82nd Oscars - Best Director

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Postby rolotomasi99 » Fri Mar 19, 2010 3:15 pm

OscarGuy wrote:I didn't say I thought the performances were good. I don't recall having said any such thing.

…not precisely, but you did say…
OscarGuy wrote:I looked at what there was to offer and by rolo's definition, James Cameron was the best "conductor" of the bunch.

…which lead me to wonder…
OscarGuy wrote:I am not sure if you think the director has nothing to do with the performances or (even scarier) you think the performances in AVATAR are good! If it is the latter, than clearly we not only disagree on what constitutes good directing but also what constitutes good acting.

With no clarification from you I was left with only my understanding of what you said. You think James Cameron did a good job directing AVATAR, which means you either a) thought the performances in the film were good or b) do not factor the performances from a film into your judgment on the quality of the directing.
OscarGuy wrote:I don't think Bigelow deserved the Oscar because she is not better than at least four of her competitors and brings nothing new to the material. Her directing is flat and emotionless.

I have no idea how directing can be “flat” and “emotionless,” but I am sure it is probably because I am once again taking these words too literally. By “flat” perhaps you mean visually uninteresting and emotionless means bad acting, and if so then I must vigorously disagree. As for the “nothing new,” I once again politely ask what war film THE HURT LOCKER matches in style and tone. I can honestly think of none, but if I am missing the film(s) you are thinking about please let me know.
OscarGuy wrote:But, you don't value my contributions anymore, so I guess there's no need for you to continue to respond.

If I thought everything you were saying was wrong, I would have just said that. When you brought up certain examples of directors or films to support your opinion, I gave you my impression of those directors or films. When you mentioned film history or certain film theories, I gave examples of other film history or film theories. I paid attention to everything you wrote about your opinion of what makes great film directing, and countered it with how I define great directing and why. That is what I call a good conversation.

If I was not listening to what you were saying, why would I waste any time actually talking about what you wrote? I would just respond to every one of your posts with, “No, OscarGuy, you are wrong!” I never said your opinions were wrong, I just said I had different opinions. That is what I thought our conversation was about.

In fact, I even acknowledged when you had a good point. For example, when I was making it seem like the director just shoots what the screenwriter creates, I admitted I was going too far by citing the quote about a film being created three times (screenplay, shooting, editing). You then responded by saying you too realized how important the editor was to creating the film. I thought that was us giving each other credit for making valid points. Clearly I was mistaken.

The only opinion of yours I simply could not abide was that women should be held to a different standard than men when it came to directing. It is that opinion that outraged me and several other folks on this thread. I never would have thought you felt that way. That seems more like an opinion criddic3 would hold, not you. No matter how much you try to qualify it as a good thing, I still think it puts female directors at a disadvantage. I think male and female directors should be judged equally. That is the only opinion of yours I find distasteful. Everything else we can just agree-to-disagree on.

I say again, I enjoyed our conversation. You did not change my opinion about directors in general or Bigelow specifically, but you made me think about things I had not considered before and certainly encouraged me to match you point-by-point on film knowledge. You truly know your Oscar and film history, and it was fun talking with you. As the next Oscar season begins, I will look forward to debating with you again. Bye for now!
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-- Amy Poehler in praise of Zero Dark Thirty director Kathryn Bigelow

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Postby OscarGuy » Wed Mar 17, 2010 3:53 pm

You had no interest in seeing where I was coming from since we started this whole "author" debate, so don't pretend my throwing my hands up to the matter has anything to do with me winning an argument and not me being completely frustrated that you try to refute everything I say, which is exactly what you suggest I am trying to do with you: you want me to see things entirely from your perspective and don't actually care what I think about the matter only that it happens to disagree with your opinion.

As for your learning, you have learned virtually nothing it seems.

1) Yes, I think Cameron did a good job directing Avatar.
2) I didn't say I thought the performances were good. I don't recall having said any such thing. And, when my review is posted, it will highlight Sigourney Weaver and Zoe Saldana as the only credible performances in the film.
3) Mischaracterization. I don't think Bigelow deserved the Oscar because she is not better than at least four of her competitors and brings nothing new to the material. her directing is flat and emotionless.
4) An oversimplification of my statements phrased in a rude and condescending manner.

But, you don't value my contributions anymore, so I guess there's no need for you to continue to respond.

And, if you want to have an illuminating conversation, then perhaps you should warn me first because everything you've posted has come off sounding like an attack. You have vociferously gone after every point I've tried to make and worked your way into a refutation.

Illuminating conversations involve people respecting each other's thoughts and opinions and since you stated many pages ago that you used to respect my opinion suggests you don't anymore, which makes the purpose of this entire argument utterly pointless.
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Postby rolotomasi99 » Wed Mar 17, 2010 3:33 pm

OscarGuy wrote:One of the definitions of Author is "the maker of anything; creator; originator”

Interesting. So if someone says they are an author, they could be talking about being an architect, a painter, a choreographer, or even a mother! I never realized author meant all those things before.
OscarGuy wrote:I know I've said this before, and I should have heeded my own statement at the time, but I really think I am done with this conversation. It has stagnated and doesn't show any signs of improving. The light has not and will not come on for you, so I'll leave it.

This whole time I thought we were having an illuminating conversation, but in reality you were just trying to prove how wrong I am and how right you are. I never thought I would change your mind, but the only reason you kept posting was because you thought you might somehow talk me into thinking exactly like you. Weird.
OscarGuy wrote:I will always see the director as the final arbiter and figurative and literal visionary of the project. The individual pieces may make for a solid foundation, but the director is the one who guides it to completion and is the most directly responsible for the film's success or failure.

“Conductor” – “Guide” – “Tomato” – “Tomahto”

It seems like we agree on what a director does. We just disagree on how personally a director has to be connected to the material to do a good job.

I have certainly learned quite a bit from this thread.
1) You think James Cameron did a good job directing AVATAR
2) You think the acting in AVATAR was good
3) Kathryn Bigelow did not deserve the Oscar because she did not impose her authorship on the movie
4) Kathryn Bigelow does not direct the way you expect a woman to direct.

Very interesting.
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Postby jack » Tue Mar 16, 2010 7:23 pm

I could be mistaken, but I don't think we've had nine pages dedicated to a Best Director in the ten years I've been posting here.

What's the big fucking deal? Kathryn Bigelow won Best Director. Accept it and let's move on. To feel the need to disect ever facet of her movie is completely fine, it's what we do, do discuss because we can't do. But let the woman's victory be.

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Postby Sonic Youth » Tue Mar 16, 2010 4:55 pm

rolotomasi99 wrote:Not to be the grammar police, but how do you both let folks run rampant and corral them?

Yeah, you're an English major for sure. :D
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Postby OscarGuy » Tue Mar 16, 2010 4:11 pm

This is a pointless argument.

But, one last thing:

One of the definitions of Author is "the maker of anything; creator; originator"

One definition of Vision is "a vivid, imaginative conception or anticipation"

Neither of these fall into your cited definitions of the words, but they are legitimate definitions. Words have many forms and whether used in the strictest literalism or used as a figurative comparison.

An author creates. Their creation does not have to be written. Their creation can be created through a medium, such as a film, which has a rhythm and language all its own.

Vision is a conceptualization. It's a personal view of how things are. The expression "I view this as an opportunity" does not have to literally mean, they have had a vision of something or see something that they feel presents an opportunity, they take something as an opportunity. Yet, view is a word that means seeing as well.

As a writer, I hope that you aren't as literal as this with all your word selections.

I know I've said this before, and I should have heeded my own statement at the time, but I really think I am done with this conversation. It has stagnated and doesn't show any signs of improving. The light has not and will not come on for you, so I'll leave it here:

I have not and never shall discount any singular task within the filmmaking process, but I will always see the director as the final arbiter and figurative and literal visionary of the project. The individual pieces may make for a solid foundation, but the director is the one who guides it to completion and is the most directly responsible for the film's success or failure.




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Postby rolotomasi99 » Tue Mar 16, 2010 3:33 pm

OscarGuy wrote:Is your first language English, Rolo? Because you are assuming that words have only one definition and that there is no deviation from that definition.

Ha! Yes, English is my first and only language (except for maybe a little ASL). In fact, I was an English major in college. I am not looking to pick a fight by disagreeing with your use of words like “author” or “vision.” I just truly am confused about your idea of the role of a film director. Maybe as an aspiring writer I am overly sensitive to the way screenwriters are devalued and the way directors are seen as gods. It does not mean screenwriters are more important, I simply feel the director is not the sole voice of a film. Words like author and vision seem to suggest the director is the person creating art while everyone is just assisting them.
I have never heard the word author applied literally to someone who had not written anything. You could use the word author figuratively (“A film director is like an author…”), but I am unaware of the English language allowing for any literal definition of author other than as writer.
Likewise, the use of vision to describe the role of directors is also strange. A movie like ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND is Charlie Kaufman’s vision. Michel Gondry may have done a beautiful job filming it, but I would never call it Gondry’s vision. That film comes completely from the mind of Charlie Kaufman. Gondry was smart enough to use the language of cinema to bring it to audiences, and for that he deserves praise; but he does not get to proclaim it his vision when clearly it was so fully laid out on the page by Kaufman. That is just one example, but I just wanted to point out how a director could do an excellent job without ever imposing their vision upon a film.
OscarGuy wrote:But you also seem to think the director has no INPUT on these decisions and should just let his employees run rampant and only corrals them to an idea.

Not to be the grammar police, but how do you both let folks run rampant and corral them? I think a good director reads the screenplay (assuming they did not write it), finds the tone and pace of the story, figures out that might be achieved cinematically, and then explains the overall tone to the heads of each department. Those folks give their ideas, and the director tells them what fits and what might need reworking. However, if the director ever tells the main crew members exactly what he/she wants and rejects all input from them, then what is the point of even hiring cinematographers, editors, etc?
Steven Soderbergh figured this out eventually. He explained how he kept stepping on the toes of his cinematographers. Eventually he realized he had such exact ideas of what he wanted that he just stopped hiring cinematographers and did it himself. This was better than what he said he had been doing before: dictating exactly what he wanted and not really being interested in what the cinematographer thought.
OscarGuy wrote:Would you say that Alfred Hitchcock was a great director because of his stories? or the way he told them? Those films have a single style that is unmistakable.

A Hitchcock film may be unmistakable, but not all Hitchcock films are the same. NORTH BY NORTHWEST, PSYCHO, and TO CATCH A THIEF all have very distinctive tones and styles. TO CATCH A THIEF’s romantic opulence would not be appropriate for the screenplay for PSYCHO, and PSYCHO’s claustrophobic horror would not work for NORTH BY NORTHWEST. Hitchcock’s greatness was not just his skill with the language of cinema, but finding the best tone for each movie based on their screenplay. That is what I mean when I say the director alone does not dictate the movie’s vision. No matter how brilliant he may be, Hitchcock could not force his vision for PSYCHO on NORTH BY NORTHWEST. It just would not work. The screenplay still plays a part in determining the proper way to tell that particular story, no matter how strong the director’s vision may be.
OscarGuy wrote:But, I guess I shouldn't be expecting you to give any credibility to that, so we'll consider that Burton, Hitchcock, Spielberg, the Coens, etc, were only great because the elements they brought together were great, not because they had a unique style and way of looking at the world that gave them the impetus to create their films and the desire to craft the stories THEY wanted to tell.

I surely hope I am not taking your words too literally again, but it seems to me that you are saying a director’s skills are linked to their strong feelings about the story they are telling. To me, the more passionate a director feels about a project or how personal it may be for them does not make their ability to direct the film any better.
A great example of that is RAGING BULL vs GANGS OF NEW YORK. Martin Scorsese had wanted to make GANGS OF NEW YORK since 1974. It was a film he felt very passionately about. It spoke to him personally and artistically. After almost three decades, he was finally able to make it. I thought he did a good job bringing all the different elements together, but the directing did not stand up in comparison to some of his best films. RAGING BULL was a film Scorsese had no real interest in making. Robert DeNiro was the one who identified with the story and really wanted to see the film made. He asked Scorsese several times to direct the picture, but Scorsese repeatedly refused. Finally, Scorsese agreed but mostly just as a favor to his friend. He put all of his talent into directing that film and produced what is considered by many to not only be his best film, but also one of the greatest films ever made.
I mention this only to illustrate being personally connected to a story does not increase a director’s ability to make an excellent film. Some great jobs at directing have come from director’s who were hired to bring someone else’s vision to screen.
I mention this only because it seemed your posts at the beginning of this thread were criticizing Bigelow for lacking a distinctive voice or signature style to her films. You made it seem like since Bigelow did not make THE HURT LOCKER distinctly her own film, then she really did not achieve anything as a director. I still maintain Bigelow was the perfect director for this particular screenplay and this particular story. She is good at telling the story of men’s relationships, she does not fetishize heroism like Spielberg or Eastwood might, she films action scenes that are exciting yet realistic (looking at you Greengrass and Tarantino), and she knew exactly how to bring out great performances from all her actors but particularly Renner and Mackie.
She did a great job because she brought to screen the story she had rather than force on it her vision and make it her film for no other reason that some sort of idea of ownership. The making of this movie was about collaboration, not ego and domination.
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Postby ITALIANO » Tue Mar 16, 2010 2:54 pm

Johnny Guitar wrote:OscarGuy, I was wondering if you caught Anon's post a little ways back.

I did now, Zach. It's interesting, of course - but still about subtext. And once you go there, you can detect all kinds of signs you want, all of them more or less unintentional (for example, the only sensitive, intellectual soldier in the movie is conveniently, almost ritually killed off - what should we make of this?); and especially when it comes to things NOT shown - like, no sex scenes or strip club scenes - well, it doesn't really mean much, as there are countless war movies directed by men which don't have such scenes.

Again, it is an interesting exercise, but while I can understand analyzing the subtext of, say, American B-movies of the 50s, I certainly hope that, in the different context of today's American cinema, a director can express himself openly through text - saying rather than hinting. We may discuss forever if the subtext of The Hurt Locker is revolutionary (and I frankly doubt it), but what's sure is that its text is VERY traditional, very conservative, and I've seen movies, even war movies, made by men with a less macho approach.

I'm sure that by now even in America at least SOME finally see the absurdity of the war in Iraq; but this movie easily avoids any kind of even vaguely political statement - and in these cases, not condemning means approving.

Also, I will say something now that you'll never hear in America (where it's always "our beloved troops in Iraq etc", said with teary eyes of course): I think soldiers arent necessarily less guilty than the governments which give them orders.




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Postby OscarGuy » Mon Mar 15, 2010 11:18 am

Is your first language English, Rolo? Because you are assuming that words have only one definition and that there is no deviation from that definition. Like in your insistence that author can only refer to an individual physically writing a story. You reject any interpretation that applies to any other medium because of your narrowly defined use of the word.

The same, apparently, is used for the word vision. And like Author, Vision does not have to be simply the visuals. While style is certainly applicable visually, pacing is also a sample of how a director's vision impacts the story.

I don't discount individual achievements. But you also seem to think the director has no INPUT on these decisions and should just let his employees run rampant and only corrals them to an idea. Whereas, to me, a director guides his employees to meet a certain decision. Contrary to your statement, a director doesn't have to micro-manage. However, a director DOES have to convey his vision to that craftsmen to attain the desired result.

Would you say that Alfred Hitchcock was a great director because of his stories? or the way he told them? Those films have a single style that is unmistakable. He never wrote his scripts, but had he not presented them in his own style, I don't think (nor would many) they would have been better without his vision. Whether it was how the plot wove together in the end, how it looked, what symbolism was used and so forth, that was Hitchcock's vision. His craftspeople took his instruction and created his vision of the film. While those talented people created some magical things, Hitchcock, as director, was solely responsible for the end result.

You can claim that the individual pieces can be strong without the director being strong and he just corrals them all together, but it just so happens that talented individuals aren't necessarily the be-all end-all of a film, which is what you seem to be suggesting every time you write here.

I'll give you the prime example of how directorial vision can screw up a movie: Tim Burton. He has a singular style, a pace, a visual look to his films that, while technically stunning, are often oversimplified, exaggerated and irritating. Is is that the scripts or the performers are bad, not necessarily. In Alice in Wonderland, you have several talented actors: Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway and Helena Bonham Carter.

You have talented technicians: Danny Elfman, Dariusz Wolski, Chris Lebenzon, Colleen Atwood.

Yes, the film isn't that great. Why? Some would leap immediately to the script, but we all know that any screenwriter worth their salt wouldn't make the Mad Hatter a central figure in their story because he's not a central character in the novels. But, we have Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter, which reeks of Tim Burton's influence. And it's not the only thing wrong, but to meet Burton's style, the screenplay had to have been changed. I don't think there's any denying that Burton is the reason Alice in Wonderland failed. He had great pieces to work with, but he didn't elicit anything remotely great from them.

But, I guess I shouldn't be expecting you to give any credibility to that, so we'll consider that Burton, Hitchcock, Spielberg, the Coens, etc, were only great because the elements they brought together were great, not because they had a unique style and way of looking at the world that gave them the impetus to create their films and the desire to craft the stories THEY wanted to tell. Their success was that they never tinkered with their screenplays, or told their technicians what to do. They were just bringing all the pieces together and that's it.
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Postby rolotomasi99 » Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:46 am

All those "tools" the director uses to create those images, though, are crafted by other people. You are right that a painter is not a good word to describe a director since painters (more often than not) work alone on the actual painting. I am sure there are exceptions to that general rule, but mostly the actual act of painting on a canvas is work done by a sing artist.

That is why I continue to use the analogy of the conductor. Generally speaking, if people enjoy a great concert it was the written music and the musicians performing it that they are responding to. However, none of the performance would have been possible if not for the steady hand of a good conductor. From the countless hours of practice to the final moment of performing for an audience, the conductor is responsible for bringing all the various pieces of a symphony together to actually produce something beautiful. The musicians could not possibly function without the conductor.

Likewise, when people talk about a movie, they may praise the acting or the cinematography or the visual effects. However, the only reason all those elements came together to form a film is the director. From pre-production, to filming, to post-production, the director is there to bring all those various artists together to create a singular piece of art: the film.

However, every single piece of the film was created by someone else (in most cases). I am not sure what you mean by "tools" but it sounds like you see the crew as just an extension of the director. To me, a good director listens to what the heads of each department has to say rather than just micro-managing. Ultimately, the buck does stop with the director when it comes to how things turn out, but there is absolutely no point in hiring someone to make creative choices if you think you are the only one with any artistic talent.

Some directors like Soderbergh or the Coen brothers serves as their own cinematographer and editors respectively because they do feel they are the only ones who can produce what they want in those two fields. However, their achievements as cinematographer or editor are still separate from their achievement as director.

While a writer, actor, cinematographer, editor, etc. all have some actual product of their work, a director's achievement is far more nebulous. Other than the general feel of the movie, I would be hard pressed to explain how I know a movie is well directed.

OscarGuy, it seems from your repeated use of the word vision, your definition of good directing has to do with the visual achievement of a film. This explains why you admired AVATAR. It was a visual striking film, but due to the bad writing and overearnest acting many moments which were supposed to be serious drew laughter and derisive snorts (though the weaker minded were moved to tears). Cameron was never one to be shmaltzy, so I am not sure why he turned on the sap for this film.

My admiration for the directing in THE HURT LOCKER was based on how well each piece worked together. Nothing was neglected, and no one aspect of the film overwhelmed the others. The screenplay was based on the writer's eyewitness experiences in the field, and Bigelow made sure everything reflected that realism. Everything and everyone worked together to make a great film, and I think they have their director to thank for that.




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Postby OscarGuy » Fri Mar 12, 2010 5:46 pm

I am one of the first champions of the editor in most situations. I'm one of the key players in keeping the Best Editing award going with the Online Film Critics Society. I think it's as important to creating the film as any other aspect of the film. However, it is still the director that pushes his vision into that process. If he doesn't like the edit, he asks for something different. He'll spend hours sitting down with an editor, talking about everything in the film and while the editor is the wizard who creates that vision, it is still the director who is ultimately responsible.

And I think you're being too literal in your appliaction of "author" as a word. While writing is a type of authorship, I don't feel it is the only one. Film itself is like an entire language. There are ways to cut films together, there are ways scenes have to be framed and corrected so as to create a singular piece of entertainment or art that can be interpreted by the human eye.

Authors use words to convey their story certainly, but Directors tell their story through visual means. You might think Painter is a better term as it deals with sight, but how much structure, pacing and plot does a canvas hold. Very little in comparison.

Think of it like this:

The quick brown fox jumped over the moon. Those are words to describe a set of actions. In film, it is visualized as a fleet tawny fox leaping over a glowing moon.

On the page, it is one sentence. On the big screen, it is a series of still images connected to form motion in an effort to create that sentence. But while the sentence itself has a common structure involving nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc, so too does a director have a set structure that he must employ to convey those images. Close-up, medium shot, establishing shot, tracking shot, crane shot, pan, zoom, etc. These are all tools akin to nouns, adjectives and verbs.

Literature: Words become sentences. Sentences become paragraphs. Paragraphs become chapters. Chapters become a novel.

Filmmaking: Shots become scenes. Scenes become Sequences. Sequences become arcs. Arcs become films.

Although these structures may be inspired by the page, the page cannot and does not transform them into visual images. And this is what the director's task is. Take the written words and using the language of film, convey those words into a visual whole that either literalizes or embellishes the story.

So, although a director does not use written words to tell a story, he uses tools that are alike and comparative to a writer's tools and thus, in my mind, IS an author even if the language is not English, French, Danish or Chinese.
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Postby rolotomasi99 » Fri Mar 12, 2010 5:28 pm

OscarGuy wrote:I think you give screenwriters more credit than they deserve. I'm not saying they don't deserve credit and, sometimes the script is the best thing about a movie, but while you hold up the screenwriter as the singular visionary of the film, you are simultaneously putting down the rest of those involved in the production.

:angry:

At first I thought you were misunderstanding me, but this is beginning to get too ridiculous to be accidental.

Except for in Mike Leigh films (and those who follow his style), the screenwriter is the first person to create the film. First, first, first, first! Yes, with writer/director combos the line blurs. The director part of their brains may start visualizing the movie before a single word is written, but the writer part of their brain is the one that actually first creates the film.

This discussion makes me think about that great quote about how a film is created three times: when it is written, when it is filmed, and then when it is edited. I get what you are saying OscarGuy about how the ultimate product of a film is different from the screenplay. All I ever said was that (except for Mike Leigh), the screenwriter is the first person to "create" the film. Even an adaptation of a book is still not a movie until it is first transformed into a screenplay.

Yes, I do take words literally. When you said the director is the author of a film, I objected because an author is someone who writes something (whether it is a book, a screenplay, or a piece of legislation). The movie has an author, and it is the screenwriter.
When I said a film director is like a conductor, I meant that as an analogy. Your use of author seemed pretty literal, so I objected to it on the grounds of improper use of that word.

So to be clear on what I believe: the screenwriter is the first person to create the film; the screenwriter is not the most important person to create the film; the director is not the "author" of the film; never underestimate the importance of a good editor for the final stage of creating a film.
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-- Amy Poehler in praise of Zero Dark Thirty director Kathryn Bigelow

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Postby Big Magilla » Fri Mar 12, 2010 3:16 pm

Johnny Guitar wrote:
Big Magilla wrote:Auteur is the French word for author. The "auteur theory", as it was called by Andrew Sarris in 1962, referred to the idea espoused by French critics beginning with Francois Truffaut in 1954, that the director is in most cases the "author" of his film.

Actually, Magilla, if you go back to that 1954 Truffaut article you will see that this is not what he says. In fact, the "certain tendency" he is attacking is that of the dominance of screenwriters in cinema (as well as problems of literary adaptation)--but not screenwriters in abstract, only instead a specific and localized trend in French cinema of the period, where the same handfuls of tired and dishonest scenarios (in the opinion of Truffaut) got played and replayed. He was against the trend of an "anti-bourgeois cinema made by the bourgeois for the bourgeois" (which is also why he attacked certain ostensibly left-wing elements in the Tradition of Quality).

Ah so, it comes back.

And, yes, Truffaut was saying that certain directors, not all, were the true auteurs of their films. Sarris was saying the same thing. Nowadays, however, most directors, certainly those who reap the awards, consider themselves auteurs. It's a generalization, I know, but directors for hire basically work on TV series where they follow tried and true formulas.

We know that producers in the studio days from Sam Cohn to Daryl Zanuck to Sam Goldwyn to Walt Disney put their stamp on their films. Zanuck, in particular, was very controlling, but I still maintain that the only Oscar winning Best Pictures in which the producer's vision is clearly obvious are Gone With the Wind and Around the World in 80 Days.

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Postby OscarGuy » Fri Mar 12, 2010 3:09 pm

So, Tarantino, the Coens, PT Anderson, etc don't have an artistic vision, create a script to go with that vision, and then implement that vision into a final product?

I think you give screenwriters more credit than they deserve. I'm not saying they don't deserve credit and, sometimes the script is the best thing about a movie, but while you hold up the screenwriter as the singular visionary of the film, you are simultaneously putting down the rest of those involved in the production. Sometimes a screenplay, though it has good elements, is enlivened, emboldened and created through the eye of the director.

I think you're stuck focusing on the "literal" definition of author, which being literal is probably the wrong tack to take when looking at motion pictures as art. Literally, Tarantino's film is about some Jews hunting Nazis and seeking revenge against them. But there are small elements that are subtextually inserted.

For example, during the scene in the theater, these Germans are rejoicing at the wholesale slaughter of the enemy. Yet, when they get their comeuppance, we are the ones doing the same thing as they. It doesn't make what they did right or what we did wrong, but it does highlight something of human nature that unless you are thinking about it or considering it, you might miss entirely.

And, let me say again, that I never discount the work of a screenwriter, I never have. Film IS a collaborative effort, but it's the director's interpretation of the screenplay that is put on display in the film. That's the aspect of the film he coaxes out of the multitudes that work under him and, in the end, it is the director whose effort is judged on the whole as a success or a failure with the pieces being judged in addition to the overall vision and execution of the director's effort.

As for producers receiving the Best Picture trophy, I think there are two minds on this. Originally, the Oscar went to the studio that released the film. No individual received the trophy. However, in 1951, the awards were switched to honor the producer. Now, without having the ability (at work) or the time to research this, but I wouldn't doubt that the decision to shift the prize to the producers instead of the studio was an effort to placate the producers, people like Daryl F. Zanuck, who, if they didn't also happen to own the studio, would not receive any Oscars for the work the work they put in, and therefore the award became a producers award so that those big wigs with the bankrolls (or the ability to get the bankrolls) would get an award for their effort. Whether they were truly responsible for the effort (and at the time, a lot of them did stick their fingers in the pie and mess with things) or not, they wanted recognition. Of course,

American cinema seems to be more prone to producer interference than most European Cinema. Not that there aren't plenty of exceptions to this statement, but it seems that only since the 1970s has an effort been made in the U.S. to provide more control to the directors of the films, though there is still studio interference, but some directors seem to have significantly more control than their contemporaries might have had 60 years ago.
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Postby rolotomasi99 » Fri Mar 12, 2010 2:31 pm

OscarGuy wrote:But, by saying that the Screenwriter is more important than the director, you are thereby putting forth a contrary example to your own contention that film is collaborative and the director merely a ringleader.

I never said the screenwriter is more important (though I do think they deserve more respect), I just said they were the true author -- as in they fit the literal definition of that word. Again, maybe in a cultural context auteur is appropriate, but author in the English language means someone who writes.

I maintain that it is inappropriate to call the director the author of a movie since a movie has an actual author: the screenwriter.

Also, I still do not understand this cart-before-the-horse mentality. To me it is the screenwriter's vision, especially in terms of original screenplays, because 9 times out of 10, the screenplay exists before any directing truly begins.

The only director who seems to meet your criteria OscarGuy is Mike Leigh. He literally as a director has an idea, or a vision if you will, in his head. He hires his actors and crew and they literally write the movie on the set as they go along. He and his movies are that 1 out of 10 example of a director's vision coming 75% before any screenplay is actually written down.

Of course, you then have those writer/director combos. I am sure Cameron and Tarantino were thinking as directors first, but unlike Leigh they still actually had a screenplay before the began principal filming.

To me THE HURT LOCKER (the movie this thread was originally about) was Mark Boal's vision. He lived it, he wrote it, and then Bigelow came in and found the exact right tone for it to be a great movie. Not too big or didactic, but tense, real, and emotional. She did a perfect job of bringing to the screen what he literally saw and then wrote down on the page. He was the author, she was the conductor.
Those are the words I think are appropriate for their relationship. It may not work for all movies, but I think it is a good fit for this film. I also think it is what makes this film stand above the rest this year. Clearly the Academy agreed. I never intended to start some fight over who was the most important person to making a film. I just believe proper labels are important.




Edited By rolotomasi99 on 1268423324
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