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10 Great Movies You Didn’t Know Were Directed By Famous Actors

11 April 2019 | Features, Film Lists | by Spandan Banerjee

6. Fences – Directed by Denzel Washington

Denzel Washington - Fences

It is not easy for a cinematic adaptation to be faithful to its source material. For this same reason, August Wilson, the celebrated playwright of “The Pittsburgh Cycle,” was highly protective of his play “Fences” for an adaptation for the screen. He demanded that the filmmaker must be a person of color because other than an African-American person, no one could effectively understand the subtle intricacies of racial division in 1950’s America. “Fences” is a timeless fictional film as the message in the film is more suited to modern-day America.

The novel already got an adaptation on the stage beforehand in which Denzel Washington and Viola Davis starred, and in 2013 Washington showed interest in adapting it for the screen. The result was the 2016 film “Fences,” produced by the same person who produced the play, in which Washington and Davis reprised their roles. “Fences” got critical acclaim and was nominated for several Academy Awards, and Viola Davis won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Rosy.

 

7. The Disaster Artist – Directed by James Franco

“The Room” is a prime example of how to show that a film doesn’t have to be great to be remembered by cinephiles through the ages, that an equally disastrous film can serve the same purpose. The “so bad it’s good” film canon didn’t start with “The Room,” but it is one of the essential entries in cult filmography.

It is even labeled as one of the worst films ever made by the majority of publications. Naturally, a film that revolves around the cult of another absolutely horrendous film has a great entertaining promise, and James Franco didn’t miss a beat in making the audience laugh in his “The Disaster Artist.”

It is true that the real-life account of Tommy Wiseau and his actions are funny in themselves, but the credit of Franco is that he made the film “The Disaster Artist” in such a way that even an audience who has not seen Wiseau’s directorial effort can appreciate the light-hearted fun of Franco’s film.

Franco and his brother Dave Franco were excellent as Tommy and Greg Sestero, upon whose non-fiction work the film is based, and the film was nominated for the Best Adapted Screenplay at the Academy Awards.

 

8. Don Jon – Directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Julianne Moore in Don Jon

There is a part in “Don Jon” where a middle-aged woman named Esther feels that the porn-addicted protagonist Jon is infatuated with porn more than real physical relations, because porn-viewing is a very distant, one-sided affair without any real-life implications. The same can be said about cinema, too.

Often viewers feel enthralled to indulge themselves into acts of some perverse emotion in which they can’t think to do in real life because of the consequences. This meta-cinema comedy-drama “Don Jon” by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, which revolves around the life of a modern-day Don Juan, wittingly named Jon, marked the directing debut of Gordon-Levitt.

It did attract positive reviews in the Sundance Film Festival where it premiered, and the performances from the cast were praised. The biggest achievement of “(500) Days of Summer” star Gordon-Levitt is that he managed to portray the character of Jon on screen and directing off-screen effortlessly, which is a difficult feat.

 

9. Unbroken – Directed by Angelina Jolie

Made from an excellent script adapted by the Coen brothers from the non-fiction book “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption,” Angelina Jolie’s “Unbroken” chronicled the struggling story of U.S. Olympian Louis Zamperini, who survived a plane crash in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and later became a prisoner of war.

Once famed in the glamour industry as only a sex symbol, Jolie slowly proved herself as a woman of substance by doing humanitarian work and starting to direct films based on sensitive materials. She now has a great foothold in the industry as both an actress and filmmaker and is constantly showing more maturity as a director with every passing film. Her last film “First They Killed My Father” was the official Oscar entry from Cambodia.

“Unbroken” is a great episodic movie and every period in the life of Zamperini is expressed with minute care and detailing by Jolie, be it his professional triumph at Olympics, his surviving with determination in the middle of Atlantic Ocean, or holding his voice amidst the violence of Japanese officials in the war camp.

Japanese guitarist Miyavi was breathtaking in his portrayal of Mutsuhiro Watanabe, and the sound mixing by Jon Taylor and the impressionist cinematography from the great Roger Deakins elevated the film to a great height.

 

10. A Quiet Place – Directed by John Krasinski

We are living in the golden age of horror. Supported by independent productions and distribution houses, modern masterpieces like “The Witch,” “ The Babadook,” “It Follows,” “Hereditary” and “Us” challenge each other in a silent competition. The year 2017 was another great year of horror in this decade. It had a varied number of releases including “Get Out,” “It,” ”Gerald’s Game,” ”The Ritual” and the entry we are talking about, “A Quiet Place.”

Influenced by masterpieces like “Alien” and “ No Country for Old Men,” John Krasinski’s confident tour-de-force showed the silent perils of an apocalyptic world where creatures outnumber humans, killing most of the populace with the exception of the Abbott family.

The film has a great sound design, which is crucial to the success of a film like this, but “The Office” man Krasinski supplied it with a chilling atmosphere helped by his sensible direction, and great visuals by Charlotte Bruus Christensen.

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