The World’s Best Directors

A friend of mine invited me to attend the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles and listen to their five nominees for Outstanding Directorial Achievement.

Baz Luhrmann, famous for Strictly Ballroom, seemed to be as graceful and as full of energy as one of the lead male dancers from his film, Moulin Rouge.

As a matter-of-fact, Mr. Luhrmann was once a dancer. He glided around questions and pirouetted from comment to comment like he was performing “Swan Lake.”

Christopher Nolan, who appeared to be the youngest of the group, seemed like the lead in Memento who was not quite sure what was happening to him.

Memento deals with a fellow who wakes up every morning and can’t remember what has happened to him, although he may have been involved in murder.

Mr. Nolan talked about how his own wife disobeyed him and gave the members of the production company sections of his script out of sequence.

She was, amongst other things, a producer but still one could make a case for the notion that she was the only one who betrayed him during the filming of a story about a man who was betrayed by those he thought he could trust.  Sorry if that last sentence is convoluted. But not as convoluted as Memento.

Ron Howard is up for best director for A Beautiful MindA Beautiful Mind is about a brilliant mathematician who falls in and out of schizophrenia and believes in imaginary characters. He gets his wife to believe in these illusions.

Mr. Howard, while not being a schizophrenic, certainly has a great propensity for making more people believe in imaginary characters than almost anyone in the world. His last amazing success was How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Far be it for me to ever suggest that Mr. Howard has a split personality even though he was the most famous actor (Opie Taylor, in The Andy Griffith Show) amongst the directors.

While he was explaining how directing was the very core of his life, he, with his self-deprecating humor, solicited acting parts from the other directors.

Mr. Howard announced that he wanted to get back in front of the camera. Certain shrinks say a subtle sign of schizophrenia is the inability of patients to know who they are. And that can make them quite brilliant.

Ridley Scott wowed the audience with his drill sergeant approach to directing Black Hawk Down.  It’s a first-class action adventure piece about men who live and die in a war torn siege by choppers. Ridley Scott gave the impression he didn’t take any prisoners when it came to filmmaking.

He told a quick story about his Director of Photography that made it very clear he would brook no disobedience — and should an underling disagree with him, that underling would rue the day he or she was born.

The fifth nominee, Peter Jackson, (Lord of the Rings) spoke via satellite from New Zealand where he is shooting his trilogy. Mr. Jackson, cordial and humorous, rather resembled one of the hobbits in The Fellowship of the Ring.  Because of the satellite link, I could not catch a glimpse of Mr. Jackson’s feet but I suspect he wore no shoes and his toes were covered with hair.

As Oscar Wilde said in 1891, “All that I desire to point out is the general principle that Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life.”

I bet if Mr. Wilde had attended the DGA he would have pointed out that directors seem to imitate themselves.  But then what do I know?  I’m just a writer and as the directors all agreed, their films are pretty much their sole visions.



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