Thursday Movie Picks: Oscar Winners Edition – Best Director

This week in Thursday Movie Picks – run by Wandering through the Shelves – we’ve been asked to list three to five directors who took home the Best Director Oscar. As usual, I’ve made my selection from films I have seen.

What does a director do?

MasterClass explains: “A director is a person who determines the creative vision of a feature film, television show, play, short film, or other production. They have complete artistic control of a project. In addition to having a strong grasp of technical knowledge taught in directing classes, they must also have a personal or emotional connection to the material.”

My picks

James Cameron for Titanic (1997) – Cameron’s epic was a box office smash that took home over 100 awards, including 11 Oscars, as well as being the first film to gross $1 billion. Blending both historical and fictionalized aspects of the famous sinking, Cameron npt only directed but wrote, co-produced and co-edited the film.

Peter Jackson for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) – I was overjoyed when Jackson took home Best Director. The trilogy will always have a special place in my heart as they kick-started my love of film. As a 13-year-old watching it for the first time I was blown away by the story, scenery, costumes and cast.

Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire (2008) – The most successful British film of the decade, Slumdog Millionaire charts the rise of an Indian teenage from a Mumbai slum with Boyle capturing the colours, sights and sounds of Mumbai and her people.

Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity (2013) – Gravity is a completely immersive, thrilling experience that is a career highlight for Bullock. With Cuarón at the helm it’s one hell of a ride that keeps you on the edge of your seat.

15 thoughts on “Thursday Movie Picks: Oscar Winners Edition – Best Director

Add yours

  1. Oh youchose 2 movies I hate..hahahaa. Titanic is excellent in special effects, the acting is ok but that’s about it. It’s overblown and unrealistic forgetting the real people that truly made the ship famous. A much better film is A Night To Remember. The effects are not on the same level but the story, directing, editing is just meh. I also couldn’t stand Gravity. The acting was good but I laughed at how she ended up in shorts and then at the end lands and gets up and walks away as if she just took a dip in a pool. Again the effects are great but take that away and you don’t have much. Now 2 films I love are Slumdog which is so well done. I found it funny, sad and everything else in between. I love LOTR..the whole trilogy is brilliant. Peter Jackson did not forgo great writing, acting, editing etc… for the special effects. Everything is enhanced with these films and I think the last film won for the whole trilogy. I love the score too.

    1. Ha, that’s the beauty of films! Good to have debate.
      I agree with you about Slumdog Millionaire – it’s an emotional rollercoaster. I feel the same about LOTR too. Not one element was sacrificed for the sake of another.

  2. Great picks! Gravity surprised me because I normally don’t love Cauron’s movies, but that was excellent. Loved the other 3 as well even though I’m not a fan of Cameron as a person. lol

  3. I thought the fictionalized parts of Titanic were dreadful for the most part because they were so untrue to the period (there is zero chance of the Rose & Jack romance happening on a British ship in 1912-class distinction was too strong and ingrained, even though I thought both Kate Winslet and Gloria Stuart were terrific as the two versions of Rose) but the recreation of the sinking is breathtaking. My vote wouldn’t have gone to Cameron but to Curtis Hanson for L.A. Confidential. All that said I think Cameron’s direction of the entire mammoth beast that is the movie was very strong.

    Of the other three Gravity was the one that held my interest the most and that was in large part due to the direction. He kept the focus tight which allowed the audience to remain invested in Sandra Bullock’s plight. I was less a fan of Slumdog. It was fine but I found nothing extraordinary about either the direction nor the film.

    We’ll have to agree to disagree about LOTR. I detested the entire series, though I’ll grant it had some impressive visuals, but then I’m not a big fantasy guy and we came to it at different times in life. I know I’m in the minority on this. You might ask if I hated it so much why I watched the trio. I was hoping that the ending resolution would somehow make it all come together for me. It didn’t.

    I went back a bit for mine but I was looking for ones I where I thought the direction truly moved the film up a notch from what it would have been had a different person been at the helm. My last is one of the films I recommended to you on your 50 stars project.

    The Awful Truth (1937)-Leo McCarey-A nearly divorced couple (Cary Grant & Irene Dunne) sense that they are making a mistake. Rather than saying it out loud they resort to outlandish pranks to ruin the new relationships the other partner has started. While it’s true McCarey has three of the best comic performers of the day (Grant, Dunne and Ralph Bellamy) at his disposal his deftness and surety of pace and camera angle capture them at peak performance.

    Casablanca (1942)-Michael Curtiz-Of all the gin joints in all the world Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) walks into cynical ex-lover Rick’s (Humphrey Bogart) with freedom fighting husband Victor (Paul Henreid) while Sam (Dooley Wilson) plays “As Time Goes By” until gendarme Louis (Claude Rains) rounds up the usual suspects. Never has a sturdy directorial hand’s great influence been better illustrated. The filming was famously fraught with complications (the cast went through multiple changes before shooting started, the script wasn’t finished almost up to the final day of filming, writers came and went, two endings were filmed etc.) but that master of all genres Curtiz guided it along seamlessly never letting the havoc show onscreen.

    A Letter to Three Wives (1949)-Joseph L. Mankiewicz-Three well-heeled ladies (Linda Darnell, Ann Sothern and Jeanne Crain) are about to take a boatload of children on a picnic to an isolated island when a letter arrives from their frenemy Addie Ross stating she has run off with one of their husbands…. without naming who. The women spend the day reflecting on whether it might be their man who has taken a powder. Mankiewicz directs his own screenplay with a just the right balance of humor and pathos eliciting superior performances from the cast.

    1. Thanks, as always, for your thoughts, Joel. I’m kicking myself for not including Casablanca, as I saw it earlier this year and really enjoyed it.
      Thanks again for your recommendation of A Letter to Three Wives. The Awful Truth sounds like something I’ll really enjoy too!

  4. Great picks, Claire! If I didn’t go with classic films, I’d have picked Peter Jackson for ALL The Lord of the Rings films. What an outstanding achievement he did w/ the trilogy. I also like your pick of Titanic, that’s amazing as well considering everyone knows the ending but it was still suspenseful and poignant.

  5. Those are all amazing picks! We match with Peter Jackson and I’m so glad that a cinema around here is currently doing a rerun of all LOTR movies. So, I’ll get to see them again on the big screen soon 😀

  6. Wonderful picks! We matched with James Cameron. Peter Jackson definitely deserved recognition for everything he did with Lord of the Rings. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Slumdog Millionaire, but Danny Boyle always delivers. Alfonso did an amazing job with Gravity. It was so immersive.

  7. Nice picks! Wow – People are STILL complaining about Titanic?! Thought everyone got over that. Lol. Have to admit I really like Titanic. If I want to watch the true story of the Titanic, that’s what documentaries are for. 😉 Thought Gravity was amazing & loooove LOTR. Got my name into the credits of the first LOTR DVD by joining the fan club. Haha. I’m super proud of that nerdy moment. 🙂

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