I use the amazing site Criticker to rank the movies I’ve seen. While the site doesn’t contain near the gluttony of information that IMDb does, it has a fantastic algorithm predicting what movies I’ll like and it’s almost always right. Anyway, I was looking for some patterns among my scores based on who was involved with the films. I quickly noticed that actors has virtually no predictive power. Take Meryl Streep, for example. She’s superb in nearly everything she’s in, but she’s been in several great and several awful movies. Nearly every actor you could find the same thing. This makes sense on a basic level as well. If Baby Geniuses 6 (yes, there’s five of those freaking movies, and Jon Voight is set to be in the fifth) starred Daniel Day-Lewis, Nicole Kidman, and the ghost of Alec Guinness, it would still tank unless it had the best marketing campaign ever. And even then it would still be awful.
I thought perhaps the screenwriter would have fairly predictive power, but looking through my list that doesn’t appear to be the case either. For example, Luc Besson wrote the screenplay to Taken, a compact, smart action movie with some excellent lines. But he also wrote the script to Taken 2, which has eye-gouging dialogue and a meandering plot. Did he get lazy? Was his script butchered? I don’t know. But I do know that the sequel had a different director.
And when I sorted my rankings by director, I noticed more parallels than with any other category. Of course, some good directors have some bizarre flops and some mediocre directors have a shining star in their catalogue, but for the most part the rankings were consistent.
Now, I’m barely more qualified to critique directors than I am music (I’ve seen fewer than 1,000 movies), but I so enjoyed this exercise that I decided to do daily reviews of the movies of various directors where I’ve seen at least three of their movies. I won’t use my Criticker ratings, as those have more meaning to me than anyone else. So I’ll use a simple A-F grading system, going from worst to best movie.
I hope you enjoy this exercise as well, and I invite anyone to recommend additional movies by (or tell me to run away from) the upcoming directors. This week’s schedule:
Monday: David Mamet
Tuesday: Tony Scott
Wednesday: Tom Shadyac
Thursday: Barry Levinson
Friday: Rob Reiner