Tuesday, February 17, 2015

10 Directors who Love Actresses


So, let's just call this my Valentine's Day post...

The subject of misogyny seems to be brought up a lot, especially since the Oscar nominations announcement, and the debate is out regarding fair treatment of actresses (with regards to getting good parts) in Hollywood, but in respect and honor of our week’s honoree (Xavier Dolan), I wanted to focus on directors who love their actresses.  The thing is, while there aren’t a huge majority of them, there are directors (extremely talented ones) who focus their strengths primarily in female driven films, stories about women, about their struggles and triumphs, and do so with a great sense of finesse, vision and intention. 

So, today, let’s talk about the directors that every actress should be dying to work with.

I couldn’t decide if I wanted to make this a list of ten or a list of five.  I came up with a tentative list of 11, which could have been chopped down to 10, but I almost wanted to remove the women from the list, namely because I wanted to highlight men who prefer to tell women’s stories, but then that left me with only 8 and so I started overthinking things and then I just said, forget it…let’s do 11!



So, I’ll start with my 11th, the one who could have been removed from my initial list for the reasons I’m about to divulge.  My 11th pick is David Fincher.  Now, it’s really only recently that he’s become this ‘go to director’ for actresses, mainly because his last two films have contained the most buzzed about female roles of their respective years, but the truth is that even during his male-centric career as a director, he’s always had very interesting female roles within the fabric of his film.  Yes, the point of this article was to discuss directors who placed those actresses in the forefront and told THEIR stories, but that is why Fincher is #11.  But still, if we take out his female driven films (‘Gone Girl’, ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’, ‘Panic Room’ and ‘Alien3’) we are left with films that, for the most part, contain truly memorable female supporting roles. 

Helena Bonham-Carter in ‘Fight Club’, Cate Blanchett in ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’, Rooney Mara in ‘The Social Network’, Gwyneth Paltrow in ‘Se7en’. 

No, these roles aren’t prominent, or at least not as prominent as the men these stories are about, but they are standout and important roles and ones that make a serious impact, even on paper.  I’m excited to see if Fincher continues to seek out plum roles for rising star actresses, because he works so brilliantly with them.  He tells a different kind of ‘female driven story’, and that makes his perspective even more important.  We need those tough, rough and dynamic women in film, and he has the vision and the capability to deliver that.  So, while he’s nowhere near as consistent in his lavish actress adoration as the remaining directors on this list, he has the potential to get there, and I hope he does.

So that brings me to my list, which I’m kind of going to go through in random order, since this is the kind of thing that can be hard to ‘put a number on’.  I have to say, I really want to make a plea to the big name Hollywood directors to get their shit together, because this list is extremely Euro-centric and that is a shame…not because European directors are lesser (they are, in fact, greater, in my opinion) but, it’s shame that American film seems so focused on telling men’s stories.  When you glance over this list, you’ll see that 2 of these 10 are female, 3 are homosexual (2 additional is rumored), over half stem from Europe and 2 of the straight male directors themselves have been accused of misogyny.  Hollywood itself isn’t represented here at all, really, with the 4 American directors being more independent filmmakers themselves, with only 1 name being a real big star.

I’m talking too much.  Let’s just get on with the list.


Let’s talk about Mike Leigh.  Mike Leigh doesn’t understand the term ‘stock character’.  To him, they don’t exist.  Male or female, lead or supporting (or sometimes mere cameo), every character has such richly detailed backstories that they scream to life, even if their characters are more passive and completely unimportant.  It is because of his love of characters that his female driven films are so incredible.  He really gives his leading ladies something to work with.  Whether you’re Imelda Staunton in ‘Vera Drake’ or Sally Hawkins in ‘Happy-Go-Lucky’ or Brenda Blethyn in ‘Secrets & Lies’, you are an actress with a plum role in a film by a great director.  Specializing in neurotic, quirky, damaged souls, Leigh writes a very specific and relatable character, one who we can visualize and identify with.  You just need to be British.

Who’d I love to see work with him?  Keira Knightley and Kristen Scott-Thomas in some twisted mother/daughter black comedy.  I’ve been calling Knightley the next Scott-Thomas for years now, and to see them together, in the hands of someone like Leigh, would just be heaven for me.


Then we have Todd Haynes.  Haynes’ films have often been gay-centric, but he’s undeniably in love with actresses, and he’s uses some extremely beloved ones in his work.  From Julianne Moore to Cate Blanchett to Kate Winslet, Haynes has given extraordinary parts to women, even going as far as to cast Blanchett as one of the many personalities of Bob Dylan.  He’s a visionary, a true cinematic artist, and because of this working with him should be top priority for any actress.  He’s currently grooming Blanchett, Mara and Paulson for an Oscar campaign, and he has a plum role in Peggy Lee ready for a talented young actress to snatch up.  I don’t see him veering from his actressexual orientation anytime soon.

Who’d I love to see work with him?  I honestly feel like his breed of androgyny in film and his ability to coax this brooding intensity out of sexuality would be a great fit for someone like Angelina Jolie, who really needs to work with better directors to draw out her obvious talent.


Now, my beloved Sofia Coppola.  As a former actress herself (LOL), it’s only natural that she’d gravitate towards stories for actresses, but really it’s her autobiographical style that lends itself to telling women’s stories, and she tells them so well!  Her work with Kirsten Dunst, Scarlett Johansson, Elle Fanning and Emma Watson has been remarkable, giving such textured characters to these young starlets to work with.  Her name has been circulating the current ‘Little Mermaid’ live action project, so she’s obviously still concerning herself with female driven films, and I love her so much for that.

Who’d I love to see work with her?  So many, many actresses, but I really would love to see what she’d do with someone closer to her own age, maybe someone like Naomi Watts in a reflective piece on the effect the youthful innocence lost she constantly portrays can have on life later on.


Let’s debate the controversial Lars von Trier for a minute.  You can call him a misogynist, a masochist, a sadist or just a plain old asshole, and you’d probably be right on all counts, and yet you can’t deny that his track record with actresses is uncanny.  The man knows how to write a deeply poignant, interesting and complex character, and he loves to gives these characters to actresses of impressive talents.  Nicole Kidman, Kirstin Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Emily Watson, even Bjork; all of them have delivered incredible performances under his guiding hand, and have put themselves for hell to achieve it (these are some of the most disturbing characters in recent cinematic memory) but they do it for a reason…he gives them something to chew.  There is so much depth to these women, and it is because of that that I will continue to champion von Trier and continue to look forward to whoever he sets his sights on next.

Who’d I love to see work with him?  Scarlett Johansson, easily.  She is expanding her resume to include such interesting characters and directors, and I’d love to see von Trier get her in his clutches and put her through the ringer, pulling out of her the best she can possible give.


Next up, a personal favorite, Joe Wright.  Granted, he has ‘Pan’ coming up next, but I think he learned his lesson with ‘The Soloist’ that you don’t leave a good woman behind, and so I wholly expect him to resort back to draping the likes of Keira Knightley in period costumes and guiding her around a lavishly decorated set, and I can’t wait until that happens!  Wright has this beautiful literary way about his filmmaking, this gorgeous visual aesthetic that beautifully meshes with the female frame, and the way that he can draw such riveting sexuality while maintaining this astonishing level of class and elegance is something not everyone can achieve.

Who’d I love to see work with him?  Gugu Mbatha-Raw, my current actress obsession, would be putty in his hands; the good kind, that you can mold into an Oscar nominee.  We already know that she makes period films look good, and we already know what she can do with repressed (and not so repressed) sexuality, so I’d love to see Wright give her something truly salacious to work with; maybe even a gothic lesbian drama.  Oh GOD!


And now we have a pair of directors, the Dardenne brothers.  Yes, they have worked with actors and have produced some male-centric films (as has almost everyone on this list), but let’s be honest, it is their female driven films that have had the most impact.  Working with some of the best European actresses, the Dardenne brothers have never failed to present full-bodied character portraits.  In fact, it is their depth of character development that makes them such great ‘actors directors’, or in this case ‘actresses directors’.  Marion Cotillard’s recent Oscar nominated turn in ‘Two Days, One Night’ is just one example of how well they work with female talent.  Cecile De France, Arta Dobroshi and Emilie Dequenne have delivered career best performances under their hand, with characters that are so rich, so lived in, so brutally honest.

Who’d I love to see work with them?  The fact that Juliette Binoche has not worked with them yet is rather gross, but I’d love for it to finally happen.  Throw in Tilda Swinton as her adopted sister or something like that and give them dark family secrets and some sort of rehab issue and you have a movie I’d be dying to see!


We all know that Jane Campion loves telling women’s stories.  If one looks at her filmography, she hasn’t once delivered a male-centric story; not once.  Yes, there are men in her stories, but these stories are first and foremost about women.  And what range of incredible stories has she told.  From her humble Australian beginnings to her Hollywood (and Oscar) breakthrough, Campion has developed some incredible characters and handed them to a wide range of actresses, from big names like Kate Winslet, Holly Hunter and Nicole Kidman to new faces like Abbie Cornish and even forgotten stars like Meg Ryan.  Recently she went to television, but here’s to awaiting her next cinematic film, which is sure to star an incredible actress with a killer role.

Who’d I love to see work with her?  I’d honestly love to see her get her hands on the ‘Gatsby’ co-stars, Carey Mulligan and Elizabeth Debicki.  Either that, or Cate Blanchett.  Campion and Blanchett seem like they’d be a perfect match, actually.  How about all three, as mother and daughters, and make it in the vein on ‘Long Day’s Journey Into Night’, with Blanchett the manipulative mother and Debicki and Mulligan her conflicted daughters.  Debicki can be the wayward one, the rebel, the bitch, and Mulligan the passive aggressive muted one.


What actress doesn’t want to work with Woody Allen?  Over is decade sprawling career her has helped actress after actress snatch Oscar after Oscar, and he does it by giving them truly inspired, involving and memorable characters.  Blanchett, Cruz, Keaton, Wiest…the list goes on, and the number of nominations pulled from his work is outstanding.  If you are an actress working in Hollywood, you want his number.  His complex character portraits lend themselves to a collage of actors all working together in harmony (or a disjointed harmony) and so many of his actresses find themselves in colorful supporting roles, but Allen has been known to write women’s stories VERY often, and when he does, he does so with such rich development.

Who’d I love to see work with him?  There are so many actresses who seem like they would fit in his world, but I love when he works with someone who doesn’t seem like a fit, and then they just produce something incredible.  How about Viola Davis?  It would be nice to see him work with an actress of color, in a plum role, and she has the chops to deliver something both highly dramatic and tenderly comical, so I would love to see what he’d do with her.  Same goes for Susan Sarandon, but, like, I doubt she wants to work with him.


I’ll be honest; the initial director who inspired this post was Pedro Almodovar.  I was watching my Blind Spot for January and it just came to me.  Almodovar LOVES actresses.  He loves writing for them, giving them great material, and watching them work it time after time.  Many of his films revolve around MANY women, and he finds such beautiful ways of making them all feel richly developed and whole.  Playing with gender roles, gender lines and gender stereotypes, Almodovar offers his actresses a chance to completely transform themselves and try things they never would be able to with any other director.

Who’d I love to see work with him?  The thing about Almodovar is that he loves his work to be melodramatic, verging on soap opera levels, and it works under his hand with the right cast.  The first name I thought of was Maribel Verdu.  I’ve only seen her in a handful of things, but she really knows how to amp of up the soap opera elements, and they play well on her (especially in ‘Blancanieves’).  I’m surprised they haven’t teamed up yet, since they seem like the perfect match.


And lastly, the man of the hour, Xavier Dolan.  Not only does he love his actresses, but he writes them such lively, lovely, spirited parts.  From his first film, ‘I Killed My Mother’, to his most recent, ‘Mommy’, he’s shown a beautiful knack for developing layers in his female characters.  I think the way he wrote the part of Fred in ‘Laurence Anyways’ shows the true strength of his vision.  Here is a character that could have, in the wrong hands, become this plot point to express antagonistic adversity, and yet he molds her with such strong balance, true raw emotions, that she becomes one of my favorite female characters in recent years.  Handing lead roles to Clement, Dorval and Chorki (work with her again!), not to mention rich supporting roles to the likes of Nathalie Baye, Dolan is an director that EVERY ACTRESS NEEDS TO WORK WITH.  He’s already snatched up Jessica Chastain for his first English language film, ‘The Death and Life of John F. Donovan’, and I can’t wait to see who works with him next!

Who’d I love to see work with him?  Marion Cotillard.  The end.  Like, that pairing would be utter cinematic perfection.  Push her.  You know she can take it, do it, deliver it, whatever it is.

So those are my thoughts on ten working directors who gravitate towards women's stories.  What are yours?  Who did I miss?  Which actresses would you like to see get to work with these specific directors?

50 comments:

  1. Can't argue with any of these. The only person I'd urge you to really add would Steven Soderbergh. Side Effects, Haywire, Out of Sight, Erin Brockovich, plus a number of other great female characters in his other movies. He'd add another American name, too. Hopefully, he's not really retired.

    There is also a pair of Canadians, the Soska sisters, who have only done horror, thus far, but are definitely working from a female centric angle. All of their work so far has been low to no budget self financed stuff, but has generated lots of buzz. I'd love to see what they do with more money and a top notch actress.

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    1. I've never heard of the Soska sisters, but I'm intrigued! I'll have to check them out.

      I thought about Soderbergh. I think of him in the same vein as Fincher, in that he's mostly a male-centric director, but has dabbled in placing his actresses in the forefront, and has written some interesting supporting performances for his actresses, but at the end of the day, I don't find his films as engaging or interesting as Fincher's.

      I also haven't seen all of his work, mainly because I don't always care for him as a director, and so maybe that's why. I've seen most of the work by the directors on this list (with Almodovar as an exception, but really, you only have to see two of his movies to know that he LOVES his actresses), in some places ALL of their work, and so that is why they stuck out to me more.

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  2. The only one of these I sort of disagree with is Lars Von Trier (shocker! lol) But this is an excellent post! I think I would've thrown Jason Reitman in there. I know his films are kind of split on being centered around men and women, but he always writes great female parts. And he said the sweetest things about Ellen Page during the Juno press tour and that always made me go "awww!"

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    1. I figured that was coming! I'm waiting for Sati to rip that inclusion a new one too. My thing is this, no matter how misogynistic he's accused of being, he really only tells women's stories, and while the roles he writes for women can be...hard to swallow, he actually gives them really interesting roles. I mean, Melancholia is an astonishing character piece. Antichrist, despite being horribly grusome and, for me, too gratuitous, gave Gainsbourg one of the most interesting and memorable film characters in recent memory. Breaking the Waves...Dancer in the Dark...these are characters that are so much more than what most actresses are handed by big name directors, and so while he himself may not actually 'love' them, he really gives them GREAT roles to play.

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  3. LOVE this list, and especially the suggestions of actresses to work with them. The idea of ScarJo in a Lars von Trier film is DELICIOUS, and you are absolutely right about Binoche and the Dardenne brothers, although they've only started using movie stars recently, so it could happen soon. Joe Wright and Keira Knightley are my current favorite director/muse couple, so I don't want to break them up, but Mbatha-Raw would fit into their world pretty well.

    The big one I think you missed is Lee Daniels. The man clearly loves himself some actresses - the entire cast of Precious, Oprah in The Butler, and Taraji P. Henson on Empire (OH, the GLORIOUSNESS).

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    1. Do I need to watch Empire? Like, I have this aversion to Lee Daniels, which is why I avoided him (and, like Tyler Perry), but Empire looks so good! I love me some Henson.

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    2. Short answer? YES. It is INSANELY entertaining. Like a hip-hop version of The Lion In Winter. And if you love Taraji P. Henson, it is an absolute MUST. She is EVERYTHING.

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    3. Ah, shit...now I need to see if I can catch it from episode one!

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  4. No, there really isn't depth to Von Trier's women other than Justine.

    Watch me analyze that 'depth'.

    ...
    ...
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    martyr or evil c**t.


    done!

    The only choice more preposterous for that list would be Chris Nolan, who has no idea how to write a woman character to begin with at least Von Trier is consistent in creating 100% victim or 100% monster.

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    1. There what is? It's distasteful to feature a director who forced Bryce Dallas Howard to masturbate in a scene dozens of times while he was laughing in article like that, but fine you wanted "Sati to rip that inclusion a new one too", I obliged.

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    2. I figured you wouldn't agree, and we don't have to. I don't find it distasteful, but you can if you want. This was a post about directors who love to work with actresses, and he clearly does. He also clearly gives them work they want, and they 'go there' for it...otherwise actresses like Dunst and Kidman wouldn't EVER work with him. He's been called a lot of things, but he's also been defended by his female stars, so take of it what you will.

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  5. I'm not a huge fan of Trier, so I'd no be his proper defender, but I liked his Antichrist and I don't think Gainsbourg's character there is either 100% victim or 100% monster. Both characters there, male and female, have there dark sides and strength.

    Great to see Campion and Allen here. I can hardly remember Woody's film with male lead except for Annie Hall, which also has a brilliant female lead. Love that guy :)

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    1. Yeah, I think there is a lot of depth in many of the roles he's created for women. Breaking the Waves is another example, and while Bess may be, in retrospect, 100% victim, the way he shades her understanding of her own victimizing is so layered, so powerful. Same for the character of Selma in Dancer in the Dark.

      Allen and Campion, in terms of truly LOVING their actresses, are probably the best examples here (outside of Almodovar and Dolan).

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  6. Expert post, friend. Love it. Woody Allen is probably the best on this list at writing female characters. It is seriously the best thing he does. And there are so many memorable ones. Allen is one of those who seriously needs and always seems to find a muse. That could be said for any of these gentleman, even Von Trier. I'm not a huge fan, but his ability to get women to perform in such angry, bleak movies is worth mentioning.

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    1. Yeah, Allen has such a longstanding knack for creating such rich female characters, even his smaller supporting roles feel so lived in and vibrant.

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  7. Great list idea! I can't argue with any of these (at least the directors I'm familiar with) and I love your inclusion of Fincher :-)

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    1. Thanks Lindsay! I'm glad I at least decided to mention Fincher, and I can't wait to see where he takes his career from here on out, now that he's established such strength in female driven stories.

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  8. I have learned a lot here as I am not familiar with everything so this is a teaching tool. I have heard of some of the directors and regardless of their personal stories, if actresses choose to work with them, there is a reason.Just because someone is an a-hole dickweed does not mean he is not talented. You may not want that person to be talented but they are. Thanks for the great list. I agree with Woody and Pedro and the gal directors of course but don't know enough of the rest. Now I have to read about the Trier queer (sorry but it does rhyme)

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    1. Trier is a very controversial subject. He's been known to put his actresses through HELL, and some of the things he has them do is horrific. Some have spoken out against him (Bjork in particular said she would NEVER make another film because of him) and yet some have defended him (Thurman did so very vocally and very recently). He's put his foot in his mouth MANY time, as he did at Cannes two years ago while promoting Melancholia when he said that he sympathized with Hitler, but I also think that a lot of his words are misrepresented because he doesn't know how to filter.

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    2. Oh that's the guy! I would say he has issues and has no idea what filter means:) I wonder if he has ADHD:)

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  9. I agree with Woody Allen. He always has great female characters and really let's the actresses be themselves, or the characters rather. What about David O'Russell? I have only seen a few of his films, but if I am actress, I want to work for him. I have loved Jennifer Lawerence in his last two movies, but I felt that Melissa Leo stole the show in The Fighter.

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    1. I was trying to go with directors who tell women's stories, and while O. Russell has given some great supporting roles to his actresses, he tends to mainly tell male-centric stories. 'The Fighter' is about two brothers, with some colorful female supporting roles. Even 'American Hustle' is really a man's story...and Lawrence is truly a supporting role in the story of Pat (in 'Silver Lining Playbook'). He has yet to really tell a story that is centered wholly around a woman and her particular journey.

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    2. I understand. His movies haven't been female movies.

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    3. Despite that, I'm glad you brought him up, because he does offer strong supporting roles for his actresses. His work with Lawrence and Adams, both times, was great, but I particularly love what he did with Naomi Watts in I Heart Huckabees. That was some stellar comedic work there, and the character he game her (and Tomlin) was awesome.

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  10. Oops that is suppose to be an O. not an O'
    Amanda (Speak's wife)

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    1. LOL, I knew what you meant. Hehe, I remember last year a meme around the internet about how O. Russell must be Irish because people kept referring to him as O'Russell :-P

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  11. What a fantastic idea for a list! Oh I'd LOVE to see Joe Wright working w/ our dear Gugu Mbatha-Raw and it doesn't have to be a period drama necessarily. Hmmm, I don't know about your salacious idea. Oh I do think Campion and Blanchett would be a perfect match!

    Now, I was thinking that Luc Besson kind of love actresses, though he prefers the unconventional and VERY bad ass types, ahah. But I think that still counts :P

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    1. I just watched 'Lucy' this morning and was thinking the same thing about Besson!

      Hehe, and my idea for Gugu would be perfect IN WRIGHT'S HANDS. He would avoid trashy altogether and give it a real edge and class that it would need so as to be taken seriously and deliver a beautiful story. I'd love for him to delve into the gothic side of period drama, and Gugu would be a beautiful match for that.

      I just want her in like every movie ever.

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  12. Scarlett in a Lars von Trier film..... *splooge*

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  13. Totally agree about Almodovar and Fincher. Man, do they love female characters.

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    1. They really do. I'm really excited for Almodovar's Scilenco, which I'm sure will have an extraordinary female cast, and I can't wait to see where Fincher takes his newfound knack for female stories.

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  14. What a beautiful post! You are a gifted writer. I am not as savvy about movies as many of you guys are ;-), but I am particularly glad to see David Fincher and Mike Leigh on the list.

    I can't say much about von Trier, because I usually actively avoid his films (I've only seen two). Definitely a f*cked up human being, I don't know whether he's an asshole or just deeply struggling with his depression and addiction. Of course they aren't mutually exclusive. But I will say one thing in his favor. At risk of trotting out that old "using your suffering in your art" thing, there is such a raw, visceral quality to the way he portrays depression and despair -- the kind of writer/film-maker who makes some of us think "Yes! He gets it!"

    As an aside, my nephew was in a film with Todd Haynes and Julianne Moore. :-)

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    1. First, WHICH MOVIE!?!?! That's so awesome to have relatives who have done something like that.

      As far as Trier goes, he's a touchy subject, but he has gone on record saying that he can't get through a day of filming without like a bottle of vodka, so he's obviously got issues.

      And thank you so much for the kind words. You're a great writer as well.

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    2. If you really want to see a director struggle with his depression and addiction in a really visceral, beautiful way, you need to watch Melancholia. It's incredible, and Kirsten Dunst's best performance.

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    3. @Irene Wow, I share your sentiment about von Trier. I do not care about his work at all.

      @Drew Yes, I'd LOVE to see more Gugu in the movies. Just so long as she's not wasted like in Jupiter Ascending! Not sure if you read my review or not but I gasped when I saw her in it. Such a waste of incredible talent.

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    4. Yes, I think I commented on it too. Like, she obviously took that role before her breakout this past year, so thankfully she won't have to stoop like that anymore.

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    5. This comment thread is starting to look like Twitter. :-)

      @Fisti Our nephew Ryan was one of the child actors in the film Far from Heaven. He is an adult now, of course (almost 25) and he is still pursuing his acting career. He and his family all loved Julianne Moore -- they said she was great person. Yes, I knew von Trier is an alcoholic (and I suspect he has plenty of other issues as well), so I can't help feeling compassion for the guy even if he is a Class A Douchebag. Thank you for the compliment on my writing. I love meeting so many smart, talented people on the interwebs.

      @Daniel Definitely! Melancholia is one of the two von Trier films I've seen. Dunst was amazing in that.

      @Ruth My daughter is a fan of von Trier's work. Right before she graduated from homeschool she wrote an opinion essay arguing that he is not a misogynist. She did get me to watch Breaking the Waves, and while I did not love the movie, it was worth seeing for Emily Watson's performance. I don't think I could ever get drunk enough to make it through Antichrist. :-)

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    6. That's so great, about your nephew. Moore was just incredible in 'Far From Heaven', and the film as a whole is one of my very favorites.

      And I'd love to read your daughter's paper on von Trier. That seems like a really weighty subject for an essay, but one that I'd love to get my hands on. I love reading differing opinions on tortured artists.

      And LOL at this comment thread...but, the more thoughts the merrier! That's what this is for, right! Conversation :-D

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  15. Great idea for a post. I never would have thought of Fincher, but you made some good points.

    I'm intrigued by your potential collaborations. I love that Mike Leigh gives the spotlight to character actors, so I wouldn't really rush to see him use such mainstream stars. Would be an interesting challenge for Keira though.

    Angie in a Todd Haynes film would be great!

    When you mentioned Lars, I immediately thought of Julianne Moore.

    Joe Wright and Gugu. YES

    In terms of personal director picks, I'd also mention Jonathan Demme (dying to see his upcoming Meryl Streep collaboration!). He's also crafted good female roles with Beloved, Rachel Getting Married and Silence of the Lambs.

    Oh, great call by Amanda on David O'Russell. He's up there for me too. His leads are usually men, but I really love his female characters too. He gets such great work out of his actresses.

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    1. I considered Demme!

      Moore would be an incredible fit for von Trier...that would be an interesting combination and one I'd be all for. I think Moore would go there too, since she's pretty fearless and lacks the vanity that some actresses of her caliber have.

      I know that Leigh mainly stays away from stars, but then again, a lot of his actors/actresses have become, sort of, stars and so it would be nice to see him take some of the already established under his wing and give them something they won't get anywhere else.

      I'm just waiting for that Gugu-Wright match to happen!

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    2. I think this has brought up an interesting discussion about male directors and female characters. It seems like there's a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" thing when a straight male director creates complex female roles. They are under so much scrutinity with all the looming threat of "misogyny" claims. The Amy Dunne character being a prime example. Can we blame them for staying away from telling female stories? Are gay directors just better equipped in this regard?

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    3. Yeah, I almost mentioned that (I guess I kind of hinted towards it) in my opening comments. It feels like American male directors shy away from telling female stories...and when they do, they tell them in ways that are often scrutinized for being sexist or misogynistic. Gay male directors and even European directors have a freer quality to their exploration of female themes, it appears.

      But then again, von Trier is European, so...

      But, this is something to talk about, for sure. Maybe we'll have to come up with another post to hash out this particular discussion further :-D

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  16. Amazing list!

    That Mike Leigh film needs to happen NOW! Knightley and Scott Thomas? I'd die. (Leigh's Career Girls and All or Nothing have some interesting female roles as well.)

    So many of these collabs sound awesome - von Trier and ScarJo, Wright and Gugu, the Dardennes and Binoche/Swinton, Campion and Mulligan, Dolan and Cotillard… I want to see these movies!

    What about pairings like Michael Haneke and Lea Seydoux, Andrea Arnold and Mia Wasikowska/Rachel Weisz, or Kelly Reichardt and Jessica Chastain?

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    1. I need to check out those two Leigh films. I'm rusty on his older films. LOL, during his BAFTA tribute I at first thought I guessed the honoree wrong because I had no idea what those films were!

      I know, I want all of those collabs as well, ESPECIALLY the Cotillard/Dolan one. Like, FOR REALZ!

      Seydoux needs to work with everybody, which is what I think her personal goal is, since she's had bit parts, some blink and you'll miss them, in like every fucking movie. Chastain needs to wow me before I'll start dreaming of directors to work with her. I'm hoping Rigby does it for me this year.

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    2. Yeah, I haven't seen Leigh's older TV-era stuff. The two I mentioned are from '97 and '02.

      Hope Chastain wows you in Rigby!

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    3. I'm crossing my fingers on Rigby.

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