Cinema News and Reviews for the Rest of Us

On The Working Auteurs…

I was having a film conversation the other day and a friend asked me who I thought the working auteurs were today.  I gave a partial answer then, but it got me thinking.  First, about the names that came to kind.  And second, about my own definition of an auteur.  I decided that my definition is pretty strict.  I believe that a true auteur is a filmmaker of singular, clearly identifiable perspective and vision, and also a director who has not only one but TWO masterpieces or near-masterpieces to his or her credit.  That’s a pretty exclusive criteria, since many filmmakers have managed one great film amid a career of the not-so-brilliant (Michael Camino jumps to mind), but not many have managed to pull out two of them or more.  Very difficult to do, and it implies some kind of concrete genius rather than a fortunate flash of brilliance.

So I compiled a list of filmmaker and the works I consider great, and I’ve printed it below.  Check it out and see what you think, who you think shouldn’t there, and who you think should be added.  Remember, these are WORKING filmmakers who are still producing films today.

Paul Thomas Anderson (perhaps the most consummately brilliant of the bunch) – There Will Be Blood, Boogie Nights, Magnolia

Terrence MalickBadlands, Days of Heaven, The Thin Red Line

Martin ScorceseGoodfellas, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, The Departed

Steven SpielbergSchindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, Munich, A.I.

The Coen BrothersNo Country for Old Men, Fargo

Christopher NolanThe Dark Knight, Inception

Quentin Tarantino Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Inglorious Basterds

Michael Haneke (Germany/France) – The White Ribbon, Cache

David FincherSe7en, Zodiac, (early word suggest The Social Network may well join this list)

Spike LeeDo The Right Thing, Malcolm X

James CameronAvatar, Terminator 2, Aliens

Ridley ScottAlien, Blade Runner

Woody AllenAnnie Hall, Match Point

Wes CravenScream, A Nightmare on Elm Street

The Wachowski BothersThe Matrix, V for Vendetta (extremely uneven career, but they produced two great ones)

Terry GilliamBrazil, Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Jane CampionThe Piano, Portrait of a Lady

Steven Soderberg – Traffic, Sex Lies and Videotape

Wes AndersonRushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums

John Carpenter The Thing, Halloween

Lars Von Trier (Netherlands) – Breaking the Waves, Dancer in the Dark

Peter Weir (Australia) – Picnic at Hanging Rock, Gallipoli

Gus Van SantDrug Store Cowboy, Good Will Hunting, My Own Private Idaho

Kathryn BigelowThe Hurt Locker, Near Dark

Richard LinklaterSlacker, Dazed and Confused

Paul VerhovenStarship Troopers, Robocop

Takashi Miike (Japan) – Audition, Visitor Q

Spike JonzeBeing John Malkovich, Adaptation


Mel Brooks, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert Altman


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