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Last week, I shared with you a list of eleven directors who have impressed and influenced me with their art and craft. In other words, directors that I liked. A lot. Now it’s time to venture to the other end of the spectrum. Directors I can’t stand.
Let me start off by saying that these are not the five worst directors working today (although most of these directors do suck). Rather, this is a list of the five most overrated directors who have earned countless awards and accolades and can seemingly do no wrong in the eyes of critics and fanboys.
1. Martin Scorcese
The most overrated hack of them all, Scorcese is the king of cinematic masturbation and the “Look, ma, I’m directing” style of filmmaking. He represents almost everything that’s wrong with self-indulgent directing. The critics love him because of his ability to move the camera. If only he could move the audience. But then again, why bother telling a story when you can swoop through an overblown scene with a steadicam. Or get the brilliant actor Daniel Day-Lewis to do a Robert De Niro impersonation for over two hours opposite Leonardo DiCaprio. He finally won an Oscar when he took the depth and resonance out of the sublime Hong Kong thriller Infernal Affairs and remade it into the overblown, shallow snoozer The Departed.
2. Steven Spielberg
No one can deny Steven Spielberg’s talent. Then again, it takes a singular talent to reduce the Holocaust to a black and white cartoon like Spielberg did with Schindler’s List. I am constantly amazed by his ability to oversimplify and sanitize every story from slavery (Amistad) to terrorism (Munich) with his over reliance on sentiment and infantile moralism. Spielberg is the father of the modern blockbuster film and, while he may not have started the practice of lowest common denominator filmmaking, he certainly perfected it.
3. Quentin Tarantino
If you want a poster boy for self-indulgence, then look no further. For those of you who want to make movies the Tarantino way, follow this simple recipe:
4. Christopher Nolan
Christopher Nolan is only on this list because of his tendency for lazy storytelling and his over reliance on narrative gimmicks. What do I mean by lazy storytelling? I mean that when encountered with a narrative problem, Nolan almost always takes the easy way out even if it changes the rules of the world he has set up. For instance, take Memento. Here we have a character who loses his short term memory only when it is convenient for the story. Numerous examples of this type of lazy storytelling abound in all of his films. While I believe that Mr. Nolan is a brilliant technician, he needs to stop being so damn lazy before he turns into David Twohy.
5. Paul Thomas Anderson
A Scorcese wannabe that has managed to capture some of Scorcese’s cachet with the critics and fanboys, Mr. Anderson has never met a long tracking shot he didn’t love. His movies are self-indulgent, pretentious and bombastic. You want to know how to make a movie filled with sex about the porn industry boring? Watch Boogie Nights. And what’s with the frogs in Magnolia? While I have not liked any of his movies to date, I do admit to wanting to see There Will be Blood as I am a fan of that setting and time period.Buy the Moose a cup of coffee.