Month: November 2011 (Page 2 of 2)

Directors Who Can Do No Wrong #2: Fritz Lang

From an auteurist standpoint, the great directors have the power to transform bad, lackluster, or cliched material into great art. But even the mightiest directors have had a few duds. Robert Altman’s Quintet is ignored by almost everyone; stalwart Fordians do not look kindly upon Born Reckless; even the hardcore Hawksians consider Trent’s Last Case to be without merit. (There is also some disagreement regarding A Song is Born.) Hitchcock had Juno and the Paycock, and Michael Mann probably doesn’t like to think about The Keep.

It’s quite rare, then, that a filmmaker (or, occasionally, a filmmaking team) should pitch a no-hitter, from start to finish. Here’s a list of ten. For sanity’s sake we are grading on a slight curve: feature filmmakers only, their documentary work (if any) doesn’t count, nor do their shorts, TV episodes, and “etc” work.

The Big Heat (1953)

2. Fritz Lang

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1980s

Do the Right Thing (1989)

1989

TOP TIER:
Black Rain (Shohei Imamura)
Casualties of War (Brian De Palma)
The Church (Michele Soavi)
City of Sadness (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
Dekalog (Krzysztof Kieslowski)
Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee)
Elephant (Alan Clarke)
Homework (Abbas Kiarostami)
Street of No Return (Samuel Fuller)
Sweetie (Jane Campion)

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1990s

Bad ma ra khahad bord / The Wind Will Carry Us (1999)

1999

TOP TIER:
Beau travail (Claire Denis)
Being John Malkovich (Spike Jonze)
The Blair Witch Project (Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez)
Charisma (Kiyoshi Kurosawa)
Eyes Wide Shut (Stanley Kubrick)
Fight Club (David Fincher)
L’Humanite (Bruno Dumont)
The Insider (Michael Mann)
Magnolia (Paul Thomas Anderson)
The Matrix (Lana and Andy Wachowski)
M/other (Nobuhiro Suwa)
The Ninth Gate (Roman Polanski)
Rosetta (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)
A Run for Money (Reha Erdem)
Sisa (Mario O’Hara)
The Third Page (Zeki Demirkubuz)
Time Regained (Raul Ruiz)
Topsy-Turvy (Mike Leigh)
The Wind Will Carry Us (Abbas Kiarostami)

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2000s

2009

TOP TIER:
Around a Small Mountain (Jacques Rivette)
Blue Beard (Catherine Breillat)
A Christmas Carol (Robert Zemeckis)
Dogtooth (Yorgos Lanthimos)
Eccentricities of a Blond Hair Girl (Manoel de Oliveira)
Face (Tsai Ming-liang)
Fantastic Mr. Fox (Wes Anderson)
The Father of my Children (Mia Hansen-Løve)
Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino)
Mother (Bong Joon-ho)
Police, Adjective (Corneliu Porumboiu)
Public Enemies (Michael Mann)
A Serious Man (Joel and Ethan Coen)
Survival of the Dead (George A. Romero)
Vengeance (Johnnie To)
Wild Grass (Alain Resnais)

ALSO ESSENTIAL:
Accident (Soi Cheang)
Adventureland (Greg Mottola)
Alamar (Pedro Gonzalez-Rubio)
Alexander the Last (Joe Swanberg)
Amer (Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani)
The Army of Crime (Robert Guédiguian)
The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call – New Orleans (Werner Herzog)
Barking Water (Sterlin Harjo)
Bellamy (Claude Cabrol)
Between Two Worlds (Vimukthi Jayasundara)
Beeswax (Andrew Bujalski)
Black Dynamite (Scott Sanders)
La bocca del lupo (Pietro Marcello)
The Box (Richard Kelly)
Broken Embraces (Pedro Almodovar)
Butterflies Have No Memories (Lav Diaz)
Cafe Noir (Jung Sung-il)
Canary (Alejandro Adams)
Crank 2: High Voltage (Neveldine/Taylor)
The Donation (Bernard Emond)
Duplicity (Tony Gilroy)
Eighteen (Jang Kun-jae)
Everyone Else (Maren Ade)
The Exploding Girl (Bradley Rust Gray)
Extract (Mike Judge)
Funny People (Judd Apatow)
The Girlfriend Experience (Steven Soderbergh)
Hadewijch (Bruno Dumont)
Halloween II (Rob Zombie)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (David Yates)
Huacho (Alejandro Fernández Almendras)
The Human Centipede: First Sequence (Tom Six)
Humpday (Lynn Shelton)
I Am Love (Luca Guadagnino)
Imburnal (Sherad Anthony Sanchez)
Impolex (Alex Ross Perry)
The Informant! (Steven Soderbergh)
The International (Tom Tykwer)
Invictus (Clint Eatwood)
Karaoke (Chris Chong Chan Fui)
Knowing (Alex Proyas)
Life During Wartime (Todd Solondz)
Like You Know it All (Hong Sang-soo)
The Limits of Control (Jim Jarmusch)
Lourdes (Jessica Hausner)
My Dear Enemy (Lee Yoon-ki)
My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done (Werner Herzog)
Ne change rien (Pedro Costa)
Nymph (Pen-ek Ratanaruang)
Oxhide II (Liu Jiayin)
A Perfect Getaway (David Twohy)
Phoebe in Wonderland (Daniel Barnz)
Polytechnique (Denis Villeneuve)
The Portugeuse Nun (Eugene Green)
The Promotion (Steve Conrad)
The Road (John Hillcoat)
Le roi de l’évasion (Alain Guiraudie)
A Room and a Half (Andrey Khrzhanovskiy)
Samson and Delilah (Warwick Thornton)
The Search (Pema Tseden)
She, a Chinese (Xiaolu Guo)
The Soloist (Joe Wright)
Soul Kitchen (Fatih Akin)
Splice (Vincenzo Natali)
Spring Fever (Lou Ye)
The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (Tony Scott)
Thirst (Park Chan-wook)
Tony Manero (Pablo Larrain)
Trash Humpers (Harmony Korine)
Vincere (Marco Bellocchio)
Where the Wild Things Are (Spike Jonze)
Whip It (Drew Barrymore)
White Material (Claire Denis)
The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke)
The White Meadows (Mohammad Rasoulof)
World’s Greatest Dad (Bobcat Goldthwait)

OF INTEREST:
Antichrist (Lars Von Trier)
Bright Star (Jane Campion)
Valhalla Rising (Nicolas Winding Refn)
Whatever Works (Woody Allen)

POSSIBLY OF INTEREST:
Confessions of a Shopaholic (P.J. Hogan)
The Final Destination (David R. Ellis)
Gamer (Neveldine/Taylor)
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (Terry Gilliam)
Land of the Lost (Brad Silberling)
Surrogates (Jonathan Mostow)
Year One (Harold Ramis)

2008

TOP TIER:
Changeling (Clint Eastwood)
A Christmas Tale (Arnaud Desplechin)
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (David Fincher)
Gran Torino (Clint Eastwood)
The Headless Woman (Lucrecia Martel)
Hunger (Steve McQueen)
Julia (Erick Zonca)
Lorna’s Silence (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)
Milk (Gus Van Sant)
Night and Day (Hong Sang-soo)
Shirin (Abbas Kiarostami)
Speed Racer (Lana and Andy Wachowski)
Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman)
Tokyo Sonata (Kiyoshi Kurosawa)
Two Lovers (James Gray)

ALSO ESSENTIAL:
24 City (Jia Zhang-Ke)
35 Shots of Rum (Claire Denis)
Afterschool (Antonio Campos)
All Around Us (Ryosuke Hashiguchi)
Appaloosa (Ed Harris)
Around the Bay (Alejandro Adams)
Ballast (Lance Hammer)
Be Kind Rewind (Michel Gondry)
Birdsong (Albert Serra)
The Brothers Bloom (Rian Johnson)
The Chaser (Na Hong-jin)
Che (Steven Soderbergh)
Dawn of the World (Abbas Fahdel)
Death Race (Paul W.S. Anderson)
Falling (Richard Dutcher)
Four Nights With Anna (Jerzy Skolimowski)
Frontier of Dawn (Philippe Garrel)
Gomorrah (Matteo Garone)
Happy-Go-Lucky (Mike Leigh)
Home (Ursula Meier)
I’m Gonna Explode (Gerardo Naranjo)
In Bruges (Martin McDonagh)
Jerichow (Christian Petzold)Un lac (Philippe Grandrieux)
Lake Tahoe (Fernando Eimbcke)
Leatherheads (George Clooney)
Liverpool (Lisandro Alonso)
Love Exposure (Sion Sono)
Me and Orson Welles (Richard Linklater)
Melancholia (Lav Diaz)
Mid-August Lunch (Gianni Di Gregorio)
Nights and Weekends (Joe Swanberg and Greta Gerwig)
Nucingen House (Raul Ruiz)
Of Time and the City (Terence Davies)
Our Beloved Month of August (Miguel Gomes)
Pontypool (Bruce McDonald)
Redbelt (David Mamet)
Sita Sings the Blues (Nina Paley)
The Sky Crawlers (Mamoru Oshii)
Sparrow (Johnnie To)
Stella (Sylvia Verheyde)
The Strangers (Bryan Bertino)
Sugar (Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck)
Summer Hours (Olivier Assayas)
Three Monkeys (Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Woody Allen)
A Week Alone (Celina Murga)
Wendy and Lucy (Kelly Reichardt)
Years When I Was a Child Outside (John Torres)

OF INTEREST
Body of Lies (Ridley Scott)
Forgetting Sarah Marshall (Nicholas Stoller)
The Happening (M. Night Shyamalan)
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Steven Spielberg)
Role Models (David Wain)

POSSIBLY OF INTEREST
Cadillac Records (Darnell Martin)
City of Ember (Gil Kenan)
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (Peter Sollett)

2007

TOP TIER:
Beowulf (Robert Zemeckis)
The Darjeeling Limited (Wes Anderson)
Death Proof (Quentin Tarantino)
Diary of the Dead (George A. Romero)
The Duchess of Langeais (Jacques Rivette)
Flight of the Red Balloon (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
I’m Not There (Todd Haynes)
The Last Mistress (Catherine Breillat)
Michael Clayton (Tony Gilroy)
My Winnipeg (Guy Maddin)
No Country for Old Men (Joel and Ethan Coen)
Paranoid Park (Gus Van Sant)
Romance of Astrea and Celadon (Eric Rohmer)
There Will be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson)
The Tracey Fragments (Bruce McDonald)
We Own the Night (James Gray)
Zodiac (David Fincher)

ALSO ESSENTIAL:
28 Weeks Later (Juan Carlos Fresnadillo)
Afternoon (Angela Schanelec)
Alexandra (Alexander Sokurov)
Altar (Rico Ilarde)
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominik)
Before I Forget (Jacques Nolot)
Charlie Wilson’s War (Mike Nichols)
Chouga (Darezhan Omirbayev)
Crashing (Gary Walkow)
Death in the Land of Encantos (Lav Diaz)
Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg)
The Edge of Heaven (Fatih Akın)
Fados (Carlos Saura)
La France (Serge Bozon)
Frownland (Ronald Bronstein)
A Girl Cut in Two (Claude Chabrol)
Go Go Tales (Abel Ferrara)
Gone Baby Gone (Ben Affleck)
Halloween (Rob Zombie)
Happiness (Hur Jin-ho)
The Heartbreak Kid (Bobby and Peter Farrelly)
Hot Fuzz (Edgar Wright)
Hotel Chevalier (Wes Anderson)
Import Export (Ulrich Seidl)
In the City of Sylvia (José Luis Guerín)
Lust, Caution (Ang Lee)
The Man from London (Béla Tarr)
Margot at the Wedding (Noah Baumbach)
The Mist (Frank Darabont)
My Blueberry Nights (Wong Kar-wai)
Quiet City (Aaron Katz)
Redacted (Brian De Palma)
The Secret of the Grain (Abdellatif Kechiche)
Secret Sunshine (Lee Chang-dong)
Smiley Face (Gregg Araki)
Stardust (Matthew Vaughn)
The Sun Also Rises (Jiang Wen)
Team Picture (Kentucker Audley)
Tout est pardonne (Mia Hansen-Løve)
Useless (Jia Zhang-ke)
The Wackness (Jonathan Levine)
Waitress (Adrienne Shelly)
The Witnesses (André Téchiné)
Wolfsbergen (Nanouk Leopold)
You, The Living (Roy Andersson)

OF INTEREST:
Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (Sidney Lumet)
Southland Tales (Richard Kelly)
Sunshine (Danny Boyle)

POSSIBLY OF INTEREST:
5 Centimeters per Second (Makoto Shinkai)

2006

TOP TIER:
12:08 East of Bucharest (Corneliu Porumboiu)
Black Book (Paul Verhoeven)
Colossal Youth (Pedro Costa)
Exiled (Johnnie To)
Flags of Our Fathers (Clint Eastwood)
The Host (Bong Joon-ho)
Inland Empire (David Lynch)
Lady Chatterley (Pascale Ferran)
Letters from Iwo Jima (Clint Eastwood)
Miami Vice (Michael Mann)
The Prestige (Christopher Nolan)
A Scanner Darkly (Richard Linklater)
Still Life (Jia Zhang-Ke)
Syndromes and a Century (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
Todo todo teros (John Torres)
Woman on the Beach (Hong Sang-soo)

ALSO ESSENTIAL:
16 Blocks (Richard Donner)
Bamako (Abderrahmane Sissako)
Big Bang Love, Juvenile A (Takashi Miike)
Bled Number One (Rabah Ameur-Zaïmeche)
The Boss of It All (Lars Von Trier)
Brand Upon the Brain! (Guy Maddin)
The Break-Up (Peyton Reed)
Broken Trail (Walter Hill)
Bug (William Friedkin)
A Comedy of Power (Claude Chabrol)
Climates (Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
Crank (Neveldine/Taylor)
Day Night Day Night (Julia Loktev)
Deja Vu (Tony Scott)
Distant (Zeki Demirkubuz)
Flandres (Bruno Dumont)
The Fountain (Darren Aronofsky)
The Good Shepherd (Robert De Niro)
Hamilton (Matthew Porterfield)
Heremias, Book One: The Legend of the Lizard Princess (Lav Diaz)
Idiocracy (Mike Judge)
I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone (Tsai Ming-liang)
I’m a Cyborg But That’s Okay (Park Chan-wook)
Klimt (Raul Ruiz)
Longing (Valeska Grisebach)
Mukhsin (Yasmin Ahmad)
Offside (Jafar Panahi)
Old Joy (Kelly Reichardt)
Opera Jawa (Garin Nugroho)
Paprika (Satoshi Kon)
A Prairie Home Companion (Robert Altman)
Private Fears in Public Places (Alain Resnais)
Rain Dogs (Ho Yuhang)
Rescue Dawn (Werner Herzog)
The Science of Sleep (Michel Gondry)
Soul Kitchen (Fatih Akın)
The Teacher (Brillante Mendoza)
This Is England (Shane Meadows)
When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (Spike Lee)
You Called Me (Sky Hirschkron)

OF INTEREST:
Find Me Guilty (Sidney Lumet)
The Good German (Steven Soderbergh)

POSSIBLY OF INTEREST:
Away From Her (Sarah Polley)
Half Nelson (Ryan Fleck)
Once (John Carney)
The Painted Veil (John Curran)
Time (Kim Ki-duk)

2005

TOP TIER:
Brick (Rian Johnson)
Caché (Michael Haneke)
The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (Cristi Puiu)
Election (Johnnie To)
L’enfant (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)
Good Night, and Good Luck. (George Clooney)
A History of Violence (David Cronenberg)
Indio Nacional (Raya Martin)
Land of the Dead (George A. Romero)
Munich (Steven Spielberg)
The New World (Terrence Malick)
Princess Raccoon (Seijun Suzuki)
Regular Lovers (Philippe Garrel)
The Sun (Alexander Sokurov)
Tale of Cinema (Hong Sang-soo)
Three Times (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
War of the Worlds (Steven Spielberg)
The Wayward Cloud (Tsai Ming-liang)

ALSO ESSENTIAL:
The Beat that My Heart Skipped (Jacques Audiard)
Block Party (Michel Gondry)
The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros (Auraeus Solito)
Broken Flowers (Jim Jarmusch)
C.R.A.Z.Y. (Jean-Marc Vallée)
The Devil’s Rejects (Rob Zombie)
Domino (Tony Scott)
Down in the Valley (David Jacobson)
The Forsaken Land (Vimukthi Jayasundara)
Forty Shades of Blue (Ira Sachs)
Gabrielle (Patrice Chéreau)
Grain in Ear (Zhang Lü)
Johanna (Kornel Mundruczo)
Last Days (Gus Van Sant)
Linda Linda Linda (Nobuhiro Yamashita)
Loft (Kiyoshi Kurosawa)
Magic Mirror (Manoel de Oliveira)
Manderlay (Lars Von Trier)
Me and You and Everyone We Know (Miranda July)
Mutual Appreciation (Andrew Bujalski)
Mysterious Skin (Gregg Araki)
North Diversion Road (Dennis Marasigan)
Obreras saliendo de la fábrica (Jose Luis Torres Leiva)
Oxhide (Liu Jiayin)
Le petit lieutenant (Xavier Beauvois)
Pride & Prejudice (Joe Wright)
The Promise (Chen Kaige)
The Proposition (John Hillcoat)
The Puffy Chair (Jay Duplass)
Sahara (Breck Eisner)
Sangre (Amat Escalante)
Serenity (Joss Whedon)
Takeshis’ (Takeshi Kitano)
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (Tommy Lee Jones)
Wassup Rockers (Larry Clark)
Who’s Camus Anyway (Mitsuo Yanagimachi)
Wolf Creek (Greg McLean)

OF INTEREST:
Edmond (Stuart Gordon)

POSSIBLY OF INTEREST:
The Great Raid (John Dahl)
Room (Kyle Henry)
A Perfect Day (Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige)
Shopgirl (Anand Tucker)

2004

TOP TIER:
2046 (Wong Kar-wai)
Before Sunset (Richard Linklater)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry)
Evolution of a Filipino Family (Lav Diaz)
Head-On (Fatih Akın)
Kill Bill, Vol. 2 (Quentin Tarantino)
Kings and Queen (Arnaud Desplechin)
Million Dollar Baby (Clint Eastwood)
Notre musique (Jean-Luc Godard)
Primer (Shane Carruth)
Star Spangled to Death (Ken Jacobs)
Triple Agent (Eric Rohmer)
Tropical Malady (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
Vera Drake (Mike Leigh)
Woman is the Future of Man (Hong Sang-soo)
The World (Jia Zhang-Ke)

ALSO ESSENTIAL:
All the Ships at Sea (Dan Sallitt)
Ana and the Others (Celina Murga)
Birth (Jonathan Glazer)
Breaking News (Johnnie To)
The Bridesmaid (Claude Chabrol)
The Brown Bunny (Vincent Gallo)
Dead Man’s Shoes (Shane Meadows)
The Garden of Earthly Delights (Lech Majewski)
The Gate of the Sun (Yousry Nasrallah)
Head in the Clouds (John Duigan)
The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things (Asia Argento)
I Heart Huckabees (David O. Russell)
The Holy Girl (Lucrecia Martel)
Innocence: Ghost in the Shell 2 (Mamoru Oshii)
Intimate Strangers (Patrice Leconte)
The Intruder (Claire Denis)
I, Robot (Alex Proyas)
Keane (Lodge Kerrigan)
Kung Fu Hustle (Stephen Chow)
The Ladykillers (Joel and Ethan Coen)
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (Wes Anderson)
Look at Me (Agnes Jaoui)
The Manchurian Candidate (Jonathan Demme)
Moolaadé (Ousmane Sembene)
Mouse Heaven (Kenneth Anger)
Nobody Knows (Hirokazu Koreeda)
Or (Mon Tresor) (Keren Yedaya)
Palindromes (Todd Solondz)
Red Lights (Cedric Kahn)
Sombra Dolorosa (Guy Maddin)
Throwdown (Johnnie To)
Tony Takitani (Jun Ichikawa)
The Village (M. Night Shyamalan)
Waiting (Sky Hirschkron)

OF INTEREST:
AVP: Alien vs. Predator (Paul W.S. Anderson)
Man on Fire (Tony Scott)
Suspect Zero (E. Elias Merhige)
Tomorrow We Move (Chantal Akerman)

POSSIBLY OF INTEREST:
3-iron (Kim Ki-duk)
Mind Game (Masaaki Yuasa)
We Don’t Live Here Anymore (John Curran)

2003

TOP TIER:
Bright Future (Kiyoshi Kurosawa)
Café Lumiere (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
The Company (Robert Altman)
The Corporation (Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott)
Crimson Gold (Jafar Panahi)
Dogville (Lars Von Trier)
Elephant (Gus Van Sant)
Father and Son (Alexander Sokurov)
Goodbye, Dragon Inn (Tsai Ming-liang)
Kill Bill, Vol. 1 (Quentin Tarantino)
Memories of Murder (Bong Joon-ho)
Not on the Lips (Alain Resnais)
Raja (Jacques Doillon)
The Story of Marie and Julien (Jacques Rivette)
A Talking Picture (Manoel de Oliveira)

ALSO ESSENTIAL:
Basic (John McTiernan)
The Best of Youth (Marco Tullio Giordana)
Cowards Bend the Knee (Guy Maddin)
Doppelganger (Kiyoshi Kurosawa)
Down With Love (Peyton Reed)
The Far Side of the Moon (Robert Lepage)
The Forest for the Trees (Maren Ade)
The Flower of Evil (Claude Chabrol)
Gozu (Takashi Miike)
Hulk (Ang Lee)
The Hunted (William Friedkin)
I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead (Mike Hodges)
I’m Not Scared (Gabriele Salvatores)
Jesus, You Know (Ulrich Seidl)
Kitchen Stories (Bent Hamer)
Last Life in the Universe (Pen-Ek Ratanaruang)
Los Angeles Plays Itself (Thom Andersen)
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (Peter Weir)
The Matrix Reloaded (Lana and Andy Wachowski)
The Matrix Revolutions (Lana and Andy Wachowski)
No Rest for the Brave (Alain Guiraudie)
Oldboy (Park Chan-wook)
Open Range (Kevin Costner)
Peter Pan (P.J. Hogan)
Playing ‘In the Company of Men’ (Arnaud Desplechin)
The Return (Andrei Zvyagintsev)
S-21 (Rithy Panh)
The Saddest Music in the World (Guy Maddin)
Shara (Naomi Kawase)
Son frère (Patrice Chereau)
Stuck on You (Bobby and Peter Farrelly)
Swimming Pool (François Ozon)
A Tale of Two Sisters (Kim Ji-woon)
Tarnation (Jonathan Caouette)
Timeline (Richard Donner)
Toutes ces belle promesses (Jean-Paul Civeyrac)
Twentynine Palms (Bruno Dumont)
Untold Scandal (Lee Je-yong)
Vai e Vem (João César Monteiro)
Vibrator (Ryuichi Hiroki)
Waiting for the Clouds (Yesim Ustaoglu)
West of the Tracks (Wang Bing)
Young Adam (David Mackenzie)
Zatoichi (Takeshi Kitano)
Zero Day (Ben Coccio)

OF INTEREST:
Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (Shane Black)

POSSIBLY OF INTEREST:
Phone Booth (Joel Schumacher)
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring (Kim Ki-duk)
Voices of a Distant Star (Makoto Shinkai and Steven Foster)

2002

TOP TIER:
Blissfully Yours (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
Decasia (Bill Morrison)
Distant (Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
Far From Heaven (Todd Haynes)
Femme Fatale (Brian De Palma)
Ken Park (Larry Clark)
Oasis (Lee Chang-dong)
Punch-Drunk Love (Paul Thomas Anderson)
Russian Ark (Alexander Sokurov)
The Son (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)
Spider (David Cronenberg)
Ten (Abbas Kiarostami)
Turning Gate (Hong Sang-soo)
The Uncertainty Principle (Manoel de Oliveira)

ALSO ESSENTIAL:
8 Women (Francois Ozon)
All or Nothing (Mike Leigh)
Blood Work (Clint Eastwood)
Bloody Sunday (Paul Greengrass)
Catch Me If You Can (Steven Spielberg)
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (George Clooney)
demonlover (Olivier Assayas)
Devdas (Sanjay Leela Bhansali)
Dirty Pretty Things (Stephen Frears)
Dolls (Takeshi Kitano)
Dracula: Pages from a Virgin’s Diary (Guy Maddin)
Friday Night (Claire Denis)
Funny Ha Ha (Andrew Bujalski)
In My Skin (Marina de Van)
Jackass the Movie (Jeff Tremaine)
Japon (Carlos Reygadas)
Jealousy is My Middle Name (Park Chan-ok)
Lilya 4-ever (Lukas Moodysson)
Morvern Callar (Lynne Ramsay)
The Mothman Prophecies (Mark Pellington)
My Mother’s Smile (Marco Bellocchio)
Panic Room (David Fincher)
Porn Theater (Jacques Nolot)
Reflections of Evil (Damon Packard)
Resident Evil (Paul W.S. Anderson)
The Ring (Gore Verbinski)
Roger Dodger (Dylan Kidd)
The Rules of Attraction (Roger Avary)
The Secret Lives of Dentists (Alan Rudolph)
Secret Things (Jean-Claude Brisseau)
Secretary (Steven Shainberg)
Sex is Comedy (Catherine Breillat)
Springtime in a Small Town (Tian Zhuangzhuang)
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (Park Chan-wook)
Together (Chen Kaige)
The Tracker (Rolf de Heer)
The Truth About Charlie (Jonathan Demme)

OF INTEREST:
Below (David Twohy)
Changing Lanes (Roger Michel)
K-19: The Widowmaker (Kathryn Bigelow)
May (Lucky McKee)
Twilight Samurai (Yôji Yamada)

POSSIBLY OF INTEREST:
The Good Thief (Neil Jordan)
Killing Me Softly (Chen Kaige)
The Magdalene Sisters (Peter Mullan)
The Quiet American (Philip Noyce)
Raising Victor Vargas (Peter Sollett)

2001

TOP TIER:
A.I. Artificial Intelligence (Steven Spielberg)
Ali (Michael Mann)
Batang West Side (Lav Diaz)
Bully (Larry Clark)
La cienega (Lucrecia Martel)
Éloge de l’amour (Jean-Luc Godard)
Faat Kiné (Ousmane Sembène)
Fat Girl (Catherine Breillat)
I’m Going Home (Manoel de Oliveira)
The Jesus Trilogy and Coda (Stan Brakhage)
The Lady and the Duke (Eric Rohmer)
Late Marriage (Dover Kosashvili)
The Man Who Wasn’t There (Joel and Ethan Coen)
Millennium Mambo (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
Mulholland Dr. (David Lynch)
Pistol Opera (Seijun Suzuki)
Pulse (Kiyoshi Kurosawa)
‘R Xmas (Abel Ferrara)
The Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson)
Waking Life (Richard Linklater)
What Time Is It There? (Tsai Ming-liang)

ALSO ESSENTIAL:
All About Lily Chou-Chou (Shunji Iwai)
Atanarjuat (Zacharias Kunuk)
Be My Star (Valeska Grisebach)
The Believer (Henry Bean)
Brief Crossing (Catherine Breillat)
The Cat’s Meow (Peter Bogdanovich)
The Devil’s Backbone (Guillermo del Toro)
Fate (Zeki Demirkubuz)
Freddie Got Fingered (Tom Green)
Ghosts of Mars (John Carpenter)
Harmful Insect (Akihiko Shiota)
Hedwig and the Angry Inch (John Cameron Mitchell)
Heist (David Mamet)
His Secret Life (Ferzan Özpetek)
Ichi the Killer (Takashi Miike)
Intacto (Juan Carlos Fresnadillo)
Intimacy (Patrice Chéreau)
Kandahar (Mohsen Makhmalbaf)
Last Orders (Fred Schepisi)
The Life of Rosa (Chito Rono)
Metropolis (Rintaro)
Millennium Actress (Satoshi Kon)
No Such Thing (Hal Hartley)
Paris: XY (Zeka Laplaine)
Read My Lips (Jacques Audiard)
Roberto Succo (Cedric Kahn)
Shallow Hal (Bobby and Peter Farrelly)
Shaolin Soccer (Stephen Chow)
Tape (Richard Linklater)
Time Out (Laurent Cantet)
The Triumph of Love (Clare Peploe)
Trouble Every Day (Claire Denis)
Va savoir (Jacques Rivette)
Visitor Q (Takashi Miike)
Wet Hot American Summer (David Wain)
Wild Innocence (Philippe Garrel)
Savage Innocence (Philippe Garrel)
Zoolander (Ben Stiller)

OF INTEREST:
Spy Game (Tony Scott)

POSSIBLY OF INTEREST:
Bad Guy (Kim Ki-duk)
Cat Soup (Masaaki Yuasa)

2000

TOP TIER:
As I Was Moving Ahead Occasionally I Saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty (Jonas Mekas)
Cast Away (Robert Zemeckis)
The Circle (Jafar Panahi)
La commune (Paris, 1871) (Peter Watkins)
Demons (Mario O’Hara)
Devils on the Doorstep (Jiang Wen)
Esther Kahn (Arnaud Desplechin)
Eureka (Shinji Aoyama)
Hamlet (Michael Almereyda)
The Heart of the World (Guy Maddin)
The House of Mirth (Terence Davies)
In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-wai)
In Vanda’s Room (Pedro Costa)
O Brother, Where Art Thou? (Joel and Ethan Coen)
Peppermint Candy (Lee Chang-dong)
Platform (Jia Zhang-Ke)
Werckmeister Harmonies (Béla Tarr)
Yi Yi (Edward Yang)

ALSO ESSENTIAL:
American Psycho (Mary Harron)
Bamboozled (Spike Lee)
Beat (Gary Walkow)
Blackboards (Samira Makhmalbaf)
Brother (Takeshi Kitano)
Bruiser (George A. Romero)
La captive (Chantal Akerman)
Catastrophe (David Mamet)
Chopper (Andrew Dominik)
The Emperor’s New Groove (Mark Dindal)
Faithless (Liv Ullman)
The Gleaners & I (Agnes Varda)
ivansxtc. (Bernard Rose)
Merci pour le chocolat (Claude Chabrol)
Mission to Mars (Brian De Palma)
Muri Romani (Jon Jost)
Mysterious Object at Noon (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
Paradise Express (Tikoy Aguiluz)
Return to Me (Bonnie Hunt)
Pitch Black (David Twohy)
Rules of Engagement (William Friedkin)
Les Savates de Bon Dieu (Jean-Claude Brisseau)
Scarlet Diva (Asia Argento)
Séance (Kiyoshi Kurosawa)
Sexy Beast (Jonathan Glazer)
Space Cowboys (Clint Eastwood)
Suzhou River (Lou Ye)
The Taste of Others (Agnes Jaoui)
Third World Hero (Mike De Leon)
Time and Tide (Tsui Hark)
Together (Lukas Moodysson)
Under the Sand (Francois Ozon)
Urbania (Jon Shear)
Virgin Stripped Bare by her Bachelors (Hong Sang-soo)
The Way of the Gun (Christopher McQuarrie)
Wonder Boys (Curtis Hanson)
The Yards (James Gray)

OF INTEREST:
George Washington (David Gordon Green)
High Fidelity (Stephen Frears)

POSSIBLY OF INTEREST:
Gangster No. 1 (Paul McGuigan)
Ginger Snaps (John Fawcett)
Loser (Amy Heckerling)
The Weight of Water (Kathryn Bigelow)

Directors Who Can Do No Wrong #3: Stanley Kubrick

From an auteurist standpoint, the great directors have the power to transform bad, lackluster, or cliched material into great art. But even the mightiest directors have had a few duds. Robert Altman’s Quintet is ignored by almost everyone; stalwart Fordians do not look kindly upon Born Reckless; even the hardcore Hawksians consider Trent’s Last Case to be without merit. (There is also some disagreement regarding A Song is Born.) Hitchcock had Juno and the Paycock, and Michael Mann probably doesn’t like to think about The Keep.

It’s quite rare, then, that a filmmaker (or, occasionally, a filmmaking team) should pitch a no-hitter, from start to finish. Here’s a list of ten. For sanity’s sake we are grading on a slight curve: feature filmmakers only, their documentary work (if any) doesn’t count, nor do their shorts, TV episodes, and “etc” work.

3. Stanley Kubrick

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