The Untouchables: Second Ballot
Last month we began our new feature The Untounchables, our attempt at creating a Hall of Fame here at FilmNerds to enshrine the greatest directors of all time. Each month, a panel of contributors here at Filmnerds including Ben Flanagan, Corey Craft, Graham Flanagan, Benjamin Stark and myself, Matt Scalici, will cast our ballots for who we believe to be the greatest filmmakers to ever live. The top three vote receivers each month will be inducted into our list of Untouchables and enshrined here on this site. You can find a link below to the first three directors admitted to our virtual Hall of Fame but today we present to you the winners of our second ballot, the next three members of The Untouchables.
It’s fitting that Sir Alfred Hitchcock came in on our ballot just ahead of Martin Scorsese and Stanley Kubrick, two other great directors who probably owe a great deal to the man they call “The Master of Suspense”. That’s also probably somewhat true for nearly every filmmaker, mainstream or otherwise, that came after him. Few filmmakers have ever done more to shape the face of modern film and that’s because few filmmakers have ever understood the art and science of filmmaking like Hitchcock did. Creating suspense is all about using the language of film to manipulate the audience and it takes someone with a complete understanding of the medium and how it works on the human mind in order to precisely manipulate an audience in that way.
It’s easy to see (and experience) his masterful manipulative techniques in his darker, more disturbing films like Rebecca, Pyscho and Vertigo but even his “lighter” films like Strangers on a Train or Rear Window are built around deep, psychological fears that Hitchcock knew affected every member of his audience. It’s that combination of loyalty to his own story on-screen and constant awareness of the audience that would be watching that story that made Hitchock such a visionary. While there are dozens of new entries in the genre known as “Psychological Thriller” each year, the vast majority pale in comparison to the work of the man that invented the genre, Alfred Hitchcock.
– Matt Scalici
Martin Scorsese is the king of cinematic anxiety. He seems to have mixed the existential mire of Bergman with the visual agitation of Lang, Murnau, and the German Expressionists to discover a new brand of vibrant nervousness.
His characters are paranoid, angry, ecstatic, sensual, and most of all, guilty. You’ll pardon my tendency to point out his Catholic roots, but there isn’t a filmmaker alive that doesn’t deal with guilt in a more tangible and evocative way. The scripts Scorsese picks are perfect for his cinema-riddled imagination, always full of an internal struggle that he challenges himself to visually convey. I paraphrase, but Scorsese once called cinema an array of images that you thought you saw, and this mentality is clear in all of his films. His movies don’t depict violence, but rather the impression of violence, boiling to the surface from a cauldron of nerves.
Scorsese has entered a sort of career renaissance in the past decade or so, creating works that, as a Scorsese contrarian, I rank right up there with his early- and mid-career masterpieces. Personal favorites of mine include The Departed, The Last Temptation of Christ, The Aviator, and Taxi Driver.
– Benjamin Stark
Whenever I try to compose a list of my favorite films of all time, I usually encounter a recurring dilemma; specifically my guilt over allowing the films of Stanley Kubrick to take up nearly half of the spots on the list. Barry Lyndon usually takes the top spot… but then I’m also compelled to include elsewhere on the list the movies 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, The Shining and even Eyes Wide Shut. I firmly believe that those movies, along with some of the other Kubrick movies I didn’t mention, exist as some of the greatest films ever made. When his résumé contains so many contenders for the label of “greatest of all time,” can anyone argue against the notion that Kubrick should be considered as history’s greatest filmmaker? Some will argue that – compared to the length of his career – his body of work itself is conspicuously small. Over the course of 45 years as a feature-director, Kubrick made only 13 films. However, most filmmakers have spent and will continue to spend their entire careers attempting to create a entire body of work that can compare to the greatness possessed by even one of Kubrick’s films. Kubrick, the man, will forever remain a mystery. The work he left behind confirms one thing: he was the Master.
I have to admit that it’s somewhat confusing to me that Kubrick didn’t make the “first pass” in this series. I assume it has something to do with Matt’s BCS-esque rankings-system, along with a possible technical-anomaly that occurred due to Corey Craft voting for the Coens three times at once.
– Graham Flanagan