DUNGEON DIRECTOR PROJECT: My 50 Favourite Directors #20 – #16

My 50 Favourite Directors #20 – #16

I could write endlessly about every director in my top 20. I’ve seen the vast majority of these director’s films, if not their entire library. Each one has titles in their list I have seen multiple times and hold an extra special place in my heart. Beware copious use of complimentary adjectives!

*NOTE: I did not include any made for TV movies in the numbers I used for each director’s full-length feature films.*


#20. Terry Gilliam

What I’ve Seen: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009), Tideland (2005), The Brothers Grimm (2005), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), Twelve Monkeys (1995), The Fisher King (1991), The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988), Brazil (1985), Time Bandits (1981), Jabberwocky (1977), Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

I’ve seen all 11 of Terry Gilliam’s full length feature films. There is something downright magical about Gilliam’s films. They are as fantastical, fairy tale-esque and funny as they are strange, dark and hallucinatory. Gilliam was a member of Monty Python but started his career in animation. He is responsible for the animation in the Monty Python skits and films. He also co-directed his first film The Holy Grail with fellow Monty Python member Terry Jones. I love the imaginative way he shows the world whether it’s through the eyes of a child, an anxious bureaucrat, an old man, or a drug-addled writer. I enjoy every film on this list, but I have an extra special affection for Brazil, Twelve Monkeys, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Time Bandits and of course Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Gilliam’s array of crazy camera angles and his surreal backdrops and images (I suspect inspired by his background in animation) make for a trippy and unique experience quite unlike any other. Terry Gilliam is an unconventional, creative genius; I would love to climb inside this guy’s head for a weekend.


#19. John Waters

What I’ve Seen: A Dirty Shame (2004), Cecil B. DeMented (2000), Pecker (1998), Serial Mom (1994), Cry-Baby (1990), Hairspray (1988), Polyester (1981), Desperate Living (1977), Female Trouble (1974), Pink Flamingos (1972), Multiple Maniacs (1970), Mondo Trasho (1969)

I have seen 12 of John Waters’ 13 full length feature films; I have been unable to get my hands on Eat Your Makeup. I’m crazy about the quirky bunch of regulars in Waters older films which include; Divine, David Lochary, Edith Massey, Mary Vivian Pearce, Susan Lowe, Mink Stole, Cookie Mueller and Susan Walsh. They seemed willing to do just about any insane thing John Waters asked them to. They are rude and crude and hilarious! I suppose Waters’ early films appeal to a select slice of the population but they sure do tickle me. I love Waters sense of humour and his trashy retro vibe. I paid huge bucks to snag copies of Multiple Maniacs, Mondo Trasho and Female Trouble on VHS several years ago. These days most of Waters’ films are readily available. My personal favourites are Female Trouble, Pink Flamingos, Multiple Maniacs and Polyester. I have seen every John Waters film from Hairspray onward in the theatre and had a chance to see Pink Flamingos when it returned to theatres for its 25th anniversary. While Waters’ older films will always be my favourites, I have found something to enjoy in every last film on this list. I love Divine’s final romp in Hairspray, Serial Mom and Pecker. I went to see Pecker on opening night and they gave away “Pecker teabags” which is pretty funny if you’ve seen the film. There really is no one like John Waters. The man is truly a one of a kind gem who proudly embraces his standing as The Prince of Puke and The Pope of Trash.


#18. Lars von Trier

What I’ve Seen: The Element of Crime (1984), Epidemic (1987), Medea (1988), Europa (1991), Breaking the Waves (1996), The Idiots (1998), Dancer in the Dark (2000), Dogville (2003), Manderlay (2005), The Boss of It All (2006), Antichrist (2009), Melancholia (2011)

Lars von Trier has directed 13 full length feature films and has two in pre-production; The Nymphomaniac and The Nymphomaniac Part 2. I have seen 12 of these films and every one is a fascination. Every von Trier film is a completely new experience. Whether the film is shot on an elaborate set, an empty soundstage or with a handheld camera they burrow into my head and stay there for days. I find his films bleak, beautiful and challenging. Von Trier’s drama gets under my skin more than most horror films. I felt emotionally drained after watching Breaking the Waves and Dogville! Von Trier in fact has actually delved into horror with his TV Show Kingdom Hospital and his 2009 film Antichrist. I saw Antichrist at the 2009 Vancouver International film festival. I have actually seen a goodly amount of Von Trier’s films in a theatre. I gave Antichrist, Madea, Europa, Breaking the Waves and Dogville a perfect score, but every single film on this list is amazing. I think Lars von Trier is one of the most creative and daring directors working today.


#17. Pedro Almodóvar

What I’ve Seen: Dark Habits (1983), What Have I Done to Deserve This? (1984), Matador (1986), Law of Desire (1987), Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988), Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1990), High Heels (1991), Kika (1993), The Flower of My Secret (1995), Live Flesh (1997), All About My Mother (1999), Talk to Her (2002), Bad Education (2004), Volver (2006), Broken Embraces (2009), The Skin I Live In (2011)

Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar has 19 full length feature films and is currently filming I’m So Excited. I have seen 16 of Almodóvar’s films; Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown was the first subtitled film I ever seen in a theatre, and I’ve seen several of his films on the big screen since. His films teeter the edge of melodrama exploring multiple identities, religion, death, morality, family and particularly sexuality. Almodóvar’s films beautifully capture Spain’s culture but are also intensely personal. Almodóvar has penned all his films with the exception of Live Flesh which was based on Ruth Rendell’s book. His strong female characters and their trials and tribulations are extremely appealing to me. While delving into some heavy subjects and dark themes he almost always brings a bit of humour into the fray. Almodóvar’s films are also lovely to look at, specifically his bold use of colour. I enjoyed every film on my list but my favourites are Tie me up! Tie Me Down, Matador, Law of Desire, Talk to Her, Bad Education, Volver and The Skin I Live In. I eagerly anticipate everything and anything that comes from Pedro Almodóvar; the man is an extraordinary talent who creates films that tantalize and captivate me.


#16. Martin Scorsese

What I’ve Seen: Mean Streets (1973), Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974), Taxi Driver (1976), New York, New York (1977), The Last Waltz (1978), Raging Bull (1980), The King of Comedy (1983), After Hours (1985), The Color of Money (1986), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), Goodfellas (1990), Cape Fear (1991), The Age of Innocence (1993), Casino (1995), Kundun (1997), Bringing Out the Dead (1999), Gangs of New York (2002), The Aviator (2004), The Departed (2006), Shutter Island (2010)

I have seen 20 of Martin Scorsese’s 31 full length feature films; he also has two films in pre-production, The Wolf of Wall Street and Silence; Sinatra is listed on his IMDB page as “announced”. To quote the King Missile song Martin Scorsese; “He makes the best fucking films I’ve ever seen in my life! I fucking love him! I fucking love him! My favourite Scorsese films are jammed packed with male bravado, insecurity, guilt (religious and otherwise) and plenty of violence; not to mention highly quotable! Scorsese’s collaborations with Robert De Niro have birthed modern cinema’s greatest creations; I would be hard pressed to choose a favourite amoung Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and Goodfellas! And these are not the only shining gems in Scorcese’s crown; his brilliant documentary of The Band in The Last Waltz, his controversial The Last Temptation of Christ (is it wrong that I thought Jesus was sexy?), his excellent remake of the Hong Kong Crime thriller Infernal Affairs; The Departed and his delightfully quirky comedy After Hours are all films I gave a perfect score! What can I really say that has not been said about Scorsese already? Martin Scorsese is a fucking legend! I fucking love him! I fucking love him!


16 Responses to “DUNGEON DIRECTOR PROJECT: My 50 Favourite Directors #20 – #16”

  1. Terry Gilliam’s a fucking genius!!!

  2. The only unknown for me is Lars Von Trier,but his films are now on my seek out list. Terry Gilliam,John Waters,Pedro Almodovar and Martin Scorsese are favorites of mine as well. Seeing Gilliam’s films on the big screen harkens to the sense of wonder I had seeing the special effects of Ray Harryhausen as a lad. Time Bandits would be on my top 20 favorite movies if I had such a list. Like Terry Gilliam,John Waters creates his own world with many memorable characters and moments. I love all his films with Divine and his cast of regulars. I have lost count of how many times I’ve viewed Mean Streets,Taxi Driver,Raging Bull and Goodfellas,all seen first in the theater. I recall my cousin and I walking out of Taxi Driver quite stunned. And Scorsese is a fan of Hammer horror and Mario Bava which earns him extra points! : ) The suspense builds as we get into your top 15 favorite directors! I love it!

    • I read somewhere that von Trier suffers from depression; not a surprising tidbit of information that. His films are not cheery and he puts his female characters through the meat grinder. Still, I love his stuff, I enjoy being smacked upside the head emotionally by a film, and his films do that. Scorsese’s De Niro films are just spectacular…I can quote many lines from Taxi Driver and Goodfellas. I am also a huge fan of Harvey Keitel. What’s happened to Keitel anyway? I have not seen him in anything for ages and ages!

      • I am a movie line quote aficionado myself,and Scorsese’s films with De Niro offer many quotable moments. Like you,I loath most remakes,but agree with your comments below concerning The Departed. I always felt Goodfellas should have won best picture in 1990. A Harvey Keitel fan here as well. Keitel turns up in a brief,but memorable roll in Moonrise Kingdom,a film I ventured to the theater to see,and enjoyed quite a lot. But that’s the first I’ve seen Harvey Keitel in a film for awhile now. I think I might guess several of the directors in your top 15,but will keep those thoughts to myself as not to spoil the surprise!

  3. Terry Gilliam is my number 29 director in my personal list, As I said before, he is one of the wildest and craziest in the visual sense, and a guy who has made two films that made my top 10 films of all time, and that is just great for me, his movies are all great and interesting visually at every time he puts out a new one. My favorite of the films he’s directed and that I’ve seen is “Brazil” (1985) which I rated 10/10.

    John Waters is not listed as I’ve seen none of his films.

    Lars von Trier is my number 34 director in my personal list.He is one of those directors that makes films that I have a hard time watching again once more, because they are so emotionally strong and so heartbreaking here and there, that I can’t see myself in a few years watching his films again, but I do love them a lot!. My favorite of the films he’s directed and that I’ve seen is “Europa” (1991) which I rated 10/10.

    Pedro Almodóvar is in number 87 in my personal list, but I’ve only seen 2 of his films, and I’m sure that I’ll love the rest of them, even if I wasn’t much of a fun of “All about my mother”, even though I did like some of the melodramatic turns and the great performances from the whole crew. My favorite of the films he’s directed and that I’ve seen is “The Skin I Live In” (2011) which I rated 9/10.

    Martin Scorsese is in the number 131 in my personal list, mainly because I was a non believer for most of my viewing experience, and I got the bad side of the stick with my first experiences of his films, specially with The Departed, that I just HATE with passion and can’t actually believe that this is the film that finally earned him his Oscar, he might as well waited for this superior film in any form: Hugo.. My favorite of the films he’s directed is “Raging Bull” (1980) which I rated 10/10.

    My 5:

    20. Mamoru Hosoda (Summer Wars, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time) *The Girl Who Leapt Through Time 10/10
    19. Alfred Hitchcock (Psycho, North by Northwest, Vertigo, Dial M for Murder, Strangers on a Train, Rope, Shadow of a Doubt, Saboteur, The Lady Vanishes, Sabotage, The 39 Steps) *Vertigo 10/10
    18. Bobcat Goldthwait (God Bless America, World’s Greatest Dad) *World’s Greatest Dad 10/10
    17. Dardenne Bros. (The Boy with the Bike, The Son) *The Son 10/10
    16. Tod Browning (Freaks, Dracula) *Freaks 10/10

    • We are getting down to the nitty gritty now!

      You have one director who is in my top 10 on your list….SPOILER….it’s Hitchcock! I have actually never heard of Hosoda…I will have to check him (her) out! I have also never seen a film directed by Bobcat…in fact I did not even know he directed anything! The last time I seen the man was in Shakes the Clown, a crude but somewhat amusing film. I looked up God Bless America and added it to my queue! I have seen two films by the Dardenne Brothers; The Son and l’enfant. I enjoyed both but neither really rocked my world to be honest. Tod Browning is awesome…but of course you already know how I feel about him!

  4. I’m having a shitload of fun with these best director posts. It’s a stroll down memory lane for a lot of directors I love.

    -I’m limited on Von Trier (only seen four + Kingdom) but I’ve loved the hell out of everything I’ve seen, especially Dogville and Medea.

    -Gilliam is one of the ballsiest directors around and few can do bizarre in the great way that he can.

    -Somehow, I’ve only seen one John Waters movie and it wasn’t even one of his best. It was that thing with Johnny Knoxville and Tracy Ullman. He’s someone I need to see more from.

    -I’ve only just started with Almodovar. I’ve seen Talk to Her and The Skin I Live In… and I thought those were amazing. I can’t wait to see more.

    -And Scorsese… the guy is a legend. If you love movies… shit, even if you love movies but DON’T love Scorsese’s movies… you have to love Scorsese. He’s the world’s smartest and most artistic film geek. I’ve seen 24 of his movies and there’s not one I’d consider to be a bad movie. Almost all are 4 or 5 (out of 5) stars. As far as I’m concerned, the guy can do no wrong.

    • I think we have very similiar tastes in film…and I am glad I could provide some strolling for your brain!

      Von Trier’s films are all over the map. It is hard to pin him down with any particular style but he certainly likes to put his female characters through hell. I understand some of the complaints about von Trier, but I am always intrigued by a filmmaker who can evoke emotion and challenge me. He also happens to employ some extremely talented actors and actresses. Dirty Shame is my least favourite Waters, but you’ve got to appreciate Ursula Udders on some level don’t you? You haven’t seen Serial Mom? She kills someone for wearing white after labor day! It is a must-see! And than Female Trouble…Divine gets raped by her male self! Wrap your head around that. Almodovar…TIE ME UP! TIE ME DOWN! Banderas finest hour…a captive and her captor…it is really Almodovar’s only straight up love story.

  5. Interesting list.

    Terry Gilliam – his films are examples of pure imagination and intelligence running wild. I found The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Time Bandits, Jabberwocky, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen and even The Brothers Grimm enjoyable. It has been so long since I last watched Twelve Monkeys that I can’t remember what I thought about it. Brazil leaves me depressed (isn’t Michael Palin scary!).

    John Waters – how the hell did he beat Miike and Sono??!?!??!?

    Lars von Trier – I absolutely hated Breaking the Waves but Melancholia was a great cinematic experience – plus we got to see Kirsten Dunst nude… I mean acting her socks off.

    Pedro Almodóvar – Ah, the only film I like from him is The Skin I Live In.

    Martin Scorsese – The man’s work is brilliant (although I prefer his earlier films to his later ones and I think that Infernal Affairs is better than The Departed).

    The fact that Takeshi Kitano isn’t anywhere on your list is upsetting since his films are awesome. I’m intrigued as to who this one last Japanese director is.

    • John Water is fucking awesome dude! I make no apologies for his placing on this list or in my wretched heart.

      Yep. A lot of people feel that way about Breaking the Waves….I thought Emily Watson was spectacular…she is definitely one of my favourite modern actresses without a doubt.

      That is just wrong.

      I’ve mention a dozen times or more on this blog that I loathe and detest remakes and pretty much avoid them but this was definitely an exception. I must say while I loved Infernal Affairs and actually thought The Departed was just as good. In my opinion these two films are on par and both are magnificent.

      I was in error…I actually have TWO Japanese directors left on my list….but I don’t think you are going to be terribly excited about either of them. I will DEFINITELY see more Takeshi Kitano films already!!! Cross my heart and hope to die 🙂

  6. Great to see Terry Gillima make your list. I love Brazil and Time Bandits, shame he hasn’t made more movies. Interestingly, my favourite Scorsese films are the ones I;d say were more like Gilliam than typical Scorsese (eg: After Hours and King of Comedy).

    Lar von Trier is a director I have yet to warm to…perhaps no one ever does but I just can’t get into his work.

    Almodovar is a master – love everything I’ve seen of his. Really enjoyed The Skin I Live in recently.

    John Waters is crazy and I love his work too. Perhaps my fave of his is Serial Mom with Kathleen Turner.

  7. Great post, Glad you included Von Trier as his work tends to really divide opinion.

  8. […] I recently posted my 50 favourite directors and Lars Von Trier was number 18. […]

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