10 Great Directors Who Lost Their Touch

September 21st, 2010 by Barak

Oliver Stone’s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps coming out this week reminded us that some directors just don’t know when to quit! Somewhere along the line, these once-great directors simply forgot how to make good movies. Some even desperately try to prequel or sequel their past successes. Others might say, ”Retire and stop making movies!” But as an optimist, I hope these directors will regain the people’s respect.

Here are 10 great directors who went awry, and my predictions about whether they’ll soon find the way again.

10. Michael Bay

His high: The Rock
His low: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
His last good movie: Armageddon

Today he is mostly known for his over-the-top special effects and explosions (both Transformers movies and Pearl Harbor). Yet Bay had a very promising start: an entertaining action movie (Bad Boys), an excellent action-thriller (The Rock) and a stylized and suspenseful Sci-Fi (Armageddon).

With Transformers 3 on the way, it seems that Michael Bay’s future movies should be kept at bay. (And he deserves the bad pun.)

9. M. Night Shyamalan

His high: The Sixth Sense
His low: The Happening
His last good movie: The Village

Shyamalan’s big breakthrough movie – The Sixth Sense – made him the most talked-about director in Hollywood. He went on to produce three more good movies: Unbreakable, Signs and The Village. From then on his movies hit a downward spiral: Lady in the Water (ridiculous), The Happening (insulting) and The Last Airbender (another colossal failure).

Shyamalan’s latest script, Devil (released last weekend), is about people stuck in an elevator with the devil. With that story outline it seems that his next masterpiece may be miles away.

8. Michael Mann

His high: Heat
His low: Miami Vice
His last good movie: Collateral

Mann had a fantastic career with movies such as Manhunter, The Last of the Mohicans, Heat, The Insider, Collateral and more. But his last two movies, despite their exciting premises, failed to impress. They were even a bit boring… Miami Vice – which was based on the TV series from the 80s – lacked charisma and story. Public Enemies – a gangster movie with Johnny Depp – was one of the slowest movies I have ever seen.

His next project is an HBO series called Luck, with Dustin Hoffman as the lead. Will this series bring back Michael Mann’s great directing career…? I believe so.

7. Rob Reiner

His high: The Princess Bride
His low: Rumor Has It
His last good movie: The American President

Rob Reiner is one of the greatest directors who ever lived. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at some of the movies he made: Spinal Tap (cult mockumentary), Stand by Me (modern classic), The Princess Bride (modern classic), When Harry Met Sally (modern classic), Misery (modern classic), A Few Good Men (nominated for most desirable male – Tom Cruise – at the MTV movie awards) and more.

But his last really good film was in 1995 – The American President. And it’s not that The Bucket List (from 2007) was a bad movie, it’s just that we expect much more from Rob Reiner.

6. Robert Zemeckis

His high: Forrest Gump
His low: A Christmas Carol
His last good movie: Cast Away

It seems that we lost the director who brought us the modern classics Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Forrest Gump, Contact and Cast Away… We lost him to technology! He’s like the kid who got a new toy – the toy being 3D technology. His latest movies are all in 3D: The Polar Express, Beowulf and A Christmas Carol. But unfortunately, none of them are very good.

His next project, a 3D version of the Beatles classic Yellow Submarine, seems even more disturbing. Zemeckis, can’t you just do a regular movie, please?

5. Terry Gilliam

His high12 Monkeys
His low: Tideland
His last good movie: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Terry Gillian was first known as one of the members of the Monty Python “super group”. From there, he went into a successful career directing movies such as Brazil, The Fisher King, 12 Monkeys, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, Gilliam failed to produce any quality movies in the 2000s. And his last three were simply bad: The Brothers Grim, Tideland and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. He is consistent in that his movies are always weird. The difference is that they used to be weird and good, whereas now they are just weird.

4. Brian De Palma

His high: Scarface
His low: Mission to Mars
His last good movie: Snake Eyes

Brian De Palma started out as the master of horror and suspense: Phantom of the Paradise, Carrie and The Fury. From there he went on to become the master of crime, with movies like Scarface, The Untouchables and Carlito’s Way. However, from the beginning of the 2000s (Mission to Mars), De Palma’s movie focus seems to have gone astray… I personally think that the best thing De Palma can do for his career is to go back to the gangster genre and produce another Scarface or the next Carlito’s Way.

De Palma’s next movie, called The Untouchables: Capone Rising (still to be released), will hopefully lead him back to the right track.

3.  Woody Allen

His high: Annie Hall
His low: Scoop
His last good movie: Melinda and Melinda

Woody Allen is the opposite of a fine red wine… he just seems to get worse every year! He was fantastic in the 70s (Sleeper and Annie Hall), great in the 80s (Zelig and The Purple Rose of Cairo), good in the 90s (Husbands and Wives, and Mighty Aphrodite), but in the 2000s his movies became mediocre at best (Scoop, Whatever Works).

Not only is he producing movies similar to the ones he produced before, he’s not producing any improvements… We already got it, after he said it for the umpteenth time – He doesn’t believe in God, and life doesn’t have any meaning. Say something new!

2. Francis Ford Coppola

His high: The Godfather
His low: Tetro
His last good movie: The Rainmaker

Coppola made only two movies in the last 13 years, and neither of them were very good. Well, it’s more than that, they actually really sucked! Youth Without Youth is a movie that speaks 11 languages (including Sanskrit!) and makes the TV series Lost seem coherent and plausible. As for Tetro, let’s just say it was slow. How slow? It was so slow that if Ingmar Bergman were still alive today, he would call this movie slow…

The brilliant director who gave us The Godfather trilogy, Apocalypse Now and Rumble Fish, should be the top director in his family. But Francis, let me tell you: Today, Sophia is the best director in your family!

1. Oliver Stone

His high: Platoon
His low: Alexander
His last good movie: Any Given Sunday

Stone is the king of biography movies: Salvador, Born on the 4th of July, The Doors, JFK and Nixon were all great bio flicks. And his movies – Platoon and Wall Street – are considered to be modern classics. Unfortunately, his record in the last 11 years wasn’t all that impressive – Alexander was awful; W and World Trade Center, both just so-so.

Will Oliver Stone be the first of these great directors to return to form? The reviews on Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps are pretty good, so hopefully the answer to that question will be yes…

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