2008 Calvin Awards: Best Director

February 22, 2008

No, I am *not* Peter Jackson.

It was a fairly close race in the director category this year, as six different candidates received first place votes. In the end, it seems that the populist choice is our winner, as Paul Greengrass takes the Calvin for Best Director. Clearly, with the third entry in the Bourne series, he's gotten it right.

Last year, Greengrass finished fourth in this category, though it wasn't for a movie that had anything to do with Jason Bourne. United 93 was a visceral, gripping experience that is admittedly difficult to watch, but truly does honor to those who were killed during the tragic events of September 11, 2001. It's apparent that Greengrass took something from that experience and translated it to The Bourne Ultimatum. While the shaky-cam was a bit of an issue during some of the car chases in the second Bourne flick, there was no such trouble in the follow-up. That film picked up directly where The Bourne Supremacy left off,and the action comes fast and furious. Scenes are shot in such a way that we are at times truly shocked at what ensues. And outstanding performances are pulled from all involved. This is a masterpiece of spy cinema and its unique look and feel are greatly to credit for that.

Missing first place by a few votes were Ethan and Joel Coen, whose No Country for Old Men is indeed a cinematic masterpiece that will likely be discussed years from now in film studies classes. It's a western without really being a western, and has such amazing cinematography and scenery that it begs to be viewed on the big screen. Also to the directors' credit is the fact that they elicited such spectacular performances from the entire cast. Josh Brolin is just a "hey, it's that guy" type of actor without their casting him and drawing a pitch-perfect performance. The fact that the movie continues to generate discussion long after people have seen it in theaters proves its impact, greatly because of the uncompromising efforts of the writer/directors.

Third place goes to our beloved Brad Bird, whose direction of the CGI animated Ratatouille was sublime. As is consistently the case with Pixar films, the animation was perfect, with rats and humans alike having characteristics that line up perfectly with their roles. The Paris scenery is likewise gorgeous, and one single scene as Remy walks through the sewers of the city is totally memorable. It's all put together for one delightful tale of a little dude who persevered against the odds.

Next up in fourth is Jason Reitman, whose direction of Juno deserves our praise. Naturally, he should be commended for getting his actors to create such believable characters onscreen, but much is also owed to his ability to handle a scene and some elegant attention to detail. Fifth goes to the talented Paul Thomas Anderson for his work on There Will Be Blood. His work creating a power hungry force who takes on Southern California during the early 20th century. The sweeping effort is quite different from anything Anderson has done in the past and proves once again that he can pretty well set foot into any genre he pleases.


Sixth and seventh go to David Fincher and (gasp!) Ben Affleck, who directed Zodiac and Gone Baby Gone. Fincher is one of those directors who consistently captures our attention regardless of the project. This one seemed a bit mainstream for him, but it turned out to be a creative examination of the serial murders that occurred in San Francisco in the late ‘60s/early ‘70s, as well as the lives that were impacted. Affleck likewise dealt in the crime genre, exploring a private detective's search for a missing child. It's an extremely intelligent movie that leaves viewers thinking, particularly about some of the moral issues that are raised. Even with those issues in the movie's background, we never feel hit over the head with them, which is to the director's credit.

The final directors who found their way into our top ten were Judd Apatow for Knocked Up, Adrienne Shelly for Waitress and Tony Gilroy for Michael Clayton. With regards to Apatow, we admire his ability to work with young, mostly unknown performers and wind up with a finished product that appealed both to critics and to mainstream audiences. He recreated the sex comedy and turned it into something that can truly be enjoyed by both men and women. We'll miss Adrienne Shelly, who was tragically murdered in 2006. She had progressed from being a Hal Hartley regular to directing and writing her own film in Waitress, and it was such a joyous little slice of life. Finally, Tony Gilroy's Michael Clayton could have been convoluted to the point of being incomprehensible, but it was instead a taut, suspenseful drama that kept viewers on their toes.

Just missing our top ten were David Cronenberg (Eastern Promises), Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz), Matthew Vaughn (Stardust) and Joe Wright (Atonement). (Kim Hollis/BOP)

Best Actor
Best Actress
Best Album
Breakthrough Performance
Best Cast
Best Director
Best DVD
Best Overlooked Film
Best Picture
Best Scene
Best Screenplay
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Best TV Show
Best Use of Music
Best Video Game
Worst Performance
Worst Picture
Top 10
Position Director(s) Film Total Points
1 Paul Greengrass The Bourne Ultimatum 64
2 Ethan and Joel Coen No Country for Old Men 58
3 Brad Bird Ratatouille 50
4 Jason Reitman Juno 43
5 Paul Thomas Anderson There Will Be Blood 31
6 David Fincher Zodiac 30
7 Ben Affleck Gone, Baby, Gone 29
8 Judd Apatow Knocked Up 24
9 Adrienne Shelly Waitress 23
10 Tony Gilroy Michael Clayton 20



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