John Cassavetes for A Woman Under the Influence
So, this was my first Cassavetes flick, and I have to say I'm pretty torn. On the one hand, Cassavetes intends for this to be an excruciating experience, since the film centers around a housewife who's losing it...or already lost it. So, yes, kudos to him for creating both a believable suburban environment that's suffocating and uncomfortable. On the other hand, I began to find it irritating that we were spending ten minutes watching a spaghetti dinner. "And what's your name? And what's your name? And what's your name?" And my friend assures me that this is purposeful tension to both irritate Peter Falk's character and get under the audience's skin. Which is fine, but (a) I don't care for it personally and (b) look, how many ten minute scenes do you really need to establish that this lady needs help no one is willing to give? Maybe Cassavetes got the job done -- it's a very good movie, certainly, and one that I think should be seen by serious film enthusiasts -- but I don't have to fall in love with everything.
Francis Ford Coppola for The Godfather: Part II
It's great. He's great. He manages to keep the film afloat despite the superfluousness of the Vito subplot. Aesthetically, he's nailed that Shakespearean element that really makes The Godfather an immortal classic. Of course, I wish that the performances were more varied, as everyone seems to be playing how EPICALLY TRAGIC the film is. But sequences like the Murder of Don Fanucci and the Cuban Revolution are effective and incredible enough to make up for most shortcomings.
Bob Fosse for Lenny
I find myself in that weird paradox where I am so in love with something that I cannot explain just why it earned that love. It's one of those "if you see it, you understand it" things, although I think if you've ever seen a Fosse film, you understand. The stand-up performances hint at Fosse's familiarity with the concert film, but even as he makes these sequences natural, he never loses sight of that more artistic form he's adopted for this. The film is a brilliant precursor to All That Jazz, and almost its equal. Maybe it is its equal. Anyway, Fosse's a god.
Roman Polanski for Chinatown
It's interesting that everything is lit like a noir yet filmed with the same unlocked, handheld style of the independent films; more "realistic", if you will. The stylistic contradictions serve Polanski well, setting us up subconsciously for that awful dose of reality that the film continues to throw at us. And yet he never loses a sense of fun, and say what you will, movies need to be fun. Props for directing himself in a cameo.
Francois Truffaut for Day for Night
Truffaut maintains a light touch. He always has such a great grasp on comedy and drama. Look no further than Valentina Cortese's big scene, which has mixtures of both. Props for directing himself in a supporting role.
Oscar awarded Coppola, which I fully support. But I see things slightly differently and award the Oscar to...
seriously, he's so great