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Entertainment Weekly Pick The 25 Greatest Working Directors; Confirms The Fallacy Of Listmaking

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com February 25, 2011 at 1:58AM

Lists are subjective. That's the joy of them, to some degree -- you get to see the tastes of others, and hopefully pick up a few tips for things you may have overlooked. And you're never going to find a list that you agree with 100%, particularly when the stakes are bigger -- lists of 'greatest films' or 'greatest directors' are a veritable minefield of disputes and feuds. But that doesn't change the fact that some lists are just dumb.
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Lists are subjective. That's the joy of them, to some degree -- you get to see the tastes of others, and hopefully pick up a few tips for things you may have overlooked. And you're never going to find a list that you agree with 100%, particularly when the stakes are bigger -- lists of 'greatest films' or 'greatest directors' are a veritable minefield of disputes and feuds. But that doesn't change the fact that some lists are just dumb.

Entertainment Weekly, hot off the success of recent lists like "The 25 Greatest Episodes Of "Glee," "The 25 Best Characters In "Glee," and, of course, "The 25 Best Songs From "Glee," published earlier in the week a list of the 25 Greatest Working Directors, and it's fair to say that we have one or two, or indeed 25, issues with it. It's topped by "The Social Network" helmer David Fincher, closely followed by Christopher Nolan, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and Darren Aronofsky.

It's not that the directors they've picked are bad -- every one of them has shown their chops on at least one project, but it seems somewhat perverse to say the least to include, say J.J. Abrams, who's directed two movies, one of which terrifically, and one of which tepidly. But there's an enormous short-sightedness on display. There's no way that Fincher would have been placed so highly before "The Social Network" or that David O. Russell or Kathryn Bigelow would have been placed at all before "The Fighter" or "The Hurt Locker." We're just thankful that Tom Hooper somehow didn't find his way on there; but hey, there's always next year!

Also, where the fuck is Steven Soderbergh?

But the biggest problem here, as we're sure you've guessed by now, is the extremely narrow world-view on display. Stunningly, only Pedro Almodovar, Mike Leigh and Roman Polanski, who work exclusively outside Hollywood (the latter not exactly by choice...) feature on the list and only Almodovar is the only helmer who hasn't worked in the English language. We're aware that Entertainment Weekly need to gear their list towards their audience, who need something to read between "American Idol" recaps, and it's not exactly any different from what we were expecting, but it's still kind of infuriating.

We're going to spend the rest of the day trying to lower our blood pressure, and introducing the staff of the magazine to David Cronenberg, Wong Kar-Wai, Claire Denis, the Dardenne Brothers, Bong Joon-Ho, Werner Herzog, Jean-Luc Godard, Hayao Miyazaki, Abbas Kiarostami, Lars Von Trier and three dozen others, but you can check the full list out below. Which omission makes you the angriest?

25. Wes Anderson
24. Mike Leigh
23. Brad Bird
22. J.J. Abrams
21. Spike Lee
20. Edgar Wright
19. Peter Jackson
18. James Cameron
17. David Lynch
16. David O. Russell
15. Kathryn Bigelow
14. Danny Boyle
13. Roman Polanski
12. Guillermo Del Toro
11. Paul Thomas Anderson
10. Pedro Almodovar
9. Clint Eastwood
8. Terrence Malick
7. Quentin Tarantino
6. Coen Brothers
5. Darren Aronofsky
4. Martin Scorsese
3. Steven Spielberg
2. Christopher Nolan
1. David Fincher

This article is related to: Christopher Nolan, Mike Leigh, Edgar Wright, Wes Anderson, Terrence Malick, Coen Brothers, Guillermo del Toro, David O. Russell, David Lynch, Paul Thomas Anderson, Spike Lee, Roman Polanski

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