Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Troubled Western 'Jane Got a Gun' Rescued as Relativity Files for Bankruptcy (Updated) Troubled Western 'Jane Got a Gun' Rescued as Relativity Files for Bankruptcy (Updated) 'The Witch' Won't Open Until 2016, But Its Sundance-Winning Director Has a New Film 'The Witch' Won't Open Until 2016, But Its Sundance-Winning Director Has a New Film Charles Aidikoff Screening Room Shutters: End of an Era for LA Critics? Charles Aidikoff Screening Room Shutters: End of an Era for LA Critics? How HBO's 'Ballers' Fails Sports Fans How HBO's 'Ballers' Fails Sports Fans Michael Moore Reveals Stealth NSA Project 'Where to Invade Next' on Periscope Michael Moore Reveals Stealth NSA Project 'Where to Invade Next' on Periscope Showtime Chief on David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks' Revival: "It's His Show" Showtime Chief on David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks' Revival: "It's His Show" Toronto Film Festival Lineup: What Did They Get? Toronto Film Festival Lineup: What Did They Get? Discover the Brothers Quay, Identical Twin Animators Who Inspired Christopher Nolan Discover the Brothers Quay, Identical Twin Animators Who Inspired Christopher Nolan Richard Linklater's Untitled New Film Pushed to 2016, Might Direct Jennifer Lawrence Movie Richard Linklater's Untitled New Film Pushed to 2016, Might Direct Jennifer Lawrence Movie Jill Soloway Says "There Is an All Out-Attack" on Female Filmmakers Jill Soloway Says "There Is an All Out-Attack" on Female Filmmakers 'Steve Jobs' Joins Fall Festival Contenders as NYFF Centerpiece Gala: What's Coming Up and What's Not (UPDATED) 'Steve Jobs' Joins Fall Festival Contenders as NYFF Centerpiece Gala: What's Coming Up and What's Not (UPDATED) Top 10 Takeaways: Holdover 'Ant-Man' Tops Blah Week, Summer Slot for 'Southpaw' Pays Off Top 10 Takeaways: Holdover 'Ant-Man' Tops Blah Week, Summer Slot for 'Southpaw' Pays Off Arthouse Audit: Is 'Phoenix' This Year's 'Ida'? 'Mr. Holmes' Stays Strong Arthouse Audit: Is 'Phoenix' This Year's 'Ida'? 'Mr. Holmes' Stays Strong Friday Box Office: Sandler's 'Pixels' Gets Mixed Response, 'Paper Towns,' 'Southpaw' Not Far Behind Friday Box Office: Sandler's 'Pixels' Gets Mixed Response, 'Paper Towns,' 'Southpaw' Not Far Behind Scott Foundas Explains Why He's Leaving Film Criticism--Again--for Amazon Studios Scott Foundas Explains Why He's Leaving Film Criticism--Again--for Amazon Studios Congrats to Monica Bellucci: She's Making History Congrats to Monica Bellucci: She's Making History Watch: The Secret Ingredient to David Lynch's Disorienting Cinema Watch: The Secret Ingredient to David Lynch's Disorienting Cinema First Look: 'No' Director Pablo Larraín Channels 'Neruda' with Gael García Bernal First Look: 'No' Director Pablo Larraín Channels 'Neruda' with Gael García Bernal Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A) Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A) Gabriel García Márquez and Akira Kurosawa Talk Film, Writing and 'Rhapsody in August' in 1991 Gabriel García Márquez and Akira Kurosawa Talk Film, Writing and 'Rhapsody in August' in 1991

Top 25 Active Directors: Did EW Get it Right?

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood February 19, 2009 at 7:00AM

EW loves lists like this one, the top 25 active directors, designed to inspire healthy debate. Did they get it right? And what do they mean by active, exactly? "Most talented, in-demand directors behind the camera today?" They're trying to have it both ways--it's a power list measuring fame, heat, influence and at the same time, a qualitative measure of talent.
0

Spielberg_ap226

EW loves lists like this one, the top 25 active directors, designed to inspire healthy debate. Did they get it right? And what do they mean by active, exactly? "Most talented, in-demand directors behind the camera today?" They're trying to have it both ways--it's a power list measuring fame, heat, influence and at the same time, a qualitative measure of talent.


Sorry, while I get why these guys are listed, their order does not compute. Where's Oliver Stone? David Cronenberg? Oscar-nominated Gus Van Sant isn't even in the also-ran Top 50 list, where filmmakers who are female (Mira Nair and Mary Harron but no Jane Campion), past their prime (Woody Allen, Sidney Lumet), documentarians (Michael Moore) black (Spike Lee), or directors of animation (Miyazaki, Stanton, Bird) are relegated. Also not included are Werner Herzog, Paul Verhoeven, Peter Weir or Terrence Malick. Oy. For those who would ask for a woman to be on the Top 25 list, there simply aren't any in this league. I'd like to see Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) get there some day.

Here's the EW List with annotations from me:


1. Steven Spielberg


The greatest. Of course.


2. Peter Jackson


Nipping at Spielberg's heels. For the moment, they're collaborating, on TinTin. I've seen some footage of The Lovely Bones, due next fall, and it looks impressive indeed. DreamWorks produced.


3. Martin Scorsese


Absolutely.


4. Christopher Nolan


He's a bit high in this context--ahead of Clint Eastwood, who is way too far down.


5. Steven Soderbergh


Also too high. Much as I admire much of Soderbergh's output, he rushes through too many movies in too little time, and could shape many of them better before he shoots. Che was a potentially great movie buried inside a sprawling, shapeless mess. The Good German was entirely misconceived.


6. Ridley Scott


Solid studio craftsman with a wide skill set--VFX, action, comedy, drama--who could be even greater if he compromised less. Yet I respect his ability to churn out strong movies with cranky movie stars within the system--despite the occasional misstep like A Good Year.


7. Quentin Tarantino


Of course.


8. Michael Mann


He's still managing to make his own brilliant, crazy movies with studio millions, whether they're commercial or not. Usually not. (Which is fine, as long as he can get away with it.)


9. James Cameron


As good as it gets, even if he hasn't made a studio feature since Titanic. Avatar awaits.


10. Joel and Ethan Coen


Nonpareils.


11. Guillermo del Toro


Ditto.


12. David Fincher


Another director stuck inside a studio matrix, dependent on big budgets. Love to see him break free somehow.


13. Tim Burton


Amazing what he does, even within the studio system.


14. Judd Apatow


Effective, hugely influential, successful and prolific, but he's still listed too high.


15. Sam Raimi


This list is very EW, geared at younger males. Raimi is a great director and deserves all credit for his movies including the Spiderman films. But again, he's ahead of some great Hollywood filmmakers here.


16. Zack Snyder


300 was great and I can't wait to see Watchmen. Again, ahead of Boyle, Eastwood, Alomodovar and Howard? Please.


17. Darren Aronofsky


Yes, a talented, gifted director on the rise. Ahead of Clint Eastwood?


18. Danny Boyle


He's super gifted, but Slumdog is this year's news. He's ahead of many great directors with longer resumes and less heat.


19. Clint Eastwood


Why so shockingly low? He's the model for how to be a director, for chrissakes. Is he, maybe, too old for these juvenile-oriented EW fanboys?


20. Ron Howard


I like some of his least successful movies best. Like The Missing.


21. Ang Lee


An astonishingly versatile, sensitive filmmaker who can handle an American western, a British Jane Austen movie, or Asian epics. He can do anything.


22. Paul Thomas Anderson


Much as I laud his ambition, I feel that he hasn't made his best film yet. He's trying to navigate the studio/budget/indie waters. He's not a commercial director, so it's tough.


23. Paul Greengrass


He can make art and commerce at the same time, drives his studio crazy, but delivers.


24. Pedro Almodovar


Easily one of the greatest directors in the world.


25. Jon Favreau


One of the most promising helmers on the rise today. He can handle FX, comedy, actors, the whole ball of wax.

[Originally appeared on Variety.com]

This article is related to: Directors, Lists, David Cronenberg, Steven Spielberg, Steven Soderbergh, Ridley Scott, Quentin Tarantino, Peter Jackson, James Cameron, Oliver Stone, Kathryn Bigelow, Martin Scorsese, Paul Greengrass, Woody Allen, David Fincher, Chris Nolan, Guillermo Del Toro, Danny Boyle, Darren Aronofsky


E-Mail Updates








Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.