22 January, 2010

BAFTA Annoyance 2010: Director Nominations

This year's BAFTA Nominations themselves are more frustrating than usual, particularly in the Directors category. (you can read my separate perennial Annual BAFTA annoyance rant here)

2010 BAFTA Director Nominations:
Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
Neill Blomkamp, District 9
James Cameron, Avatar
Lone Scherfig, An Education
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds


I enjoyed Avatar, District 9, and probably just under half of Inglorious Basterds, but best director for any of them? You have only to look at BAFTA's Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer category to find at least two that wipe the floor with them Duncan Jones (Moon) and Sam Taylor-Wood (Nowhere Boy) (I haven't seen Eran Creevy's Shifty or Stuart Hazeldine's Exam).

Cameron for Avatar would be like nominating George Lucas for Eps 1-3 of Star Wars. Sure they've pushed the technological envelope, and in some ways that is to be applauded, it doesn't make their films any more worthy. On this basis William Castle should have been given Best Director for "The Tingler" with its innovative use of electrical shock delivered to each cinema seat. Mind you Avatar is a better film than the last 3 Lucas outings, and better than Cameron's overpraised cinematic turd "Titanic" ("You will believe a ship can sink!"), but that's only because he came up with a decent story, a fully formed if slightly dodgy world, and bland but heroic characters to go with the spectacle of pixels being pissed against the screen.

As a fan of Tarentino, I'm beginning to worry that his first three films are the best he'll ever direct. Encouraging him, or Cameron for that matter, for uneven output is evil and counterproductive.

I don't begrudge Blomkamp for District 9, he does manage, in my opinion to stretch the conceit of his previous short over the feature length (others may disagree with this point), and it is better than the other entries I've derided, but still, it should be a filler nomination in some weaker year.

A non exhaustive list of Directors more worthy of nomination for this year's BAFTA than Cameron, Tarentino and possibly Blomkamp:

Duncan Jones, Moon (it's also criminal that Sam Rockwell didn't get the acting nod, the best unappreciated dual role since Jeremy Irons in Dead Ringers)
Sam Taylor-Wood, Nowhere Boy
Ethan Coen, A Serious Man (probably one of the Coen's best)
Terry Gilliam, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassas (I'd take an uneven Gilliam opus over a dodgy Tarentino any day)
Stephen Soderberg, The Informant! (Also thought Matt Damon was incredible in this very slight but well constructed movie)
Spike Jonze, Where the Wild Things Are (not the most enjoyable film, but a unique distillation of the neuroses of childhood).
Tom Hooper, The Damned United (though disappointingly not a zombie movie... and where is Michael Sheen's nod for acting?)
Bruce McDonald, Pontypool (a cerebral and claustrophobic zombie horror with a contagion spread by language)

That's just those I've seen, I missed the likes of Jane Campion's Bright Star, Kari Skogland's Fifty Dead Men Walking or Armando Iannucci's In The Loop. That's without even mentioning the non-English language works, when you have Almodovar, Haneke, Claire Denis and Chan-wook Park on top form.

Perhaps all this is be taken as moot point as Katherine Bigelow should win for The Hurt Locker. But how on top of the world will she feel if all she does is beat her ex and his big dumb blue skinned friends?

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