March 29, 2017

Modern Masters: 2017 List

Sharing with you, like 2015 and 2016, the names of ten film-makers with the most impressive filmography during 2000 to 2016. This list has been created by going through the TSPDT list of 1000 greatest movies of the century and the ranking is calculated by considering the number of movies each director has in the top thousand and the respective rank of those movies in that list.

So here is the list of the top ten filmmakers of the last seventeen years:

10. Hou Hsiao-Hsien (69-year old Taiwanese film-maker): A new entry into this list, Hou has directed five features in the last seventeen years, all of which feature within top 235 of TSPDT's Top-1000: Cafe Lumiere, Three Times, Flight of the Red Balloon, The Assassin and Millennium Mambo. However, he is only marginally ahead of Christopher Nolan who may return to the top ten with his latest release 'Dunkirk'. There is no news on Hou's next film yet. Note: Hou's entry has kicked Steven Spielberg out of the list who was ranked 6th last year, also because his latest film 'The BFG' could not make it to the Top 1000. But Spielberg may regain a spot in this list next year after his upcoming film 'The Post' (Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep) comes out.

9. Quentin Tarantino (53-year old American film-maker): One rank down from last year, Tarantino has made six films in the last sixteen years, all of which feature in Top 1000: Kill Bill: Volumes 1 and 2, Death Proof, Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight. It will be interesting to see if he retains his position in this list of top directors without any releases scheduled this year.

8. Claire Denis (70-year old French film-maker): The only woman on the list, Denis is two spots higher from last year despite no feature release since 2013. She has directed six feature films since 2000, all of which feature in Top 1000: Trouble Every Day, Friday Night, The Intruder, 35 Shots of Rum, White Material and Bastards. Her latest film 'Dark Glasses' releases this year and may guarantee her presence in this list next year as well.

7. Martin Scorsese (74-year old American film-maker): Thanks to his latest release 'Silence' Scorsese is two positions up from last year. He has directed six other films since 2000, all of which feature in Top 1000: Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed, Shutter Island, Hugo and The Wolf of Wall Street. His next release is in 2018 but it is less likely that he will lose his pace in the top ten anytime soon.

6. Apichatpong Weerasethakul (46-year old Thai film-maker): With his 2015-film 'Cemetery of the Splendour' breaking into Top 1000, this Thai auteur is one place up from last year. He has directed seven films since 2000, six of which feature in Top 1000, including 'Tropical Malady', 'Blissfully Yours', 'Syndromes and a Century', 'Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives' and 'Mysterious Objects at Noon'. 

5. Wes Anderson (47-year old American film-maker): One rank down from last year, perhaps because of no releases in the last two years, Anderson has directed six films since 2000, all of which feature in Top 1000: The Royal Tenenbaums, Moonrise Kingdom, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and The Darjeeling Limited. He will not have a release this year as well with his next 'Isle of Dogs' coming only in 2018.

4. Jia Zhangke (46-year old Chinese film-maker): One position higher from last year, Jia has made seven films since 2000, six of which feature in Top 1000: Platform, Still Life, The World, Unknown Pleasures, A Touch of Sin and 24 City. He does not have any release this year as well, as his next film, 'Journey to the West' releases in 2018.

3. Joel and Ethan Coen (American film-makers, respectively 62 and 59 years of age): Despite mixed reviews of their latest release, it made it to Top 1000 and the Coen Brothers have retained their third position. They have directed ten films since 2000, eight of which feature in Top 1000: No Country for Old Men, A Serious Man, Inside Llewyn Davis, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, True Grit, The Man Who Wasn't There, Burn After Reading and Hail, Caesar! The film-making duo are now directing a TV mini-series and have not announced their next feature.

2. Richard Linklater (56-year old American film-maker): Holding on to the second spot, Linklater has directed twelve films since 2000, eight of which feature in Top 1000: Before Sunset, Boyhood, Waking Life, Before Midnight, School of Rock, A Scanner Darkly, Everybody Wants Some! and Bernie. If his upcoming film 'Last Flag Flying' is received well by the critics, he may grab the top position next year.

1. Michael Haneke (75-year old Austrian film-maker): Despite having no releases in the last four years, Haneke stays at the top, thanks to five of his films ranked 101 or better in Top 1000. He has directed seven films since 2000, six of which have helped him earn and stay at this position: Cache, The Piano Teacher, The White Ribbon, Code Unknown, Amour and Time of the Wolf. Whether he stays at the top next year or not depends on how well his upcoming film 'Happy End' is received. I expect some reshuffle in the top three when I compile the next list in March 2018. Until then, let us watch more of the above-mentioned movies.

March 17, 2017

Oscars Festival 2017

During the last few weeks I had my own Oscars Festival during which I watched movies competing at this Oscars along with some old winners in different categories. In the end, I watched seventeen movies during this festival of mine. I think I should do this every year.

OPENING FILM: The Awful Truth (1937): Director Leo McCarey won the award for his work on this film that was also nominated for Best Picture, Screenplay, Film Editing, Actress and Supporting Actress. It was a rare classic comedy that I enjoyed and it also made me realize that I had misunderstood the term 'Screwball Comedy' all along!

Braveheart (1995): Perhaps the biggest winner on this list, I did not really enjoy the movie. Well, it is one of those movies which a film-buff must have watched, so I checked that. But otherwise, its performance at the Oscars makes me feel that this entire list of mine is futile! It won five awards: Best Picture, Director, Cinematography, Sound Effects Editing and Make-Up and was nominated in five other categories: Costume, Sound, Score, Film Editing and Original Screenplay.

Moonlight (2016): Watching the latest top-winner in an Indian movie theater completely ruined it for me. I need to watch it again, with all the scenes intact and subtitles to help me comprehend the dialogues better. The movie won three Oscars: Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay and Supporting Actor and had five more nominations: Director, Supporting Actress, Cinematography, Film Editing and Score.

Hacksaw Ridge (2016): The winner of Film Editing and Sound Mixing, it was also nominated for Best Picture, Director, Actor, and Sound Editing. I really loved the movie and was surprised that it was nominated for its writing.

Kubo and the Two Strings (2016): This was where my festival actually started going somewhere. What a beautiful film! It did not win any Oscars but was nominated for two, Best Animated Feature and Visual Effects. 

Hidden Figures (2016): I wish we could tell more true stories in India than we do. Quite a powerful, entertaining film, nominated for Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay and Supporting Actress although it didn't win any.

Silence (2016): It remains a mystery to me why 'Silence' did not get nominated for Best Picture. It had only one nomination, for its stunning Cinematography, and ended up without any win. It was a difficult watch, yes, but what a brilliant movie!

Manchester by the Sea (2016): Watching this movie gave me a moment of epiphany where I was forced to consider the kind of stories I am telling or should be telling. If I work on it, this movie might be one of those which shaped my life. It won two very well-deserving Oscars for Best Actor and Original Screenplay while it was nominated for four more: Best Picture, Director, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress.

Lion (2016): I do not remember which other movie has made me cry so much in recent years. I pity the intellectuals and cynics who fail to be moved by this beautiful human story. It did not win any Oscar despite being nominated in six categories: Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Cinematography, and Score, but it was a highlight of my festival.

Jackie (2016): Nominated for Best Actress, Costume and Score, it was a Hollywood film only because of its casting and the spoken language. In every other sense, it was world cinema, difficult to watch but I am sure it will definitely improve in the second watch, and also if I do some reading about its characters.

Fences (2016): It won the award for Best Supporting Actress and was also nominated for Best Picture, Actor and Adapted Screenplay. To be honest it was too 'play-like' for my taste but it worked because of its universal subject matter, parenthood and love within a family, and the brilliant performances.

Arrival (2016): I re-watched it on big screen after my first watch last year. Winning the Oscar for Best Sound Editing, it was also nominated in seven other categories: Best Picture, Directing, Adapted Screenplay, Film Editing, Sound Mixing, Cinematography and Production Design. It should also have won two more nominations - Best Actress and Original Score. 

Black Narcissus (1947): I never knew this film was set entirely in India. Was definitely a stunning watch and won the well-deserved Oscars for its Cinematography and Art Direction. However, I did not enjoy it too much. Will not revisit this film unless absolutely necessary.

The Quiet Man (1952): Easily the worst film on this list, although very acclaimed. I somehow endured it. Will never recommend this to anyone. And I really don't care that it won two Oscars - for Best Director and Cinematography (Color) and was nominated for five more: Best Picture, Screenplay, Supporting Actor, Sound Recording and Art Direction (Color).

Road to Perdition (2002): I loved this! It won the award for its stunning cinematography while it was nominated in five more categories: Art Direction, Sound, Sound Editing, Score and Supporting Actor for Paul Newman in his last movie appearance.

Misery (1990): A thriller-horror like this is essential to make a festival complete. But such movies hardly ever get nominated for the Academy Awards. This one was, in one category, and it won that - Best Actress for Kathy Bates. I'm glad I watched this movie and then realized there are so many acclaimed movies made on Stephen King's works.

CLOSING FILM: Toni Erdmann (2016) I really liked 'The Salesman' but in my opinion the Foreign-Language Oscar should have gone to this German film. How outrageous and unforgettable! It was nominated in only one category and obviously did not win any, but for its sheer originality, brilliant performances, and being so sad and so funny at the same time, I recommend it as a must-watch-before-you-die (#49).