Consistency might not sound like a word associated with the height of artistry, but if you want to establish your name in the upper echelons of directors then it is absolutely key. There are so many people involved with making a movie that if you lend your name to just one gem it can get diluted amid the slew of other contributors. Whereas, if your name crops up on greats continually, then people notice the trend.
The number of directors out there who have cooked up one-hit wonders are too plentiful to mention but those who land consistent gems are few and far between. On the flip side of that coin, there are certainly some undoubted greats who occasionally miss the mark but hit after hit is a rarity.
Below, we’re looking at ten directors who do just that – produce hit after hit, as we look at 10 directors who don’t make bad films.
10 directors who don’t make bad films:
If his name is on the poster then count me in. Not only does Martin Scorsese not make bad films, he usually exclusively makes masterpieces. Although The Aviator and Silence might be a little bit long and maudlin for my money, that by no means makes them bad movies and everything else he has produced is up there with the best.
Put all his films in a hat on a Friday night, pluck one out to watch and you won’t be disappointed. Over the course of his career, he has also journeyed through many styles, it can’t be said that Mean Streets and Shutter Island are cut from the same cloth other than the quality they share which makes his filmography all the more impressive.
Not only does Christopher Nolan make consistently thrilling movies, but he also defies the atypical director tropes by bringing them in under budget and ahead of schedule, which makes him an absolute dream for studios and producers alike.
In Nolan’s case, a quality outcome seems almost foregone. He has a fine knack for knowing what is entertaining and knowing how to pull it off. We didn’t realise we wanted a new Batman movie, but with The Dark Knight trilogy, he packaged what were essentially thrillers in the cloaks and capes of familiarity and embellished one with the other. In short, he’s got a keen eye and one very clear head, which makes him a hit churning force.
Tarantino himself is a man obsessed with consistency. In fact, he loves the idea of an unblemished filmography so much that he has continually hinted that he might move away from the industry after his tenth films to work in the world of literature or film criticism. He even opened branded The Hateful 8, his eighth movie, in a sneaky attempt to banish the blemish of Grindhouse that he worked on with Robert Rodriguez from his record.
From scripts that bear his name like True Romance to his latest masterpiece Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, his career has been one chocked full of fun, thrills, plenty of blood spill and a weird amount of feet, but usually always excellent.
The Iranian director Asghar Farhadi might have a pair of Oscars to his name, but sadly he isn’t on a lot of peoples radars all the same. And that’s a real shame because he is an auteur who turns out nothing but truly heartfelt and visceral movies. The best place to start being the Best Foreign Language Film winner A Separation.
His earnest and soulful way of capturing humanity is both touching and artistic. He captures stories that aggrandise the humble with a profound sense of poignancy and just about every one of them in his back catalogue is a gem.
Bong Joon-ho is a director who has been brought to wider public attention owing to Parasite winning Best Picture at the 2020 Oscars and latterly receiving an endorsement by proxy via Donald Trump’s condemnation. Prior to that win, however, he had already stacked up a slew of classics including Memories of Murder and Barking Dogs Never Bite.
The late John Hurt, who appeared in Snowpiercer, described him as one of the finest directors he has ever worked with and a glut of other actors have backed up that sentiment. Bong Joon-ho is a director with a great grasp of the soul of his screenplays and he is seemingly fantastic at coaxing actors into bringing them to life.
Sci-fi is a notoriously tricky realm to stay consistent in, but so far Denis Villeneuve has pulled it off. A measure of the extent to which he has pulled it off is that even people like me who are cautious about the genre are able to laud his work wholeheartedly.
Hopefully, reports that the forthcoming Dune has been a slog in production don’t come to fruition and Villeneuve manages to pull off an Apocalypse Now by turning disaster into a masterpiece. If it’s like the rest of his filmography then it will at least be visually stunning, a trait which he has meticulously mastered throughout.
Granted Greta Gerwig has only got three films under her belt so there’s still potential that the future will throw pie on my face, but as things stand her back catalogue is as solid as they come and there’s a curated oeuvre to it instils great confidence for the future.
Having usually penned scripts or been in front of the camera, she has a hefty holistic cinematic knowledge to bring to her directorial work and she has clearly found her own footing and identity within it.
I may as well get Martin McDonagh and Greta Gerwig out in one go because the same criticism will be levelled against them – that they haven’t been prolific enough yet to label consist. However, the same rebuttal springs to my defence – you’d be hard pushed to sit through McDonagh’s work and think that anything other than another comic masterpiece awaited.
In McDonagh’s case, he also has a back catalogue of masterfully written plays to bolster his position, in fact, his writing is near unrivalled. Clearly, he is at home behind a camera too. His writing might be his bread and butter, but you don’t coax performances like those put in by Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri without being a master behind the camera too.
The Coen Brothers
I’ll stomach the blow of The Ladykillers and I’ll even admit that Intolerable Cruelty doesn’t find them at their best, but those two-minute hiccups are dwarfed under the brilliance of the rest of their back catalogue. The brief of the heading was bad movies, and whilst the aforementioned examples hover dangerously close, they are hoisted from danger by the sublime singularity of the rest of their gilded filmography.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about the Coen’s is that they are not only widely unwavering on the whole, but also many of their films reside amidst people’s all-time favourites. Whilst this article has eulogised the notion of consistency achieving truly brilliant cinema is often inherently polarising, thus, to bravely flirt with this danger and nearly always come out on top deserves lionising. Penning the script for Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies shows that they’re capable of the conventional in a masterful way, but the fact that they have remained singular and constant is even more of a feat.
In the past auteur directors would reside in the realm of indie movies that were heavily dictated by producers, until they caught the studios attention and were given free rein over a big budget. Now the reverse is true, auteurs often craft great pieces of art in the realm of the independents before graduating to the tight-fisted control of the blockbusters.
Kelly Reichardt is a great example of the artistry that modern indie movies have allowed auteurs to produce. With small budgets, she managed to create naturalist pieces of art that document the human condition without losing sight of their core goal, which is to entertain. Hopefully, she will also return to the exciting sounding project of tackling Patrick DeWitt’s cracking novel, Undermajordomo Minor, and the change in style will be as good as the rest.