Scott Hardie | November 18, 2019
Kelly wanted to see Motherless Brooklyn in a theater recently. When I asked her why, since crime movies aren't really her thing, she said, "It stars Edward Norton. Don't you want to see it? The only way it could be more of a Scott Hardie must-see is if Wes Anderson directed it."

Now, I don't consider myself a big fan of either Norton or Anderson. Norton had a pretty good run from 1996 to 2002 or so (roughly Primal Fear to 25th Hour), but with the exception of Leaves of Grass in 2009, I can't recall a single major role he's had that I've liked in all of the years since. As for Anderson, I thought he was pretentious and off-putting when he first came around (I still think The Royal Tenenbaums is overrated; fight me), but I did really enjoy his last three features, and not because Norton had a minor supporting role in each.

But Kelly's statement got me thinking: Who ARE my must-see filmmakers? Which actors, directors, writers, or producers are so dear to my heart that I am guaranteed to see anything they make?

Before I answer, I pose the same question to you. Who are yours?

Erik Bates | November 18, 2019
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Steve West | November 18, 2019
Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin, Neil Simon, Quentin Tarantino

Actor: 100/0 Humphrey Bogart, Katherine Hepburn, Robert Shaw
75/25 Daniel Day-Lewis, Christoph Walz, Richard Dreyfuss, Javier Bardem, Robert Downey, Jr., John Hurt, Lee Marvin, Michael Madsen
50/50 Maggie Smith, Helen Mirren, William Hurt, Paul Newman, Robert DeNiro

Director: Quentin Tarantino, Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, Robert Rodriguez

Scott Hardie | November 19, 2019
The directors who attract me tend to be either those who work in big ideas that lean toward science fiction (Christopher Nolan, Rian Johnson, David Fincher, the Wachowskis), or those with big stylistic flourishes in their dramas (Spike Lee, Quentin Tarantino, Ang Lee, and yes I suppose Wes Anderson). Even when those directors make a bad movie, and they certainly do, at least it's interesting and gives me something to think about; they're incapable of being boring.

But my movie consumption has changed a lot over the years by necessity. I don't have as much free time as I used to, and when I do get to relax in front of a screen, it's almost always with Kelly, whose taste is very different from mine. We wind up seeing a lot of "safe" content that we can agree upon like Marvel and Star Wars and certain TV shows. I still keep up with new releases every week and compulsively add them to my watchlist in the hopes of someday seeing them, but I don't consider queuing a filmmaker's work for later viewing to be "must see." I realized with some sadness that there's truly only one filmmaker in Hollywood whose work I go out and see every time it's released in theaters, and that's Kevin Feige. :-(

Scott Hardie | November 19, 2019
Good names, guys. I can get behind everyone who you mentioned.

I don't know if there's any actor today whose work I'll automatically see. Once upon a time it probably would have been Jackie Chan, but his early-2000s films were kind of terrible and I gave up on him. If I'm attracted to any actor's work, it's because they have good taste when choosing projects and rarely appear in bad movies, like Charlize Theron or Leo DiCaprio or Tom Hanks, but that's correlation and not necessarily causation.

Erik, I too get thrown by movie posters like that. I searched online for why it seems to happen, and the answer makes sense: Stars have contractual order in the credits, and contractual prominence in the poster, and those things are negotiated separately and don't always correlate.

Samir Mehta | November 20, 2019
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Scott Hardie | November 20, 2019
Another good list. I can agree with every one.

Erik Bates | May 3, 2021
Samir, did you see that Diablo Cody is rebooting Powerpuff Girls as a live-action starring Donald Faison as the professor?

Erik Bates | May 3, 2021
I decided to go back and watch Wes Anderson's Bottle Rocket this morning. It's been a long time since I've seen it. It made me think of this discussion.

Conclusion: Wes Anderson is still one of my favorite directors.

It also made me rethink the actors I am drawn to, as well (completely unrelated to Bottle Rocked / Anderson comment above).

There's something about Gary Oldman that I am drawn to. He can completely reinvent himself for every role, and I love that.

It may be her prominence of late, but I'm also absolutely loving Olivia Colman.

Samir Mehta | May 3, 2021
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Samir Mehta | May 3, 2021
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Scott Hardie | May 3, 2021
First of all, hell yes on Gary Oldman, in part because of his tendency to choose really good film projects. I've seen him in 15-20 movies by now, all of which turned out great. What's his worst movie, Hannibal? He's been on a streak for years.

Samir, that's a really interesting idea. We only have a small sample size at the moment from which to draw conclusions, but yeah, it's definitely trending that way. (Although to be fair to Mank, I felt a bit of dread about seeing it because I thought it would be another overlong 3-hour opus, until I learned that it was a mere 2 hours without the credits. And I can't recall any scenes that were really inessential, although the importance of many scenes only became clear in hindsight.)

Anyway, if we're talking about the effects of streaming services on cinema as an art form, Scorsese's concerns are worth airing. The tendency to serve up all of this "content" as if it has equal value, without any campaign by the service itself to highlight the best content, leads to a devaluing of the art. I know that there have been nights when I signed onto Netflix intending to watch something fulfilling like The Irishman or Da 5 Bloods only to grow weary of browsing the endless menu and wound up watching another dumb reality show instead because it was an easy and effortless choice. I don't know that the problem is entirely due to streaming services, as there are plenty of other factors in the decline of cinema as art, from the economics of the film industry forcing a narrowing of what's considered producible, to the distrust in criticism as another "elitist" institution and the dismantling of traditional gatekeeping as if it isn't in some ways useful. But I agree with Scorsese still, and I appreciate that he bites the hand that currently feeds him.

Scott Hardie | May 4, 2021
It me.


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