For my second ‘Year in Review’ post I am going to go with the best directors of the year. This year was an interesting year. If you ask me, I would say that the top movies of this year will hold up against the top movies in any year; however, I would also say that this has been a suspect year for movies. Part of it is Hollywood and part of it is the fact that it's hard to be original in this day and age. Harder than that is to differentiate yourself as a director in a world where the Tony Scott's and Michael Bay's of the world are making hay with giant robots and exploding trains. Despite all of that there were 5 directors who seperated themselves from the pack this year and that leads me to my next 'Best of 2010' post:
Best Direction of 2010
David Fincher – The Social Network – David Fincher really knocked this one out of the park. I have become less and less a fan of Aaron Sorkin over the years, simply because as good as his dialogue is, it seems contrived and unrealistic. I felt that this was the way ‘The Social Network’ was gonna be but quickly realized that David Fincher was too brilliant to allow his movie to be taken captive by too smart for it’s own good dialogue. Fincher reined it in and turn this into the best film of the year. It’s always a feat when a movie with no real action is able to develop as much tension as this one does. Fincher has made a career of developing tension in films and this movie is his work at his peak.
Darren Aronofsky – Black Swan – As good as Fincher is at establishing tension through his direction, Aronofsky is as good at displaying emotion through his direction. Every scene has a purpose and every scene is wrote with the emotion the characters are feeling. The ability to evoke this kind of viewer response is nothing short of brilliant and his ability to show sustained brilliance is what makes me confidence of his greatness to come. The only thing that will get in the way of Aronofsky’s greatness is himself. Just as Coppola lost his way by doing too many “pet projects” so too can Aronofsky lose his way with too many turns like ‘The Fountain.’ If he takes the good scripts that come his way he will be just fine.
Matt Reeves – Let Me In – It’s always fascinating to have a movie going experience where you are completely surprised and amazed walking away from it. That is exactly how it felt coming away from ‘Let Me In’ and it is in large part due to the fantastic job done by Reeves. It is my feeling that with more movies like this Reeves will find his way into the upper echelon of young directors in Hollywood. His ability here to establish the atmosphere and mood of this movie was masterful. Not to mention, it takes a special director to get amazing performances out of young actors and that is what Reeves did. Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Moretz gave two of the better performances of the year. It is clear in this movie that Reeves got all he could out of these young talented actors and that is quite a feat for a director.
Christopher Nolan – Inception – What more can be said about this movie? The more I watch ‘Inception’ the more I realize that the acting and writing was better than my initial impression but what makes this movie so great is the pure force of will of it’s director. Christopher Nolan has already established himself as the best young director working today, and this movie just adds credence to that. Nobody can tell a story quite like Nolan, most directors would lose themselves and their movies trying to tell stories like Nolan, but everything is kept straight in his head. It is quite remarkable to see him work at the top of his game. There is not another director in Hollywood that can handle an epic movie like Nolan can.
Ben Affleck – The Town – Who saw this coming? I am sure some people did after seeing ‘Gone, Baby Gone’ but I haven’t seen that movie and wasn’t expecting this to be much. It looked like a standard amored car crime caper movie, but it was so much more. Ben Affleck gives a solid performance himself but it is bolstered by even stronger supporting performances by Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively, Jon Hamm, and Rebecca Hall. Affleck is able to get great performances out of these actors which is a feat for this setting. The Boston setting with it’s different accents etc., is ripe for actors becoming caricatures, but Affleck is able to get realistic solid performances out of these actors. Along with that Affleck is able to mix in some very tense scenes showing some great directorial flare. I for one hope to see more from Affleck in the future.