GOOD Morning Wilton‘s movie reviewer, Sebastian Hunt, is a rising senior at Wilton High School who loves film and television and hopes to become a filmmaker himself one day. He’s already gotten a jump start on that, producing his own screenplays and planning on submitting his work to film festivals. You can learn more about Sebastian on GMW‘s “Our Team” page.
Binging TV shows is all well and good, but there’s no denying that it eventually grows stale. After burning through everything on our watchlist or viewing The Office for the umpteenth time, a cloud of boredom and futility blackens our souls.
But, fear not! To cure this brewing pandemic of emptiness, I’ve decided to share an activity of mine I find quite fulfilling: binging filmmakers. Exploring directors is just as exhilarating as watching a new show, perhaps even more so due to the increased variety between individual films. Below, I’ve suggested seven filmmakers to check out, including where to stream their work.
Lists of the best-animated films will often include certain usual suspects–Toy Story, Fantasia, Spirited Away, Snow White, etc. All good choices, but these rankings always ignore one notable talent: Don Hertzfeld. Hertzfeld’s films are aesthetically rich, and disregard computerized animation in favor of old-fashioned, gorgeously hand-drawn techniques. The medium’s imaginative essence empowers Hertzfeld to explore existential questions far more effectively (and beautifully) than most live-action films. Esoteric and profound yet totally unpretentious and entertaining, Hertzfeld is a tremendously skilled animation auteur who deserves more attention.
Highlights: It’s Such a Beautiful Day (2012), World of Tomorrow (2015), Rejected (2000), The Meaning of Life (2005)
Where to Stream: Vimeo, YouTube
Krzysztof Kieślowski is a director who aims to capture indescribable feelings–walking through an old childhood grocery store, bumping into a former friend, etc. I respond strongly to his themes and genuinely cannot recommend him enough. Kieślowski will come as a revelation for those seeking transcendence, but also works as terrific entertainment.
Highlights: The Three Colors trilogy (Blue , White , Red ), The Double Life of Véronique (1991), Dekalog (1988-9), Blind Chance (1987)
Where to Stream: The Criterion Channel, HBO MAX
What makes a great director? Several qualities, to be sure, but the deciding factor is clear: passion. Of all the filmmakers working today, Spike Lee could certainly compete for the title of Most Passionate. His films, good or bad, always have something to say. Lee addresses uncomfortable global issues without offering resolution or even real suggestions, forcing viewers to draw their own conclusions. Perhaps not as consistent as other directors found on this list, Lee’s films remain utterly fascinating, and a crucial tool to understanding the state of American race relations.
Highlights: Do the Right Thing (1989), Malcolm X (1992), 25th Hour (2002), BlacKkKlansman (2018)
Skip: She Hate Me (2004), Girl 6 (1996), Oldboy (2013)
Where to Stream: Netflix, Amazon Prime
Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin, while great, have eclipsed the legacy of the third great silent clown: Harold Lloyd. Almost 100 years later, Lloyd remains wickedly funny and clever; his films appeal to people of all ages. Each of his features are breezily short and best watched with friends (you’ll see).
Highlights: Safety Last! (1923), The Freshman (1925), Speedy (1928)
Skip: The Kid Brother (1927)
Where to Stream: The Criterion Channel, HBO Max
Those looking for a post-Parasite introduction to East Asian cinema should consider the filmography of Wong Kar-wai, an acclaimed Hong Kong-based master. Often employing stark, strikingly colorful cinematography and nonlinear plots, Kar-wai is a welcome detoxification from conventional filmmaking humdrum.
Highlights: In the Mood for Love (2000), Chungking Express (1994), Fallen Angels (1995), Happy Together (1997)
Skip: My Blueberry Nights (2008), 2046 (2004)
Where to Stream: The Criterion Channel, HBO Max, Amazon Prime
From Akira Kurosawa to Hayao Mayazaki, Japanese history overflows with great filmmakers, Yasujirō Ozu being a particularly noteworthy example. Long overshadowed by his contemporaries and thought “too Japanese” for Western audiences, Ozu’s stunning body of work finally received international attention in the late 1970s. His films adopt a stylistic approach dubbed “transcendentalism”. Transcendentalism–which prioritizes stationary angles and minimalist aesthetics–enables Ozu’s films to resonate deeply; his features feel like genuine windows into everyday life. Initially daunting, Ozu’s films are nonetheless immensely rewarding.
Highlights: Tokyo Story (1953), Late Spring (1949), Early Summer (1951), Floating Weeds (1959), Equinox Flower (1958)
Where to Stream: The Criterion Channel, HBO Max
French filmmaker Céline Sciamma has long been a hero to LGBTQ+ audiences, providing fascinating explorations of traditionally ‘difficult’ concepts, including homosexuality and gender fluidity. Her films are risqué in that they contain graphic content, but it is all for a purpose: encouraging understanding of and providing a spotlight on historically marginalized groups of people.
Highlights: Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019), Tomboy (2011), Girlhood (2014), Water Lilies (2007)
Where to Stream: The Criterion Channel, Hulu