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Who is top director of last 30 years?


Greg W. Locke

Whatzup Features Writer

Published April 27, 2022

A lot has been said about the legendary class of American filmmakers that sprouted in the ’70s: Steven Spielberg, Brian De Palma, Martin Scorsese, Peter Bogdanovich, The Star Wars guy. You get it.

The more interesting topic, in my humble opinion, is the class of filmmakers working in the American film system that came out in the early-to-mid-90s, and have been working fluidly ever since. Every few years, I like to check in on this group of filmmakers and look at their overall catalogs in an attempt to try to determine which ones will ultimately go down as the best/most important.

And so, for this week’s column, I’m going to present short profiles of several of the major directors from the aforementioned ’90s class that has been so important to the film world the last 30 years.

A variety of directors, all with somewhere between nine and 12 feature films under their belt, were selected due to the degree of impact their work has had in the film world, whether you/I like their films or not. Names you know, their work distilled down to a glance.

Let’s go:

Paul Thomas ANDERSON

Number of films: 10; Masterpieces: 7; Hit films: 2; Average film grade: 9.3; Awards: Nominated for 11 Oscars, won Best Director at Cannes; Best film: The Master

WES ANDERSON

Number of films: 10; Masterpieces: 7; Hit films: 2; Average film grade: 9.6; Awards: Nominated for seven Oscars; Best film: The Royal Tenenbaums

DARREN ARONOFSKY

Number of films: 7; Masterpieces: 5; Hit films: 3; Average film grade: 9.14; Awards: Nominated for one Oscar Best film: mother!

NOAH BAUMBACH

Number of films: 12; Masterpieces: 5; Hit films: 2; Average film grade: 8.92; Awards: Nominated for three Oscars; Best film: The Squid and the Whale

MICHAEL BAY

Number of films: 15; Masterpieces: 3; Hit films: 10; Average film grade: 7.47; Awards: Nominated for six Razzies, won two; Best film: The Rock

GUILLERMO DEL TORO

Number of films: 11; Masterpieces: 4; Hit films: 5; Average film grade: 8.64; Awards: Nominated for five Oscars, won Best Director Oscar; Best film: Pan’s Labyrinth

David Fincher

Number of films: 11; Masterpieces: 8; Hit films: 5; Average film grade: 9.18; Awards: Three Best Director Oscar nominations; one Palme d’Or nomination; Best film: Fight Club

BONG JOON-HO

Number of films: 7; Masterpieces: 4; Hit films: 2; Average film grade: 8.72; Awards: Won three Oscars; winner of one Palme d’Or; Best film: Memories of Murder

WONG KAR-WAI

Number of films: 10; Masterpieces: 6; Hit films: 2; Average film grade: 9.2; Awards: Nominated for four Palme d’Or awards; won one Best Director award at Cannes; Best film: Chungking Express

CHRISTOPHER NOLAN

Number of films: 11; Masterpieces: 7; Hit films: 9; Average film grade: 9.36; Awards: Nominated for five Oscars Best film: The Dark Knight

TODD PHILLIPS

Number of films: 10; Masterpieces: 3; Hit films: 7; Average film grade: 8.0; Awards: Nominated for four Oscars; Best film: Joker

KELLY REICHARDT

Number of films: 7; Masterpieces: 3; Hit films: 0; Average film grade: 9.0; Awards: Nominated for one Palme d’Or; Best film: Certain Women

DAVID O. RUSSELL

Number of films: 8; Masterpieces: 4; Hit films: 4; Average film grade: 9.38; Awards: Nominated for five Oscars; Best film: Three Kings

QUENTIN TARANTINO

Number of films: 10; Masterpieces: 8; Hit films: 7; Average film grade: 9.5; Awards: Won two Oscars and one Palme d’Or; Best film: Pulp Fiction

LARS VON TRIER

Number of films: 14; Masterpieces: 7; Hit films: 1; Average film grade: 8.64; Awards: Nominated for the Palme d’Or nine times, won once; Best film: Melancholia

So who wins? Maybe the better question is: “Only one female director?” Indeed. A sexist industry, no doubt. Also, who did I forget? Surely, I overlooked someone. Let me know how wrong I am by writing me at gregwlocke@gmail.com.

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