The list of directors this year. much like Spinal Tap, goes to 11 because I just did not want to cut any of them. I was also very conscious of the fact that there were a lot of great jobs done this year by female directors and I went out of my way to choose several of them for this list (see that Golden Globes…Oscars). I don’t even have to make a case because they all are very deserving.
Previous Winners: A.G. Inarritu (Birdman), Tim McCarthy (Spotlight), Damien Chazelle (La La Land), Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman), Alfonso Cuarón (Roma)
#11. Gurinder Chadha (Blinded by the Light). This is a very underrated, but awesome movie chronicling a boy and his connection to the music of Bruce Springsteen. There were a lot of original shots here too.
#10. Olivia Wilde (Booksmart). This was Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut and she created one of the funniest movies of the year and also a fantastic coming-of-age film. Another one that flew under the radar but is well deserving.
#9. Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story). The Netflix film was just amazing and featured two brilliant performances, which is part of the director’s job- to get the best performance out of his/her actors. Powerful work.
#8. Martin Scorsese (The Irishman). Would I be lying if I said I dropped Marty down some because of his Marvel controversy? Eh, maybe…maybe not. He had a remarkable cast but the 3.5 hours could have been edited down and not lose much in spots. He is a legend though and the film is very good.
#7. Greta Gerwig (Little Women). Little Women is her second major film recently (last being Lady Bird) and she handles this cast extremely well and gives us a wonderful adaptation of a beloved novel.
#6. Bong Joon-Ho (Parasite). Parasite is a black comedy/thriller that has shown Bong Joon-Ho’s skills as a director. He is able to find the humor in some of the worst of human nature and still tell a profound story.
#5. Lulu Wang (The Farewell) A sentimental and emotional story about a family going to see their grandmother who was dying of a disease, but she did not know about it. It’s a surprisingly funny film and is easily Awkwafina’s best performance to date.
#4. Rian Johnson (Knives Out). Creating a murder mystery is always a tough job for a director and creating something as original and creative as Knives Out is even more challenging. Rian Johnson manages this brilliantly. The shots are great. The cast is wonderful. Just an overall amazing time in the theater.
#3. Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit). Taika Waititi had so many challenges to make Jojo Rabbit a success. The story created controversy but, when you saw it, that melted away. Plus, he had to direct some of the movie dressed as Adolf Hitler. Ha
#2. Todd Phillips (Joker). Phillips made a movie that was as much about the descent into madness as it was about the criminal Joker. It was a beautiful nightmare with scenes that were horrific and depressing while the film still lifts you up.
#1. Joe and Anthony Russo (Avengers: Endgame). I was completely enthralled with this movie from the beginning and the last hour had me sobbing in joy and anguish. The Russo Brothers have been doing this since Winter Soldier and it is clear that they knew what they were doing as each movie built on each other to the emotional climax. Anyone who says this is just a super hero movie and dismisses it as such is just a film snob who can’t see past their nose. The Russos showed how to put together a story with a massive cast and make it work. They got amazing performances out of Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Karen Gillan, Jeremy Renner to mention a few. They filled the film with fan service that all seemed to be earned and not just crammed in for nostalgia sake. They created an epic finale to the 22 film Infinity Saga series and became legends.