About a week ago, I was thinking about the film, Friends With Benefits, which was on TV at the time. I thought about how Will Gluck’s (director of Easy A and director/writer of Fired Up! and Friends With Benefits) movies had been written off as generic teen comedies and/or formulaic romantic comedies. When in reality, Gluck has made some good movies. I then decided to make a list of some of the many underrated directors/writers of the past 20 or so years, which would make a great article. Take a look below for my list.
The Most Underrated Director/Writers of Hollywood
The director of Fired Up!, Easy A, and Friends With Benefits is not a household name. Although his movies have done fairly well at the box office and he has gotten some praise for his films, Will Gluck has never been looked upon as more than just another rom-com and teen comedy director, who is making his way in Hollywood. This lack of caring is a shame. His movies are no masterpieces and are a little predictable, but they are surprisingly funny and his scripts are actually quite clever. Many of his movies have satirized the clichés of movies, romance, and life, while showing the characters that some of these clichés stay on the screen and some of them are more real than they seem, such as in Easy A and Friends With Benefits. What I also like about Gluck is that all of his movies so far has proven many actors’ comic abilities, such as Emma Stone (Easy A was one of the movies that made her ironically an A-lister), Justin Timberlake, Mila Kunis, Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, Thomas Haden Church, Patricia Clarkson, and Malcolm McDowell. I honestly just hope people will see that his movies are better than a typical ensemble comedy and enjoy his clever and entertaining movies.
2. Rian Johnson
In a change from the comedic Will Gluck, the director of film-noir cult classic, Brick, the caper comedy, The Brothers Bloom, and the wildly original sci-fi film, Looper, is in need of some attention. Although he is known and respected by most movie buffs and has become a bit more mainstream with the praise garnered by Looper, it is a mystery to me why Rian Johnson is not more well known. With stylish filming, out of chronological order story structure, great character development, and original plots, Rian Johnson proved he knows how to make a good movie. Johnson also took his often collaborated star, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and put him on the path to stardom. In addition, Johnson has multiple short films and recently directed two episodes of AMC’s Breaking Bad. Although each of his movies received positive critical reactions, people just haven’t paid him enough attention yet. If only more people knew who he was and could see that; Looper was one of my four favorite movies of 2012.
3. Martin McDonagh
4. Bryan Singer
5. Jackie Chan
6. Ben Stiller
This Hollywood funny man has made people laugh for years, yet recently has been coming up short. Many people forget that Stiller has written and directed many of his movies such as, Reality Bites, Zoolander, and Tropic Thunder. Now not all of these are amazing movies, but Stiller has made some pretty hilarious movies, some of which are so stupid they are brilliant. Stiller is not in the ranks as some of the other people on this list, but he deserves a little more credit for his directing and writing jobs.
7. Alfonso Cuaron
Mexican director, Alfonso Cuaron, is known for films such as Y Tu Mamá También and Children of Men (I have seen one of these, which was phenomenal). The movie he made that changed a series for the better, people tend to forget he even directed. The film I am talking about is Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban. Everything about this movie was strange, but strange in the best of ways. It had style, it was dark, it boasted impressive effects and had a less straightforward approach than the first two Potter films. This was the first Potter movie to be a cinematic triumph, not just a direct adaptation. After this came the Cuaron-absent, darker better Potter movies. Countless young fans transfixed in wonder by the later films of the boy wizard owe it all to Alfonso Cuaron. I am very excited for his newest project, the sci-fi film, Gravity, starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock coming out this October. Hopefully you are excited to see it now too.
8. Michel Gondry
Criminal. It is criminal this man is not better known. The French director is a bender of reality and thought on camera with films ranging from the mind-bending romantic science fiction film, Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind to films such as the underrated Mos Def and Jack Black movie about movies, Be Kind Rewind and Seth Rogen’s visual rush providing Green Hornet.
Michel Gondry is known for his original camera techniques, which are apparent in all of his works. Much like Spike Jonze, Gondry had worked with Charlie Kaufman a few times. And much like Spike Jonze, Gondry is a music video and commercials master with more than 30 music videos (musicians including The Rolling Stones, Radiohead, The White Stripes, Björk, and Foo Fighters) and 20 or more commercials. Gondry revolutionized the one-shot music video. People have told Gondry to stick to making music videos. But I disagree. Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind is confusing, but before you leave this planet Earth, I suggest you take the train to Montauk and see that film. One of my personal favorite movies is Gondry’s Be Kind Rewind, which is goofy gem for those who have seen it, and for people who haven’t seen it, it is a movie that they should see. I have not seen it, but I have heard the Gondry’s strange surreal, The Science of Sleep, is quite great as well. Although its visuals were great, the one movie of his I was not thrilled with was The Green Hornet, which was a pretty cliché and unoriginal comedy. However, Gondry has obvious chops for the craft of film, and his films and videos should see the light of day more than they do now.
9. Irvin Kershner
Irvin Kershner proves humble beginnings bring on great things. This independent comedy-maker took a turn for legendary. People tend to forget that George Lucas didn’t screw up all the Star Wars movies. Lucas only directed A New Hope for the original trilogy. Yet arguably the best Star Wars movie of them all was not helmed by Lucas but by good ol’ Irv Kershner. Kershner directed The Empire Strikes Back. Although he didn’t do much else after that, besides doing the unofficial 007 movie, Never Say Never Again, which is better than it gets credit for. Kershner deserves attention for this one grand movie of which became one of the most classic movies ever. Kershner also oddly showed up as in actor in some movies in small roles, like Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ and Steven Segal’s On Deadly Ground. Kershner was known as a good man by all who knew him; he passed away in 2010. Rest in peace, Irvin Kershner.
10. Guillermo del Toro