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Who do you feel are the greatest, best, your favorite directors WORKING today? (1 Viewer)

Reggie W

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I thought this video essay might provide some food for thought on why director driven projects are vital in promoting great cinema and not just the C word.

 

TravisR

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I do want to introduce more directors to this thread because while Scorsese, Spielberg, and Cameron are still working directors and all still are key figures in the film industry, I'd like to also mention some other guys too.

I think these guys probably split a lot of people between love them or hate them but I think the Safdies are a couple of outstanding young talents. Perhaps destined for a career like the Coens but then again maybe not as the pictures they have made so far don't seem to mesh with the trajectory of where motion pictures are headed.

They came to my attention with Good Time and then sort of blew me away with Uncut Gems allowing Adam Sadler to deliver his career best performance, I think. I look forward to whatever it is they come up with next and hope they don't get stuck just on a streaming service.

View attachment 94207
This might sound like a joke but Benny has a role in the new Obi-Wan Kenobi mini-series coming to Disney + next year. I'm guessing it's a relatively small part (like Werner Herzog in The Mandalorian) but after his excellent performance in Good Time, I look forward to seeing him in something else.

And if you haven't seen the Scorsese Short disc from Criterion, there's a real fun conversation between the Safdies and Ari Aster on there.
 

Walter Kittel

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In terms of younger directors; someone who impressed me a while back was Jeff Nichols with the films Take Shelter and Mud. He has kind of dropped off of my radar. (I haven't seen his 2016 feature Loving). He is currently working on an animated series and I wonder if he will get back to films.

- Walter.
 

Walter Kittel

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He did a film called Midnight Special within the past few years as well - I remember liking it in a low key way.

I've seen it as well. I found it to be a bit of step down from the two films I listed, despite Michael Shannon's presence. Not a bad film, but not as satisfying as his earlier two films from my prior post.

- Walter.
 

bujaki

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In terms of younger directors; someone who impressed me a while back was Jeff Nichols with the films Take Shelter and Mud. He has kind of dropped off of my radar. (I haven't seen his 2016 feature Loving). He is currently working on an animated series and I wonder if he will get back to films.

- Walter.
I've seen all his feature films, including his first and hard to find, Shotgun Stories. The DVD, its only release, is OOP and I got it from someone who knows Nichols. He sent it me via the friend.
The talent and promise were already there.
 

Reggie W

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This might sound like a joke but Benny has a role in the new Obi-Wan Kenobi mini-series coming to Disney + next year. I'm guessing it's a relatively small part (like Werner Herzog in The Mandalorian) but after his excellent performance in Good Time, I look forward to seeing him in something else.

And if you haven't seen the Scorsese Short disc from Criterion, there's a real fun conversation between the Safdies and Ari Aster on there.

It's also pretty cool Benny is playing Joel Wachs in the new Paul Thomas Anderson picture.
 

Reggie W

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I've seen it as well. I found it to be a bit of step down from the two films I listed, despite Michael Shannon's presence. Not a bad film, but not as satisfying as his earlier two films from my prior post.

- Walter.

So, this is something that comes into play when I want to call somebody a great/good/favorite director, they make a picture that blows me away but then the next picture...well...not in the same ballpark.

I will give a couple examples...

Jim Mickle - This guy makes a couple low budget indie horror films with Stake Land and We Are What We Are that show he definitely has talent and some interesting ideas. Then he makes Cold in July which I just found to be a truly awesome neo-noir and I am thinking he really came into his own with this picture and was very excited to see what he would do next. Now a key thing here is Mickle not only directed these pictures but he wrote them as well. Then he goes off for a while and does some TV series work because probably that's where the opportunity lies when you write and shoot the kind of material he does. He finally returns to making a feature film after 5 years, for Netflix of course, called In the Shadow of the Moon which is interesting but a bit of a step down from Cold in July. There is something different here in that he did not write In the Shadow of the Moon so perhaps this is why it seems a lesser film that did not quite have that Mickle feel. Anyway, so he is a guy I am interested in following but this is primarily based on Cold in July, a great picture, but hard to say at this point if that will be his one standout film. He makes a return to TV with Sweet Tooth and no features currently on the docket for him.

Dan Gilroy - Gilroy directed and wrote Nightcrawler, quite honestly a brilliant picture. It also falls into the category of neo-noir (so maybe this is where my issue lies I just love this genre) and interestingly was released the same year as Cold in July, 2014, so perhaps 2014 was just a great year for neo-noir. He follows up in 2017 with the quirky Roman J. Israel, Esq. which is a solid film with a great performance from Denzel Washington. It's very good and well written (he also wrote it) and so I think this guy is on a roll. He then makes Velvet Buzzsaw in 2019 (same year Mickle does In the Shadow of the Moon) and of course this is for Netflix. Obviously because smart films made for an adult audience have now been pushed to streaming over theatrical release. This picture is interesting and weird but not as good as his previous two pictures and I start thinking maybe Nightcrawler will just be the best thing he ever does. Still I am curious to see his next picture because Nightcrawler was just one of the best pictures of the last decade and his writing is always very interesting. Next up for Gilroy is Faster, Better, Cheaper which sounds promising.
 

Reggie W

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This next guy I want to mention I do believe is one of the truly great filmmakers working today. Funny thing is, he supposedly does not even consider himself a filmmaker. He's only made three pictures but each one showed this guy is meticulous in his crafting of each feature at what seems to be a Kubrickian level. He takes his time putting together his projects but they are always brilliantly constructed and photographed with outstanding acting that tends to linger long in your mind. His films are also very intense while displaying a high level of intelligence which also reminds people of Kubrick.

Honestly, I love each feature he has made and they are Sexy Beast, Birth, and Under the Skin. Each a unique experience which also again draws that Kubrick comparison. I am talking about Jonathan Glazer.

Jonathan Glazer.jpg


He has long been rumored to be working on a new project. As far as I know nothing has been leaked about what it is but word is he is in preproduction as I type this. I hope so because I can't wait to see what it is.
 

Jeffrey D

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So, this is something that comes into play when I want to call somebody a great/good/favorite director, they make a picture that blows me away but then the next picture...well...not in the same ballpark.

I will give a couple examples...

Jim Mickle - This guy makes a couple low budget indie horror films with Stake Land and We Are What We Are that show he definitely has talent and some interesting ideas. Then he makes Cold in July which I just found to be a truly awesome neo-noir and I am thinking he really came into his own with this picture and was very excited to see what he would do next. Now a key thing here is Mickle not only directed these pictures but he wrote them as well. Then he goes off for a while and does some TV series work because probably that's where the opportunity lies when you write and shoot the kind of material he does. He finally returns to making a feature film after 5 years, for Netflix of course, called In the Shadow of the Moon which is interesting but a bit of a step down from Cold in July. There is something different here in that he did not write In the Shadow of the Moon so perhaps this is why it seems a lesser film that did not quite have that Mickle feel. Anyway, so he is a guy I am interested in following but this is primarily based on Cold in July, a great picture, but hard to say at this point if that will be his one standout film. He makes a return to TV with Sweet Tooth and no features currently on the docket for him.

Dan Gilroy - Gilroy directed and wrote Nightcrawler, quite honestly a brilliant picture. It also falls into the category of neo-noir (so maybe this is where my issue lies I just love this genre) and interestingly was released the same year as Cold in July, 2014, so perhaps 2014 was just a great year for neo-noir. He follows up in 2017 with the quirky Roman J. Israel, Esq. which is a solid film with a great performance from Denzel Washington. It's very good and well written (he also wrote it) and so I think this guy is on a roll. He then makes Velvet Buzzsaw in 2019 (same year Mickle does In the Shadow of the Moon) and of course this is for Netflix. Obviously because smart films made for an adult audience have now been pushed to streaming over theatrical release. This picture is interesting and weird but not as good as his previous two pictures and I start thinking maybe Nightcrawler will just be the best thing he ever does. Still I am curious to see his next picture because Nightcrawler was just one of the best pictures of the last decade and his writing is always very interesting. Next up for Gilroy is Faster, Better, Cheaper which sounds promising.
100% agree with your take on Nightcrawler- great film. It was nominated for best original screenplay.
 

Reggie W

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He is said to be attempting to make one last picture but like Tarantino is calling it quits once he hits 50.

 

Walter Kittel

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Discussing a few of the films mentioned...

I am a pretty big fan of neo-noir myself and I believe that I have viewed Cold In July. It really seems familiar to me. I have to admit I am struggling to recall it specifically, but the cast and description makes it feel like I have viewed the film. Michael C. Hall was probably the attraction for me, on the basis of Dexter. Reviewing Mickle's work I see he was involved with Hap and Leonard which was a pretty interesting series, although I don't think I've seen the episodes with Mickle's involvement.

Still haven't seen Nightcrawler, but perhaps I will remedy that soon.

I haven't viewed it in a long, long time; but I recall really enjoying Sexy Beast. In particular, Ray Winstone's work in this feature. Films involving British criminals are almost always a sure thing for me. The language, accents, and settings along with the criminal subject matter all combine to usually hold my interest. Under the Skin was pretty frickin' weird, in a good way. The Kubrick comparisons feel strongest with this film, based on my recollections, and the abstract nature of certain plot elements. Haven't seen Birth.

- Walter.
 

JohnRice

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In terms of younger directors; someone who impressed me a while back was Jeff Nichols with the films Take Shelter and Mud. He has kind of dropped off of my radar. (I haven't seen his 2016 feature Loving). He is currently working on an animated series and I wonder if he will get back to films.

- Walter.
Sometimes I just watch movies and leave it at that, so it completely escaped me that Take Shelter and Mud were by the same director. Both just solidly done films.
 

JohnRice

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This next guy I want to mention I do believe is one of the truly great filmmakers working today. Funny thing is, he supposedly does not even consider himself a filmmaker. He's only made three pictures but each one showed this guy is meticulous in his crafting of each feature at what seems to be a Kubrickian level. He takes his time putting together his projects but they are always brilliantly constructed and photographed with outstanding acting that tends to linger long in your mind. His films are also very intense while displaying a high level of intelligence which also reminds people of Kubrick.

Honestly, I love each feature he has made and they are Sexy Beast, Birth, and Under the Skin. Each a unique experience which also again draws that Kubrick comparison. I am talking about Jonathan Glazer.

View attachment 94294

He has long been rumored to be working on a new project. As far as I know nothing has been leaked about what it is but word is he is in preproduction as I type this. I hope so because I can't wait to see what it is.
Ditto what I said above for Sexy Beast and Under the Skin. It never registered with me they were the same director.
 

Reggie W

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Discussing a few of the films mentioned...

I am a pretty big fan of neo-noir myself and I believe that I have viewed Cold In July. It really seems familiar to me. I have to admit I am struggling to recall it specifically, but the cast and description makes it feel like I have viewed the film. Michael C. Hall was probably the attraction for me, on the basis of Dexter. Reviewing Mickle's work I see he was involved with Hap and Leonard which was a pretty interesting series, although I don't think I've seen the episodes with Mickle's involvement.

Still haven't seen Nightcrawler, but perhaps I will remedy that soon.

I haven't viewed it in a long, long time; but I recall really enjoying Sexy Beast. In particular, Ray Winstone's work in this feature. Films involving British criminals are almost always a sure thing for me. The language, accents, and settings along with the criminal subject matter all combine to usually hold my interest. Under the Skin was pretty frickin' weird, in a good way. The Kubrick comparisons feel strongest with this film, based on my recollections, and the abstract nature of certain plot elements. Haven't seen Birth.

- Walter.

Sam Shepard and Don Johnson are outstanding in their supporting parts in Cold In July. Hall is the central character that becomes involved in matters that are dangerous and way above his head but Johnson and Shepard really bring something special to this film as they are both given excellent characters to play.

Nightcrawler in some ways is like a Network for our times with a media obsessed central character going way too far to get his snippets of typically violent video which he is selling to television stations. Not the same story as Network obviously but there is that idea of how media can deeply affect the public's perception of things. It's a fantastic picture that, I believe, is one of the best films of the decade. Jake Gyllenhaal gives a tremendous and harrowing performance that proves he is one of the better actors working today. It is basically like his Taxi Driver. You are in for a treat with this one when you watch it. I recommend putting it at the top of your list.

On Mr. Glazer, I don't think he is making films similar to Kubrick's work in content but he seems to approach the material he does involve himself with in that very exacting Kubrickian fashion. I don't think he is attempting to copy Kubrick at all, it is really about how precise he is. Like Kubrick's pictures each of his is a little universe unto itself. Birth is a good film. The subject matter is bizarre and may be disturbing to some in that you have Nicole Kidman's adult female getting into a very bizarre and unbalanced relationship with a male child...who may be the reincarnation of her deceased lover. Freaky stuff but beautifully realized and it shows Glazer doing very different types of stories in a masterful way.
 

Walter Kittel

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Glad that you quoted my post, Reggie. It reminded me that I needed to catch Nightcrawler, which I just watched a short time ago. Short version - yeah, that film was very well crafted. As the opening credits rolled, I saw that Robert Elswit was handling cinematography and James Newton Howard was the composer; two individual credits that raised my expectations for the film.

The film clearly parallels Network in its portrayal of media manipulation and cynicism. Gyllenhaal's Louis Bloom plays like a slightly less psychotic version of Travis Bickle in some ways. (The nighttime settings (wonderfully photographed by Elswit) and the violence on the streets of Los Angeles bolster those comparisons.) I cannot make the connection in my mind, but the character of Louis Bloom reminds me of another character with his clear focus on advancement and the use of mottos as a means of reinforcement. Just can't place it.

Seeing Bill Paxton in a supporting role, just reminded me how much I miss him. Strong work by Rene Russo and Riz Ahmed as well in this feature.

I always tend to enjoy films that feature nighttime views of cities and did I mention how much I enjoyed Elswit's cinematography? :) One of the main attractions of the feature for me. Technically the cinematography was also very strong in a cinema verite fashion when it came to all of the news footage presented in the feature.

Terrific feature that I am very happy to have finally experienced.

- Walter.
 
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JohnnyLancer

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I'm going to throw my two cents in to this wonderful discussion. Favorite working directors best films? I truly feel like Scorsese last film the Irishman was shamefully underrated and disregarded.Do I think it's his best film? No not at all but it's one of his best and definitely his best most recently. First I think he should have waited and did it as his last film in a sentimental way. It's the perfect " eulogy" for his prior gangster pictures. The sopranos took so much from those type of films that it's hard to me to imagine most wanting to tackle the genre because like the westerns they have been exhausted to no end. He still was able to get out a good story with some great moments but it's that feeling at the end that really sold me. When deniro asked the priest " can you leave the door open just a little bit" and fhe camera pans out.... it hit me as I thought to myself... how many of the greats were all alone when their day and age had come and gone in a lifetime. Younger people don't think about things like that but I do. Because the fun starts with goodfellas and now by the Irishman Marty still is highly respected but you can still feel some of the younger critics and hired guns for marvel roll their eyes everytime he makes a fair assessment about cinema and how it's being devalued.
 

Jake Lipson

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I have a few more more names to add:

Unless I overlooked it, I don't think anyone has mentioned Destin Daniel Cretton yet and someone should, so I will. He might not be as high-profile of a name as some of the other directors mentioned here, but I think he is quietly building a tremendous filmography.

Short Term 12 (2013) is on the list of the best films of this century so far in my opinion. That alone would be a monumental achievement. He could have walked away from filmmaking after that movie and would have still made an all-time classic. Fortunately, he didn't, because I also think highly of his other films: I Am Not a Hipster (2012 - technically this was before Short Term 12 but Short Term 12 was the first time I became aware of Cretton), plus The Glass Castle (2017) and Just Mercy (2019.) Every time, he has made something interesting, emotional and investable. Whether he's working with the stories of real people or fictional characters, I always feel connected to them and am interested to pay a visit their lives. Just Mercy in particular is hard to watch due to its intense subject matter regarding a wrongly convicted death row inmate, but it is extremely rewarding. Cretton really immerses you in the story and makes you feel intimately connected with these people in every film.

Cretton next movie is, of course, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings which opens next week. I'm really excited to see him make the leap into a blockbuster with Marvel not only to see what he does with a bigger film but because I think it is past time for him to get some more recognition. Hopefully doors continue to open for him after Shang-Chi for whatever he wants to do next.

I don't know how many average Marvel fans pay attention to the directors, but if even one or two people go find his previous work as a result of Shang-Chi, that would be a win.

I posted this in the Shang-Chi thread the other day when I found it, but it applies here too: Short Term 12 has been uploaded in its entirety to YouTube. I don't know why they would do this or how long they intend to keep it there -- the video has an upload date of June 28, 2021 -- but it is legitimate. It was posted by Cinedigm, the film's North American distributor, on their official account. So if you haven't seen it yet, you can watch it right now for free. Please don't look up the trailer; it gives too much away. If you're interested, just watch the movie.

Obviously, I would recommend watching it on your TV if you can instead of a computer or phone, but here is the link.



www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIc3CZmbEb4

If you'd prefer a physical disc, Amazon has the Blu-ray release for $5 at the moment. I would absolutely recommend this as a blind buy if you'd rather do that.

----------------------------

Also: David Lowery. The Green Knight has been the subject of interesting discussion around here recently. I think that movie was tremendous and you can see more of my thoughts about it in its dedicated thread. But what impresses me about Lowery in particular is his versatility. He is able to transition genres better than almost anyone I can think of right now, and no two projects are alike. He's equally adept at making a family adventure like Pete's Dragon, a weird, existential conceptual movie like A Ghost Story or a bank robber character study like The Old Man and the Gun. I have the confidence in his vision as a filmmaker that whatever story he wants to tell next is something I want to be there for, even (and perhaps especially) if it is a big shift from the last one. As far as I know, none of his films are free on YouTube right now, but they're worth checking out nonetheless.

----------------------------

I would also put forth Paul King. This is a little tricky because he has only made two films so far, and the second one is a sequel to the first. So we haven't seen him make anything outside of the series yet. But the series is Paddington and both of those movies are about as good as movies get. There's absolutely nothing wrong with them as far as I can tell and they are a blast of pure delight.

Earlier this year, there was some hubbub about Paddington 2 being the highest-rated film on Rotten Tomatoes ever, dethroning Citizen Kane after they unearthed a negative review for the latter. In short order, some guy wrote a new review of Paddington 2 which hadn't existed at the time of its release just to knock its 100% score down a peg. I don't swear by Rotten Tomatoes or anything, but the point is that Paddington 2 is good enough to be in the same sentence as Citizen Kane. This is another recent but still all-time classic for me. Paul King's direction is a big reason for that.

So I would say he qualifies based on these two films. But it will be interesting to see if he can make something as good when he's doing something else. He has chosen to make a Willy Wonka prequel for Warner Bros. next instead of directing Paddington 3, and normally I would roll my eyes at the idea of a Wonka prequel. But I've got to admit King's involvement has my attention. I'm concerned about his absence on Paddington 3 though. Fingers crossed for that one.
 
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mskaye

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I have a few more more names to add:

Unless I overlooked it, I don't think anyone has mentioned Destin Daniel Cretton yet and someone should, so I will. He might not be as high-profile of a name as some of the other directors mentioned here, but I think he is quietly building a tremendous filmography.

Short Term 12 (2013) is on the list of the best films of this century so far in my opinion. That alone would be a monumental achievement. He could have walked away from filmmaking after that movie and would have still made an all-time classic. Fortunately, he didn't, because I also think highly of his other films: I Am Not a Hipster (2012 - technically this was before Short Term 12 but Short Term 12 was the first time I became aware of Cretton), plus The Glass Castle (2017) and Just Mercy (2019.) Every time, he has made something interesting, emotional and investable. Whether he's working with the stories of real people or fictional characters, I always feel connected to them and am interested to pay a visit their lives. Just Mercy in particular is hard to watch due to its intense subject matter regarding a wrongly convicted death row inmate, but it is extremely rewarding. Cretton really immerses you in the story and makes you feel intimately connected with these people in every film.

Cretton next movie is, of course, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings which opens next week. I'm really excited to see him make the leap into a blockbuster with Marvel not only to see what he does with a bigger film but because I think it is past time for him to get some more recognition. Hopefully doors continue to open for him after Shang-Chi for whatever he wants to do next.

I don't know how many average Marvel fans pay attention to the directors, but if even one or two people go find his previous work as a result of Shang-Chi, that would be a win.

I posted this in the Shang-Chi thread the other day when I found it, but it applies here too: Short Term 12 has been uploaded in its entirety to YouTube. I don't know why they would do this or how long they intend to keep it there -- the video has an upload date of June 28, 2021 -- but it is legitimate. It was posted by Cinedigm, the film's North American distributor, on their official account. So if you haven't seen it yet, you can watch it right now for free. Please don't look up the trailer; it gives too much away. If you're interested, just watch the movie.

Obviously, I would recommend watching it on your TV if you can instead of a computer or phone, but here is the link.



www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIc3CZmbEb4

If you'd prefer a physical disc, Amazon has the Blu-ray release for $5 at the moment. I would absolutely recommend this as a blind buy if you'd rather do that.

----------------------------

Also: David Lowery. The Green Knight has been the subject of interesting discussion around here recently. I think that movie was tremendous and you can see more of my thoughts about it in its dedicated thread. But what impresses me about Lowery in particular is his versatility. He is able to transition genres better than almost anyone I can think of right now, and no two projects are alike. He's equally adept at making a family adventure like Pete's Dragon, a weird, existential conceptual movie like A Ghost Story or a bank robber character study like The Old Man and the Gun. I have the confidence in his vision as a filmmaker that whatever story he wants to tell next is something I want to be there for, even (and perhaps especially) if it is a big shift from the last one. As far as I know, none of his films are free on YouTube right now, but they're worth checking out nonetheless.

----------------------------

I would also put forth Paul King. This is a little tricky because he has only made two films so far, and the second one is a sequel to the first. So we haven't seen him make anything outside of the series yet. But the series is Paddington and both of those movies are about as good as movies get. There's absolutely nothing wrong with them as far as I can tell and they are a blast of pure delight.

Earlier this year, there was some hubbub about Paddington 2 being the highest-rated film on Rotten Tomatoes ever, dethroning Citizen Kane after they unearthed a negative review for the latter. In short order, some guy wrote a new review of Paddington 2 which hadn't existed at the time of its release just to knock its 100% score down a peg. I don't swear by Rotten Tomatoes or anything, but the point is that Paddington 2 is good enough to be in the same sentence as Citizen Kane. This is another recent but still all-time classic for me. Paul King's direction is a big reason for that.

So I would say he qualifies based on these two films. But it will be interesting to see if he can make something as good when he's doing something else. He has chosen to make a Willy Wonka prequel for Warner Bros. next instead of directing Paddington 3, and normally I would roll my eyes at the idea of a Wonka prequel. But I've got to admit King's involvement has my attention. I'm concerned about his absence on Paddington 3 though. Fingers crossed for that one.

Can I add Barry Jenkins to this list of important filmmakers? Moonlight was powerful and exquisitely beautiful. He is a director who knows his light and how to make subtle emotions visible. I think he is a poet of the highest order.
PS - The Coens, Wes Anderson, Tarantino, Scorsese, PT Anderson, Safdie Brothers
 

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