March 22, 2015

Modern Masters: Recap

It has been an exciting exercise, to go through this list of 1000 most acclaimed films of the 21st century and score the directors to determine those with the most impressive filmography in last fifteen years. Before revealing the top ranked director, I thought of writing a brief post to recapitulate.

Let me also share with you how I created this list. Each film featured in the list got scores on the basis of its rank. So the highest rated movie 'In the Mood for Love' got a thousand points, while the movie ranked 1000, '8 Women' got one point. Every director got a total score of all his/her movies featuring in the list. So Wong Kar-wai got 1000 points for 'In the Mood for Love', 940 points for '2046' (ranked 61) and 426 points for 'The Grandmaster' (ranked 575). Thus, his total score was 2366. Despite one of his movies holding the top rank, he could not feature in the top ten because there are directors with six or seven movies in the list, and their total score beats Wong Kar-Wai's. Also remarkable is the fact that Steven Soderbergh who has as many as nine movies in the list could not make it to top ten as his total score was low, because of four movies outside top 750. By using this method, this scoring favors directors with most high-ranked movies over those with few high-ranked or those with several low-ranked ones. Thus, my top 10 is actually "the directors with most impressive filmography in 21st century".

I was glad to see Christopher Nolan's name in the list. He definitely deserves to be there. But then, I was happy that there were nine directors who scored more than him. This meant this list is beyond box-office and popular appeal. This was proved further when I saw Caire Denis at the ninth position. I have watched only one of her films and did not know that she has several very acclaimed films. She is the highest rated French director and the top woman director as well.

To see Scorsese (#8) feature in this list was very reassuring. It meant the master has been relevant even in this century, although one may argue that most of his great films were made before 2000. I had a similar feeling with Spielberg (#7), although I would wish him to rank below Scorsese.

The presence of Apichatpong Weerasethakul at #6 shows what an impressive reputation this Thai auteur has created for himself. I have not seen much of his work and I'm sure this series will inspire me to do that. The presence of Jia Zhangke at #4 is also very fulfilling. I have seen a couple of his films and would love to watch all. The presence of two Asian film-makers in top six also illustrates this region's rise in world cinema over the last twenty-five years.

I was also happy to see that although this list is, as expected, dominated by American film-makers, the top ranked ones are not from mainstream, but those who have created a voice of their own. Wes Anderson (#5), the Coens (#3), and Richard Linklater (#2) are among those American film-makers whom the entire world respects for their contribution to cinema. Finding the Coens at a rank as high as #3 was a delight. They are among my very favourite filmmakers and I have watched all their sixteen films. And of course, finding Linklater at #2 was a very special and emotional moment for me. I think he is my most favourite film-maker today. I'm not that sure because there are several others who could not feature in top ten, but perhaps he is right at the top of my personal favourite list.

So, who is the top director? Well, I most humbly accept that it was OK to see Linklater and the Coen Brothers lose to this master. I'll give you a hint. Tomorrow is when I reveal the name of the winner. Tomorrow also is his birthday!

There are 29 movies from 2014 on this list. I'm sure 2015 will bring some great movies that will replace others when a new list is compiled by the website next spring. I'll then create a new list of top 10 directors, and I truly hope a serious re-ordering and some new entries!

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