I think you’ll find my choices for Best Director pretty, no actually, way out of the mainstream. But these artists were truly revolutionary in their own ways. Their films might not have garnered the widest release and they might not have gained the most attention and praise…but every single one of them were gorddamn outstanding. I could honestly feel their creative direction weaving scene after scene, emotion after emotion into wonderful creations. Some of them had a passion project, some expressed true love for film-making and others simply grip onto me and never let go. They say a director is the creative drive behind a film. These five nominees showed that they weren’t just creative drives but also the embodiment of pure artistry. Brave. Bold. Fearless. Crazy.
Nominees for the bear award:
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (The Revenant)
Alejandro.G Inarritu’s directing has received some flak from people all over from our very own cinephile blogosphere to critics that write for newspapers and online magazines. But you don’t win the Golden Globes and the Directors Guild Awards for best director for nothing. If anything, he looks the favourite to take it come Oscar Night. But I realize something. Those who liked Birdman thought The Revenant was weak and pretentious. And if you’re like I, who thought The Revenant was just pure savagery-awesomeness, you probably think Birdman was one hell of a self-absorbed spectacle. Well, I guess life is fair that way. But I for one thought that Inarritu’s direction was fantastic. Braving the harsh winters and limiting his film to only natural light (a disaster considering the limited number of hours in daylight in places like Canada and Alberta) he created pulsating action, nail-bitingly tense moments and sequences that kept you right at the edge of your seat-clinging onto
dear life popcorn. From year to year, he’s won awards like nothing. But his dedication is everything.
Cary Joji Fukanaga (Beasts Of No Nation)
I’m super impressed with Fukanaga. This man is the master of tension. If you’ve seen BONN, you’ll know what I’m talking about. All of the scenes were so perfect, like just…perfect. He captured the raging war and the spirited fervour of the rebels with so much emotion. His directing gives you the feeling that it’s pulled straight from the raging tempest of violence and war in Africa. It is almost flawless.
Charlie Kaufman (Anomalisa)
You have to watch this to know exactly what I’m talking about. I forbid you…yes FORBID you to continue reading without watching this clip. Hopefully, it’ll inspire you to go watch the movie. If you already have, good for you.
Amazing right? 3 years of shooting probably hundreds of different frames everyday. Add in the fact that you’re handcrafting hundreds of puppets. Throw in the lighting, camera…WOW. If this isn’t dedication, I don’t know what is. Charlie Kaufman’s vision started to be materialized once the kickstarter project got enough funds…talk about humble beginnings. And boy, Anomalisa was so good. The story was really well crafted and the ideas behind the plot and characters really goes further than simple animated films. It’s so nuanced and introspective; When was the last time any animated film made you think so hard about life? Under the careful and meticulous direction of Kaufman, Anomalisa feels like its bathed in a warm glow and connects on a human level in odd and unexpected ways.
I can imagine the crew going along the lines of “wait a sec…hey Lisa, could you please move a little to your left please, it’s a too dark over tha…Oh wait they’re puppets”
Jafar Panahi (Taxi Tehran)
Given its super duper limited release, not many have seen the film. But it’s a real gem, so I implore you to find some way to watch it. Jafar Panahi is a rebel. But he doesn’t become bitter. Instead, the limitations placed on him by Iran like banning him from filming and keeping him under house arrest periodically has led to an even more ingenious spirit. In the film, Panahi masquerades as a taxi driver who fetches customers through Tehran. It’s all staged but you could get lost in the realism. What’s really special however, is how Panahi himself is also captured on film. By doing this, he himself is part of the whole narrative and functions as the real and unstaged example of what he’s trying to say about Iranian people and society. Fueled with a love so great for cinema and for his people, Taxi Tehran is a brave film that shows the humanity in everyday Iranian society when none is found in the state. Jafar Panahi is on this list for many reasons but none more so than this – He shows that Iranian people are, contrary to western portrayal, just like any citizen of the world. To Jafar, I’m truly touched by your fearlessness and love for your art and your people.
Sean Baker (Tangerine)
This movie made 2nd on my best movies of 2015 list. But look at that! Just look at it. Yes my dear readers and for those who have yet to see the film, it is an iphone. I’ve just finished talkin’ about 4 mad and wildly crazy directors (who are honestly living the dream job IMO)..but this might be the craziest yet. What on earth?! An Iphone! Yeap, if reading this list shows anything, it’s that there are thankfully artists out there who love their art and are willing to try out new ideas to produce something revolutionary. Sean Baker’s film about the transgender subculture is so rad. It’s foul-mouthed, comical, ironic and simply so outrageous at times. While Tangerine is sometimes like a joke/parody of a ‘basic bit**’ attitude with all the sass and colour, Baker somehow manages to give hard hitting and mellow moments in the film’s most quiet scenes. It’s basically a mix of everything. So chaotic. But he manages to find ways to fit and balance everything nicely. Indeed, it’s a film like none other.
Nominees once more (such a crazy field, but crazy in a good way):
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (The Revenant) aka crazo who filmed in harsh winter and insisted on no green-screens and only natural light. Before this, he made Birdman with what looks like a single-take throughout the film.
Cary Joji Fukanaga (Beasts Of No Nation) aka guy who’s probably the least bonkers here but he did ask a former rebel chief to come down on set to give insight.
Charlie Kaufman (Anomalisa) aka guy who had a brilliant idea of crafting thousands of puppets, and shoot thousand more takes of ‘1-2’ second frames, and construct thousand more miniature props…all the while playing with lighting and camera to make it look realistic enough. SERIOUSLY. This should be Best Crazy award or something.
Jafar Panahi (Taxi Tehran) aka rebel of Iran who’s so badass he doesn’t give a f*** if he’s put under house arrest or is banned from making films. He took a taxi and just filmed whatever was going on in his cab. Still managed to make a fantastic film. For his previous movie, he hid a usb inside a cake that was flown to the Cannes Film Festival for submission. Film won huge praise. Can’t contain this badass.
Sean Baker (Tangerine) aka totally out-of-wack director who thinks he can revolutionize the way people film. How you ask?!?! By using an iphone 5. Did he succeed? Yes. But somehow managed to make that the least impressive part of the film.
Winner: Charlie Kaufman (Anomalisa)
In a field with so many great talents, everyone here’s a winner. It was so close, but I had to pick one. Charlie Kaufman’s ideas for the film were simply amazing. Considering the amount of work he, Duke Johnson and the rest of the crew had to go through, no words can express my admiration for the team behind Anomalisa. This award goes out to all who worked tirelessly to produce a human film from the least likely of places.
Inspired by all of these great directors, Little Bear has big dreams of being a director too! For starters, Bear’s playing around with a few miniature figures to hone his skills. Indeed, big dreams come from the smallest things.