List: DGA Best Directed Movie of Each Year

In celebration of the Directors Guild of America’s 80th anniversary, I am posting the winner of their annual award honoring the best directed film of the year. Along with each winning film, I will provide my grade for that film’s direction along with my choice for the best directed film of the year if different from the DGA’s.

The DGA Awards began in 1948, but because this is a celebration of their 80th anniversary, I will begin with my picks in 1936 to cover the full 80 years, making up for the first 13 years of the organization prior to the inception of their award.


1936: Charles Chaplin, Modern Times

1937: Victor Fleming, Captains Courageous

1938: Jean Renoir, Grand Illusion

1939: Victor Fleming, The Wizard of Oz

1940: Alfred Hitchcock, Rebecca

1941: Orson Welles, Citizen Kane

1942: Michael Curtiz, Casablanca

1943: Alfred Hitchcock, Shadow of a Doubt

1944: Alfred Hitchcock, Lifeboat

1945: Billy Wilder, The Lost Weekend

1946: William Wyler, The Best Years of Our Lives

1947: William Powell & Emeric Pressburger, Black Narcissus

The beginning of the DGA Awards

1948: Joseph L. Mankiewicz, A Letter to Three Wives (A); My choice: John Huston, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

1949: Robert Rossen, All the King’s Men (A+); My choice: Stanley Donen,  On the Town

1950: Joseph L. Mankiewicz, All about Eve (A+); My choice: Billy Wilder, Sunset Blvd.

1951: George Stevens, A Place in the Sun (A+); My choice: Akira Kurosawa, Rashomon

1952: John Ford, The Quiet Man (A); My choice: Stanley Donen, Singin’ in the Rain

1953: Fred Zinnemann, From Here to Eternity (D); My choice: Billy Wilder, Stalag 17 


1954: Elia Kazan, On the Waterfront (A+); I agree.

1955: Delbert Mann, Marty (A-); My choice: Nicholas Ray, Rebel without a Cause

1956: George Stevens, Giant (F); My choice: Stanley Kubrick, The Killing

1957: David Lean, The Bridge on the Rive Kwai (C+); My choice: Sidney Lumet, 12 Angry Men

1958: Vincente Minnelli, Gigi (B-); My choice: Alfred Hitchcock, Vertigo


1959: William Wyler, Ben-Hur (A+); I agree

1960: Billy Wilder, The Apartment (A+); My choice: Alfred Hitchcock, Psycho

1961: Robert Wise, West Side Story (F); My choice: Stanley Kramer, Judgment at Nuremberg


1962: David Lean, Lawrence of Arabia (A+); I agree

1963: Tony Richardson, Tom Jones (C+); My choice: Federico Fellini, 8 1/2

1964: George Cukor, My Fair Lady (B); My choice: Robert Stevenson, Mary Poppins

1965: Robert Wise, The Sound of Music (B-); My choice: Jacque Demy, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

1966: Fred Zinnemann, A Man for All Seasons (C-); My choice: Mike Nichols, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

1967: Mike Nichols, The Graduate (A+); My choice: Sergio Leone, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

1968: Anthony Harvey, The Lion in Winter (Unseen); My choice: Stanley Kubrick, 2001: A Space Odyssey

1969: John Schlessinger, Midnight Cowboy (A); My choice: Dennis Hopper, Easy Rider


1970: Franklin J. Schaffner, Patton (A+); I agree

1971: William Friedkin, The French Connection (B+); My choice: Franklin J. Schaffner, Nicholas and Alexandra


1972: Francis Ford Coppola, The Godfather (A+); I agree

"The Sting" Robert Redford, Paul Newman 1973 Universal **I.V.

1973: George Roy Hill, The Sting (A+); I agree


1974: Francis Ford Coppola, The Godfather Part II (A+); I agree

1975: Milos Forman, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest (A-); My choice: Sidney Lumet, Dog Day Afternoon

1976: John G. Avildsen, Rocky (A-); My choice: Sidney Lumet, Network

1977: Woody Allen, Annie Hall (A+); My choice: George Lucas, Star Wars

1978: Michael Cimino, The Deer Hunter (C+); My choice: Hal Ashby, Coming Home

1979: Robert Benton, Kramer vs. Kramer (A); My choice: Francis Ford Coppola, Apocalypse Now

1980: Robert Redford, Ordinary People (A+); I agree

1981: Warren Beatty, Reds (A+); My choice: Mark Rydell, On Golden Pond

1982: Richard Attenborough, Gandhi (A-); My choice: Steven Spielberg, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial

1983: James L. Brooks, Terms of Endearment (C-); My choice: Woody Allen, Zelig


1984: Milos Forman, Amadeus (A+); I agree


1985: Steven Spielberg, The Color Purple (A+); I agree

1986: Oliver Stone, Platoon (C); My choice: Woody Allen, Hannah and Her Sisters

1987: Bernardo Bertolucci, The Last Emperor (A-); My choice: Barry Levinson, Good Morning, Vietnam

1988: Barry Levinson, Rain Man (A+); My choice: Robert Zemeckis, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

1989: Oliver Stone, Born on the Fourth of July (B-); My choice: Spike Lee, Do the Right Thing

1990: Kevin Costner, Dances with Wolves (D); My choice: Francis Ford Coppola, The Godfather Part III

1991: Jonathan Demme, The Silence of the Lambs (A-); My choice: Joel Coen, Barton Fink

1992: Clint Eastwood, Unforgiven (A+); I agree

1993: Steven Spielberg, Schindler’s List (A+); I agree

1994: Robert Zemeckis, Forrest Gump (A+); I agree

1995: Mel Gibson, Braveheart (C-); My choice: Chris Noonan, Babe

1996: Anthony Minghella, The English Patient (C+); My choice: Mike Leigh, Secrets and Lies

1997: James Cameron, Titanic (C); My choice: Peter Cattaneo, The Full Monty

1998: Steven Spielberg, Saving Private Ryan (C+); My choice: Sam Raimi, A Simple Plan


1999: Sam Mendes, American Beauty (A+); I agree


2000: Ang Lee, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (A+); I agree

2001: Ron Howard, A Beautiful Mind (B); My choice: Baz Luhrmann, Moulin Rouge

2002: Rob Marshall, Chicago (A-); My choice: Spike Jonze, Adaptation

2003: Peter Jackson, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (C-); My choice: Sophia Coppola, Lost in Translation

2004: Clint Eastwood, Million Dollar Baby (B+); My choice: Robert Zemeckis, The Polar Express

2005: Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain (Unseen); My choice: Bennett Miller, Capote


2006: Martin Scorsese, The Departed (A+); I agree

2007: Joel & Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men (C+); My choice: Julie Taymor, Across the Universe


2008: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire (A+); I agree

2009: Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker (B-); My choice: Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds

2010: Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech (A-); My choice: David Fincher, The Social Network


2011: Michel Hazanavicus, The Artist (A+); I agree

2012: Ben Affleck, Argo (A+); My choice: Tom Hooper, Les Misérables


2013: Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity (A+); I agree

2014: Alejandro G. Iñáritu, Birdman: Or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance (A); My choice: Damien Chazelle, Whiplash

2015: Alejandro G. Iñáritu, The Revenant (C+); My choice: Spike Lee, Chi-Raq


Fargo (1996)


“For what? For a little money? There’s more to life than a little money, you know. Don’tcha know that?”

Police officer Margie Gunderson (Frances McDormand) asks that question to a criminal in the last five minutes of the Coen Brothers’ 1996 film Fargo. As the story concludes, this question explains everything that we have just seen. The first time watching Fargo can be perplexing. It’s entertaining, weird, funny, and exciting, but we never really know what the movie is about until Margie asks this question. That means that Fargo takes at least two viewings (I just watched it for the eighth time) in order to understand its purpose. It also means that if you haven’t seen it, I haven’t given anything away regarding the story by telling you about this question at the end, but I am sparing you some of the perplexity of wondering what the movie is about.

The movie opens at a bar in Fargo, ND where we see three men (played by William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi, and Peter Stormare) planning a very bizarre heist that is not sensible if money is the truest motive. Jerry Lunegaard (Macy) demands to have his wife kidnapped so that he can collect the ransom money from his wealthy father-in-law. The gangsters he consorts with know it’s a stupid idea and that its risks highly outweigh their possible monetary gain, yet they agree. Why? Because they don’t know that there’s more to life than a little money.

Throughout the course of the film, we see Jerry wandering through the details of life, trying to go about his everyday business while at the same time trying to make sure everything goes as planned with the plot, and fighting with his fellow criminals when it doesn’t. Through these scenes, we see that his family and his job are not important to him. While Carl Showalter (Buscemi) and Gaear Grimsrud (Stormare) carry out the plan, they do so with no regard for Jerry’s demands, for the lives of others involved their heist, for each other, or even for their own lives. Although they are trying to attain a great deal of money, they don’t even seem to care about the money itself. They’re motivated by ignorance, purposelessness, and hopelessness. The money might be nice, but they do what they do because they don’t know that there is more to life than a little money.

Greed is not the primary characteristic of the evil characters in Fargo despite the fact that their conversations all center around money. Each of these characters is marked mostly by apathy. The results of this apathy are grisly, monstrous crimes against innocent people and against each other. The story’s hero, Marge Gunderson, is not heroic in any of the usual senses of the word. Yes, she’s a police officer who cracks the case, but much more than that, she is the polar opposite of everything represented by the three co-conspirators. She is the story’s hero because she enjoys life, because she is a loving wife and soon-to-be mother, because she’s the smartest cop on the force, and because she does her work passionately. She’s the hero because she is one of the funniest people you could ever meet, because she loves life, and because she genuinely cares about people. Because of this, she recognizes what nobody else does (including most first-time viewers), regarding the motive for the crimes. She discerns that they don’t know that there is more to life than a little money.

The dichotomy that the Coen Brothers create between the love of life and the disregard of life makes Fargo profound. Its message (that the people on the first side, like Marge, can make the world a wonderful place to live in, but people on the second side can make it very frightening) is sent through a very twisted version of the classic good vs. evil tradition. Its creative style and delightful (though often very dark) sense of humor and its reminiscence of 1940s film noir make it highly entertaining.

As harrowing as it is, watching what happens when people don’t believe that there is more to life than a little money is a challenging and rewarding experience. It reminds us, who believe that there is great purpose and meaning in life, that by being people that love life, we can share that love with others. When we share it with those marred by apathy, we share with them that there is a lot more to life than a little money, and in sharing that we are empowered to give them what may prevent much future evil that they previously had been capable of.

Stumble AlertFargo is filled with material that many Christians will find offensive (graphic violence, two scenes involving prostitution, and a great deal of profanity). Fortunately, this is a rare film that isn’t hurt by being edited for television. So if you haven’t seen it or were uncomfortable with what you saw the first time, seek out the film on an edited TV channel and discover the greatness of this film.

Watch FargoThe film can be rented unedited through any source of download or streaming rentals. I am unaware of any edited TV channel that will be airing Fargo in the near future.

List: The Best Directors

Two weeks ago, I started publishing posts related to the 80th anniversary of the Directors Guild of America. First, I posted a copy of their list of the 80 best directed films of the last 80 years, giving my feedback regarding the list and my rating for the direction of each film on it. Last week, I posted my own choices for the 80 best directed films of the last 80 years. This week is a list of the best directors of all time, and I will conclude next week with a year-by-year look at the DGA’s picks for the best directed movie of each year and my own choice for that year.

Now, here are the best directors of all time based on the movies I have seen. Obviously, that involves limitations, so the list will surely change as I see more films by those generally thought of as the greats: especially Federico Fellini, Ingmar Bergman, Jean-Luc Godard, Sergei Eisenstein, and Jean Renoir among many others.

10. Joel Coen (1954-)


Best movies: Blood Simple (1984); Barton Fink (1991); Fargo (1996); True Grit (2010); Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

9. Steven Spielberg (1946-)

The 79th Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals

Best movies: E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)The Color Purple (1985); Schindler’s List (1993); Minority Report (2002); Bridge of Spies (2015)

8. Stanley Donen (1924-)


Best movies: On the Town (1949); Singin’ in the Rain (1952); Indiscreet (1958); The Grass Is Greener (1960); Charade (1963)

7. George Cukor (1899-1993)


Best movies: Holiday (1938); The Women (1939); Gaslight (1944); Adam’s Rib (1949); A Star Is Born (1954)

6. Woody Allen (1935-)


Best movies: Annie Hall (1977); Zelig (1983); Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989); Everyone Says I Love You (1996); Midnight in Paris (2011)

5. Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999)


Best movies: The Killing (1956); Paths of Glory (1957); Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964); 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968); Barry Lyndon(1975)

4. Joseph L. Mankiewicz (1909-1993)


Best movies: The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947); A Letter to Three Wives (1949); All about Eve (1950)No Way Out (1950); Guys and Dolls (1955)

3. William Wyler (1902-1981)


Best movies: Withering Heights (1939); Mrs. Miniver (1942); The Best Years of Our Lives (1946); Ben-Hur (1959); The Children’s Hour (1961)

2. Billy Wilder (1906-2002)


Best movies: Double Indemnity (1944); The Lost Weekend (1945); Sunset Blvd. (1950)Stalag 17 (1953); Some Like It Hot (1959)

1. Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980)


Best movies: Rebecca (1940); Saboteur (1942) Shadow of a Doubt (1943); Lifeboat (1944); Notorious (1946); Rope (1948); Strangers on a Train (1951); Vertigo (1958); North by Northwest (1959);  Psycho (1960)



Citizen Kane (1941)

MV5BMWQ5ZjdkODktNTFlMy00MTk3LTk0NGYtYjA2MDFjYjk2YjM0XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ1NzU4Njk@._V1_Many movie critics, film organizations, film historians, and movie buffs worldwide name Citizen Kane as the greatest movie ever made. I must concur. It offers nothing short of a search for the meaning of life. Beginning with the death of Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles’ character, modeled after William Randolph Hearst), journalists search for the meaning of his last word: “rosebud.” We learn about Kane’s life through the journalists’ investigation (as they speak with those closes to him) and through constant flashback. As we learn about his life, we see that the search for the meaning of his life (“rosebud”) is not just something journalists are attempting after his death.

Kane tries to find meaning in his life through almost as many means as Solomon of the Old Testament. He tries business, money, fame, women, philanthropy, politics, among many other attempts. Kane’s conclusion in all these pursuits is much the same as King Solomon’s assertion that “all is vanity.” Kane says of himself: “If I hadn’t been rich, I might have been a really great man.” His life is diminished to a very sad “if.”

Rosebud is the epitome of Kane’s “if.” It represents a lost childhood, a life planned for him that he had no say in, and many failed attempts to gain any sense of control over his own destiny. He indeed takes control over his own destiny, but it does not create any sort of healing or renewal as he was looking for. He becomes perhaps the richest and most powerful man in the country, but instead of using that for good as is clearly his initial intention, he becomes corrupted by his perceived need for power, abusive toward those he claims to love, and completely lost in his own search for meaning.

Kane’s second wife Susan Alexander (played by Dorothy Comingore) tells a reporter about his extreme narcissism. She explains that he loved himself, and he loved himself extravagantly, but he never received love from anybody else. His entire search for meaning in life (and therefore the meaning of “rosebud”) is a search for love. He knew that love is what he needed above all else, but he tragically refused any appropriate ways to receive love, always choosing control and fear over love. The tragedy of Charles Foster Kane ultimately has nothing to do with his place in society, his riches, or his many positions of influence. He wouldn’t have have been a great man if he hadn’t been rich as he claims. He would’ve been a great man if he had allowed his need for love to have a higher priority over his perceived need for control.

Stumble alertCitizen Kane includes no objectionable material.

Watch Citizen Kane: The film airs on TCM Monday, Sept. 5 at 11:30 EST.

Note: Citizen Kane can be extremely challenging for a first-time viewer, utilizing every kind of filmmaking available at the time (often many within a single shot) as well as many things never attempted in film before, appearing confusing when the story is actually quite straight-forward. If you have tried watching the movie and just felt like you didn’t get it (as I did the first time I tried watching it eighteen years ago), Roger Ebert’s 2004 article “A Viewer’s Companion to Citizen Kane” is a very helpful tool.

List: Best Directed Movies 1936-2015

After publishing a copy of the DGA’s list of the 80 best directed movies last week (see that post here) with my reaction to the list and ratings for each, here is a list of my personal choices based on the same criteria (full-length, non-documentary films that had their initial American theatrical releases between 1936 and 2015; the years listed with each movie reflect that American theatrical release).

MV5BMTY0NDYzMzMzOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTY0MTc4Ng@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1436,1000_AL_Pictured: #5 Rashomon (1951)

80. Joel & Ethan Coen, Fargo (1996)

79. Woody Allen, Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)

78. Robert Zemeckis, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988)

77. Charles Laughton, The Night of the Hunter (1955)

76. Alfred Hitchcock, Strangers on a Train (1951)

75. Mike Leigh, Secrets and Lies (1996)

74. Alfred Hitchcock, Saboteur (1942)

73. William Wyler, Wuthering Heights (1939)

72. Jean Renoir, Grand Illusion (1937)

71. Chris Noonan, Babe (1995)

70. Milos Forman, Amadeus (1984)

69. Ernst Lubitsch, To Be or Not to Be (1942)

68. Sam Mendes, American Beauty (1999)

67. Clint Eastwood, Unforgiven (1992)

66. Ridley Scott, Blade Runner (1982)

65. Sidney Lumet, Network (1976)

64. John Ford, The Searchers (1956)

63. Sidney Lumet, Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

62. Federico Fellini, Amarcord (1974)

61. George Lucas, Star Wars (1977)

MV5BMTgyMzc2NDY5M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwODgxODM2._V1_Pictured: #4 Casablanca (1942)

60. Richard Brooks, In Cold Blood (1967)

59. John Ford, Stagecoach (1939)

58. Jean Renoir, The Rules of the Game (1950; banned in the USA for 11 years)

57. Billy Wilder, The Lost Weekend (1945)

56. Dennis Hopper, Easy Rider (1969)

55. Charles Chaplin, The Great Dictator (1940)

54. Orson Welles, The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)

53. Alfred Hitchcock, Rebecca (1940)

52. Nicholas Ray, Rebel without a Cause (1955)

51. Woody Allen, Zelig (1983)

50. Stanley Kubrick, The Killing (1956)

49. Stanley Kubrick, Paths of Glory (1957)

48. Wolfgang Petersen, Das Boot (1982)

47. Alfred Hitchcock, Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

46. Tom Hooper, Les Misérables (2012)

45. Spike Lee, Do the Right Thing (1989)

44. Billy WIlder, Some Like It Hot (1959)

43. Stanley Kubrick, Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb(1964)

42. Robert Stevenson, Mary Poppins (1964)

41. John Huston, The Maltese Falcon (1941)

MV5BMzY1MjE5NjYwOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwODQxOTI2._V1_Pictured: #3 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

40. Ang Lee, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

39. Sergio Leone, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1967)

38. Joseph L. Mankiewicz, All about Eve (1950)

37. Max Ophüls, Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948)

36. Federico Fellini, 8 1/2 (1963)

35. Quentin Tarantino, Pulp Fiction (1994)

34. Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds (2009)

33. Stanley Donen, Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

32. Bob Fosse, Cabaret (1972)

31. Billy Wilder, Stalag 17 (1953)

30. George Roy Hill, The Sting (1973)

29. Roman Polanski, Chinatown (1974)

28. Jacque Demy, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)

27. Gillo Pontecorvo, The Battle of Algiers (1967)

26. John Frankenheimer, The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

25. Carol Reed, The Third Man (1950)

24. Billy Wilder, Sunset Blvd. (1950)

23. Francis Ford Coppola, Apocalypse Now (1979)

22. Alfred Hitchcock, Notorious (1946)

21. Steven Spielberg, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

MV5BMTg5OTE1NzMyNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDM4NjIwMjE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1533,1000_AL_Pictured: The Godfather Part II (1974)

20. Robert Zemeckis, Forrest Gump (1994)

19. Michel Hazanavicus, The Artist (2011)

18. Victor Fleming, Gone with the Wind (1939)

17. William Wyler, Ben-Hur (1959)

16. Billy Wilder, Double Indemnity (1944)

15. Sidney Lumet, 12 Angry Men (1957)

14. Elia Kazan, On the Waterfront (1954)

13. John Huston, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

12. William Wyler, The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

11. David Lean, Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

10. Alfred Hitchcock, Lifeboat (1944)

9.  Alfred Hitchcock, Psycho (1960)

8.  Victor Fleming, The Wizard of Oz (1939)

7.  Francis Ford Coppola, The Godfather (1972)

6.  Alfred Hitchcock, Vertigo (1958)

5.  Akira Kurosawa, Rashomon (1951)

4.  Michael Curtiz, Casablanca (1942)

3.  Stanley Kubrick, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

2.  Francis Ford Coppola, The Godfather Part II (1974)

1.  Orson Welles, Citizen Kane (1941)


The Godfather (1972)


Francis Ford Coppola’s adaptation of Mario Puzo’s classic novel is first and foremost a study on justice and hypocrisy. The opening scene of the film shows Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) with his adopted son/lawyer Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall) in a conversation with a man seeking justice for wrong done to his family. The scene shows that the Corleone crime family is built entirely around a system of justice. The rest of the film details the inner workings of that system of justice. We see the slowly  developing, destructive process of self-deception and justification of wrongdoing. In seeing this process, the audience is able to understand why the characters believe what they believe and why they are willing to commit the crimes they commit. Everything that happens in The Godfather happens in the name of justice.

The titular godfather is not Vito, who we see first. Rather, his son Michael (Al Pacino) is to be the next don, but his own ideals of justice are much different from those of his father. With military experience and a general sympathy towards government, he does not seem like the ideal candidate to become the godfather. Through him, however, we see power of deceit that has already caused so much destruction through the family make it’s way into Michael.

Michael, whose personal system of justice seems initially more in line with that of the broader American culture in which he lives, is the heart of the story’s study of hypocrisy. Michael assures that as Godfather, he will have the family completely legitimate in a few years, yet it is his own corruption that causes greater destruction than any other Corleone before him. This corruption culminates in a scene where Michael, at his father’s hospital bed, uncertain even of his father’s consciousness, says: “I’m with you.”

The Corleone family is devout to their own brand of Catholicism that they fit within their own skewed system of justice. Murders, revenge, and all manner of evil are justified within their worldview. Their relationships with the church show us the depth of the hypocrisy. In one of the greatest scenes in film history, Michael takes part in the baptismal liturgy for his godson. Each part of the liturgy involves the renunciation of Satan, of evil works, and of a life separate from the God of the Bible. While Michael verbally makes each renunciation, we see the results of who Michael really is (many murders being carried out because of his order). Creating a system of justice to his own liking (and ultimately to the liking of  his family), Michael’s life is built upon the worship of what he thinks justice is rather than the worship of the God who embodies the justice that he claims through his pseudo-Catholic devotion.

In the end, The Godfather vividly displays the reality of how we all can be so good at justifying our behavior that we deceive ourselves no matter how religious or moral we may think ourselves to be. Of course, I don’t think many of us will end up mob bosses like Michael, but seeing the process of self-justification becoming self-deception, we see how all manner of evil is possible from the seemingly most unlikely of sources (one’s own self).

Stumble AlertThe Godfather is an extremely violent film, but every violent scene is necessary to clearly show the system of justice of the family and the hypocrisy within that skewed understanding of justice. If you are uncomfortable watching the violence in the film, know that there is always warning given, so you can close your eyes before seeing it. It may be one of the most violent films ever made, but the violent scenes are easy enough to avoid that this makes it no reason to avoid the film no matter how squeamish you may feel.

Also: See my review of The Godfather Part II (1974)

List: DGA Best Directed Movies

This past spring, the Directors’ Guild of America celebrated their 80th anniversary by releasing a list of their choices for the 80 best-directed films of the last 80 years. Most best-of lists anger me (as they would any reader) with what I view as their omissions and at least a few wildly overrated movies. Of course, those problems exist on this list, as they do on all, but they are minimal. Here is a reproduction of that last with my grade for the quality of direction for each film. Next week, I publish my own list of the 80 best-directed movies from 1936-20015.


MV5BMTc1MDgxNzI0Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwMTY3MTM2._V1_Pictured: #5 Casablanca

80. Sergio Leone, Once upon a Time in the West (1968) A+

79. Akira Kurosawa, Rashomon (1950) A+

78. Sidney Lumet, Network (1976) A+

77. Bryan Singer, The Usual Suspects (1995) D-

76. Clint Eastwood, Unforgiven (1991) A+

75. Sergio Leone, Once upon a Time in America (1984) Unseen

74. Orson Welles, Touch of Evil (1958) C

73. Stanley Kubrick, Barry Lyndon (1975) A+

72. Alan J. Pakula, All the President’s Men (1976) A+

71. John Ford, The Grapes of Wrath (1940) C

70. Terry Gilliam, Brazil (1985) Unseen

69. Giuseppe Tornatore, Cinema Paradiso (1988) Unseen

68. Vittorio de Sica, The Bicycle Thief (1948) B

67. Richard Attenborough, Gandhi (1982) B

66. Bernardo Bertolucci, The Conformist (1970) Unseen

65. John G. Avildsen, Rocky (1976) A-

64. Ridley Scott, Alien (1979) Unseen

63. Sam Peckinpah, The Wild Bunch (1969) A-

62. George Roy Hill, The Sting (1973) A+

61. Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood (2007)A

MV5BMzY1MjE5NjYwOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwODQxOTI2._V1_Pictured: #4 2001: A Space Odyssey

60. Michael Cimino, The Deer Hunter (1977) C+

59. Joseph L. Mankiewicz, All about Eve (1950) A+

58. Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman: Or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance (2014) A

57. John Huston, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) A+

56. Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker (2009) B

55. James Cameron, Avatar (2009) B-

54. Billy Wilder, The Apartment (1960) A+

53. Jonathan Demme, The Silence of the Lambs (1991) B+

52. Joel Coen, Fargo (1996) A+

51. William Wyler, Ben-Hur (1959) A+

50. Billy Wilder, Some Like It Hot (1959) A+

49. Robert Wise, West Side Story (1961) F

48. David Lean, Doctor Zhivago (1965) C

47. Miloš Forman, Amadeus (1984) A+

46. Stanley Kubrick, The Shining (1980) B-

45. James Cameron, Titanic (1997) C+

44. Martin Scorsese, Taxi Driver (1976) A-

43. Robert Wise, The Sound of Music (1965) C+

42. Miloš Forman, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) A-

41. Alfred Hitchcock, North by Northwest (1959) A+

MV5BMjY3NzkxNjg5MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNzY3Nzc2._V1_Pictured: #3 Lawrence of Arabia 

40. David Lean, The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) C+

39. Alfred Hitchcock, Rear Window (1954) A-

38. William Wyler, The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) A+

37. Carol Reed, The Third Man (1949) A+

36. Federico Fellini, 8 1/2 (1963) A+

35. Stanley Donen, Singin’ in the Rain (1952) A+

34. Robert Zemeckis, Forrest Gump (1994) A+

33. John Ford, The Searchers (1956) A+

32. Alfred Hitchcock, Psycho (1960) A+

31. Robert Mulligan, To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) A+

30. Billy Wilder, Sunset Blvd. (1950) A+

29. Alfred Hitchcock, Vertigo (1958) A+

28. Steven Spielberg, Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) B-

27. Stanley Kubrick, A Clockwork Orange (1971) A+

26. Akira Kurosawa, Seven Samurai (1956) A+

25. Steven Spielberg, Saving Private Ryan (1998) C+

24. Woody Allen, Annie Hall (1977) A+

23. Steven Spielberg, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) A+

22. Quentin Tarantino, Pulp Fiction (1994) A+

21. Elia Kazan, On the Waterfront (1954) A+

MV5BMTE5MjgyNjQ1OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNjkxODM2._V1_Pictured: #2 Citizen Kane

20. Ridley Scott, Blade Runner (1982) A+

19. George Lucas, Star Wars (1977) A+

18. Mike Nichols, The Graduate (1967) A+

17. Frank Darabont, The Shawshank Redemption (1994) A+

16. Stanley Kubrick, Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) A+

15. Frank Capra, It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) B

14. Steven Spielberg, Jaws (1975) B-

13. Martin Scorsese, Raging Bull (1980) C+

12. Victor Fleming, The Wizard of Oz (1939) A+

11. Roman Polanski, Chinatown (1974) A+

10. Martin Scorsese, Goodfellas (1990) A-

9. Victor Fleming, Gone with the Wind (1939) A+

8. Steven Spielberg, Schindler’s List (1939) A+

7. Francis Ford Coppola, Apocalypse Now (1979) A+

6. Francis Ford Coppola, The Godfather Part II (1974) A+

5. Michael Curtiz, Casablanca (1942) A+

4. Stanley Kubrick, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) A+

3. David Lean, Lawrence of Arabia (1962) A+

2. Orson Welles, Citizen Kane (1941) A+

1. Francis Ford Coppola, The Godfather (1972) A+ (Pictured below)