Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Oscars of the Aughts: Best Director 2007

Two more entries and 2007 is done! This year's directors are a unique and engaging bunch, all of which are great and worthy of their nominations. But who are they?

 Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
 Jason Reitman, Juno
 Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton
 Joel & Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men
 Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood

Winner: Joel & Ethan Coen

This was the year that the Coen Brothers became the first directing duo to win the Oscar since Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins in 1961 for West Side Story. But were they the most impressive? As much as I love Juno, Reitman's work, though uniquely his own, didn't stand out enough from the pack to merit a win; that's not to say its not worthy, as he expertly brought the story to life and translated Diablo Cody's colorful dialogue to the screen in tact, while bringing out phenomenal performances from the lovely Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Allison Janney, Olivia Thirlby and J.K. Simmons. Gilroy made an impressive debut film (he previously wrote for the Bourne films), and his direction in the film looks like the work of a seasoned pro, obviously taking cues from the thrillers of the '70s. Artist/director Schnabel astonished with his work on The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, turning what could have been a rote and impossible film into a imaginative and engaging journey into the mind of an almost-completely paralyzed man. And, of course, the Coens perfectly captured the empty Texas landscape, making the film a tale of violence that ultimately means nothing (a specialty of their's). But when it comes to directing, its Anderson who puts up the best work here: he uses his camera to investigate capitalism's downfall, and elicits a career-best performance from Daniel Day-Lewis, which, considering his previous performances, is no easy feat. He's had trouble getting his next film off the ground, but hopefully someone will see this and realize that this considerably talented director needs to continue working.

My ballot:

1. Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood
2. Joel & Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men
3. Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
4. Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton
5. Jason Reitman, Juno


Walter L. Hollmann said...

Jason, did you by any chance like There Will Be Blood? ;)

I'd switch Coens and Schnabel on my ballot, but that's the only difference.

Jason H. said...

Why, it just so happened I did like There Will Be Blood! :D

I have to admit I do flip-flop between Schnabel and the Coens, but ultimately where Schnabel is very flashy and the film director-y (very much like Darren Aronofsky and Black Swan), the Coens' work fits the material perfectly, even if its less attention-grabbing.