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Are these really the 25 Greatest Working Directors?

02.25.2011

I hate getting baited into discussions based off ridiculous lists based on objective criteria that are designed to bait people into discussions. But Entertainment Weekly just posted a list of the "25 Greatest Working Directors" and it's...well, an interesting read. Before we begin tearing this list apart and pasting it back together with glue sticks and staples, here's their Top 25:

25. Wes Anderson
24. Mike Leigh
23. Brad Bird
22. J.J. Abrams
21. Spike Lee
20. Edgar Wright
19. Peter Jackson
18. James Cameron
17. David Lynch
16. David O. Russell
15. Kathryn Bigelow
14. Danny Boyle
13. Roman Polanski
12. Guillermo Del Toro
11. Paul Thomas Anderson
10. Pedro Almodovar
9. Clint Eastwood
8. Terrence Malick
7. Quentin Tarantino
6. Coen Brothers
5. Darren Aronofsky
4. Martin Scorsese
3. Steven Spielberg
2. Christopher Nolan
1. David Fincher

Why yes, there are certainly some capable directors on this list and many of the directors on this list would be included in any list I would create on the greatest working directors. Some would not be though. Spike Lee made one of the best films of the last 25 years in DO THE RIGHT THING but since then his resume has been erratic at best. If we're judging directors on past output, then why doesn't Francis Ford Coppola make the list? His GODFATHER films are better than anything on Spike Lee's resume.

I'd argue the same with Clint Eastwood. He's a legendary actor who has made some very good films but he's also made some very bad films (many of which have been released in the past ten years).

I don't think Mike Leigh is a bad director, in fact, I think he's a very interesting director. But I don't think anything in his oeuvre qualifies him to be one of the "Greatest Working Directors."

What this list is missing is the qualifier "Hollywood" because that's the list they've put together. These are Hollywood directors, not the "best" directors. Only one of these directors, Pedro Almodovar, could be considered an international filmmaker. Are we really that self-absorbed as an American culture to think that all the best filmmakers in the world are Hollywood-based?

Who do you think missed out on this list? Off the top of my head I'm wondering where Steven Soderbergh, Hayao Miyazaki, Wong Kar-wai, Michael Haneke, Spike Jonze and Alexander Payne should have all merited a spot. Who do you think should make it? And we haven't even got into their rankings. Is David Fincher really the best director working today?

Source: EW.com

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