Okay, so, I did a bit of research into this because I thought the answer was going to be super simple and then it wasn’t. And the reason it wasn’t is that people aren’t super simple. Our tastes change as we grow and learn, but the styles and techniques of the films we love have been immortalised and don’t change. Obviously.
I’m not a film theorist, but something I do enjoy doing is watching video essays exploring film theory, specifically screenplay analysis and critical theories I’m familiar with within literature put towards the visual medium. I promise, if this isn’t the kind of thing you’re looking for, I’m not going to to go in heavy with this stuff (even though I love it!). But if you are interested, I’d recommend checking out the following youtubers: Lindsay Ellis, Lessons from a Screenplay, and Nerdwriter1. But it’s due to my over-zealous nerdiness that I found choosing my favourite director so difficult. It’s no longer about just watching a film and thinking ‘Good Job! – I enjoyed that’, because I’m more aware of the work they’ve put into it.
So here are some honourable mentions:
I went through a phase of only watching John Hughes films on repeat, and considering I’m a being with a very short attention span, I think that says a lot! It was all about the dialogue, the soft colours, (sometimes musical interludes) and the sincerity of the stories Hughes crafted. 10/10 John. Would recommend.
“Wes Craven has become synonymous with genre bending and innovative horror, challenging audiences with his bold vision.” – that’s straight from his IMDB page. For me, it was the intelligence it invoked in the audience watching his many, many films and television shows. The Twilight Zone, Scream, Nightmare on Elm Street. His horror films make you feel intelligent with the dialogue and plotting, before pulling the rug from under you and scaring the living daylights out of you. And it’s psychological enough that you don’t have to worry about it not being terrifying on a second viewing.
I would describe Coppola as an ‘auteur’ – AKA a director creating content that explores authorship in contrast to the ‘shallow superficiality of Hollywood’ (thanks Lindsay Ellis). She’s a great director, with a distinguished style and personality. And the interior meaning within the work is inherently feminine – which for me is important because I don’t believe femininity should be considered a negative trait at all. She was the first female director on my list when I started thinking about my favourites (which says something about the very heavily masculine world she’s working in). She was almost usurped by Patti Jenkins or Lone Scherfig who arguably have more works and more recent works worth noting, but she’s the queen for me.
Okay so – for the favourite directors:
I took a few things into account when curating this list. The first was the emotional and psychological impact these directors had on me as I grew up. The second was the adult analysis of their skills (with what little qualifications I have on that) and the third was, petty, but the sheer number of 10/10 in their portfolio.
3. Edgar Wright.
I’ve not met an aesthetic I’ve liked as much as Edgar Wright’s. And if you’re unsure what I mean then check out this video that goes through it. The man is a genius. His style lends itself so perfectly to visual comedy (another video if you’re into it) but he’s also not afraid to let his audience feel. Baby Driver has some really dark moments, framed in bright colours with white noise so you can feel them without feeling rushed to move on with the plot. Hot Fuzz gives you the complete understanding of the main character’s isolation from a short montage of images. Wright spent days filming one shot for Shaun of the Dead because it had to be perfect. His detail orientated, character-driven stories and authenticity are what makes him so bloody fantastic! (in my humble opinion).
2. Joss Whedon.
Joss Whedon is not a nice person. He’s “allegedly” fired actors for getting pregnant, cheated multiple times, emotionally abused his wife, he’s included rape subplot storylines that seem to be there for the pure conflict of it all, clearly isn’t as pro-feminist as he’d like to be, and his main characters might be female, but they’re tiny and they’re put through the absolute shitter. Excuse my language. But Buffy, Angel, Dollhouse, Firefly, Serenity, and Doctor Horrible are all a part of who I am as a person now. And he directed that shit so…
1. Ang Lee.
I didn’t even know Ang Lee had such an important role in my film tastes until I looked into it. His subtle genius has given us the best adaptation of my favourite Austen story Sense and Sensibility, Brokeback Mountain, Life of Pi and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Do you know how good a film has to be to get a ten year old interested in subtitled films!? And before Marvel created the MCU, Ang Lee gave us Hulk – a film way before it’s time, science fiction and fantasy, action and intrigue. The man’s a genius and well deserving of all his awards an accolades. He is an auteur, and his films are classics for good reason. He’s my number 1.