Easy, time-consuming, stress-reducing exercise for movie lovers who pay too much attention to the credits: brainstorm as many film directors as you can recall; then review their output (IMDb, WikiPedia, your massive home library, wherever) and see which directors you’ve followed the most throughout your life, whether you realize it or not. To simplify the vetting processing, limit yourself to feature films only — no episodes of TV shows, no short “segments” in any movies, no writer/producer/executive producer credits whatsoever. Just the count the movies they directed that received a theatrical release.
My results tallied are as follows, for better or for worse. I’m certain I missed a few. I gave up on cross-referencing pre-1990 Disney films because it might’ve kept me up all night. Perhaps I can edit and follow up another time.
That list, then:
34: Alfred Hitchcock
20: Steven Spielberg
13: Tim Burton
11: Ron Howard
10: Robert Zemeckis, Richard Donner
9: John Ford, Sam Raimi, Michael Bay, Martin Scorsese, Ridley Scott, Robert Rodriguez
8: David Fincher, Oliver Stone, Christopher Nolan
7: James Cameron, Barry Sonnenfeld, Wes Craven, Joel Schumacher, Wolfgang Reitherman, Rob Reiner, John Woo
6: Joel and Ethan Coen, John McTiernan, Danny Boyle, Kathryn Bigelow, Ang Lee, Quentin Tarantino, Roland Emmerich, Tony Scott, John Carpenter, Guillermo Del Toro
5: Brian DePalma, Renny Harlin, Joe Johnston, Kenneth Branagh, Clint Eastwood, Tom Shadyac, Stanley Kubrick, John Lasseter, David Zucker, Zack Snyder, the Wachowski Siblings, Ivan Reitman, John Musker, Ron Clements
4: Maj. W. S. Van Dyke II, George Lucas, Jon Favreau, Peter Jackson, Stephen Sommers, David Yates, Roman Polanski, Stephen Hopkins, Stephen Soderbergh, Robert Redford, Rob Minkoff, Andrew Adamson, Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams, Wolfgang Petersen, Bryan Singer, Michael Apted, Martin Campbell, Sylvester Stallone, John G. Avildsen, Joseph Ruben, Harold Ramis, Brad Bird, Eric Darnell
I established four films as my arbitrary cutoff for purposes of energy conservation. (My apologies to Mr. Abrams and Mr. Kazan, among others.) I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few names, but I can’t do anything about that until they resurface in my memory.
It’s like a lifelong personality test of sorts, isn’t it? It’s fair to say I’ve seen a lot of junk in my life. Many of the less prestigious names racked up their counts in my first thirty years, before content ever became an issue for me to any degree. Even now, some of my viewing choices are tougher to defend than they used to be, sometimes requiring several paragraphs to explain, and in a few cases could be considered hypocritical. I’ll have to keep working on that. I can also think of a few directors I’d like to see placed on this list in the future, including Billy Wilder and Akira Kurosawa, both standing at a paltry two apiece as of tonight.
(Funny how this started as a stress-reduction exercise, and I’ve concluded by giving myself some extra long-term homework. Maybe someone else should choose my relaxation activities for me.)
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[Last updated: 3/17/2013. I’ve decided to make this an ongoing project and use this entry as my scorecard. Should be fun!]