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Top 10 Best Director's Cuts of All Time

01.12.2018by: Alex Maidy
As JUSTICE LEAGUE approaches it's digital release date, many were disappointed not to see a director's cut of the film. It has become common place for extended versions of films to try and make people buy the movie once it hits the home market, but not every director's cut is worth watching. With that in mind, here is our ranking of the ten best director's cuts in film history. If you disagree with our picks or think we missed one, let us know in the comments below.

DAREDEVIL

Mark Steven Johnson's maligned superhero movie made a joke of Ben Affleck and marvel's blind vigilante for over a decade before Netflix reset expectations. But, Johnson quietly released a director's cut that is far superior to the theatrical version of the film. While DAREDEVIL may still be nowhere near the quality of a MCU film, the extended cut restores some of the grittiness necessary to make the Man Without Fear worth watching.

TOUCH OF EVIL

Orson Welles' original rough cut of TOUCH OF EVIL has been lost for decades, but there was a restored edition created in 1998 which omitted many of Universal's mandated reshoots which were filmed without Welles' knowledge. The new cut offers a cleaner film that features some of the iconic filmmaker's more creative editing and narrative techniques as well as six minutes of scenes removed from the original theatrical version. Still a masterpiece.

THE NEW WORLD

Terence Malick's movies are an acquired taste, but few of his films are as easily watchable as his take on the John Smith/Pocahontas tale. THE NEW WORLD was initially released as a 150 minute cut before being trimmed by 12 minutes for theatrical release. Since then, the Blu-ray version features the extended 172 minutes cut of the film that expands on the epic romance that bridged two civilizations. A damn beautiful piece of cinema.

BRAZIL

Terry Gilliam is as well known for clashing with film studios as his is for the movies themselves. Gilliam famously fought with Universal who released the British film in North America after they cut ten minutes of the movie and demanded the dark ending be replaced with a happier one. the feud made headlines as the studio won. It would be years before the restored edition of the film was made available. Guess what? It is so much better than the studio-tinkered version.

KINGDOM OF HEAVEN

When I saw Ridley Scott's Crusade epic in theaters, I was not blown away. Scott himself criticized the cut as being the result of studio tampering. When he restored 45 minutes to the extended director's edition on DVD, the results were staggering. From a forgettable period drama before, KINGDOM OF HEAVEN became one of the best films of the entire 21st century to date. This cut embodies everything an epic needs to be and proves that studios and preview audiences are not always right.

ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA

Sergio Leone's gangster drama about early 20th century Jewish criminals in New York should have been eight to ten hours long. When Leone whittled the film down to six hours, he wanted to release it in two parts. The studio refused and he cut the movie down to just under four hours for the European release. US distributors cut another 90 minutes of the film against the filmmaker's wishes. It was not until 2011 that the full 251 minute version that Leone intended finally made it to screens.

SUPERMAN II

During filming on Bryan Singer's 2006 film SUPERMAN RETURNS, lost footage from Richard Donner's version of 1980's SUPERMAN II was found making a director's cut possible. Donner had been filming the first two SUPERMAN movies in tandem but was removed from the sequel and replaced by Richard Lester. The Lester cut of the film focused more on the comedic aspects of the story and took out quite a lot of Donner's vision. The restored version was well received by fans who found it to be far superior to the Lester cut.

ALMOST FAMOUS

While Cameron Crowe's 2000 film was a box office bomb, it has become a critical and fan darling since it hit home video. Crowe released a bootleg cut of the film called UNTITLED that restored 36 minutes to the movie. The new cut of the film offers a better vision of Crowe's tale of rock and roll and youth in revolt.

BLADE RUNNER

Ridley Scott has had so many director's cuts attributed to his films over the years, but BLADE RUNNER may have the most. There are at least seven distinct versions of the film that change aspects ranging from the removal of narration and the unicorn dream sequence to updating the color scheme and special effects. The Final Cut is the version that Scott gives his blessing as his intended cut of the film and may be the best version, but each offers a unique take on the material that almost makes it seven different movies.

THE LORD OF THE RINGS

Peter Jackson set the benchmark for fantasy epic filmmaking with THE LORD OF THE RINGS saga and also redefined the director's cut by filming a much longer film and intentionally releasing a shorter version for theatrical consumption. Both the theatrical and extended versions of the trilogy are equally watchable, but watching the extended versions is a richer and more rewarding experience and may be the epitome of what the medium of film can be.

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