As we finish up 2009, how about something a little (or a lot) less theological this week?

Many great directors have put forth efforts this year (Tarantino’s Basterds, Anderson‘s Mr. Fox, Lee‘s Passing Strange, von Trier‘s Antichrist, Soderbergh‘s Informant!, the Coens’ Serious Man, and Jonze‘s Wild Things, to name just a few), and it got me thinking about directors. As you’ll no doubt already have noted, I love movies. In my perfect world, every day would end with a movie after dinner. One of the things that has always fascinated me is the stamp (or lack thereof) a director puts on a movie. Sometimes, you can just tell. For instance, I bet you could pick out a Darren Aronofsky movie if I showed you one. When I’m thinking about this “directorial stamp,” I always think of the Alien Quadrilogy. In no other case that I can think of have four different directors taken on the task of bringing a very similar story to the screen. Sure, there are many Robin Hood movies, but rarely are they made very close to one another, leading to generational differences in filmmaking. The Alien movies, on the other hand, star many of the same actors!

Ridley Scott (Gladiator, Black Hawk Down) directed the first, while James Cameron (Titanic, Terminator 2) took on the second. David Fincher (Fight Club, Seven) took the reigns for the third, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amelie, The City of Lost Children) helmed the final installment. Crazy, right? What disparate visions! What could the directors of Terminator 2 and Amelie possibly have in common? What shared vision might they bring to the story of a woman standing between a race of ravenous poison-blooded aliens and the extinction of the human race?
But this post isn’t going to deconstruct the “directorial stamp” as it’s seen in the Alien films…as interesting an undertaking as that would be. Rather, I bring it up to ask a question: Who’s your desert-island director? In other words, if you could only watch the movies of one filmmaker for the rest of your life, who would it be?

Some folks in the running for me:
Scott (The Duelists, Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, Matchstick Men, American Gangster, Body of Lies)
Steven Spielberg (Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, ET, the Indiana Jones movies, Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, Catch Me If You Can, Munich)
Tony Scott, yes, Ridley’s popcorn brother, and my guiltiest pleasure (Top Gun, Days of Thunder, The Last Boy Scout, True Romance, Crimson Tide, Enemy of the State, Spy Game, Man on Fire, Domino, Deja Vu)
Paul Thomas Anderson (Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch Drunk Love, There Will Be Blood)
The Coen Brothers (Joel and Ethan) (Raising Arizona, Miller’s Crossing, The Hudsucker Proxy, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, O Brother Where Art Thou, Intolerable Cruelty, The Ladykillers, No Country for Old Men, Burn After Reading)
Quentin Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill vols. 1&2, Death Proof, Inglorious Basterds)
Of course, all of these directors have made more films (except for Anderson), but I’ve listed the one’s I’ve seen and liked. I’m leaning toward either Spielberg for sheer volume (with the exception of A.I. he’s basically never made a bad movie…) and toward the Coens and Tarantino for consistency (I like everything they’ve ever done). Anderson’s movies are brilliant and moving, but he hasn’t done enough yet to tide me over for the rest of my life.
What do you think?
Great Movie No One Has Ever Seen: Drop Dead Gorgeous, 1999 (Michael Patrick Jann)