The Ford On Film End Of Year Awards 2015: Best Director
Hello, and welcome back to the Ford On Film End Of Year Awards 2015! Yesterday, I award Anne Dorval and Michael Fassbender the awards for Best Actress and Actor respectively. Today, I’m handing out the award for Best Director of the year.
It’s hard to know how to choose the best director. Do I go for the biggest spectacle on-screen? The most visually stylish film of the year? The director who got the greatest performances from their cast? Ultimately, it came down to who I felt put in the most effort, and was most successful with what they set out to achieve. I think I’ve made some right choices. Without further ado, here are my pick for Best Directors of the year:
Alex Garland – Ex Machina
Matthew Vaughn – Kingsman: The Secret Service
Ridley Scott – The Martian
Celiné Sciamma – Girlhood
Todd Haynes – Carol
Xavier Dolan – Mommy
Though Mommy retains some of the scrappiness and indulgence of his previous works, Xavier Dolan’s direction is easily his most confident and energetic to date. Visually, his films have always had a lot of style and flair, but some would say his stories and characters are lacking. In Mommy, not only does Dolan craft huge, life-affirming musical sequences (skateboarding to Oasis, dancing to Celine Dion) like his work in Laurence Anyways, he also draws incredible performances from his talented cast, leading to some brutally intense and emotional scenes only a truly great director could helm.
Justin Kurzel – Macbeth
The most visually haunting film of the year. Many people have taken on the Scottish play, but it’s hard to think of any other director who made it an out-and-out nightmare like Justin Kurzel. Great performances from a stellar ensemble cast are to be expected, but where Kurzel’s talent really shows is in the two major battle sequences. The first, shot in 300-esque slow-mo, is just about the most beautiful way of presenting extreme violence possible, while the finale, shot through a haze of red smoke, is just spectacular.
Danny Boyle – Steve Jobs
Hope seemed lost for Steve Jobs when David Fincher dropped out of the project. How could anyone but the man famous for making a thriller out of the creation of facebook tackle the story behind the iMac? Step forward Danny Boyle. Possibly the world’s most energetic and restless filmmaker, Boyle’s direction on Steve Jobs retains the dynamism of his very best work (Trainspotting, 127 Hours), yet manages to be a little more focused and disciplined.
Dialogue-heavy as the film is, Boyle keeps it exciting with plenty of walking-and-talking and fast cameras. It’s a tough sell for any director, filming what is essentially a play about a despicable man, but Boyle made Aaron Sorkin’s script cinematic whilst also bringing more heart and emotion to the film than Fincher could have ever attempted.
Denis Villenueve – Sicario
After two stylish-but-slugging dramas in Prisoners and Enemy, Denis Vilenueve released what is possibly his best film to date in the tense, action-packed Sicario. With the aid of Roger Deakins’ phenomenal cinematography, Villeneuve helmed some of the best thrills of the year, including an innovative shootout in a traffic jam and a supremely creepy scene at a dinner table.
Villeneuve’s work with actors shouldn’t be forgotten either. Emily Blunt and Josh Brolin were excellent in their roles as tough anti-drug agents, while Benicio Del Toro gave what might be a career best performance as the former DA-turned-assassin. Villeneuve’s next film might just be the long-awaited Blade Runner sequel; on the strength of Sicario, it’s sure to be a winner.
George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road
It might surprise some readers to know I’ve awarded George Miller the Best Director of 2015 award for his work behind the camera on Mad Max: Fury Road. I’m one of the few people who wasn’t all that keen on the action epic; it was too long, too thin and weakly written, an impressive stunt reel lacking interesting characters or much good acting. However, I can’t really fault Miller at all, as he set out to create a two hour car chase and he created perhaps the most memorable action in years.
Even if you didn’t much care for the film, there’s no denying the mostly non-CGI action is an amazing spectacle, the stunt work and car wrecking mayhem occasionally jawdropping in how intense and physical it felt. I don’t think I’ll ever really love Mad Max: Fury Road, but I’m happy to admit that George Miller proved himself to be one of the greatest action directors of all time.
Congratulations to George Miller for winning the Best Director 2015 award. Join me tomorrow where I’ll be giving out the Ford On Film End of Year Award for Best Scene.
By Harry J. Ford
Follow Ford On Film on twitter: @Ford_On_Film
Like Ford On Film on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FordOnFilm/