Tag Archives: Lincoln

The Oscar goes to…Oh Yeah, That Guy Again


Image courtesy of Wikimedia

Image courtesy of Wikimedia


Last month’s 85th annual Academy Awards really have me thinking. First, I’ve been thinking about all of the hilarious reaction to Seth Macfarlane being Seth Macfarlane, and doing a song about actresses going topless in various films. Come on folks, Macfarlane does gross out, irreverent humor in various media for millions of dollars. His work is now so prevalent and commonplace that he lacks the ability to surprise us by offending our delicate sensibilities. The hat is old, and I think we should move on.

While I enjoyed Macfarlane, the second thing the Oscars brought to mind was the current group of directors in Hollywood. I know that for years we have all griped about the hashing and rehashing of the same tired plots starring the same actors. We complain of over grown budgets and undergrown stories. When the best director award passed over Steven Spielberg in favor of Ang Lee much in the same fashion as it did in 2006, I could not help but wonder “are there only 6 directors in Hollywood?”

What seems more likely is of the highest profile directors there are only 6 types:

Disclaimer  The people on this list would probably fall into many of the other categories, and I am certain I skipped a great many in each group. If I snubbed your favorite, I apologize.

The Old Guard:

Once upon a time, each of these now-famous film makers were outsiders; now each is a  tried and true trophy winner. Directors who can take any chunk of coal and produce a diamond simply by attaching their weighty name. Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola etc.  These are the guys on the wishlist of every writer, and many actors. It seems that every year one of the numerous people on this list are either nominated for best director or receiving some type of lifetime achievement award.

I was an okay actor, but am a much better director:Ron Howard

Meathead, Laverne, and Opie are among the greatest directors of a generation. Ron Howard is probably the most successful of this group, and his position is aided by the fact that he was a child actor who worked very little as an adult. Rob Reiner, Penny Marshal, and recent addition Ben Affleck are great examples of people who did less than meaningful work as actors but have turned in stellar work from behind the camera.

Freaks and Geeks:

Movie and comic book geeks seem to make the best directors to head up recent film adaptations of some of our beloved childhood properties. Because of their special connection to the material and their dedication to making movies they as fans would want to see these directors deliver time and again to some of the most difficult fan bases: Sam Raimi,  Brian Singer, Joss Whedon, J.J. Abrams. Just hearing their names attached to a project can bring a sigh of relief to most hardcore  fans.

The Epics:

Sometimes these are at odds with the group immediately above. Directors in this group sometimes forgo the subtleties and nuances of  the source material to produce a script with a, how should I put this? A bit more BOOOOOOOM: Joel Schumacher, the man who almost killed Batman; Ridley Scott, whose work runs the gamut between indecipherable and gut checking action; and James Cameron. They are the successors to famous Hollywood archetypes like Cecil B. Demille. The king of them all is Michael Bay, who has managed on more than one occasion to combine his love of  ‘splosions and his dedication to making a film fans can enjoy.

The Writer Directors:

Quentin Tarantino, M. Night Shyamalan, Steven Soderbergh, Ang Lee, Woody Allen. Most directors have tried their hand at writing, and a lot of writers would rather direct their own work. While many of those listed above and many others that fit this category have directed works written by others, the majority of their success comes from directing their own scripts. Much like singer-songwriters, this is often the perfect marriage of concept and director.

The Trilogy Makers:

Peter Jackson, Christopher Nolan, George Lucas. Ever try to tell a story? Ever have to stop one-third of the way through due to time constraints, then pick it back up later? This is how I imagine the mind of the Trilogy Makers. Whenever a story is too big to tell in one film these are the guys to call. Often it means slow playing the first film, overdoing the action in the second, and cramming a resolution into the third.


Sure, some of these directors fall into more than one category, but the point is pretty solid. Hollywood is in desperate need of new blood. Not just for directors, but in many other aspects of the group mosaic that is a well-made film. The only answer is to stop going to see tired plots and worn out concepts from the  same directors and actors. Right? I mean if we do not respect the position we hold as consumers how can we expect the film makers to do so?  And furthermore… Sorry, I lost track of time…I will finish this later. I am catching a matinee of the new Die Hard.







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I Wanna See Daniel Day Lewis in That

Already thinking about the 85th annual Academy Awards? Well first, that is just sad; and second, let me sum the coming awards onslaught up in a single word: Lincoln!

Best picture: Lincoln; best director: Steven Spielberg for Lincoln; best actor: Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln.

Only two people in history have had more written about them than our 16th president: Jesus Christ and William Shakespeare.  I cannot think of a film that has had more written about it than this year’s Abraham Lincoln biopic. Likewise, Daniel Day-Lewis has seen more press and acclaim for his short body of work than any actor in recent history. He inhabits a role often spending a full year getting into character. Day-Lewis is 55 and has only a handful of starring roles because of his intense approach to preparation.

In honor of Day-Lewis’ coming pile of trophies for Lincoln, I give you five roles I wish he would play:

Image property of RoyOrbison.com

5.  Roy Orbison

I am a huge fan of Orbison’s work. His vocals are unmatched in the pop rock music pantheon. Few people bother to develop the range that he possessed.

Orbison was also a dark, reclusive person, always hidden just below the surface or behind his ever present dark sunglasses. Roy Orbison has yet to receive the biopic treatment; many of his Sun Records cohorts already have. Though Day-Lewis is already two years older than Orbison was when he died in 1988, I think he could pull it off.

4. The Saint/Simon Templar

Please, if you have not already, try to forget Val Kilmer and the 1997 flop of an action romance that was The Saint.

The Saint was a master of disguise and a quick thinking con man who could create an  identity out of thin air. He walked the line between hero, spy, sleuth, and criminal.

There is so much for Day-Lewis to explore in this character! He could make Simon Templar something more than a James Bond or Jack Ryan ripoff.

3. The Shadow/Lamont Cranston

A very flawed Shadow feature film was made in 1994 starring Alec Baldwin. The character of the Shadow reaches all the way back to 1931 and has been said to have helped influence the character background of Batman. The Shadow has the power to cloud men’s minds; he can make them see things that aren’t there, and he can make himself appear invisible.

Think of this as the opportunity to see an understated superhero flick; less explosions and more cerebral warfare. Day-Lewis could do for the superhero genre what Gary Oldman did for the secret agent.

2. Mike Hammer

Mike Hammer was played most notably by Stacy Keach in the TV series of same name. Micky Spillane’s private investigator has seen no shortage of screen time. Hammer is a tough, sarcastic lady killer.

Film noir is in need of a savior, and I can think of none better than Day-Lewis to rescue it…along with any damsels in distress that show up along the way. Adding depth to this forgotten genre is certain to bring about more Oscar gold.

1. Fighting Jack Churchill

Probably the best forgotten hero of WW2 is the eccentric Jack Churchill. The British soldier was known to charge into battle carrying a claymore (Scottish broad sword) and was the only person in that conflict to kill an enemy combatant with a bow and arrows. Churchill, who was no relation to the Prime Minister, often played a song on the bagpipes before charging into battle.

If Day-Lewis were ever to make a WW2 picture, he would need the outsider perspective of a character like Jack Churchill. This could be the one action film that would make sense for such a fine actor.


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