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10 Directors Who Need a Redemption Movie ASAP

05 July 2016 | Features, People Lists | by Abdessamia Abdellah

best brian de palma films

In Hollywood, you are nothing but the last movie you made. Some movie directors learn that the hardest way, failing to find resources for their upcoming movies, sometimes it’s due to their lack of notoriety or reputation but also the fact that they are no more reliable when it comes to box-office results or critical appreciation.

Here is a list of 10 acclaimed directors whom names are terribly missing from nowadays movie posters.


1. John Woo

The Killer

The Trademark: Doing wonders in Hong Kong, giving us some of the most fascinating violent action drenched movies of our era (A Better Tomorrow, The Killer, both with the equally good Chow Yun Fat). Woo was introduced to the USA by Jean Claude Van Damme with Hard Target. His impact on action cinema was immediate, bringing themes like honor, sacrifice and ancient values: Broken Arrow was a success and then his masterpiece: Face/Off which was the standard by then to every action movie.

Certainly, his opus is the least distinguished of the Mission Impossible, but he was the one that gave the saga his “Adrenaline James Bond” style.

The Crisis: Back in 2001, the post 11th September world required some heroic and patriotic war movies to touch hearts of the audience: We Were Soldiers, Hart’s War and Wind Talkers were produced at the same time with almost the same exigencies. The last one seemed like a empty boring movie on demand for a particular agenda, and backfired naturally.

The exact same thing happened a year after: the success of Minority Report made studios looking for another renowned Sci-Fi novel to adapt. Alex Proyas took I, Robot for the 20th Century Fox, Woo was assigned to adapt Philip K. Dick’s Paycheck for Paramount and Dreamworks. The movie failed to make any positive impression; it lacked John Woo’s DNA that can make any medium plot watchable and fun.

The two flops at the box-office were enough to put the man down for a while, leaving nothing but return to the motherland, producing and directing the epic Red Cliff and restarting his career all over. But, if it’s left to us, he can return to the USA whenever he wants, we missed seeing those white doves flying all over.


2. Cameron Crowe

Almost Famous

The Trademark: Cameron Crowe is a former journalist for Rolling Stone magazine/director/writer/producer/actor (He worked on a Spielberg movie, check it out) who took Billy Wilder as his greatest role model (Check also their series of interviews), and it paid off.

His movies are timeless, always pleasant to watch, colorful, funny and warmhearted, filled with recognizable ordinary people, and great soundtrack. He can authorize himself remaking an obscure dark Spanish movie and make it bankable (Vanilla Sky) and even a semi-autobiographic filmed story that offered both his actresses (Frances McDormand and the revelation Kate Hudson) Oscar nominations in the same category (a rarity). Everything smiled to that all American prodigy.

The Crisis: For many, Elizabeth Town used too many formulas from the Crowe playbook, the movie appeared like a washed out version of his earlier movies, and making it worse, Orlando Bloom wasn’t the actor who could fill Tom Cruise or John Cusack’s big shoes. The lapse between his two next projects (About 6 years for We Bought a Zoo and 4 for Aloha) also distanced public from him.

The Matt Damon/Scarlett Johansson adaptation was a small commercial success but hasn’t had the same impact as its earlier work, the KO came with Aloha: a mess of a love story in a heavenly locations with a great cast (the polemic about white washing the character of Emma Stone didn’t help either).

We are pretty sure, Crowe will bounce back, he announced a sequel for Say Anything and he is working as producer and director for his TV Show Roadies. The other perk of any Cameron Crowe movie is that exquisite taste of music that always enchants the pictures on screen.


3. Brian de Palma


The Trademark: Brian de Palma came along to revolutionize Hollywood with his respective fellows (Spielberg, Scorsese, George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola, Sydney Lumet….) in the 70’s. His filmography can be qualified as legendary: Carrie, The Fury, Blow Out, Scarface, the Untouchables, Carlito’s Way, Mission: Impossible…

He is the spiritual son Kubrick could have with Hitchcock. His mark is visible over both Hollywood blockbusters and indie movies.

The Crisis: The downfall of De Palma is a betrayal to his immense talent and steady reputation, and that is what more shocking about it: When comrades continued to flourish in the early 2000’s, De Palma quit the ball early. His choices seemed hazardous and unrelated to his potential: Mission to Mars, Femme Fatale, Black Dahlia, and Passion were medium movies on both commercial and critical scales.

During this period of time, we can only pick the underrated movie Redacted: a provocative and disturbing film on Iraq war with an original multimedia montage, sadly it didn’t leave any marks behind. Still, De Palma’s myth continues to inspire young filmmakers around the world: How may directors can be the subjects to a whole documentary made by both Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow on his whole line of work (De Palma, 2016)?


4. M. Night Shaylaman

The Sixth Sense

The Trademark: Remember in 2002, when a Newsweek cover called the Philadelphia writer/director the next Spielberg? It was kind of justified. Everything was smiling at him: Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and Signs were groundbreaking movies with a so awaited final twist personal to him.

He could embark easily big movies stars on more experimental movies (Bruce Willis and Mel Gibson were big at this time), he was also in a shortlist to contribute to the next Indiana Jones, private propriety of Spielberg and Lucas. But all that now is history.

The Crisis: The Village and Lady in Water, the next following ones were more average movies, the Shaylaman touch (cameos, twists…) started to blur. The Happening was the coup de grace for him as a skilled director; the movie was one of the major flops of 2008.

To redeem with reputation with studios as a bankable director, his take on The Last Airbender was part of the built-in saga that could compete with young adults projects flourishing all over, the results were unanimous: 6% of favorable opinions on Rotten Tomatoes. The international failure of After Earth, 3 years later, continued to dig Shaylaman’s grave a little deeper.

Luckily for him, his last movie, the modest budgeted The Visit received a warmer critical welcome and seemed to get him back on track (the movie and the TV Show Wayward Pines in a single year).


5. Oliver Stone

Platoon (1986)

The Trademark: Oliver Stone could be called a genre himself: incisive, engaged, vivid, intelligent and bold. He influenced directors and political movies all over the world. His “war trilogy”: Platoon, Heaven and Earth and Born on the 4th of July reflects his opinion on wars like Vietnam when he was directly involved, his touch on all movies were acclaimed and loved all over: the Jim Morrison and Nixon biography , the JFK investigation, the diatribe about football , the sexy road movie thriller U-Turn.. Stone succeeded in almost any project he was associated with.

The Crisis: Two Alexander the Great biopics were in development in the early 2000’s: A Baz Luhrmann movie for Universal launched with Di Caprio as the conqueror, Nicole Kidman and Mel Gibson as his parents, and the rival one that have seen the light for Warner Bros. Unfortunately, this audacious version was later savaged by the critics when it opened and received a miserable reception.

His treatment of the September 11th celebrated courage and endurance, but its impact was minimal (Paul Greengras released United 93 simultaneously and dethroned the political engaged Oliver Stone on that matter). The sequel of Wall Street smelled like a soft business call: Shia la Boeuf at his peak hired and followed the pattern of returning sequels of the 90’s hits such as Rambo, Indiana Jones or Die Hard, added to the context of the 2008’s critical economic crisis.

Looking back, 2015’s The Big Short was more an “Oliver Stone movie” than Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. The lack of interest both W. (more a reckoning with former president than an actual biopic) and Savages were received with prove that the director lost his cult following circle on both critical and commercial worlds.

Snowden will be released later this year, let’s hope for a ravishing piece of art about freedom of speech and civic liberties than a toothless take on nowadays hot subjects.



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  • Pingback: 10 Directors Who Need a Redemption Movie ASAP |

  • Abba Makama

    Richard Kelly

  • The one person that needed redemption was Michael Cimino but sadly, he’s gone. At least Heaven’s Gate is finally getting its due.

  • Dave


  • Nancy Hall

    Some may be finding redemption on TV. Cameron Crowe’s series, Roadies, may not do it for him. The Wachowskis, on the other hand, may have pulled it off with Sense8, I liked it. It was flawed, but beautiful and it hung together, somehow. I’m looking forward to teh next season.

  • Dimitri Poenaru

    I will Never understand the hate on Knowing. I, Robot too. Both movies are awesome.

  • killerjoe1985

    Coen Bros

  • V.C. Privitera

    Interesting & Unique List!
    John Carpenter would be my choice…What Happened?

    Brian DePalma –
    I would iterate that he started to fail with “Snake Eyes,” which is horrendously awful. It’s odd to think he would bomb that bad, especially after revitalizing the “Mission Impossible” Series in a very Fashionable & Successful manner.
    Not to mention, even though many would argue (but I could give a shit!), Nicholas Cage was in Top-Form during this period, making über-big productions & highly successful films like “The Rock,” “Face-Off,” and dare I say it “Con-Air.” Cage was a Superstar in the 90s, unbeknownst to younger generation film fans, but we can all remember when Cage’s Stardom was at its peak (before “Wicker Man” remake….tsk tsk).
    Whatever the case, I recall Snake Eyes being semi-successful Box-Officewise, but that was also before we had a systematic net-base of online resources that we have had within the last 15years or so of the World-Wide-Web that have offered a wide range of Info of criticism & reviews….and if we had this format back in those days, “Snake Eyes” would’ve failed before its Premiere.
    ***Now that I think about it, isn’t crazy to remember & think back when people would flood cinemas without really knowing more about what we were seeing than what would we would grab from just movie-trailers/previews.
    Anyways, back to “Snake Eyes,” the flick had all the trappings to seem on the surface that the movie would be worthwhile, the cast & filmmaker himself were well-respected and the fact the chatter made this feature out to be DePalma’s return to his earlier Hitchcock-Style…all-in-all just complete dud of a motion-picture!

    M. Night Shamalama-ding-dong –
    The problem with this cat is that he makes the same kind of films over & over, that from face value of Previews/Trailers, they all “looked” promising, the key word being “Look,” but time & time again M Night just doesn’t deliver.
    I’ve never been a fan of his films…even “Sixth Sense,” but I gave up after “Signs,” since that was one of the worst waste of opportunities of an Idea/Plot/Storylines I’ve had to endure, cause again, the Film Trailer looked very promising in terms of offering a new unique take on UFO phenomenon, but instead was just another dull & plain offerings of zero-entertaining value.

    The Wachowski’s –
    Now, granted that they had executed the quality-worthy film “Bound” before warping worldwide cinema into the future with the groundbreaking release of “The Matrix” in 1999, but I think because of how much effort & ideas they had put into not just that film itself, but the entire Series as a whole; in my opinion, I think this is what prevents this duo from following-up with a film that can even compete with what they had successfully delivered with the likes of “The Matrix.”
    Aside from “Speed Racer,” (which I’ve never had any interest in seeing…so I cannot comment) it’s obvious that the Wachowski’s are trying their best to deliver something that is just as groundbreaking, intellectual, intricate, thought-provoking, & most of all entertaining to worldwide audiences to be mesmerized just as much, if not more than we all had been when “The Matrix” hit the scene….but this is ultimately difficult and incredibly impossible to do today, sure it’s plausible, but “The Matrix” is the Wachowski’s “Apocalypse Now,” so as to say, that when you put that much effort & blood, sweat, & tears into such a prolific work of art, it’s inevitable that it will either take just as much of a push of creativity to conceive such a project, but also the and more importantly, the “time” it takes to do-so.
    Maybe if the Wachowski’s were to go back to their formal smaller-budget productions, like they did with “Bound,” that could & would be a better launchpad to deliver films that can be well received from critics & fans alike.


    I would add to this list:

    – Roger Avery
    – Spike Lee – although I do find films like “25th Hour,” “Inside Man” & “Chi-Raq” worthy of quality material.