Olaf’s Frozen Adventure: Just the Tip of the Iceberg*

*No pun intended

I just saw Coco, a beautiful and poignant work of art. Sadly, the experience was ruined ever so slightly by the preceding “short film” Olaf’s Frozen Adventure (yes, that Olaf). This 20-minute marketing ploy, after I had already heard the overwhelming negative response, soured my opinion even more. There’s absolutely no reason this thing should even exist, especially before a cinematic milestone like Coco. But it further illustrates a larger problem that is ruining movie theaters everywhere; I can’t remember the last time I saw a movie that actually started playing at the designated time. With trailers, short films, and promotions for the theater itself all contributing to the delay, it forces us to sit in our chairs and endure a boring slog that only wastes what little time we can devote to the movies anyway.

I’ve said before that there’s nothing like watching a film on the big screen. But the statement also implies a sole desire to enjoy the main event rather than all the bonus unnecessary content. Let’s start with trailers, which have been a constant in theaters forever. This may not be the case for everyone, but as a fan, I take it upon myself to see at least every blockbuster trailer soon after it premieres online. Sure, I don’t mind seeing the truly epic ones in a theater (Black Panther, The Last Jedi, etc.), but it does become repetitive seeing the Geostorm preview for the third or fourth time. With the current social media landscape, it’s almost impossible for someone to witness a trailer in the theater for the first time. So other than briefly getting your hopes up, I feel like the marketing department is actually pitching their movie to a smaller population than expected. Again, I understand why they feel obligated to show a trailer, but I firmly believe that if you’re eagerly anticipating a film (blockbuster or otherwise), you’re going to see it regardless of what the advertisements show you. Maybe something new and interesting will catch your eye, but there’s always the Internet (and word of mouth) to help in this situation.

Short films are less common, but still take up a good chunk of time in the theater. The worst example may be these so-called student films that Regal Cinemas put out. Winners from various universities present a 30-second clip of a “film” they made that contains egregious product placement and a weird nonsensical plot (if you can label it that). It’s hard to explain, so here’s one for your “enjoyment” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ESDWzAuraY). Tell me, what’s the freaking point? Are we just supposed to cheer for some kids who won a contest? To make matters worse, their film isn’t even fully realized; it’s simply an ad promoting the company that picked them to win in the first place. If a theater absolutely has to show them, do so before the trailers since I feel like only people who show up early to a movie would enjoy this form of entertainment.

Not all short films are garbage though. Pixar has graced us with some masterpieces over the years (Knick Knack, Lifted, and Piper are some of my favorites), giving young animators a major opportunity to showcase their skills. They’re not all homeruns (Lava is downright creepy), but I can rest easy knowing they don’t last more than 5-7 minutes. That’s not the case with the aforementioned Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, which clocks in at four times the length and a million times the nuisance (I chuckled maybe twice). Olaf is like the Minions from Despicable Me: fine in small doses, but put him front and center and the nightmare never ends. Accompanied by a soundtrack that’s almost as long as the original Frozen, it’s hard to comprehend how Disney let this happen. Did they think non-Hispanic audiences wouldn’t go see Coco unless there was something more universally appealing before it? Were they furiously trying to assemble something to remind you that there is indeed going to be a Frozen 2 (easiest decision ever)? Whatever the reasoning, it’s a tremendous waste of time that runs longer than your typical short film and doesn’t engage you on an emotional level like its Pixar counterparts. Thank goodness it’s getting pulled soon.

All this is enough to make you ask: why even bother showing up on time to a movie? As long as they don’t lock the doors, I could walk in 20 minutes late and not miss a beat. In all honesty, there isn’t a good answer to that question. On one hand, tardiness is a habit that can be hard to break. But if you could spend those 20 minutes doing something more important before escaping into the movie world each time, why not go for it? Do you really need to see certain trailers again or self-promotional ads that the theater puts out to remind you where your money’s going? This lines up with my plea to all moviegoers post from awhile back; when you decide to venture out to the theater, make smart decisions as far as your capability allows. Maybe spend some quality time with your family (as Coco taught us) before frivolously wasting time on pointless previews.


Casting the Bible Vol. 2

It’s been a while since I wrote the first one, but let’s jump back in and add some more actors to this massive Bible movie that’s totally going to happen.

Tom Hanks (not Russell Crowe) as Noah
We’re going to start with a bang and cast the most likable guy in Hollywood. I specifically chose Hanks because most depictions of Noah include a beard and I believe he can pull it off (think of his performance in Cast Away, but slightly less delusional). Both as an actor and individual, he evokes compassion and obedience that are essential characteristics of the ark builder. He even has that “grandfather” persona without looking too old. Hanks is the complete package and in a tale as epic as this one, you need a steady hand.

Several centuries pass between Noah and the next major storyline, so you may notice…um…something different (for lack of a better word) about the next group of characters.

Denzel Washington as Abraham
Viola Davis as Sarah
Aside from Morgan Freeman (who’s already playing God), Washington might be the most prestigious African-American actor working today. He excels under any scenario or role you give him and has the awards to back it up. Same with Davis, his partner in last year’s Fences. Their chemistry, which started on Broadway, is undeniable gold and I could easily see them translating that success to Abraham and Sarah. Two people who demonstrate incredible love for each other yet still have to endure some serious rough patches (passing your wife off as your sister must be interesting) sounds like a job for two veteran actors who know each other well.

Jason Mitchell as Lot
Some of you might ask, “Who?” But allow me to jog your memory; this kid (well, 30-year-old) burst onto the scene in Straight Outta Compton as the rapper Eazy-E. He then went on to appear in such films as Kong: Skull Island (not great, but really not his fault), Detroit, and Mudbound, a movie I just saw on Netflix. His work on the last two has convinced me that he can make it as a serious dramatic actor. As a nephew who has to go toe-to-toe with Abraham (and Denzel for that matter), Lot has an understated yet significant role in the Bible. Plus, can you imagine the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah scene? Maybe his time spent on Kong: Skull Island could prepare him for another giant disaster sequence.

Mahershala Ali as Isaac
Naomie Harris as Rebekah
If you know about my experience with the last Academy Awards, you’ll remember that I was a little upset that La La Land lost to Moonlight (after first “winning” by mistake) for Best Picture. But that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the incredible work put into the latter, especially the performances by the actors who I envision playing Isaac and Rebekah. As the respective father figure and biological mother of the main character Chiron in the film, Ali and Harris acted like polar opposites but in reality, both cared deeply about keeping Chiron safe. They never actually shared any screen time, but in another project, I could easily see them falling in love. Rebekah in Genesis 24 is described as “very beautiful” and while Harris isn’t a household name, she is certainly stunning. The world needs to see more of these two underappreciated actors and what better chance to display their talents than here?

Chadwick Boseman as Jacob
Michael B. Jordan as Esau
In case you can’t tell, I’m banking on Black Panther knocking it out of the park, so I’m not going to cast actual brothers. Boseman and Jordan should make excellent adversaries in the next MCU film and that creates a perfect opportunity to capitalize on the theme of two quarreling brothers. Clearly, Jacob has a more fleshed out storyline in the Bible, so I would tab Boseman as the more polished actor to carry us through it. But the scenes involving both of them, namely the two instances of Jacob deceiving Esau out of his natural right as the firstborn, are acting showcases that these two gentlemen can pull off.

Mount Rushmore: Composers

I may not be the most knowledgeable person to talk to about film scores, but I’ll try my best because I deeply appreciate the impact that music has on the movies.

John Williams: If anyone from any category most deserved to be enshrined on a Mount Rushmore, it would be this man right here. His top five film scores are legendary: Jaws, Star Wars, Superman, Indiana Jones, and Jurassic Park. And that’s just the easily recognizable ones. Even if you combined the best scores of other well-known composers, they still might not have enough to rival the work of Williams. The next five in my opinion would be Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., Home Alone, Schindler’s List, and Harry Potter. Holy crap. I realized while trying to play some of his compositions on the piano that Williams often composes in the same major key (try listening to the Superman and Star Wars themes back to back), but it’s hardly a strike against him when he can perfectly encapsulate movie magic. I’ll leave you with a tribute medley I found on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xuxita687Ww) because honestly, life could always use a little more John Williams to remind us of happier times. If you somehow haven’t familiarized yourself with any of the above, um…what are you doing still reading this?

Hans Zimmer: If John Williams personifies magic, Hans Zimmer does the same thing with epic. You can’t listen to The Lion King or Pirates of the Caribbean scores and not feel immediately inspired to accomplish something meaningful. I will always be partial to his work on The Prince of Egypt. But then you include his numerous collaborations with Nolan, Gladiator, The Last Samurai, and Kung Fu Panda. And you wonder how in the world does the great Hans Zimmer only have one Oscar? Maybe it’s because he falls asleep sometimes (ahem, Interstellar).

Ennio Morricone: OK, so I’m not entirely familiar with Morricone’s film score library, mainly because the majority of them are Italian-language films way before my time. But I will still use three examples to prove why Morricone belongs on a Mount Rushmore. They are the scores for The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, The Untouchables, and more recently The Hateful Eight. The first obviously succeeds on recognition alone; there’s not a living soul on the planet who wouldn’t recognize the classic Western theme. The second came on a recommendation from the CinemaSins podcast and their praise was warranted. The last one might be my favorite of the bunch (as a huge Tarantino fan). Morricone in his late 80s managed to compose a suspenseful score that contained hints of his previous work on Westerns while branching out into its own entity. It might have been long overdue, but he absolutely deserved the Oscar that year. Sometimes you just have to acknowledge the inherent talent and Morricone certainly possesses a ton of it.

Michael Giacchino: A relative newcomer compared to these other composing legends; it’s probably just my age showing. Since I grew up watching all the Pixar movies, Giacchino unknowingly had a significant influence on my life. The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Up, and Inside Out have beautiful and emotional scores that range from exciting to mournful. He’s also jumped into other franchises and made a stamp with his renditions, from Star Trek to Mission: Impossible to Planet of the Apes. You could argue that a lot of his work therefore is derivative of previous greatness, but that would diminish the importance of adaptation. Composers who join an existing property aren’t just taking the original music and inserting it into another film; they have to consider adding new instruments, when to use familiar cues, and how to modernize the entire product. Giacchino has proven masterful at this technique, even when given very limited time; the guy only had four and a half weeks to score Rogue One for crying out loud! I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.

Honorable Mentions

Danny Elfman: Tim Burton’s best friend (well, besides Johnny Depp). I thoroughly enjoy the whimsical nature of The Nightmare Before Christmas score as well as his work on Batman, Spider-Man, and Good Will Hunting. But look at his recent track record. He’s done all the Fifty Shades of Grey movies; maybe the music is passable amidst the garbage, but good composers should also know how to choose projects wisely.

Howard Shore: Lord of the Rings. That alone earns Shore my utmost respect, but I honestly can’t name anything else he’s done off the top of my head (no, The Hobbit doesn’t count). Looking at his filmography makes me reconsider: Silence of the Lambs, Seven, Hugo, etc. But none of those scores really stuck with me like the one in Middle-earth.

Mount Rushmore: Screenwriters

Time to write about some writers who write the movies I love writing about…right.

Aaron Sorkin: The master of the “walk and talk.” As with most writers, Sorkin doesn’t actually have that many screenplay credits despite remaining a hot commodity. But the work he has done…holy crap, is it excellent. In Sorkin’s hands, the mundane magically becomes the extraordinary: the final courtroom scene in A Few Good Men, the legal drama in The Social Network, baseball statistics in Moneyball, and the inner workings of Apple in Steve Jobs. I’ve even heard great things about The West Wing (shout out to James Lu). There’s never a dull moment watching any of those movies even though in lesser hands, they would approach sleep-inducing status. Thankfully, Sorkin will finally have the chance to direct his own script in Molly’s Game out later this year (starring the dazzling Jessica Chastain). There’s a reason his name came to my mind first; he’s simply the best.

Quentin Tarantino: Look who showed up again. Since Tarantino has also excelled as a director, he’s slightly below Sorkin in the order here. But with two masters of dialogue on this Mount Rushmore, that’s not half bad. Like Sorkin and the mundane, Tarantino accomplishes the same thing with the nonsensical. Look at the tipping scene in Reservoir Dogs or the foot massage conversation in Pulp Fiction. Then he can change gears and give us tense conversations like the opening scene in Inglourious Basterds or the Samuel L. Jackson speech halfway through The Hateful Eight. How in the world does Tarantino write with such consistency? I often use the terms “movie” and “film” interchangeably, but there has to be a distinction here. Tarantino specifically makes films mainly because his attention to detail is brought out beautifully in those screenplays.

Mel Brooks: I’m a relative newcomer to Mel Brooks, but in a short amount of time, I’m convinced he is the greatest comedic film writer ever. Spaceballs alone could win an argument, but Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein (in the same year) further support his genius. Sure, there’s sex jokes in abundance, but they don’t go for the low-hanging fruit like most comedies (take the virgin alarm joke for instance). In addition, the sight gags (literally combing the desert) hearken back to the silent era when that technique was executed to perfection. I have yet to check out anything besides those aforementioned three films, so my appreciation for Brooks will conceivably rise.

Coen brothers: Fargo came on TV the other day and I forgot how quirky that film was after only seeing it the one time. Most of that is due to the Coen brothers’ dialogue, like this exchange between William H. Macy’s character Jerry and his father-in-law Wade:

Jerry: Wade, have ya had a chance to think about, uh, that deal I was talkin’ about, those forty acres there on Wayzata?
Wade: You told me about it.
Jerry: Yah, you said you’d have a think about it. I understand it’s a lot of money…
Wade: A heck of a lot. What’d you say you were gonna put there?
Jerry: A lot. It’s a limited…
Wade: I know it’s a lot.
Jerry: I mean a parking lot.

Another example is in No Country for Old Men between Josh Brolin and a store clerk:

Sporting Goods Clerk: Tent poles?
Llewelyn Moss: Mmm-hmm.
Sporting Goods Clerk: You already have a tent?
Llewelyn Moss: Well, somethin’ like that.
Sporting Goods Clerk: Well, you give me the model number on the tent, I can order you the poles.
Llewelyn Moss: Nah, never mind. I want a tent.
Sporting Goods Clerk: Well, what kinda tent?
Llewelyn Moss: The kind with the most poles.

It’s natural comedy like these moments (in the crime genre no less) that makes their films unique. The Coens also direct, produce, and even edit their own films, but it might be their screenwriting ability that stands out the most because no one has been able to channel their brand of dialogue.

Mount Rushmore: Actresses

Meryl Streep: I mean, is there any debate here? Recipient of a record-breaking 20 Oscar nominations, the woman could make a brief cameo and it would probably be considered come awards season. That may sound more like a dig at Streep’s acting career, but I genuinely believe she earned most if not all of those nominations. Sadly, I haven’t seen any of her work before the year 2000 (when she was arguably in her acting prime), but what I have checked out never definitively lands on the “bad movie” side. Obviously, the best of the bunch is her villainous turn as Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada, but let’s not overlook the underrated ensemble drama August: Osage County (not a great movie, but Streep shines). Into the Woods screams mediocre, but her commitment to the Witch is praiseworthy. She has certainly been a part of more misfires than her acting counterpart Daniel Day-Lewis, but when you cast Meryl Streep in a movie, you immediately inject a certain degree of class not found in other actresses (imagine if you went with Katherine Heigl instead). She has earned her place in the pantheon of Hollywood legends and on this hypothetical Mount Rushmore.

Julianne Moore: The ageless wonder; just look at her recent interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZUgQsunwiI). I mean, how is that possible at age 56? Looks aside (since they shouldn’t define any individual), Moore has enjoyed a long career as a great supporting actress while occasionally shifting over to the driver’s seat. I had never even heard of Still Alice (2014) before the Oscars that year, but her performance makes you absolutely shudder at the thought that millions of people suffer from the same disease. Then you also have Boogie Nights (not safe for younger viewers), Big Lebowski, Children of Men, and The Kids Are All Right. She’s the reason I was initially excited for Kingsman 2; convincing someone of her acting caliber to join an action movie sequel is no small feat. Julianne Moore is far from done, ladies and gentlemen, and we just get to enjoy the ride.

Cate Blanchett: Even though she started acting later, Cate Blanchett’s trajectory very closely mirrors that of Tom Hanks. They can both wield a diverse range of roles and their very presence elevates any film with which they’re involved. Blanchett has done solid work in psychological thrillers (Talented Mr. Ripley), fantasy epics (Lord of the Rings), hard-hitting dramas (Blue Jasmine), and even animated adventures (How to Train Your Dragon 2). She will complete the bingo with a certain superhero movie coming out today. Herself nominated for a whopping seven Oscars, Blanchett’s star has risen fast and will only continue to rise with each successive film.

Amy Adams: Everything I said about Amy Adams a year ago still rings true, but now I can update it to include her mesmerizing performance in Arrival. The film could’ve simply been about a strange alien invasion, but Adams elevates the already engaging material with her myriad facial expressions and calming innocence. It’s a downright travesty that the Academy didn’t recognize this performance, but if she’s reading this (and I hope she is, big fan right here), I think the snub will only motivate her to pursue greater roles. She could easily be the Meryl Streep for this generation with a beaming smile and a God-given talent for the craft.

Honorable Mentions

Charlize Theron: Out of everyone on the list, Theron may have the singular best performance with her portrayal of Aileen Wuornos in Monster. Haunts me to this day. But even though I love me some Furiosa (please hurry up with a sequel), there’s a lot of crap on her resume: two Snow White and the Huntsman movies, A Million Ways to Die in the West, and Fate of the Furious in particular. Yikes.

Emma Stone: OK, this may be a bit premature; she is only six years older than yours truly after all. And La La Land is not the only evidence I can use to prove my point. There’s also Superbad, Zombieland, Easy A, The Help, Birdman…but also La La Land. Stone has shown massive potential to go along with a charming personality in a relatively short amount of time; is it really a surprise to think she belongs?

Yeah, sorry about the lack of diversity here, but in my own film experience, these were the women who made an impact on me. That shouldn’t diminish the work of people like, say, Viola Davis, or older actresses like the two Hepburns in the slightest. Women in film should be celebrated as often as the men (perhaps now more than ever in the wake of recent news) and this is my own small way of doing so.

Mount Rushmore: Actors

Daniel Day-Lewis: When you think of the quintessential “actor,” a few descriptions come to mind. Someone who disappears into a role. Someone who has never turned in a bad performance regardless of the movie’s quality. Someone whose very name commands respect around the industry. That name is Daniel Day-Lewis. Recipient of three Oscars for Best Actor (an unprecedented feat) and considered for many other smaller awards, the man embodies the craft like few others. He has shown a tremendous range, from a corrupt businessman in There Will Be Blood to President Abraham Lincoln. This “fake” induction into Mount Rushmore comes at a perfect time too; he made his retirement from acting official a few months ago and will appear in one final film (Phantom Thread) at the end of this year. There will never again be someone like Daniel Day-Lewis and his perfect method acting; Jared Leto wishes he could be as good. Congratulations on a stellar career, sir.

Tom Hanks: If Tom Hanks ever ran for President (which I would fully support), his slogan should be “Everybody loves Tom Hanks!” because it’s true. He’s a decent human being, a friendly interviewer, and an enjoyable onscreen presence. I would argue that if you have ever hated a Tom Hanks movie, he is never to blame. For example, I hate Bridge of Spies, but Hanks turns in his usual solid performance that I was at least mildly interested watching it. The career has spanned several decades and has a little bit of everything from serious dramatic roles (Saving Private Ryan, Cast Away, Captain Phillips) to lighter comedic ones (Big, A League of Their Own, Sleepless in Seattle). Of course, I will always be partial to his work with Toy Story, but that just further demonstrates how far-reaching Hanks can go. Consistent to a fault and showing no signs of slowing down (yet), Hanks joins Day-Lewis on an already excellent Mount Rushmore.

Morgan Freeman: It would be a shame not to include God, right? I mean, I would’ve put Morgan Freeman on this list just on the basis of his golden voice. Seriously, if you go to his Wikipedia page right now, there’s an audio clip below his bio titled “Morgan Freeman’s voice.” But all jokes aside, the man has earned his keep as one of Hollywood’s greatest actors. You don’t need me to list his movies, but I’ll just throw some out there: The Shawshank Redemption, Seven, Gone Baby Gone, The Dark Knight, The Lego Movie. As Chris Stuckmann noted, he even has his own “I’m too old for this” trilogy with The Bucket List, Last Vegas, and Going in Style. Morgan Freeman can make you laugh, cry, smile, and feel everything in between. If that doesn’t make him worthy of Mount Rushmore, what else do you want?

Leonardo DiCaprio: If we took Daniel Day-Lewis out of consideration, this wouldn’t be a bad replacement for him. Leo is very similar to the former in a lot of ways; he doesn’t have as large of a filmography as you would expect due to choosing very specific roles that take acting to another level. It took him a lot longer just to win his first Oscar, but that doesn’t detract from the brilliance that came before. We can make fun of him in Titanic all we want, but he’s incredibly charming in that movie. Then you get into stuff like The Departed, Blood Diamond, Inception, and Django Unchained; those roles speak for themselves. In 2013 alone, he fully embodied two enormous personalities in Jay Gatsby and Jordan Belfort. He’s even slated to portray Theodore Roosevelt in a Scorsese-directed biopic, further proving he’s just Daniel Day-Lewis 2.0. But hey, that sounds pretty good to me.

Honorable Mentions

Jack Nicholson: Unlike Robert De Niro (who could’ve easily made the list), Jack knew when to stop making films. I saw One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest for the first time not too long ago and it cemented the man’s talent for me. Combine that with The Shining, The Departed (again), and freaking Batman? [Slow clap]

Denzel Washington: My man! I’ll admit I haven’t seen a ton of his work, but Remember the Titans, Training Day, and Fences has convinced me enough of his greatness. I promise I’ll go back and brush up on my Denzel.

Jake Gyllenhaal: I’ve never seen him turn in a bad performance. But I’ve also never seen The Day After Tomorrow, so it all evens out. I also watched Donnie Darko recently and I couldn’t imagine anyone else playing that role; it’s the perfect combination of creepy and funny that Gyllenhaal masters. It’s a crime he’s only been nominated for an Oscar once (for Brokeback Mountain); did they not see Zodiac or Nightcrawler? Or even Nocturnal Animals and apparently this year’s Stronger? Sorry, Jake.

Mount Rushmore: Directors

When you’re running out of ideas for a movie blog, it never hurts to check out the CinemaSins podcast (which I’ve mentioned several times); it’s worth a listen if you’re a movie buff like me. They provided the March Madness bracket about seven months ago and they came up with another worthy topic: the Mount Rushmore of cinema. Basically, you choose the four best people in a certain category (directors, screenwriters, etc.) to hypothetically enshrine on a national monument. This can be based on accolades, lasting influence, or a dozen other factors. Of course, my film knowledge can’t and won’t match up with more expert opinions, but that’s part of the fun because no one’s going to pick the same four individuals. I’ll start with directors this week; submit your own picks in the comments below!

Alfred Hitchcock: When you’re referred to as the “Master of Suspense,” you deserve the #1 spot on the Mount Rushmore of directors. Truth be told, I’ve only seen three of Hitchcock’s films (Rear Window, North by Northwest, and Psycho), but they were all superb that, time permitting, have convinced me to watch even more. It’s amazing how he can fixate on a single setting and still captivate the audience as if it were an action-packed sequence. Everyone remembers the shower scene from Psycho, but I think Rear Window may be the best of the three. It starts with just a wheelchair-bound man looking out his apartment window at the neighbors, but slowly and effectively builds to a murder mystery without ever leaving the original confined space. There’s absolutely no way this man shouldn’t have won an Oscar, but awards don’t mean everything. The impact is far more significant, whether it be on a whole genre or future directors (David Fincher the most obvious example). I can’t think of anyone else to fill the George Washington spot than Mr. Hitchcock himself.

Steven Spielberg: The guy who first perfected the modern blockbuster. The guy who consistently alternated historical dramas with magical rides that captured our wildest imaginations. I’ve certainly gushed enough about Spielberg in my “Favorite Directors” post, but he’s dropped off a little in recent years. The last movie of his I enjoyed was Lincoln and that was almost five years ago. I’m hoping Ready Player One revives the charm we’ve come to expect from the living legend (as well as The Post later this year, starring Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep). Even with a less-than-stellar past decade, Spielberg is responsible for numerous touchstones of cinema that haven’t aged a day. He’s more than deserving of a spot on my personal Mount Rushmore and in the Abraham Lincoln spot because…it feels right, you know?

Christopher Nolan: At least I got the diehard fans on my side? I’m kidding, but Nolan has already been a huge part of my film experience and he hasn’t made nearly as much as the two listed above. With him and the last guy on the list, I have seen their complete filmography and there’s hardly a bad seed among them. Yeah, Interstellar sputtered out at the end and The Dark Knight Rises isn’t all that great, but Nolan never fails to push the boundaries both narratively and visually. More often than not, he can successfully interweave a gripping (usually convoluted) story with raw and powerful emotion. Even though his themes remain constant, he has proven successful at crossing genres from thriller to superhero to science fiction to war. Every film of his is treated like an event at this point and I envision him as the Thomas Jefferson on my Rushmore.

Quentin Tarantino: To the surprise of many, the first Tarantino film I watched was Inglourious Basterds back in 2009. Maybe it was the opening scene with Christoph Waltz and the farmer or the gloriously ridiculous alternate timeline of killing Hitler, but I was intrigued by this “new” director I had “discovered.” Now, after eight movies, I can confidently say that Tarantino has rapidly become one of my favorite directors. His skills as a writer definitely outshine the director side (which will be covered in a separate Mount Rushmore post), but you still need someone to translate the words into cinematic gold. He surrounds himself with a unique stable of actors who are perfect for the roles he creates (and occasionally, he’ll shock you by bringing in a DiCaprio). If not for him, Samuel L. Jackson’s career would look drastically worse. You can check out my Tarantino rankings to see individual thoughts on all his movies (I even enjoy Death Proof), but as a final inductee for the Teddy Roosevelt spot that looks like it’s hidden away, I can think of no one better than Mr. Brown.

Honorable Mentions

David Fincher: The heir apparent to Hitchcock, Fincher has rarely swung and missed outside of Benjamin Button. Seven, Fight Club, Zodiac, The Social Network, Gone Girl, even the first two episodes for House of Cards…he came real close to cracking the top four.

Denis Villeneuve: As Chris Stuckmann described him, a “new master.” Every single one of his films has drawn rave reviews; there are few other directors who can match that kind of winning streak. Like Hitchcock, I’ve sadly only seen three (and they’re the most recent ones), but you can bet that in time, I will go back and see where the genius began.