2009 Honorees: Directors
These Best Director picks won't come as much of a shock given the Top Ten List I published lo these many months ago, but it's still worth applauding from our seats for...
Roy Andersson for You, the Living, for working from a palette of theater, painting, and still photography without just dabbling; the ambivalence and wit feel shaped by cinema;
Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker, for conceiving a ruminative movie in long shot around Mackie, and a relentless one in close-up around Renner, and knowing how to mix them up;
Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne for Lorna's Silence, for equaling the elegance of L'Enfant but with richer, less abstract emotion; the finale's debatable, but all else clicks, and I like risks;
Jim Jarmusch for The Limits of Control, for taking a bold gamble on geometric, rhythmic, chromatic, and tonal abstraction; I was spellbound, and he rarely has that effect on me; and
Erick Zonca for Julia, for driving his film with the pedal-to-floor ferocity of an old sedan crashing across a policed border, yet every element is tightly managed.
Extremely honorable mentions to the warmth, spryness, and subtlety that Andrew Bujalski brings to Beeswax; to Sacha Gervasi's sensationally funny-sad shaping of material in Anvil! The Story of Anvil, which could have been played for jokes or banalities; to Olivier Assayas for the tenderness and finely edged toughness of Summer Hours, which implies a modern France while having the elegance and lovely remoteness of an object from the past; and to my constant muse and inspiration, the single reason I write about film today, Jane Campion, who showed again in Bright Star that there are many ways of exploring a period, communicating a love-bond, or evoking as fragile and internal an act as poetry on screen.
Further honorable mentions to Park Chan-wook for Thirst, Tony Gilroy for Duplicity, Drew Barrymore for Whip It!, Sebastián Silva for The Maid, Armando Iannucci for In the Loop, Cary Fukunaga for Sin Nombre, and Frederick Wiseman for La Danse. And speaking of established masters, I didn't love everything that Aleksandr Sokurov did with The Sun or Claire Denis did with 35 Shots of Rum, but no one else could or would have made those intriguing pictures, and at their best moments, who could match them?