Postulating & Pontificating: The Ten: Best Directors Of All Time “Relay Race”

This is not the same as the recent list I did, I’m not that redundant people!

Recently a few different blogger friends of mine have contacted me about various relay races. Each had their own set of rules, and their own topic covered. All of the relays I was asked to participate in interested me, but I was in the middle of moving into a new house and had no time. I still don’t have much time, but I needed a topic for today’s column. Along came my friend James Blake Ewing who asked me to take the baton in a relay race based on the ten best directors concept.

The rules are simple, and to prove as such here’s a quote from the creator of the relay race, Nostra, explaining said rules,

“So what’s the idea behind the relay? I’ve created a list of what I think are the ten best directors. At the end of the post I, just like in a real relay race, hand over the baton to another blogger who will write his own post. This blogger will have to remove one director (that is an obligation) and add his own choice and describe why he/she did this. At the end the blogger chooses another blogger to do the same. We will end up with a list (not ranked in order) which represents a common agreement of the best directors. If you are following the relay race it is also a great way to be introduced to new blogs!”

That’s simple enough, and before I get to my pick, here’s a rundown of the list as it has traveled from blogger to blogger,

My Film Views (The originator of the list, and the ten that he began with were: Alfred Hitchcock, Quentin Tarantino, Stanley Kubrick, Steven Spielberg, Hayao Miyazaki, Darren Aronofsky, Martin Scorsese, The Coen Brothers, Akira Kurosawa, and Christopher Nolan)

Southern Vision (Replaced Christopher Nolan with Krzysztof Kieslowski)

And So It Begins… (Replaced Darren Aronofsky with Ingmar Bergman)

Surrender To The Void (Replaced Steven Spielberg with Lars Von Trier)

Cinematic Paradox (Replaced Lars Von Trier with Paul Thomas Anderson)

Defiant Success (Replaced Krzysztof Kieslowski with Sidney Lumet)

“…Let’s Be Splendid About This…” (Replaced Quentin Tarantino with Abbas Kiarostami)

1001Plus (Replaced Paul Thomas Anderson with Billy Wilder)

Cinema Sights (Replaced Billy Wilder with F.W. Murnau)

That means that as the list enters my hands it consists of,

Alfred Hitchcock
Stanley Kubrick
Hayao Miyazaki
Martin Scorsese
The Coen Brothers
Akira Kurosawa
Ingmar Bergman
Sidney Lumet
Abbas Kiarostami
F.W. Murnau

That is quite an impressive list, and I’ve been happy with most of the additions and subtractions by my fellow bloggers. Removing Mr. Tarantino and Mr. Nolan from the list is a must in my mind, but everyone who reads me knows my dislike of those two directors. I love Mr. Wilder, but when it comes down to it Herr Murnau would have been my pick if James hadn’t of added him already. As I said, impressive work from everyone all around.

I used a process of elimination to decide who I would, ahem, eliminate from the list. The first grouping of directors are those who I consider untouchable. They would be in my personal top ten and thus there’s no chance of me taking them off this list. The untouchable group consists of,

Alfred Hitchcock
Stanley Kubrick
Hayao Miyazaki
The Coen Brothers
F.W. Murnau

Standing by himself is Abbas Kiarostami. I have yet to be exposed to any of his work and taking him off the list would not be fair with that disclosure taken into account.

They may not be in my top ten of all time, but Ingmar Bergman and Akira Kurosawa are darn close. Those two great directors are head and shoulders above the two directors last on the chopping block.

I have loved films from Martin Scorsese and Sidney Lumet, but I have also loathed films from both men. At the end of the day I haven’t seen anything from Mr. Lumet that comes close to the worst of Mr. Scorsese. I know lots of others love Mr. Scorsese’s work from top to bottom, but I’ve always found him very spotty as a director. He’s responsible for the greatness of Goodfellas, but he’s also responsible for the atrociousness of The Departed. As the years have gone by the number of great films from Mr. Scorsese can be counted on one hand, while the number of his films that I found average, middling, or bad would take more than my two measly hands to count. It’s for that reason that I’m removing Martin Scorsese from the list.

The person I’m adding should come as no surprise. I am surprised the list has gone this far without his presence, and it’s my opinion that any top ten directors of all time list that wants to be valid must have Werner Herzog on said list. I recently wrote about why I think Herr Herzog is a great director, and my thoughts have not changed. His body of work is extensive and very impressive. He makes films that are funny, intelligent, thought provoking, questioning, absurd, and always unique. The genre doesn’t matter, nor does the subject matter, no matter the terrain Herr Herzog is one of the ten best directors of all time.

With my work out of the way I will be passing the baton to Dan Heaton of Public Transportation Snob.


13 responses to “Postulating & Pontificating: The Ten: Best Directors Of All Time “Relay Race”

  1. If it wasn’t for Wilder, I would have removed Scorsese, so I’m with you on his removal. For every film of his I love, there’s one I hate just as much.

    Herzog is a strong addition. I’m not huge on his docs, but his fiction films are astounding.

  2. Werner Herzog!!! Great fucking pick!!!!

  3. I love Herzog. I’ve been watching a lot of his films lately, and movies like Stroszek and Heart of Glass just blew me away! The man’s a genius. So glad someone finally added him.

  4. James- You echo my thoughts, I’ve tried but I simply cannot get behind the idea of Scorsese as an all-time great director.

    Steven- Thanks, I’d like to think so. 🙂

    Tyler – Thanks for checking out my blog. And my discovery of Herzog went much the same way, I watched Aguirre, Fitzcarraldo, and Stroszek, and was immediately blown away. The more I explored his work the more impressed I was. As it stands right now he’s probably my #2 director of all time.

  5. illuminati7590

    I can’t agree more on your removal of Scorsese from the list he may have some bad movies but his great movies were far more than his worst. On the other hand I had seen only two films of Herzog (Rescue Dawn n Bad Lieutenant) Didn’t like Bad Lieutenant much Rescue Dawn also not the best I’ve seen Scorsese had gems like Taxi Driver,Raging Bull, Casino, GoodFellas, Aviator, Hugo Even his avg movies like Shutter Island, Departed, Color of Money are also enjoyable. I may be wrong because I don’t know much about Herzog n I’m a big fan of Scorsese

  6. I’ve never been a huge Scorsese fan, and the films of his that you listed are great examples of why I’m not a huge fan. Out of all those films I only found one to be of the quality of a master work, that being Goodfellas. Of the rest, a few were great, a couple were decent, and more than a few were downright bad.

    With Herzog it’s a different story for me. The two films of his that you’ve seen I find to be master works, and he has about another seven or so films that I find to be on the level of a master work, a bunch of great films, and a few that are pretty good. For me the quality of Herzog’s work trumps the quality of Scorsese’s in a landslide.

  7. Alex Withrow

    Tough call to make, but Herzog is my second favorite director (right behind ol’ Ingmar), so I LOVE your swap here. Herzog is a God. Love all of his work.

    Excellent write-up!

  8. I have yet to find a Herzog film that I didn’t at the very least like, and the majority of his work I love so we’re in pretty much the same boat. And thanks for the kind words. 🙂

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  12. mark alexander

    Kurosawa is the best of all time.
    Hertzog is a favourite of mine, but he’s not in the top 10 – Fitzcaraldo and Aguirie are not enough to win past Bergman; nor compete with Tokyo story.
    its (for me) goes Kurosawa, Bergman, Kubric, Chaplain, Hitchcock.
    Why poeple forget chaplain I dont know, or that Chaplain is british not US.

    Hertzog in the top 6 to 10 group.

  13. Well, Kurosawa is great, but the best of all time is Hayao Miyazaki by a very wide margin.

    There are around five or six movies from Herzog that I think are far superior to Tokyo Story, and I’d place a lot of Herzog’s work above Bergman’s.

    The reason that I don’t have Chaplin in my top 10, or anywhere ear it really, is because of his work from The Great Dictator until the end of his career. The talkie was the worst thing to happen to Chaplin as he didn’t make a single good film after Modern Times. The mediocre to downright bad films that he ended his career with lower his status a lot.

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