Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image): 90 Years of Directors: my "alternate Oscars", 1923 - 2012

Friday, October 25, 2013

90 Years of Directors: my "alternate Oscars", 1923 - 2012


My picks for best feature year-by-year, based on my choices in the Wonders in the Dark weekly poll

Read the introduction for background & further explanation

Though their role lies at the center of filmmaking, my "Directors" list may comprise the most idiosyncratic category. Unlike the Academy and other award-bestowers, I mostly gave my "Picture" and "Director" honors to different films each year; in fact, less than a quarter of my selections match up. Why? Sometimes I misfired in the name of diversity, missing perfect opportunities to reward Vidor, Lean, Fellini, Melville, Bertolucci, Rohmer, and Jia among all-time personal favorites, not to mention the legendary Renoir, Bunuel, Rossellini, Truffaut, Kurosawa, Mizoguchi, Chaplin, or (gulp) Ford so that I could spread the riches among multiple films in a given year. None of these deserving auteurs ever won, while others (no less deserving, mind you) racked up two or three awards each (Bergman won only once, for one of his most obscure movies; I skipped numerous chances to reward both him and Ford, thinking they'd have plenty of other opportunities and then somehow they got lost in the shuffle). Doing it again, I'd probably impose a limitation on myself: let each director win only once. After all, the ranking is arbitrary to begin with; might as well maximize diversity. Ah well...too late now.

With those mea culpas pronounced, there are also some good reasons for the frequent mismatches between picture and director. For one, while I voted for best feature (or short) based mostly on personal passion - I judged the directing category more coolly. I'd hesitate to employ that bugaboo "objectivity" but I did generally choose films with pronounced styles, directed with bold and often highly controlled formal choices - films where I could assess in concrete terms what the director had done, while admiring his or her discipline (even if that discipline was shot through with improvisation). Occasionally these films are far from being favorites, but I respect their vision nonetheless. To put it in an elusive phrase, I voted based on "mise en scene." To me that means four essential elements: composition, camera movement, movement within the frame, and editing (less in terms of dodging mistakes and trimming fat than planning and shaping a rhythm). Yes, many directors oversee all elements and details of a production but it is in these areas they earn the right to sign their name. Performances are essential too, of course (though one never quite knows where the director ends and the actor begins) but for my purposes here I was more concerned with how they were shaped into a larger pattern than the elicitation of individual moments.

The results are surprisingly different from my own sensibility, which favors spontaneity and visceral, kinetic energy to meticulous precision and execution (well, maybe I favor the latter when it comes to blogging if not filmmaking or film appreciation), but then we're often drawn to our opposites, aren't we?

As with the actors and actresses, I've included the director's lifespan so you can glean their age. I've also noted the winner of a given year, so you can see where my choices for film and director part ways. And of course I've illustrated every selection; in this case, choosing images of the director from that particular time - in most cases, on the set of that particular movie (surprisingly available in most cases). By the way, did you know that Terrence Malick's face doesn't appear once in the 1-hour documentary on The New World disc? Interesting...

So far this week I've posted my top feature films, short films, actors, and actresses for 1923 - 2012


Director
1923
Abel Gance (1889 - 1981)
La Roue
(also won Best Feature)
1924
F.W. Murnau (1888 - 1930)
The Last Laugh
(Fritz Lang's "Die Nibelungen" won Best Feature)
1925
Sergei Eisenstein (1898 - 1948)
The Battleship Potemkin

(Charlie Chaplin's "The Gold Rush" won Best Feature)
1926
Lotte Reiniger (1899 - 1981)
The Adventures of Prince Achmed

(Buster Keaton's "The General" won Best Feature)
1927
F.W. Murnau (1888 - 1931)
Sunrise
(also won Best Feature)
1928
Carl Theodor Dreyer (1889 - 1968)
The Passion of Joan of Arc
(also won Best Feature)
1929
Dziga Vertov (1896 - 1954)
The Man With a Movie Camera
(also won Best Feature)
1930
Jean Cocteau (1889 - 1963)
Blood of a Poet
(also won Best Feature)
1931
Fritz Lang (1890 - 1976)
M
(William Wellman's "The Public Enemy" won Best Feature)
1932
Yasujiro Ozu (1903 - 1963)
I Was Born, But...
(Howard Hawks' "Scarface" won Best Feature)
1933
Jean Vigo (1905 - 1933)
Zero de Conduite
(Lloyd Bacon's "42nd Street" won Best Feature)
1934
Aleksandr Medvedkin (1900 - 1989)
Happiness
(Norman McLeod's "It's A Gift" won Best Feature)
1935
Leni Riefenstahl (1902 - 2003)
Triumph of the Will
(James Whale's "The Bride of Frankenstein" won Best Feature)
1936
Fritz Lang (1890 - 1976)
Fury
(William Wyler's "Dodsworth" won Best Feature)
1937
Fritz Lang (1890 - 1976)
You Only Live Once
(Leo McCarey's "Make Way for Tomorrow" won Best Feature)
1938
Sergei Eisenstein (1898 - 1948)
Alexander Nevsky
(Michael Curtiz's & William Keighley's "The Adventures of Robin Hood" won Best Feature)
1939
Howard Hawks (1896 - 1977)
Only Angels Have Wings
(John Ford's "The Public Enemy" won Best Feature)
1940
Ernst Lubitsch (1892 - 1947)
The Shop Around the Corner
(Hamilton Luske's & Ben Sharpsteen's "Pinocchio" won Best Feature)
1941
Orson Welles (1915 - 1985)
Citizen Kane
(Also won Best Feature)
1942
Orson Welles (1915 - 1985)
The Magnificent Ambersons
(Michael Curtiz's "Casablanca" won Best Feature)
1943
Carl Theodor Dreyer (1889 - 1968)
Day of Wrath
(Also won Best Feature)
1944
Gjon Mili (1890 - 1976)
Jammin' the Blues
(Also won Best Short)
1945
Marcel Carne (1906 - 1996)
Children of Paradise
(David Lean's "Brief Encounter" won Best Feature)
1946
Sergei Eisenstein (1898 - 1948)
Ivan the Terrible, Part Two
(Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life" won Best Feature)
1947
Jacques Tourneur (1904 - 1977)
Out of the Past
(Henry Hathaway's "Kiss of Death" won Best Feature)
1948
Alfred Hitchcock (1899 - 1980)
Rope
(Vittorio De Sica's "Bicycle Thieves" won Best Feature)
1949
Yasujiro Ozu (1903 - 1963)
Late Spring
(Carol Reed's "The Third Man" won Best Feature)
1950
John Huston (1906 - 1987)
The Asphalt Jungle
(Nicholas Ray's "In a Lonely Place" won Best Feature)
1951
Ingmar Bergman (1918 - 2007)
Summer Interlude
(Jean Renoir's "The River" won Best Feature)
1952
Nicholas Ray (1911 - 1979)
On Dangerous Ground
(Stanley Donen's & Gene Kelly's "Singin' in the Rain" won Best Feature)
1953
Max Ophuls (1902 - 1957)
Madame de...
(Kenji Mizoguchi's "Ugetsu" won Best Feature)
1954
Alfred Hitchcock (1899 - 1980)
Rear Window
(Elia Kazan's "On the Waterfront" won Best Feature)
1955
Charles Laughton (1899 - 1962)
The Night of the Hunter
(Satyajit Ray's "Pather Panchali" won Best Feature)
1956
Robert Bresson (1901 - 1999)
A Man Escaped
(John Ford's "The Searchers" won Best Feature)
1957
Stanley Kubrick (1928 - 1999)
Paths of Glory
(Federico Fellini's "The Nights of Cabiria" won Best Feature)
1958
Alfred Hitchcock (1899 - 1980)
Vertigo
(Also won Best Feature)
1959
Robert Bresson (1901 - 1999)
Pickpocket
(Satyajit Ray's "Pather Panchali" won Best Feature)
1960
Michelangelo Antonioni (1912 - 2007)
L'Avventura
(Ingmar Bergman's "The Virgin Spring" won Best Feature)
1961
Alain Resnais (b. 1922)
Last Year at Marienbad
(Ingmar Bergman's "Through a Glass Darkly" won Best Feature)
1962
Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922 - 1975)
Mamma Roma
(David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" won Best Feature)
1963
Forough Farrokhzad (1935 - 1967)
The House is Black
(Also won Best Short)
1964
Carl Theodor Dreyer (1889 - 1968)
Gertrud
(Jean-Luc Godard's "Band of Outsiders" won Best Feature)
1965
Jean-Luc Godard (b. 1930)
Alphaville
(Marco Bellocchio's "Fists in the Pocket" won Best Feature)
1966
Robert Bresson (1901 - 1999)
Au Hasard, Balthazar
(Jean-Luc Godard's "Masculin Feminin" won Best Feature)
1967
Jacques Tati (1907 - 1982)
Playtime
(Stefan Uher's "Miraculous Virgin" won Best Feature)
1968
Stanley Kubrick (1928 - 1999)
2001: A Space Odyssey
(Roman Polanski's "Rosemary's Baby" won Best Feature)
1969
Sam Peckinpah (1925 - 1984)
The Wild Bunch
(Eric Rohmer's "My Night at Maud's" won Best Feature)
1970
Brian De Palma (b. 1940)
Hi, Mom!
(Albert & David Maysles & Charlotte Zwerin's "Gimme Shelter" won Best Feature)
1971
Jacques Rivette (b. 1928)
Suzanne Schiffman (1929 - 2001)
Out 1(Also won Best Feature)
1972
Werner Herzog (b. 1942)
Aguirre, the Wrath of God
(Francis Ford Coppola's "The Godfather" won Best Feature)
1973
Martin Scorsese (b. 1942)
Mean Streets
(Jean Eustache's "The Mother and the Whore" won Best Feature)
1974
Andrei Tarkovsky (1932 - 1986)
Mirror
(Francis Ford Coppola's "The Godfather Part II" won Best Feature)
1975
Stanley Kubrick (1928 - 1999)
Barry Lyndon
(Also won Best Feature)
1976
Martin Scorsese (b. 1942)
Taxi Driver
(Also won Best Feature)
1977
David Lynch (b. 1946)
Eraserhead
(George Lucas' "Star Wars" won Best Feature)
1978
Terrence Malick (b. 1943)
Days of Heaven
(Peter Greenaway's "A Walk Through H" won Best Feature)
1979
Francis Ford Coppola (b. 1939)
Apocalypse Now
(Andrei Tarkovsky's "Stalker" won Best Feature)
1980
Martin Scorsese (b. 1942)
Raging Bull
(Also won Best Feature)
1981
Jean-Jacques Beineix (b. 1946)
Diva
(Louis Malle's "My Dinner with Andre" won Best Feature)
1982
Ridley Scott (b. 1937)
Blade Runner
(Sidney Lumet's "The Verdict" won Best Feature)
1983
Maurice Pialat (1925 - 2003)
A Nos Amours
(Brian De Palma's "Scarface" won Best Feature)
1984
Jim Jarmusch (b. 1953)
Stranger Than Paradise
(Edgar Reitz's "Heimat" won Best Feature)
1985
Elem Klimov (1933 - 2003)
Come and See
(Claude Lanzmann's "Shoah" won Best Feature)
1986
David Lynch (b. 1946)
Blue Velvet
(Louis Malle's "God's Country" won Best Feature)
1987
Stephen Quay (b. 1947)
Timothy Quay (b. 1947)
This Unnameable Little Broom
(Frederic Back's "The Man Who Planted Trees" won Best Short)
1988
Krzysztof Kieslowski (1941 - 1996)
Dekalog
(Also won Best Feature)
1989
Spike Lee (b. 1957)
Do the Right Thing
(Al Reinart's "For All Mankind" won Best Feature)
1990
Martin Scorsese (b. 1942)
Goodfellas
(Also won Best Feature)
1991
Krzysztof Kieslowski (1941 - 1996)
The Double Life of Veronique
(Oliver Stone's "JFK" won Best Feature)
1992
Terence Davies (b. 1945)
The Long Day Closes
(David Lynch's "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me" won Best Feature)
1993
Steven Spielberg (b. 1946)
Schindler's List
(Also won Best Feature)
1994
Bela Tarr (b. 1955)
Satantango
(Also won Best Feature)
1995
Todd Haynes (b. 1961)
Safe
(Matieu Kassovitz's "La Haine" won Best Feature)
1996
Michel Gondry (b. 1963)
Around the World
(Michel Gondry's "Hyperballad" won Best Short)
1997
Paul Thomas Anderson (b. 1970)
Boogie Nights
(Hideako Anno's "End of Evangelion" won Best Feature)
1998
Steven Spielberg (b. 1946)
Saving Private Ryan
(Joel & Ethan Coen's "The Big Lebowski" won Best Feature)
1999
David Fincher (b. 1962)
Fight Club
(Sofia Coppola's "The Virgin Suicides" won Best Feature)
2000
Wong Kar-Wai (b. 1956)
In the Mood for Love
(Also won Best Feature)
2001
David Lynch (b. 1946)
Mulholland Dr.
(Also won Best Feature)
2002
Aleksandr Sokurov (b. 1951)
Russian Ark
(Jose Padhila's "Bus 174" won Best Feature)
2003
Lars von Trier (b. 1956)
Dogville
(Thom Andersen's "Los Angeles Plays Itself" won Best Feature)
2004
Apichatpong Weerasethakul (b. 1970)
Tropical Malady
(Kar Wai Wong's "2046" won Best Feature)
2005
Terrence Malick (b. 1943)
The New World
(Werner Herzog's "Grizzly Man" won Best Feature)
2006
Apichatpong Weerasethakul (b. 1970)
Syndromes and a Century
(Also won Best Feature)
2007
Ethan Coen (b. 1957)
Joel Coen (b. 1954)
No Country for Old Men

(Also won Best Feature)
2008
Ari Folman (b. 1963)
Waltz With Bashir
(Mariano Llinas' "Historias Extraordinarias" won Best Feature)
2009
Gaspar Noe (b. 1963)
Enter the Void

(Lars Von Trier's "Antichrist" won Best Feature)
2010
Darren Aronofsky (b. 1969)
Black Swan

(Steven Soderbergh's "And Everything is Goine Fine" won Best Feature)
2011
Terrence Malick (b. 1943)
Tree of Life

(Mark Cousins' "The Story of Film" won Best Feature)
2012
Paul Thomas Anderson (b. 1970)
The Master

(Don Hertzfeldt's "It's Such a Beautiful Day" won Best Feature)



Explore these films on Lost in the Movies:
La Roue (Abel Gance)
The Battleship Potemkin (Buster Keaton)
 Sunrise (F.W. Murnau)
The Passion of Joan of Arc (Carl Th. Dreyer)
I Was Born, But... (Yasujiro Ozu)
Triumph of the Will (Leni Riefenstahl)
You Only Live Once (Fritz Lang)
Only Angels Have Wings (Howard Hawks)
The Shop Around the Corner (Ernst Lubitsch)
Citizen Kane (Orson Welles)
Day of Wrath (Carl Th. Dreyer)
Jammin' the Blues (Gjon Milli)
Children of Paradise (Marcel Carne)
Ivan the Terrible, Part Two (Sergei Eisenstein)
Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur)
Late Spring (Yasujiro Ozu)
The Asphalt Jungle (John Huston)
On Dangerous Ground (Nicholas Ray)
Rear Window (John Wayne)
A Man Escaped (Robert Bresson)
Paths of Glory (Stanley Kubrick)
Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock)
L'Avventura (Michelangelo Antonioni)
Last Year at Marienbad (Alain Resnais)
Mamma Roma (Pier Paolo Pasolini)
The House is Black (Forugh Farrokhzad)
Gertrud (Carl Th. Dreyer)
Alphaville (Jean-Luc Godard)
Au Hasard Balthazar (Robert Bresson)
Playtime (Jacques Tati)
2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick)
The Wild Bunch (Sam Peckinpah)
Hi, Mom! (Brian De Palma)
Mean Streets (Martin Scorsese)
Mirror (Andrei Tarkovsky)
Barry Lyndon (Stanley Kubrick)
Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese)
Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola)
Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese)
Diva (Jean-Jacques Beineix)
A Nos Amours (Maurice Pialat)
Stranger Than Paradise (Jim Jarmusch)
Blue Velvet (David Lynch)
Dekalog (Krzysztof Kieslowski)
Goodfellas (Martin Scorsese)
The Double Life of Veronique (Krzysztof Kieslowski)
The Long Day Closes (Terence Davies)
Schindler's List (Steven Spielberg)
Around the World (Michel Gondry)
Fight Club (David Fincher)
In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-Wai)
Mulholland Dr. (David Lynch)
Dogville (Lars von Trier)
Tropical Malady (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
The New World (Terrence Malick)
Syndromes and a Century (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
Waltz With Bashir (Ari Folman)

Additionally, 29 of the Best Directed films are featured alongside brief capsules in:

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