Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Best 2006 Auteurs

Didn't really intend to triple your pleasure with three straight director posts but that looks like how it's panning out. In about six hours the Directors Guild will announce their picks for best of the year and we'll have to discuss that too.

But before that: my top five. Given my exclamatory reaction upon my first screening of The Fountain, you probably knew that Darren Aronofsky would make the shortlist at the 7th annual FiLM BiTCH Awards and he does. It's his second nomination. He won the bronze in 2001 for Requiem for a Dream. But who joins him? Check it out.

[the top ten films of the year will be posted tonight]


Anonymous said...

I've gotta ask - do you believe if Marie-Antoniette was directed by a guy it would've been better received, because at this point it's my least favourite film of the year.

Glenn Dunks said...

Ooh! So very interesting. I truly didn't expect Scorese to show up there. Not my cuppa tea, but oh well.

Gotta say: "Proves for a third time that she's got the skills and a fresh cinematic voice. So, where's the respect? Oh right --ovaries."


Over at Hollywood Elsewhere I read a discouraging thing about Nancy Meyers. Say what you will about the quality of her films, but there were people who were actually pissed off that Meyers goes out of her way to make movies that (seem to) appeal exclusively to women. As if men are allowed to do it, but if a woman does she's seen as being self-indulgent, frivilous (this one especially for Coppola) and wading in waters that are too deep.


Anyway. Great list. I really need to see The Fountain, like, right now. If only they'd release it...

Anonymous said...

I forced myself to watch "Marie Antoinette again and it improved quite unexpectedly. I must've been in a bad mood and too sceptical while watching it for the first time. And alhough I didn't fall in love with it, I eventually understood what Coppola had wanted to show us.
I haven't seen "The Fountain" yet, but I like the other four. I'd include Paul Greengrass but I think I understand your attitude to "United 93", it might be in fact too early to make such films.
Can't wait to see more awards.

Sid said...

About something that Arkaan said...

Well, if Marie Antoinette wasn't directed by a woman, it wouldn't be the same film right?

I think Sofia brings a unique feminine perspective to the film AND adds her personal themes -- young girl trapped in her world. So there.

In any case, Nat this is a fab list. I suspect I'll have at least four of the same directors on my ballot.

Glenn Dunks said...

Yeah, if it were directed by a man it wouldn't be anywhere near the same film that it is with Coppola.

But if an American male director made a film about a French king. Had action scenes and set it to a Rolling Stones/Bob Dylan soundtrack I'm sure many a critic would hail it as a wildly entertaining blockbuster that takes a brilliant and thrilling new twist to the stuffy old biopic genre.


Glenn Dunks said...

Also: So happy to see you bumped Children of Men to an A-. Same grade as me.

Jason Adams said...

My top five movies have done some shifting as of late, but where they're standing at the moment corresponds with my director shortlist:

1 - Cuarón
2 - del Toro
3 - Aronofsky
4 - Neil Marshall (The Descent)
5 - Sophia Coppola

John Cameron Mitchell could, on a different day, take Coppola's spot, but I think the direction is more important/integral to the movie with Marie Antoinette than with Shortbus.

And I need to see Volver again; on first viewing it didn't really excite me, but I've found myself thinking about it a lot since then.

Anonymous said...

The (traditional) Film Bitch Awards categories have finally begun!!! The excitement behind Nat’s nominees are on par with Oscar’s for me because, well, I know Nat has actually seen all the films he’s picking (unlike *cough* Oscar voters *cough*), we get detailed explanations for his choices and of course, it’s just f-cking fascinating to see the choices of someone with as much passion and cinematic knowledge at Nathaniel. This is what I thought of his selections for 2007’s finest achievements in directing:

(The no-brainer spots)

Volver- Pedro is a god. NOTE: Since Best Actress is SO competitive this year, I’m hoping this nod will represent the film’s great acting. Cruz is wonderful… but you can so tell the best parts of her performance are 95% Pedro’s work. (DON’T SNUB WINSLET)

The Departed- few. Part of me said, no way would Nathaniel snub Scorsese; the man behind the best (and most celebrated) directing achievement of year… put another part said, well Mr. Film Bitch didn’t go- gaga for The Departed. But anyway, he made it. I’m ecstatic. I’m still crossing my fingers that The Departed somehow makes its way into Nathaniel’s Best Picture lineup- god knows it should be! In terms of directing, acting, writing and overall effect, (and in such a weak year) it’s absurd to say this isn’t one the years top 5 films.

(The divisive visions)
The Fountain- Expected and well deserved. Narrative issues aside, it’s a glorious, engaging vision.

Marie Antoinette- Taking into account my long-term Dunst animosity, I was shocked at how much a thoroughly enjoyed this film. Granted the rich, mouthwatering costumes and set decoration helped, but I think most of it was Coppola’s doing.

Children of Men- Fully deserving but I was expecting to see Shortbus’s John Cameron Mitchell pop up here. But no complaints.


- Todd Field’s grand sophomore effort (Little Children) warranted him a FB nod in my book… or a least a freakin runner- up mention. But since Nat gave a shout out to Greengrass / “United 93”, I’ll let it go. Awesome choices overall.

Anonymous said...

Off-topic, but Nate, have you seen Julianne in Vertical Hour yet? Can't remember seeing you post about it...


Javier Aldabalde said...

The loveliest lineup out there, except I don't think Scorsese was doing anything at all in "The Departed", nothing of value, anyway.

Anonymous said...

Why haven't anyone bothered yet to predict FILM BiTCH Awards?
Since "Best Picture" isn't very difficult to predict /well, there's a list/, I'll try to predict other categories.
Clive Owen "Children of Men"
Forest Whitaker "Last King of Scotland"
Sacha Baron Cohen "Borat"
Ryan Gosling "Half Nelson"
Patrick Wilson "Little children" /I don't know what to think about DiCaprio/
Judi Dench "Notes on a Scandal"
Meryl Streep "The Devil Wears Prada" /well, she might be thrown to supporting, but let's stay with this/
Kate Winslet "Little children"
And two of these, in order of probability: Penelope Cruz "Volver", Kirsten Dunst "Marie Antoinette", Sook-Yin Lee "Shortbus", Helen Mirren "The Queen".
Emily Blunt "The Devil Wears Prada" /I think she'll win/
Jennifer Hudson "Dreamgirls"
Catherine O'Hara "For your Consideration"
Adriana Barazza "Babel"
Abigail Breslin "Little Miss Sunshine"
In fact I have no idea, but let's say:
Justin Bond "Shortbus"
Mark Wahlberg "The Departed"
Alan Arkin "Little Miss Sunshine"
Steve Carell "Little Miss Sunshine"
And because of the love for the devil - Stanley Tucci "The Devil Wears Prada"
"Little Miss Sunshine"
"Duck Season"
"The Fountain"
??? "Pan's Labyrinth"...well, I've no idea again.
"Children of Men"
"Little children"
"The Departed"
"Marie Antoinette"
"The Devil Wears Prada"

russtifer said...

Totally respectable, rave-able nominee choices...especially glad to see Cuaron made the ballot.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I knew I forgot something :D: "Volver" for original screenplay instead "Pan's Labyrinth, of course.

Anonymous said...

Winslet (that Madame Bovary scene…)
Dern OR Cruz OR Mol

Gosling OR Watanabe

Streep OR Maura

Honsou (Just Kidding)
Murphy OR Haley
(I know he’s gonna be a bitch and snub Haley.)
(I know he’s gonna be an ever bigger bitch and snub Nicholson.)

The Departed
The Devil Wears Prada
Little Children
Notes on a Scandal
Marie Antoinette OR Children of Men

Duck Season
Little Miss Sunshine
For Your Consideration OR Pan’s Labyrinth

Children of Men
Curse of the Golden Flower
Marie Antoinette
The Painted Veil OR Letters from Iwo Jima

The Fountain
The Painted Veil
Notes on a Scandal OR Little Children

Anonymous said...

shit... AND Jackman in place of Gosling.

Anonymous said...

All I'm going to say is I hope you're line up matches the Oscars. Will it? No. But you have better taste than they do.

By the way, PLEASE nominate Hugh Jackman. Thanks.

Michael Parsons said...

Living in London I dn't get to see all the films, so do my rental list by Nats FB nominations (thanks for Urbania, Yossi and Jager and Raising Victor Vargas), and this is a worth line up. I have to say re: United 93. It is never too soon to show bravery in the face of adversity. There is no such thing as too soon in my book when either educating or commending bravery. This is especially true when realising that An Inconvenient Truth may be too late.

Keep up the great work Nat....thank you for expanding my movie library.

douglas said...

my top five directs are pretty much the same as his


cant update it yet but trying...

Anonymous said...

Predicting the Best Score for Nathaniel:


... and the fourth and fifth could be, depending on your definition of original score...

CHILDREN OF MEN (there's some cutting and pasting of Tavener, and some clever pop needle-drops...)
BABEL (Ryuchi Sakamoto and some pre-existing compositions are owed some credit for this score's many awards)
THE DEPARTED (Howard Shore's elegant tangoes kind of get crushed under the needle-drops)

Anonymous said...

Sid: I agree - Marie-Antoinette would've been a different film directed by a man (or directed by anyone else, for that matter). My question surrounds Nathaniel's comment; it seems misplaced (even if the underlying assumption is true).

Kamikaze Camel: I'm not sure I agree or disagree, but I don't know what the point of that comment was. Essentially, what you're saying, is if a man made a different film it would've been better received. Certainly plausible. Maybe it would help if I liked the film.

I wonder if Nathaniel will place Children of Men as an adapated score. Much of the musical ower came from non-original sources (whether Penderecki or The Rolling Stones)

Glenn Dunks said...

"I know he’s gonna be an ever bigger bitch and snub Nicholson."


Javi? I'm so glad we're awesome like this. We can comfort each other in the shadows of hyperbole.

Arkaan, I was saying that if a male director like Scorsese or whathaveyou directed a movie along the same lines of Marie Antoinette, but instead of an '80s pop soundtrack he gave it a '60s rock soundtrack, and instead of scenes of balls and parties and gambling and pastries there were bloody violent action scenes, then I am positive it would be declared a masterpiece and audatious and spectacular and such.

A lot of people seem to get much more angry and dismissive over female directors whether they make hollywood popcorn (Nancy Meyers) or arty stuff (Sofia Coppola, Jane Campion). I don't see people getting so riled up over popcorn movie directed like Peter Segal (50 First Dates, Anger Management) yet they have no issue in throwing insults at people like Nancy Meyers or Nora Ephron because they have the audacity to make romantic comedies aimed at women.

I mean, last year, that guy who directed Capote got a Best Director nomination and a DGA nod for a movie that a lot of people saw a great performance in. Yet, someone such as Kimberley Pierce got none of the praise for Boys Don't Cry, another movie based around a great performance. Or Polly Jenkins for Monster.

...but that's just my ranting theories.

Barry said...

Please Nat, nominate Rachel Weisz for simple, but lovely & heartbreaking performance as Izzie in The Fountain :)

Barry said...

in Best Supporting Actress

adam k. said...

I'm not sure where I personally would place Weisz (she's basically the female lead, just as she was in The Constant Gardener), but she's campaigning supporting. I agree she was great.

And obviously Nat will nominate Hugh Jackman. He'll probably win gold. He should, anyway.

FYC: James McAvoy, best LEAD actor

FYC: Abigail Breslin, best supporting actress

FYC: Greg Kinnear, best supporting actor

FYC: Meryl Streep, best LEAD actress for Prada

Anonymous said...

Kamikaze: I get it now. I disagree half-heartedly - and we can use your examples.

Jane Campion makes films that are divisive and provocative. She would rather get a strongly negative reaction than a ho-hum reaction. So yeah - people will get angry at her films for various reasons (I know people who find The Piano ideologically repugnant, for example).

I don't think it's fair to compare Peter Segal (who I hadn't even heard of) to Nancy Meyers or Nora Ephron - essentially a non-entity of a director vs two very popular (ie - more than one box office hit to their credit) ones. However, compare those two to say someone who's experienced a similar degree of success - Michael Bay. Would you make the same arguement then? Hell, I'd argue that the name Michael Bay is enough to send critics into anger spasms. Or, from the art-film side of things, how about Lars von Trier? He has a solid critical constituency, but how many people outright loathe the guy?

I can't entirely dismiss your Scorsese-60's-French king film, though - mainly because I think your description of it is something many critics would go apeshit over. But let's flip the analogy a bit. Let's say a male director of similar stature to Sofia Coppola - as opposed to a film making legend - (oscar nominee for a film that can be termed a relationship comedy, director of divisive and/or "interesting" films - so Sam Mendes) were to take on that story? Do you think critics would be brazen as to praise it so fully?

I accept your Monster/Capote/Boys Don't Cry arguement - I was surprised to see Capote gain so much throughout the season.

Glenn Dunks said...

I think it wouldn't have been so set upon if someone such as Sam Mendes directed it, yes. I think critics (mostly older white males) would have found it odd but fascinating to see a director such as Mendes change course and do a film such as that. They would have had issues still for sure, but it seemed that the critics (and some audiences) didn't like the fact that Sofia was continuing her themes of lost lonely girls with retro soundtracks. Some seemed legitimately angry at her for not wanting to make the sort of movie that they expected/wanted.

And then there's the sad fact that people have actually complained about Sofia because she's ugly. Like, hello. Scorsese ain't exactly pretty. Neither is Sofia's father. Ugh.

On the matter of Michael Bay - he gets lashed on by critics because he makes bad movies. I don't recall reviews of his movies every mentioning that he's made a movie "purely for men". As I mentioned earlier, people have been poisonous to people like Nancy Meyers and Nora Ephron because they're women who make movies targetted primarily at women. As if it makes them angry that they're not getting movies for them.

Ugh. I hate getting this riled up.


i didn't really mean to set off this argument but it's probably healthy to talk about.

it just seems that people don't give female directors a fair shake. You can see this in reviews, awards, and strangely in employment. Even if a female filmmaker has a breakthrough they disappear for years on end. I wouldn't be at all surprised if this is because they just aren't considered for projects or have more than the average trouble with funding.

I was shocked at how personal some of the Marie Antoinette criticisms were... or how unfounded they were. I was discussing this with Nick who though the movie had good stuff but he wasn't really a fan. Which is all well and good. but hating it because it's girly and obsessed with pink? when are movies ever hated because they're manly? people go hog wild for the tough guy shtick in movies. so why is its opposite such a problem?

but I guess with Sofia there's also the royalty problem which is different than the female problem. She is the daughter of a hugely acclaimed filmmaker and its easy to hate people born with silver spoons.

but all this said I don't want to sound like i'm trumpeting the movie to restore balance. I genuinely think it's good stuff -- if it had been praised i would've loved it the same.

Glenn Dunks said...

Exactly. That's why I keep bringing up Scorsese (and for that matter The Departed). Yes, that film has many female fans, but it's seen as a man's picture (lots of debate about whether female Academy members would get behind it and such) yet it was freely praised as a masterpiece of brutality. Yet the opposite end of the spectrum, there was a female director making a movie about dresses and cake and it was met with scorn.

Sure, feel free to dislike it because of the structure or because of Sofia's style - but why hate it because it's a movie targeted to young women and obsesses with costumes. Scorsese obsessed with blood, but apparently that's a-okay.

Kimberley Pierce's Boys Don't Cry was 1999 and we're only now in 2007 getting a followup. Patty Jenkins has since directed 2 episodes of "Entourage" and one ep of "Arrested Development." Catherine Hardwicke...? After thirteen she went with Lords of Dogtown and The Nativity Story? Eek. I worry for the project's she's being offered and not picking. Mary Harron comes up for air every now and then (she seems to have the best hit ratio with critics out of the ones mentioned)

Tellingly, most of the high profile female directors are not from America - Gillian Armstrong, Jane Campion, Niki Caro, Ana Kokkinos, Deepa Mehta. And also, a lot of female directors work within the realm of documentaries.

And then there's Barbra Streisand missing out on Best Director nominations for The Prince of Tides (a Best Picture and DGA nominee) and Yentl (was a sentimental favourite for a nom that year)

...and so on...

Anonymous said...

Well, since I started the argument.... Points, in order of easiest to make to hardest :D

1. The fact that the media managed to make the snub in 1991 Barbara Streisand getting ignored for her crap movie and not Thelma and Louise missing out on best picture despite having two acting nods, directing, screenplay and editing is one of the more annoying is one of the more difficult oscar tidbits to swallow. Her direction of TPoT was awful, and I'll go so far to say that if it had been directed by a man, the snub would've been the same and no one would've given a damn. And was Yentl really a sentimental favourite? It wasn't loved - and when you compare it to others who were snubbed (The Right Stuff/Philip Kauffman in particular), it's hard to get worked up.

2. Kamikaze, do you believe all topics are of equal worth? I'm trying to navigate an argument, and this keeps popping up. I'll be honest - I don't. I believe a talented writer/director can make a topic that seemed flimsy into something beautiful (case and point: Joss Whedon and Buffy the Vampire Slayer), but there are certain subjects that, by their very nature, I will find more interesting and/or moving.

3. We're gonna have to disagree on the Sam Mendes thing, then. Given the reviews Jarhead got (and that was typically masculine, audacious whatever), I think I'm comfortable drawing that line.

4. I'm gonna need a critics or two about people criticizing Nancy Meyers/Nora Ephron for making chick flicks. I want to read and see what you're saying.

5. Some seemed legitimately angry at her for not wanting to make the sort of movie that they expected/wanted.

So? I was pissed of she made a movie that had no regard for history, no sense of place (she has Versailles but she could've shot it at Ikea for all her visual inventiveness), no sense of character (I could never figure out why I was watching these people). It was not the film I wanted or expected.

6. Nathaniel, I'd argue that Fight Club is an example of an overtly masculine film that many dislike as a result of said masculinity.

7. Don't worry - I don't think you're opinion of Marie-Antoniette is in any way shaped by critical opinion. She's not Eastwood, after all (:wink)

8. I agree that female directors need more representation, both within Hollywood and in general critical discourse - my goal wasn't to suggest otherwise, just that I think Nathaniel's initial comment was so glib as to not be taken seriously and in context of this film year seems worrisom.


Arkaan --in regards to your points

1) I 100% agree here. I think Streisand not such a good director and I was unhinged that T&L lost its place to thank PoT stinker. BUT I think the larger point is if someone misses, it's usually a woman: see also Children of a Lesser God and Awakenings two that come immediately to mind.

2) All topics are not equal but nobody should get points merely for their topic --for example: I hate that war films automatically get people further with Oscar than, say, comedies. The correlative on TV is that shows about doctors are usually well liked by EMMY. Does this mean they happen to be the best shows or do the voters just get wowed by the life and death plots?

5)I'm not sure i get the complaints that Marie Antoinette disregards history. She's flexible with it sure but for example the oft cited bitching about the ending. As far as I've been told this is actually accurate. Marie was not served immediately up to the guillotine.She eventually got there but from the sound of reviews you'd think that Coppola had lied about not showing her dragged from the palace and beheaded which is not how it played out.

8) it was a bit glib yes... but i have limited space in those tables. but why is the comment worrisome in this particular year? I'm just curious as to what you mean.

Anonymous said...

but why is the comment worrisome in this particular year? I'm just curious as to what you mean.

I guess it's because I'm seeing it as part of a larger trend of categorizing and dismissing people's opinions. To bring up Clint Eastwood, but you've spent the last four months criticizing him and his films. You've admitted to being behind on his movies, but you still reject people calling him one of the greatest directors (and not in a film bitch "let's argue about it way" but in a "if you believe that, this conversation is not worth having" kind of way). You truly believe that people can't really love his films - whether it's Flags or Letters; you've casually bashed the NY Times as an Eastwoodian cabal because there three critics agreed that it was one of the five best films of the year. I haven't even seen the films but you've managed to give me a rooting interest in them simply by the way you dislike them. And now, all of a sudden, the one thing you want to mention in your awards is that Coppola's ovaries was the reason for Marie-Antoinette's dismissal.

I'm not suggesting we have to agree all the time - while we (and I'd guess most readers of your site) certainly have a significant overlap in taste, it's not as if we always agree (or even agree that vehemently or that often).

I don't know. Maybe we can blame my waning interest in films (I think television right now is outstripping movies in virtually all respects; and a poor film year doesn't help). It's just something I've picked up on.

but nobody should get points merely for their topic

You see, I don't think this is entirely fair. We all have subject matters we're interested in, that move us as a result of our histories. I'll be even more specific - I don't love Hotel Rwanda at all, but if you made that exact same film set say during the Armenian genocide, I probably would like it less (based solely on my personal history). Or, if we were to use your top ten lists as an example, you'd find 4 of your last 6 number ones films with romance at the centre of their themes or narrative (Brokeback, Eternal Sunshine, Far FRom Heaven, Moulin Rouge). We all have our likes/dislikes.

BUT I think the larger point is if someone misses, it's usually a woman: see also Children of a Lesser God and Awakenings two that come immediately to mind.

Truthfully, I think we're a long way from that being the number one problem regarding female director's/films. I could point to Gary Ross, Shekar Kapur, James L. Brooks (twice), Marc Forester (thankfully), Ang Lee, Cameron Crowe, etc for virtually every year. Hell, Scorsese was ignored in 1976 in favour of Lina Wertmuller (and Ingmar Bergman). It's certainly more notable when a woman directs a best picture nominee (because it happens so rarely).


i hear you on my testiness re: Eastwood. It's really the Oscar race thats turned me against him. I am behind on some of his earlier films, yes. And I should see them but when people call something as obviously flawed as Flags a masterpiece... I swear to you that even if war was my favorite genre I would have real issues with it.

so the strong reaction i've had is really an anti media thing and not exactly anti Eastwood. so i should probably shut up.

I apologize if I've been dismissive of opinions. I hate it when people do that. So if someone has issues with Marie Antoinette that don't have to do with its girliness or her privileged life as Hollywood royalty: discuss.

finally: in regards to the NY Times. This weekend (again) they published a loving long article promoting his films in the Oscar race --so if I'm imagining it, they're playing along in my hallucinations ;)

Anonymous said...


BABEL - Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu
THE DEPARTED - Martin Scorsese
UNITED 93 - Paul Greengrass