10. The Apostle (directed by Robert Duvall)
Robert Duvall clearly knows the characters he plays inside and out. It makes sense as to why his reigning achievement, as a director, anyways, 'The Apostle', is so textured by the characters from within it more than it is the script that is laid along its floor. In fact, Duvall was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor for directing himself as a preacher. If you like Duvall’s films that question the ethics of morality, such as “The Godfather” and “The Godfather: Part II”, “To Kill a Mockingbird”, “Network”, “True Grit”, you may want to see his take on self conflict with “The Apostle”.
9. Buffalo ‘66 (directed by Vincent Gallo)
Why is this film here if it’s considered his best work as a filmmaker? Simply because it still doesn’t get brought up often enough. The notion that a man that was wrongly convicted tries to then commit a crime to prove his worth is deliciously ironic. How do you show your family that you’ve changed? Bring home a fake wife you’ve kidnapped, of course! It gets even more complicated when you consider that said wife, played by Christina Ricci, is actually interested in the criminal to begin with. Buffalo ’66 is built upon wrong decisions made for self-conscious reasons. Why isn’t it talked about more? Maybe because Gallo didn’t treat his cast too well and is simply a notoriously foul-mouthed person overall. With this one, try to separate the artist from the art, despite the fact that he’s all over it.
8. Bulworth (directed by Warren Beatty)
Warren Beatty has directed, produced and starred in his own films a whole slew of times before. He did just that as recently as last year, with the lukewarm film “Rules Don’t Apply”. However, we’re not talking about “Reds”, “Heaven Can Wait”, or even the peculiar “Dick Tracy”. We’re talking about the polarizing “Bulworth”, the tale of a panicking old-fashioned politician, played by Beatty himself.
7. Drive, He Said (directed by Jack Nicholson)
Of course we know Jack Nicholson. He’s one of the most iconic actors to grace the screen in our times. Nicholson took a stab at the New Hollywood movement with his own production “Drive, He Said”. This X-rated film is a bit of an exercise to view, because it tries to break all of the rules that its peers shattered. It has been called disjointed and confusing, but it is also exhilarating and jarring in that same breath. “Drive, He Said” is mostly interesting because it is a clear thank you from an actor whose career was made by this kind of filmmaking. Is it Nicholson’s most polished film that he has directed? Not quite, but that it’s his most interesting.
6. Faithless (directed by Liv Ullmann)
With her connection to Ingmar Bergman, it’s no wonder that Liv Ullmann learned a thing or two from her long time collaborator (and former partner). Ullmann has crafted films before, but her ultimate success is “Faithless”, which can be considered her biggest testament to the late Bergman. First, it was actually written by Bergman. Second, it is a confessional tale of adultery that is actually influenced by Bergman’s own life. Ullmann channels the modernist form of some of the films she was once a part of with this opened journal. It’s personal, yet aesthetically imaginative. If anything, it is proof that Ullmann has been extremely faithful to not just Bergman’s work or her legacy in Swedish cinema, but also to the art of filmmaking with her creative flair.
5. The Gift (directed by Joel Edgerton)
Joel Edgerton’s twisted indie film “The Gift” is the newest entry on this list, and it is likely still fresh in the minds of some. It did pretty well on Rotten Tomatoes and was talked about, but Edgerton’s deceptive thriller goes into territories that would shake most to their cores. With a sharp dramatic turn by the usual funnyman Jason Bateman, “The Gift” is a nerve-wracking look at the side effects of bullying and isolation that transitions into the dimmest parts of the human psyche. The final hour in “The Gift” is shocking enough to linger in your mind for months. Edgerton has always had a good handle of his character’s motives in whichever film he has starred in, and his precision shows in “The Gift”.
4. Little Murders (directed by Alan Arkin)
Alan Arkin has a couple of films that he worked on as a director, but his most well-known work was that of his debut “Little Murders”. This satire poked fun at a variety of industries and social groups, including old and new generations, authoritative figures and more. This film is darkly comedic in the kind of way where you may laugh out of being uncomfortable at times. “Little Murders” is actually the result of a Broadway production that didn’t quite live for too long, perhaps due to its dismal tone. However, the movie is certainly one of the many that were the result of the Production Code losing its grip on cinema, and it shows. It loudly laughs in the face of turmoil and death.
3. The Lost One (directed by Peter Lorre)
“The Night of the Hunter” was an iconic film by actor Charles Laughton that was only given the respect it deserves in much more recent times. Unfortunately, Laughton never directed again because of the film’s backlash. Perhaps the movie was way too dark for the production-code-prepared audiences of its time. If we’ve given “The Night of the Hunter” that second chance, perhaps we should look at a similar tale again as well. “The Lost One” involves a villainous doctor that works for the Nazi party. He develops a lust for murder when he first starts off with his fiancée, who was an informant. The film’s title is exactly what it is, as it feels like an obsidian work of misery that has been highly forgotten about.
2. Nil by Mouth (directed by Gary Oldman)
We are all familiar with Gary Oldman’s ability to turn into any character under the sun at the drop of a hat. A film by him would surely be interesting, right? Well, “Nil by Mouth” may have been a bit too abrasive at the time of its release. This drug drama formerly held the record for the most instances of the word “fuck” in a film. If the language wasn’t enough of a deterrence, the tension between the family members, led by an explosive Ray Winstone, may have been the final straw for some.
1. Win Win (directed by Tom McCarthy)
Okay, so Tom McCarthy may fall under the term director heavily now, especially since his opus “Spotlight” won the Oscar for Best Picture. Maybe he has had a long career as a filmmaker and screenwriter. However, McCarthy always felt like the familiar face on screen that would pop up in so many works. Now that “Spotlight” has earned its praise, maybe it’s time we picked up the film that came out before it known as “Win Win”. Like “Spotlight”, “Win Win” similarly feels authentically pure and untampered by Hollywood’s need for superficiality. What’s nice about this is that “Win Win” is a comedy-drama, so you will definitely experience a roller coaster of emotions. McCarthy isn’t afraid to dig deeply into the mindsets of the characters; the reward this film can dish out alone should make this winner worthy of discussion.