Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Directors Project: #47 - Billy Wilder

Scene from Cinema Paradiso
With the many lists and essays written on the subject of film, there has been one thing that The Oscar Buzz has tried to understand: Who is my favorite of the film world? For 10 weeks this summer, I will be exploring this with a countdown of the Top 50 names based on a numerical ranking of ratings from various sources, the following is a list of directors who rank above everyone else. With occasional upsets, this is intended as both a discussion opener as well as a better understanding of me as a film critic and fan. Please enjoy and leave any comments you have regarding the entry's selection.


Years Active: 1929-1981

Films as Director: 27

Oscar Wins: 6

-Best Adapted Screenplay (The Lost Weekend)
-Best Original Screenplay (Sunset Blvd.)
-Best Picture (The Apartment)
-Best Director (The Apartment)
-Best Original Screenplay (The Apartment)
-Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award

Who: When it came to the golden age of cinema, few voices were as authentic as Wilder's. Jumping between genres, he was able to transcend the tropes and create stories that were both human and grounded. He was well known for making edgy films that were accessible. Films like The Apartment delved into suicide and infidelity while being uproariously funny. His ability to mix cynicism with light hearted atmospheres is an aspect that many have imitated, but few have matched. As evidenced by his three writing Oscars, he knew his way around a script and had the capability of letting the performances shine as a result. He was an actor's director, and his work reflected a different kind of auteur. Not one of highly stylized drama, but very human characters.

Scene from The Lost Weekend

- The Lost Weekend (1945) -

Flickchart Ranking: #113 (800 points)
IMDb Rating: 7/10 (70 points) 
Perks: None 
Total: 870 points

- Double Indemnity (1944) -

Flickchart Ranking: #427 (500 points)
IMDb Rating: 6/10 (60 points)
Perks: None
Total: 560 points

- The Apartment (1960) -

Flickchart Ranking: #491 (450 points) 
IMDb Rating: 6/10 (60 points) 
Perks: None 
Total: 510 points

- Some Like It Hot (1959) -

Flickchart Ranking: #654 (400 points) 
IMDb Rating: 7/10 (70 points) 
Perks: None 
Total: 470 points

OVERALL TOTAL: 2360 points


Scene from Double Indemnity

There are few directors that are as iconic to cinema as Wilder. What makes him extra special was his ability not only to jump around genres, but make the actors central focus. Coming on the cusp of the stage acting transition to modern, more casual style, he helped to shape how cinema approached film noir, slapstick comedies, and even alcoholic dramas. He was influential in making these moments click with darker themes while keeping optimistic humor. He was very much a writer before a filmmaker, and that isn't a problem. His work had an artisan to it as a result and there's plenty to admire and indulge. He was challenging while accessible, helping to create a more contemporary type of cinema. He's funny, disturbing, and breathtaking almost all in the same  film, which is a strong reason he is one of the most recognized Oscar nominees on this list so far.

UP NEXT: A veteran whose greatest films were spanned over the many decades, capturing the turmoils and political climates of the various periods while making timeless, important stories.

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