Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Directors Project: #49 - William Friedkin

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: 1962-Today

Films As Director: 19

Oscar Wins: 1 - Best Director (The French Connection - 1972)

Who: One of the most provocative and long lasting filmmakers to have their emergence in the 1970's. After making the incredibly successful The French Connection, Friedkin went on to push cinema into strange areas with his penchant for gritty, raw, and fast moving films often set to really good, or no, soundtracks. He continues to provoke even to this day with films like Killer Joe. With The Exorcist being his ultimate tribute to film, he has managed to create a rugged and far more fascinating view of what stories can be told while featuring a love for unapologetic, cynical characters. You may not know his name, but he has directed some of the finest action set pieces in cinema's history by grounding them with human consequences. He is well spoken and a delight to listen to during interviews not only about his films, but about the medium in general.

Scene from The Exorcist
- The Exorcist (1973) -

Flickchart Ranking: #114 (800 points)
IMDb Rating: 7/10 (70 points)
Perks: None
Total: 870 points

- The French Connection (1972)

Flickchart Ranking: #123 (800 points)
IMDb Rating: 7/10 (70 points)
Perks: None
Total: 870 points

- To Live and Die in L.A. (1985) -

Flickchart Ranking: #376 (550 points)
IMDb Rating: 6/10 (60 points)
Perks: None
Total: 610 points

OVERALL TOTAL: 2350 points 

Scene from The French Connection
As readers will likely discover over the course of The Directors Project, I do have a soft spot for directors whose prominence was in the 1970's. I will forewarn by saying that this isn't always the case, but more often than not, I love their take on cinema for their ability to tell unflinching tales of contemporary society with gritty realism and unabashed flaws of character. Few directors are intensely kinetic as Friedkin remains with his ability to make hard hitting characters as the stories dive into the dark crevices of society. Whether it is the car chase in The French Connection (you will believe a car can chase a train) or the exorcism in The Exorcist, his work feels like the prototype for David Fincher and any director who followed that wanted to push limits while never sacrificing a compellingly aggressive story.

UP NEXT: A director whose manic editing and pop culture references helped to shape world cinema while also giving us some of the most delightfully experimental films in history.

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