More than any other skill in Hollywood, directing is the most valuable. A good director can outshine any actor. In 1954, film critiques and scholars defined the word “auteur” as “a filmmaker whose individual style and complete control over all elements of production give a film its personal and unique stamp”(dictionary.com).
Essentially, an auteur is a director whose stamp on his work is similar to an author and his novel. Famous auteurs in the past are legends such as John Luc Godard, Stanley Kubrick, Frank Capra and Woody Allen. Each one of these directors made films in a specific and objective way and took subjective scripts and turned them into their own world.
Today, I believe the visual and sound direction of directors in Hollywood is at an unprecedented level. While two of the most famous directors of all time are reaching the end of their careers (Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese), both are still coming out with a film every few years. Similarly, while James Cameron is not a director that defines this generation (he made Alien over 25 years ago), he is still the “king of the world” and is coming out with multiple Avatar sequels.
All three of these directors are true auteurs, as each one of their films is drenched with their own unique style and vision. However, today’s generation of directors is filled with talent such as Christopher Nolan, Matthew Vaughn, Wes Anderson, Darren Arnofsky, Quentin Tarantino and Zack Snyder. The films that Tarantino has made, whether it be Kill Bill or Inglorious Basterds, are each stamped with his own style and they are, simply put, phenomenal. From comic book-type action scenes to classic ’80s jams, all of his films pay homage to different times and cultures. Similarly, dark scenes with vibrant characters and group mentality undertones define all Martin Scorsese films.
However, I believe that today, an auteur who is hitting his peak and will one day be looked upon as one of the greatest of our time is David Fincher. He has been making motion pictures for two decades and already has a hall of fame résumé. Dark thrillers like Fight Club, The Game, Panic Room and Seven all define his early career. While all of these films were box-office successes, they have also taken on a cult classic following. His newer work is defined more by epic period pieces that still have these dark undertones. Both The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Social Network were masterpieces that were nominated for Best Picture and Best Director. Both of these films are grand stories of epic universality, yet Fincher’s focus on sharp dialogue, strong characters and electronic scores make us see these epics as character portraits.
On Fincher’s horizon is the The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara. Produced by Scott Rudin, the trilogy has the chance to be a masterpiece. The story and hype will be of epic proportions. Coming up after this trilogy is Disney’s response to Avatar, titled 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which will be a water-based, eye-candy ride. Fincher has claimed that this will be his equivalent to Empire Strikes Back. To top it all off, Fincher is now linked with Sony’s biggest project in recent years, Cleopatra, which is linking Angelina Jolie as its star. The budget for the film will be over 200 million dollars, and Rudin is again signed to produce. Move over Spielberg, David Fincher is about to take over Hollywood.