Thoughts on Cinema Scope's "Best 50 Filmmakers Under 50" list | Bleader

Thoughts on Cinema Scope's "Best 50 Filmmakers Under 50" list


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This weekend, I finally had a chance to sit down with Cinema Scope's 50th issue, the bulk of which was dedicated to what the magazine called "The Best 50 Filmmakers Under 50." Generally, I range from indifferent to mildly amused by festivities like this. A debate of who the best filmmakers of any age are amounts to little more than watercooler fodder for me, and I share similar sentiments toward the upcoming Sight and Sound list of greatest films of all time. I rarely dig on polemics, and I'm certainly no fan of dogma, so this sort of thing really isn't my bag. But Cinema Scope is one of the more well-respected publications in international cinema, and if anybody has their finger on the pulse of the so-called 50 best filmmakers under age 50, it's probably them.

That said, I found their list intriguing in a number of ways. For starters, there's the obvious picks like Wes Anderson, Ben Rivers, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, and Jia Zhangke; but there's also a number of curious selections such as Mike Judge, who works predominantly in television—which is very much evident in his four feature films—and Paul W.S. Anderson, who has shown the occasional Verhoevian touch but is closer to someone like Uwe Boll. Anderson's placement on the list reeks of the deliberate contrarianism most Cinema Scope readers chide Armond White for practicing.

Aside from those and one or two other entries, I quite admire the magazine for crafting what feels like a truly comprehensive selection of filmmakers. It plays to the in-crowd as much as it does to the populist crowd—in my mind, any "best filmmakers list" that features both Johan Grimonprez and Quentin Tarantino should be regarded and rewarded as democratic.

As for who I'd include, I consider it something of a travesty that Judd Apatow is not on the list. His deeply humanist films are just about the only things worth seeing at the multiplex anymore, surpassing much of what traipses through the art house, as well. Perhaps Cinema Scope sees him as too sentimental? I'd likewise include Apatow's latest acolyte, Lena Dunham, whose work bridges the gap between television and cinema in ways hitherto unseen. I'd also give props to James Gray, who continues to churn out quality work to little fanfare, and Mia Hansen-Løve, whose latest film I've yet to see but whose previous work should surely earn her a spot on this list.

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