We start the Top 7. You finish the Top 10.
Love or hate their movies, filmmaking cyborgs like Woody Allen and Uwe Boll have found that the best way to appease a film addiction is to never step out of the director's chair. The same can be said for other directors, some very young and some of them with decades of work behind them, who make the process of directing a feature film seem like a simple and true day job.
For others, filmmaking is a process that must be taken in strides, sometimes not just for the reason of money's availability. Some of them seem to enjoy the pauses between, and such "vacations" can lead to more dedicated and precise work (as possibly evident by Paul Thomas Anderson's films). This TOP 7 list discusses the seven filmmakers who create unique and challenging material, but not enough of it. With respect to the understanding that most movies can't be made without a whole bunch of financial support, here are the TOP 7 directors who could make Hollywood a more interesting place if they made more movies.
7. Christopher Guest
Most Recent Film: For Your Consideration (2006) Theatrical Release Avg. This Decade: 3 years, nothing since 2006 Reason: Sharp satire seems to have blown from mainstream movies and into the forests of Youtube channels. While many comedies can lay claim to the influence of Guest films like This Is Spinal Tap or Waiting For Guffman, there has hardly been any material that can stand with such work. The independent comedy scene is in need of more wisdom from one of its masters, who always brings along a cast of quirky familiar faces, and if we're lucky, a great soundtrack (A Mighty Wind). With whatever niche he feels like tackling, Guest always offers a special laugh that aims to parody those who are convinced they're normal. What Have They Been Doing Instead?: Guest directed a TV movie in 2010 called The Thick of It. Around the same time, he had a small part in Ricky Gervais' The Invention of Lying. Also recently, Guest has been touring under the Spinal Tap name, and been making appearances over the last few years as his character Nigel Tufnel on various TV programs.
6. Warren Beatty
Most Recent Film: Bulworth (1998) Theatrical Release Avg. This Decade: N/A Reason: Beatty's films may not always be the biggest successes, but at least they challenge mainstream audiences and their perspectives. Dick Tracy was a headfirst dive into comic book entertainment, arriving long before our multitude of blockbuster franchises, and coming with even brighter colors. Even his 1998 film Bulworth asked audiences to see the life of a politician in a completely different circumstance, carrying a political message but also some unique humor (Beatty rapped in the film). These are the types of unique experiences studios need to support more of, and having a mega star like Warren Beatty on-screen at the center is certainly a big incentive. Especially in our strange political times, the brain of Beatty (who also did that epic film Reds) is welcome to offer its own wild interpretation. What Have They Been Doing Instead?: Beatty has been away from the cameras since 2001's Town & Country, which he only starred in. Recently at a public screening of Dick Tracy, he indicated that there would be a sequel. Even more concrete is the recent news that he has signed with Paramount to write, direct, star, and produce. Details are thin at the moment, but this is still exciting news.
5. Sofia Coppola
Most Recent Film: Somewhere (2011) Theatrical Release Avg. This Decade: 4 years Reason: Regardless of the hit-or-miss capacity for Coppola's films, they always seem to bring something special with them to the arthouse. 2006's Marie Antoinette presented the historical French figure as an unlikable candy pop princess, and her latest film Somewhere gave standard-seeming actor Stephen Dorff a unique opportunity to explore his own mysterious ascent to acting success. Not for nothing, her Oscar-nominated film Lost in Translation proved that her Virgin Suicides debut was no moody fluke, and showed her original screenplay pizazz. The arthouse world could use more unique visions from Coppola, whose wide work maintains a pop-sense that doesn't entirely alienate mainstream audiences. What Have They Been Doing Instead?: As briefly hinted at in her film Somewhere, Coppola did have some interest in the Twilight series. Her shot at directing the franchise's latest film Breaking Dawn was denied when she couldn't agree to direct two films (Bill Condon get the job instead).
4. Eli Roth
Most Recent Film: Hostel II (2007) Theatrical Release Avg. This Decade: 3-4 years Reason: The horror director's material ranges from midnight camp-friendly (Cabin Fever) to bloody movie hell (Hostel II). While I may not be a big fan of Roth's work, but he does have a unique sense of how to mix humor with horror. After all, the Hostel movies were at one time the gross-out movies in theaters. Now that the genre has a new hankering for human centipedes and paranormal activities, it would be intriguing to see where Roth's genre-junkie brain fits within the evolved ramifications for what shocks mainstream audiences. What Have They Been Doing Instead?: Recently, Roth has made humorous oddball "cameos" in movies like Inglourious Basterds and Pirahna 3D. A film he co-wrote with director RZA, The Man With the Iron Fists, is in post-production. A handful of producing projects are in the works for Roth. According to IMDb, Roth doesn't have any directorial projects of his own lensing, including his long overdue full-length feature Thanksgiving, which made for an excellent fake preview in Quentin Tarantino's Grindhouse.
3. Alfonso Cuaron
Most Recent Film: Children of Men (2006) Theatrical Release Avg. This Decade: 3-5 years Reason: For the visual punch-in-the-face alone that he walloped mainstream audiences with in Children of Men, it's basically criminal how long it's been since we've seen a new Cuaron film. His style has no limit in genre, as it has flourished in both blockbuster literary adaptations like Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and with the erotic drama Y Tu Mama Tambien. He has great malleable potential, and his eye for cinematography could likely enrich any script he gets his hands on. His screenwriting skills aren't to be undersold either. Cuaron is a storyteller who should be unleashing his visions unto the world, instead of having them dealt out at a period usually reserved for directors who can only seem to remake the same film. What Have They Been Doing Instead?: Currently, Cuaron is shooting Gravity with George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, using a script he co-wrote with Jonas Cuaron and writer/director Rodrigo Garcia.
2. Terrence Malick
Most Recent Film: Tree of Life (2011) Theatrical Release Avg. This Decade: 5-6 years Reason: Malick's movies are true cinematic events, not just because of their rarity, but because of their scope. His large way of seeing the world is influential to many filmmakers, but no one has been able to make his films look small by comparison. His most recent film, Tree of Life, grants the arthouse world a type of visual experience worthy of IMAX, and with its same spiritual and artistic quality, another component that isn't offered by anyone with his type of budget. What Have They Been Doing Instead?: The director is shaking up his speed rate by working on another film, The Burial, which is due out in 2012, set to star Ben Affleck, Javier Bardem, Rachel McAdams and Rachel Weisz. Recently it's been said that Malick is working on a six-hour edit of Tree of Life, while also possibly putting together an IMAX documentary to be narrated by Brad Pitt titled The Voyage of Time.
1. Paul Thomas Anderson
Most Recent Film: There Will Be Blood (2007) Theatrical Release Avg. This Decade: 5 years Reason: Anderson's films present a level of precision that most film school students can only dream about, with the knowledge of movies that could likely embarrass any film encyclopedia. Such brain activity shows prominently in his small filmography, which is arguably without any trace of a stinker or misconceived project (even his debut, Hard Eight, indicates a special talent). His most recent film, There Will Be Blood, proved that Anderson can create a classic epic but still dazzle mainstream and arthouse audiences who may not have seen films like Giant, especially with an explosive performance from the best actors in Hollywood (Daniel Day Lewis). Would Hollywood likely be a better place if there was a Paul Thomas Anderson film that wasn't released only every five years? Absolutely. What Have They Been Doing Instead?: Anderson is currently filming The Master, an original script starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams.