masterpieces, but when I think of a consensus pick, I think of the one movie that almost everyone would suggest you watch first when delving into the director's work. In that respect, is there anyone who doesn't think Seven Samurai is that movie for Kurosawa? It's the one you'd offer to people who aren't familiar with Kurosawa and you want to convince them of his greatness right away. So I think that's pretty much a consensus pick there.

With Coppola, I would suggest The Godfather is close to a consensus choice, even Part II and Apocalypse Now both have ardent supporters.

Spielberg and Hitchcock are great choices though. There really is no standard-bearer or definitive starting point in either of their filmographies, which is exactly what this thread is about.
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  #28  
Old 10-19-2012, 02:49 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tkeyjw View Post
I've been thinking about how most directors seem to have one movie that people tend to identify as their masterpiece more than the rest of their films. With Orson Welles, even though Touch of Evil and The Magnificent Ambersons get cited by some, it's obvious that Citizen Kane is the go-to choice for most. More recently, I realize that a lot of people think Reservoir Dogs or even Kill Bill is Tarantino's best, but for the most part, the overwhelming consensus is that it's Pulp Fiction.

So which directors don't have obvious "general consensus" choices when it comes to their best films?

The first one that comes to mind for me is Luis Buñuel. According to the most recent Sight & Sound poll, he's the only one of the top 10 most cited directors to not have a film in the top 50, and I suspect it's because there's so little agreement on what his best film is. Plenty of voters agreed that he was great enough to have a movie in the top 10, but they couldn't agree on which one.

I'm tempted to say Kubrick since there are enough rabid fans of A Clockwork Orange, Dr. Strangelove, and The Shining to go around, but it would be a stretch to suggest that his most acclaimed film in the larger film community was anything other than 2001.

I do think Ingmar Bergman probably qualifies, despite Persona slowly becoming something close to a consensus pick.

What are some others?
What about Walter Hill?

Hard Times
The Driver
The Warriors
The Long Riders
48 hrs
Southern Comfort
Streets of Fire

The Coens?
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  #29  
Old 10-19-2012, 10:49 PM
John Ford-Stagecoach,searchers, the grapes of wrath, and quiet man
John Huston-malteas falcon, treasure sierra madre, and African queen
David Lean-Lawrence of arabia , the bridge on the river kwai, and dr. zhivago
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  #30  
Old 10-19-2012, 11:06 PM
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Originally Posted by athf1980 View Post
John Ford-Stagecoach,searchers, the grapes of wrath, and quiet man
John Huston-malteas falcon, treasure sierra madre, and African queen
David Lean-Lawrence of arabia , the bridge on the river kwai, and dr. zhivago
Gotta think the general consensus on that has pretty much solidified around Searchers / Treasure of Sierra Madre / Lawrence of Arabia, right? Would anyone here disagree with that?
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  #31  
Old 10-20-2012, 09:33 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gordon View Post
Gotta think the general consensus on that has pretty much solidified around Searchers / Treasure of Sierra Madre / Lawrence of Arabia, right? Would anyone here disagree with that?
I disagree with that. John Ford has made several masterpieces in his career; The Searchers is just one of them: Stagecoach, The Quiet Man, How Green Was My Valley, The Grapes of Wrath, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

Huston's The Maltese Falcon and The African Queen, hell even Moby Dick are great movies.

And Bridge on the River Kwai is one of my all time favorite movies. Both it and LOA are masterpieces.
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  #32  
Old 10-20-2012, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by bigred760 View Post
I disagree with that. John Ford has made several masterpieces in his career...
You're making a link between disagreeing with me and the statement that these directors have made several masterpieces. I completely 100% believe they have made more than one masterpiece, and haven't ever implied anything else. The question was for the general consensus on their best film, and e.g. The Searchers -- ranked the sixth best all-time in the Sight & Sound poll -- I think has gotten the blunt of the general consensus. That's all I'm saying.
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  #33  
Old 10-20-2012, 01:29 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gordon View Post
You're making a link between disagreeing with me and the statement that these directors have made several masterpieces. I completely 100% believe they have made more than one masterpiece, and haven't ever implied anything else. The question was for the general consensus on their best film, and e.g. The Searchers -- ranked the sixth best all-time in the Sight & Sound poll -- I think has gotten the blunt of the general consensus. That's all I'm saying.
I was just answering your question if anyone disagreed if those were their best movies. I can't speak for a general consensus or the blunt of one, but I was just trying to follow along with the thread topic in saying that these directors don't have a "general consensus" as far as a best film is concerned since they've made so many classics/masterpieces.

While I do believe The Searchers is Ford's best movie, I also love The Quiet Man, Stagecoach, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. I prefer The Maltese Falcon over The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and Bridge on the River Kwai over Lawrence of Arabia. That's just me though.
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  #34  
Old 10-20-2012, 01:55 PM
Lars Von Trier, people will conclude that Dogville is his best, but I think it's easily Antichrist. Not because of its gruesome imaginary or unsettling mood, it's more of it being this depressing film that manages to be the 'evil' version of The Tree of Life.

David Fincher, some say Fight Club while others say Se7en. I think The Social Network or even Zodiac can be argued as being superior.
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  #35  
Old 10-20-2012, 02:01 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gordon View Post
I have a quick question about Michael Haneke: Is The White Ribbon his masterpiece? I sort of realized that while I seem to think it is, this may just be me, not some sort of general consensus.
I know people who rave about Hidden (Caché), and presumably wouldn't think The White Ribbon was in it's league, so I guess not.
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  #36  
Old 10-22-2012, 07:50 PM
Definitely Scorsese. Some will say his best is Taxi Driver. Others will say Raging Bull and then there are others that will say Goodfellas or The Departed.
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