Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Directors Project: #42 - Frank Capra

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: 1922-1964

Films as Director: 46

Oscar Wins: 3

-Best Director (You Can't Take it With You)
-Best Director (Mr. Deeds Goes to Town)
-Best Director (It Happened One Night)

Who: While there have been far grittier and more ambitiously strange directors, few could capture the pure glee of Capra. His films symbolized Americana at its best with patriotic characters struggling for justice while never once leaning away from the pep and joy that made each film charming. Despite this, his films tended to challenge the norm and ended up with one of the most envious filmographies of his era. With his films being done before and after World War II, there is a stark difference between his earlier work and the later half which had undertones of bleak undertones to government structures. Even then, Capra manages to make audiences laugh, cry, and best of all represent American values in then-contemporary ways that encapsulates a tone so perfectly that little to no director has come close to his achievements.

Scene from It Happened One Night
-- It's a Wonderful Life (1946) --

Flickchart Ranking: #19 (900 points)
IMDb Rating: 7/10 (70 points)
Perks: None
Total: 970 points

-- Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) --

Flickchart Ranking: #84 (850 points)
IMDb Rating: 6/10 (60 points)
Perks: None
Total: 910 points

-- It Happened One Night (1934) --

Flickchart Ranking: #216 (700 points)
IMDb Rating: 6/10 (60 points)
Perks: None
Total: 760 points

OVERALL TOTAL: 2640 points

Scene from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
While my knowledge of Capra is very limited, his films pack a punch. Where most of his counterparts have covered similar subjects, few directors were as great as creating iconic films about an era in American history that continue to resonate. He explores politics and emotional turmoil without pandering. With large help from James Stewart, he has made a career out of making likable underdogs into triumphant heroes and creating an overwhelmingly optimistic story that may seem cheesy, but is so well made that few compare. Capra explored the American Dream not with cynicism, but with hope of a brighter future, and by focusing on characters that have a relative connection to its audience. There's a reason that he has won Best Director three times. His films were pure cinema without any pretension.

UP NEXT: A stylized British filmmaker whose penchant for slang and crime stories has resulted in some of the most fun, violent films of the past 15 years.

No comments:

Post a Comment