Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Watch: Jesse Eisenberg And Kristen Stewart Go On In The Run In Red Band Trailer For 'American Ultra' Watch: Jesse Eisenberg And Kristen Stewart Go On In The Run In Red Band Trailer For 'American Ultra' Tilda Swinton Joins Benedict Cumberbatch In 'Doctor Strange' Tilda Swinton Joins Benedict Cumberbatch In 'Doctor Strange' Watch: Jason Segel Plays David Foster Wallace Opposite Jesse Eisenberg In The First Trailer For ‘The End Of The Tour’ Watch: Jason Segel Plays David Foster Wallace Opposite Jesse Eisenberg In The First Trailer For ‘The End Of The Tour’ The Top 10 Films Of The 2015 Cannes Film Festival The Top 10 Films Of The 2015 Cannes Film Festival 5 Innovative Ways The Michael Fassbender/Marion Cotillard 'Macbeth' Differs From Previous Versions 5 Innovative Ways The Michael Fassbender/Marion Cotillard 'Macbeth' Differs From Previous Versions New ‘Ant-Man’ Photos; Movie May Include More Marvel Cinematic Universe Characters New ‘Ant-Man’ Photos; Movie May Include More Marvel Cinematic Universe Characters Over 30 New 'Jurassic World' Photos, Plus 2 New Clips & Lots Of New TV Spots Over 30 New 'Jurassic World' Photos, Plus 2 New Clips & Lots Of New TV Spots Matt Damon Goes Interstellar Again In New Pics From Ridley Scott's 'The Martian' Matt Damon Goes Interstellar Again In New Pics From Ridley Scott's 'The Martian' Cannes Awards Winners: Jacques Audiard's 'Dheepan' Wins Palme d’Or; Rooney Mara Ties For Best Actress With ‘Carol’ Cannes Awards Winners: Jacques Audiard's 'Dheepan' Wins Palme d’Or; Rooney Mara Ties For Best Actress With ‘Carol’ First Look: Matt Damon As An Astronaut In Ridley Scott’s ‘The Martian’ First Look: Matt Damon As An Astronaut In Ridley Scott’s ‘The Martian’ Cannes Review: Justin Kurzel's 'Macbeth' Starring Michael Fassbender & Marion Cotillard Cannes Review: Justin Kurzel's 'Macbeth' Starring Michael Fassbender & Marion Cotillard Watch: Incredible Vintage Footage Of Audience Reactions To 'The Exorcist' In 1973 Watch: Incredible Vintage Footage Of Audience Reactions To 'The Exorcist' In 1973 Lonely Island Movie Is Called 'Conner4real,’ Targets Justin Bieber & Katy Perry, Adds Sarah Silverman, Imogen Poots, & More Lonely Island Movie Is Called 'Conner4real,’ Targets Justin Bieber & Katy Perry, Adds Sarah Silverman, Imogen Poots, & More Here's The Character Backstory For Doof aka Guitar Flamethrower Dude In 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Here's The Character Backstory For Doof aka Guitar Flamethrower Dude In 'Mad Max: Fury Road' The 10 Most Controversial Cannes Films Ever The 10 Most Controversial Cannes Films Ever New NSFW, Extremely Graphic, Adults-Only Poster For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' New NSFW, Extremely Graphic, Adults-Only Poster For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

The Early Gems: Notable Films From 2013's Best Director Nominees

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist February 15, 2013 at 1:08PM

To send you into the long weekend, we're gonna take a break from the on-screen talent momentarily, and focus on the early work of the 2013 nominated directors. The five nominees (particularly controversial, thanks to the exclusion of Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow) are a mixed batch; from one of the most beloved (and most nominated) directors in history, to a 70-year-old European veteran with his first nod, to a debut filmmaker less than half their age. But all have something in common -- they showed promise at the beginning of their careers with films that we've highlighted below. Let us know your own thoughts, and who you think will win out in one of the toughest Oscar categories this year.
9
Best Early Films Of The Directing Nominees: Spielberg, Hanke, Zeitlin, etc.

Over the last couple of days, as part of our build up to the 85th Academy Awards on Sunday, February 24th, we've been highlighting some of the best and most undersung performances by the Best Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress nominees this year. Everything from Christoph Waltz's appearance in a 1990s British comedy about the European Commission, to Anne Hathaway's turn as a promiscuous would-be gangbanger in "Havoc."

To send you into the long weekend, we're gonna take a break from the on-screen talent momentarily and focus on the early work of the 2013 nominated directors. The five nominees (particularly controversial, thanks to the exclusion of Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow) are a mixed batch – from one of the most beloved (and most nominated) directors in history to a 70-year-old European veteran with his first nod to a debut filmmaker less than half their age. But all have something in common: they showed promise at the beginning of their careers with films that we've highlighted below. Let us know your own thoughts, and who you think will win out in one of the toughest Oscar categories this year.

Sugarland Express
Steven Spielberg - "The Sugarland Express" (1974)
While Steven Spielberg's first full feature "Duel" (made for TV, but released in cinemas in Europe and elsewhere) is perhaps better known and more typical of the director's future output, the real gem of the director's pre-"Jaws" years is his first theatrical feature proper, "The Sugarland Express." The director's smart, sweet, human take on films like "Badlands" and "Bonnie & Clyde," which won Best Screenplay at Cannes in 1974, toplines Goldie Hawn as Lou Jean Poplin, who breaks her husband Clovis (William Atherton) out of the joint in order to get their child back from his foster parents, taking a state trooper (Michael Sacks) hostage in the process. They head out on the run in a caravan, with the law (led by Ben Johnson) in hot pursuit. Blending a slightly caperish feel (the couple become local celebrities, mobbed by fans) with a more serious, tragic tone that Spielberg wouldn't return to for over a decade, it's a supremely confident film, but more impressive than the crash zooms and tricksy camera moves is the way he juggles tone. By the time the film reaches its downbeat conclusion, it's as affecting as anything the director would ever go on to make. And while, famously, no actor has ever won an Oscar for a Spielberg film (a streak likely to be broken in 2013 by "Lincoln"), he's always been a good director of actors, demonstrated here by one of Hawn's best performances, and a lovely supporting turn by Johnson. It's arguably the most undervalued picture in the filmmaker's canon.

"Sense and Sensibility"
"Sense and Sensibility"
Ang Lee - "Sense & Sensibility" (1995)
Spielberg's career might have gotten off to a stellar start, but there's one filmmaker nominated this year who had an even more meteoric rise early on, with two Foreign Language Oscar nominations for his first three films, and his first English-language film earning seven nods in total (though he himself missed out). And yet "Sense & Sensibility" remains curiously underrated on Ang Lee's resume. On first glance, the Taiwan-born filmmaker was far from the obvious choice to direct an adaptation of the Jane Austen period classic, which had been adapted by Oscar-winning actress Emma Thompson. Indeed, Lee had never heard of Austen, and later said, "I thought they were crazy... what do I know about 19th century England?" But it's easy to see what Thompson and producer Lindsay Doran saw in Lee off the back of his previous films, and the gamble paid off as "Sense & Sensibility" is one of the best cinematic Austen adaptations ever made, with Lee's sense of manners and family life, as well as his warmth and humor, shining through. The plot might be staple Austen fare, but Thompson's screenplay is exceptional, and arguably funnier than the source material. And in Lee's hands, it never feels stuffy or dusty. The director brings out the heartbreak, thanks to an exceptional cast, featuring Thompson, Kate Winslet (in her first role after breaking out in "Heavenly Creatures"), Alan Rickman, Hugh Grant, Gemma Jones, Harriet Walter, Hugh Laurie and Imelda Staunton. Almost single-handedly reviving interest in Austen (it was the first English-language film based on the writer's work for half a century), it doesn't exactly reinvent the medium, but it's hard to imagine a better take on the novel than what the director comes up with here.

This article is related to: Features, Awards, Academy Awards, Oscars, Benh Zeitlin, Michael Haneke, Steven Spielberg, Ang Lee, David O. Russell, The Early Gems


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates