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Best Directors Who Also Write/Wrote Their Own Films

The freedom to tell a story as a director only gets easier when you showcase the script yourself. We’ve seen nearly every director write at least one of their films but I’ve noticed that directors are realizing this freedom more often than not in the endless small budget films as well as the bigger names of Hollywood as they successfully leave a following of fans in their wake.

For this list, I am going to give you all my ten best directors who also write their movies. This excludes directors who have written films with mostly other people – sorry Scorsese and Spielberg – and they have to have written at least half of their films in their catalog of directed projects.


 

BEST ALIVE:

11. Spike Lee: One the boldest writer-directors on this list mainly for the sharply tongued dialogue and the nature of his plots are enough to invoke a reaction from most. When it comes to people who have a lot to say you either listen with open ears or you listen to your music of maximum volume, for me, I listen and visualize what Spike has to say. His earlier work has the perspective of a black man in Brooklyn New York and the prejudices and stereotypes stamped onto all different kinds of people and though that is not too many people’s favorite way to be delivered a message, he is a great film maker in his own and right and is a talented writer as well.

10. James Cameron: The man has two of the top five highest grossing films of all-time on a list that has taken a Star Wars film to “maybe” take on those spots. He revolutionizes movies for everyone around him with the technological advancements he actually helps create and invent solely to make his films the way he wants them too. Along the way, the man has written Titanic, Terminator 1&2, Avatar, The Abyss, and second installment of the “Aliens” franchise. The man is diverse and well thought out when it comes to his movies.

9. Wes Anderson: Quirky and unbelievably imaginative with all of his movies, Wes Anderson – no relation to Paul Thomas Anderson – has made a name for himself with his cult favorites that include; Moonrise Kingdom, Life Aquatic, The Royal Tenenbaums and much more. He was given critical praise for his work on the stop-motion telling of The Fantastic Mr. Fox and the award winning (personal favorite) that is the The Grand Budapest Hotel from 2014. He’s niche director and equally outstanding writer for films that can’t be duplicated.

8. Hayao Miyazaki: A list of great writer-directors doesn’t have to be limited to the great live-action directors and storytellers. For a large audience in the world, animation, specifically the realm of anime has changed the landscape of animated storytelling by making family entertainment that does what Miyazaki’s friends at Pixar have taken seriously. He is the first and only foreign director to earn the “prestigious” award for Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards. He has since helped influence countless directors and writers due to his soft nature while producing captivating original stories since the 70’s.

7. Woody Allen: One of the kings of telling romantic comedies whether he is the one starring in them or having other actors take on the lead roles, Woody Allen – controversy aside – is great. His love for New York and other finely lit cities has shown through his visuals and rapid fire dialogue that has no fear when saying what we’d all be thinking. He has an Oscar or two for his writing, directing, and a nomination for his acting and proves to be one of the many great talents to go back to when discussing great triple threats in the categories of writing/directing/acting.

6. David O. Russell: There’s no denying Russell comes off as a total douche in real life, but like the Kanye’s of the world, they are still damn talented. Russell has always preferred to write his films and they manage to not be as similar as one would think. With his latest film “Joy”(2015) Review, you see his growth as a film maker trying to get out of his comfort zone and it proved to be a respectable effort while his direction though slightly shakier than normal has a high ceiling.

5. Christopher Nolan: He and his brother gave us everyone’s favorite film of the 21st century with The Dark Knight but he and his brother have also been cult favorites for films like Memento and Insomnia, but we often forget that Chris Nolan with the aid of his brother write some of the most intricately woven tales of uncertainty and peril we’ve seen in the modern era of film making. With films that train the mind like Inception, Interstellar, The Prestige, and Following. 

4. Paul Thomas Anderson: If you want to talk about a director-writer of the highest caliber, it’s tough to not mark P.T. Anderson in your top five. His films may not be for everyone, but it’s undeniable the skills the man possesses for churning out original stories through multiple genres, but his ability to get great actors like Daniel Day-Lewis to showcase arguably their greatest performances of all time to even an Adam Sandler as the talented dramatic actor we wish he stayed as. He is a cinemaholics perfect blend of style and realism through deep character studies.

3. The Coen Brothers: One of the strongest duos to ever step behind a camera have also been some of the strongest writers arguably in Hollywood history. I like to think of them as the “Golden Boys” pf Hollywood and they’ve respectfully and humbly earned that title. Writing and directing all of their movies as well as giving a stellar script for Steven Spielberg’s latest film Bridge of Spies to great success. They quietly write films that are truly their own unique twist on the world of cinema that will be missed and undervalued for a long time due to their low profiles.

2. Francis Ford Coppola: Part of a time where Hollywood was in extreme transition, Coppola rode the wave on a gangster style surfboard then jumped on all different styles and genres. He too has one of the greatest reputations that speak for themselves when it comes to writing and directing his movies and the outcomes have been films like The Godfather trilogy and Apocalypse Now. His latest films are arthouse style movies that most of us rarely see, but that doesn’t take away his legacy he’s established for himself.

1. Quentin Tarantino: You guys probably think I have a hard on for this guy (maybe I do), but I recognize that though he is a polarizing figure, his dialogue and storytelling is unlike anyone else. He directs films that seem to only be getting better and better and he has two Oscars to show for it. Film schools and screenwriting classes tell you first thing to not bother copying the style of Tarantino simply because it is so unorthodox and against the grain – like all of his movies – but if you look at him through a technical standpoint, he is unlike any other director we’ve seen.


DECEASED:

Alfred Hitchcock: The “Master of Suspense” didn’t earn his nickname as a fluke. The man is the reason we have most of the mystery and suspenseful thrillers we have in the present day. He reinvented the way to write plot twists and surprises in films while directing with a tension filled style that feels like a candle slowing dripping wax on your forehead. He is one of the most important people to create films as both a director and writer.

Stanley KubrickIt seems like some of the most influential directors and writers are sadly passed, but their legacies are living through the hundreds of films that come out every year and no ones impact is as strong as Kubrick. Pushing boundaries as a director and writing scripts around the visions he has for the direction he wanted with his movies show and are remarkable when you think about the time and era he lived in and the subject matter he hit on.

Orson Welles: This man is responsible for making what is considered the number one all time greatest film – subjective of course – and that is Citizen Kane. I mentioned Woody Allen as being a triple threat, but the ultimate triple threat is Welles back in the 40’s until he died in 1985 in Hollywood California. He is the standard for how films are written and directed. Citizen Kane won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in a time was early in the days of film, but even people then knew that Welles had a lot of greatness coming. Did I mention Citizen Kane was his first film? Yeah.

 

 

An Open Letter to the Cynical Movie Fan

Hi folks,

My name is Travis Gunn, creator of this average movie blog site. I want to write to those with acid for saliva and pessimism for their everyday mood. We all have something in common here on The Gunn Range and those are movies. Cinema is something we’ve agreed upon as an escape for the world around us and we choose to pay admission to delve into a completely new world every week or so, but the pessimism still lives on. Our standards for movies will always differ, no matter the people, and that’s what makes film so everlasting, but in a world of hipsters, internet geniuses, and pretentious ignorance social media parasites raining on our parades, we have become spoiled with great films and you don’t even know it.

You complain about lack of originality, but forget there is a whole realm of films full of original stories and actors you fail to see. You assume film has fallen to waste side of the so called “monsters” that are destroying the world of cinema when in reality, it’s you. Why complain about big budget films when you don’t have to see them? There are small budget indie films being made every second waiting for people like you to view them, but instead of helping an underground art-form you put your energy into picketing Hollywood sequels that aren’t even meant for you. You have the abilities to watch and read reviews of films you may or may not enjoy to help you determine what’s worth seeing, but you are still not satisfied.

Even though you may dislike larger budget or “mainstream” films, do you realize it is because of those films, smaller films can even exist? And did you realize that from the indie genre of film making better stories in the mainstream can be told? What do you want from your movies folks?!

There are more films being made now than there have been in our history and we have access to nearly all of them, how is that a bad thing? If you want superhero movies, you get them. If you want a melodrama about social issues, you can get them. If you want both of those combined, you can somehow get them. Now, it’s up to you to go out of your way to support the art and the artists by supporting movies you love and not bashing other films in the process. Most great directors and actors eventually delve into both levels of the film world only to realize which side they more or less belong on, but you don’t have to be that limited. Stop pitying yourselves!

Movies are not suppose to accurate nor are they suppose to please just you. Every film maker wants for their films to be financially and critically successful and if you think otherwise you probably think water isn’t a liquid too. You don’t have to like everything, but I think we as film fans need to get that movies are prosperous and plentiful and will continue to be that way so long we are having discussions like this and tickets are getting sold. Your cynical nature and predisposed thoughts on a film you’ve barely even cracked the surface of is unfair to both yourself and the films you see and ruins the film going experience for you that much more.

Remember movie goers, you have the choice feel how you feel, and I can’t change that, but you yourself should consider giving films their dues and allow them to marinate before you throw stones in a glass house.

-Travis Gunn

I May Change the Website Name…

This is a small PSA that I want to change my domain name into something more fitting and not such a cryptic play on words. I hope everyone will be okay with this, but either way, it’s for the better. The content will still be the same, so that’s cool…just the name is changing!

If anyone has had to go through a domain change in any way I’d love to hear your experiences or tips while doing this.

-Travis Gunn

I AM NOT BUILT FOR COLLEGE, BUT I HAVE TO DO IT

It’s one of those times when I am going to get really personal with you all, well, more than usual. I find myself in a rut, a slump of disappointment, a ditch of displeasure, and unmatched irritability. I was never a great student in high school nor was I a Mark Zuckerberg during my first year of college. Since then, I disbanded from the educational system to make sure I didn’t start getting that crazy twitch in my right eye. It just was not cutting it for me, but even with that whole year off, I determined I still needed school.

The sad truth is that people don’t care if you’re capable of proving you are right for the job, it’s that damn sheet of slightly denser paper that you’ll hang over your toilet or office that truly proves you are “the guy/gal”. I hope I can reach people when I say this, but I know I am capable of doing incredible things. I don’t lack the confidence to prove I’m a worthy candidate, but when it comes to school… it becomes like an abyss of words and numbers thrown onto tests to latch onto the deepest parts of your psyche and memory databases. If you give me a topic and tell me to discuss it with you, guess what, I can probably spit it back at you like an NFL play call, but please don’t make me take a dang test!

My goals and ambitions are so much more important than my distaste for school, but my love for learning does not fall under the bus either. See, I may hate having to do this whole school thing, but at the same time, I have to do it. I have to because deep down, I want to. My tone may be acerbic and anti college at times, but that’s not the case at all…okay maybe just a little bit, but I want to succeed while I’m here!

In order to lighten the path I will tread on my way to the top of this peak, I must get that little piece of paper and a handshake. Sure, I could get to my goals in many other ways, but let’s be serious here, that college degree can turn into an EasyButton for some of us. Other times it has the powers to show much more than your knowledge on the anatomy of the human body or all the presidents and their significant contributions or…math. That piece of paper shows you can accomplish four years or more through any condition and still come victorious.

I hate school, but I love success. I hate school, but it can lead to success. I’m not built for school like everyone else, but I have the ability to become to the phoenix who rises from the ashes of classical literature and speeches and…math.  Wouldn’t it be the greatest feeling of success if I was able to finish something that I loathe? It’s like eating your vegetables before getting dessert, but it also determines if you know dessert has two “S” in it. Some people are built for this, the cramming, the tests, the lack of sanity, the math, but it also proves they want to be successful and will risk their sanity to get what they want, I have to do the same.

I’m not built for this, but I have to do it. Why? Because nothing we want comes easy, like math.

LET THEM KNOW

It’s hard seeing people treat their loved ones like imaginary figures. It’s even tougher knowing that those people who are cast as invisible usually shine as the most vibrant of us all. It’s not fair that ungrateful people put their loved ones in a capsule only so they can fall into the depths of shadows and heartbreak that is forced on them like an ocean wave.

I shatter into a million pieces when I see this happen. People trying their hardest to spread the positive nature they possess only to see it become a burden on their targeted loved ones. None of us are perfect, but we don’t have to be to show our love and appreciation for those who matter. Without them, we are nothing more than a chrysalis encased in cement.

Why wouldn’t you show those who love you the equal amount of love back? What can a person do but their best for themselves and for you? It doesn’t matter if it is family or friends, make sure you are keeping them all as close as you can and never taking their presence for granted.

As soon as they leave you, it will have been too late.

Let them know.

MY THOUGHTS ON RUMORS – RANT

In the dawn of this whole little thing called the internet, people rapidly flock to the intriguing titles and clickable links that excite us like children of Christmas morning. In this case, movie rumors or rumors surrounding anything remotely significant.

Rumors are going to be around as long as people are and it would be wise to not believe EVERYTHING you see and hear on the internet. It has gotten to a point where no one seems to grasp the concept and definition of fact or fiction. At least with film and movie rumors, you have to realize that just because a website, no matter how legitimate it may have been or is, does not prove anything a films decisions moving forward. Can their speculations be close? Insanely! But no that, until the studio itself confirms whatever rumor you hear about, it is only that, a rumor.

It actually breaks my heart to see the gullible nature of us fans over the possibilities  of film rumors. Think of it as being Rick-Rolled, but we choose to be Rick-Rolled over and over. The same thing goes with these constant leaks of nude celebrities. Half the time it isn’t even the celebrity posing nude or the right famous people you want to ostracize. We jump to conclusions thinking we know what the heck we are talking when in fact, we are the fools, shallow, and clueless fools.

It’s like going back to high school to find out from a friend’s-sister’s-cousin’s-BFF that your boyfriend cheated on you. Until the proof is in the pudding, don’t fall victim to these Loki style tricks and rumors unless studios or the sources confirm or deny these rumors.

Please. Please just stop rushing into believing all the crap you see, please? It is destroying any validity in entertainment, schools, and workplaces and much more.

I’ll just speak on films at this point….

Whether it be rumors on casting, plot, setting, writing, WHATEVER, the world of movies and film will always lead to much speculation. But with that said, rumors are totally different than speculation, at least in my eyes.

See, it’s not wrong to speculate your ideas who might be a part of a movie or not, it’s when you hear that they supposedly are and you take it like Gospel truth. NO! Stop that! Stop being so gullible!

My rule of thumb has and will stay this; “Until the studios confirm or deny your speculations, it is merely a rumor.” I am beginning to abhor the “click-bait” of social media more and more and encourage you all to find the sources of the rumors and gain actual, valid conclusions to the speculations and rumors around the web.

WHY DO I LOVE MOVIES AND WHEN DID IT START? – AN INSIGHT

Admiring my vast collection of DVD’s spanning in the hundreds, I thought to myself, “Wow, no wonder you’re single. You should probably get out more” and so I called up a buddy and we hung out so I didn’t feel so pathetic on a Friday afternoon….

I’m joking guys! I am beyond proud of my movie collection and I have plenty of friends, so have no fear!

What I really want to do for you the readers is tell you why I love movies as much as I do. As the title proclaims, I want to give an insight into what makes film such a magical hobby for myself and many more. Why do so many of us “waste” time watching hours worth of films a year without batting an eye. Well guess what, time you were spending doing something you love is NEVER time wasted.

Ever since I was a kid, I was blessed to have had an enormous stack of VHS tapes whether they were Disney or what have you. My parents always described to me the exhaustion they felt after having to watch The Lion King and the rest of the Disney collection I had ten times a day and how I never seemed to get sick of them, to their dismay. But what it did for me was exactly what movies have done since the early 1900’s, it brought me into a world that I could escape in for a few hours. For those few hours a day, I was allowed to just sit back and forget the world around me. Granted, I was not in a financial depression nearly as much as those poor folks during the 1940’s, but the concept is still the same.

As kids, we tend to believe in the things that just do not normally happen. Movies were able to capture that imagery and imagination in a colorful visual brought our ideas to life. Cowboys and the people they killed for no reason (<–that’s politically correct for American Indians), aliens, monsters, talking animals and so on, there was finally a medium that could showcase our want for visual satisfaction. It’s like walking out of a tunnel on Friday night, getting a promotion at, or smoking crack….maybe not that, but you get my point. It gives you that natural high, that injection of relaxation and escape. Some feel this way through art, sports, business, or what have you, me, I have my movies.

Tough times blew my way in a hurricane-like fashion when I was younger. Overwhelmed by situations I could not control, I would sit in my room silently unaware of my next plan of action. One thing I was always able to count on was the overwhelming serenity I gained from sliding in one of my VHS’s and just being hypnotized for 100 minutes. That was all I needed. It would be all the better when my mom or dad was out and about or taking a nap and the house was just silent, nothing but the television and the one mesmerized child in front of it.

Movies don’t just work wonders for me, they’re influential, whether that’s a positive or negative is up to the viewers. Films have been significant since regular people first got a chance to see them in 1920. A perplexing revolution in the world of entertainment and media, movies have the power to move mountains and the people who watch them. They have been praised and they have been hated. Like people, they come in all different shapes and sizes and genres and styles which continue to evolve like the humans that create them.

With art constantly imitating life, you could look at films as people and people as films. The stories captured on film portray the lightest and the darkest of fantasies we envision in a way that doesn’t (normally) pour out negative energy and influence. I mean, I used to say that, but ever since…

*Cough cough* The Interview *cough cough*

…and the lack of thicker skin, people are gaining more power to censor the art that is film making. Will the original ideas stop flowing? Of course not. Film is like music in that regard. Just because something isn’t out in the open doesn’t mean it’s not good.

Movies are to me what water is to fish, vital. They orbit me and I am pulled just as much to them. Why do I love movies so much? Well, why do you like sports (mind you I LOVE sports too) or grilled cheese or sex? It’s because they make you feel good, they make you happy. Will you get a burnt grilled cheese once in a while? Duh, who doesn’t turn the burner on too high and take a piss and forget at least once and year and have to buy a new pan….

Oh just me…

Well there you go folks, the shortened version of why and when I began my love for movies.

Why do you love movies? When did you first get into movies? What are some of your favorites? I’d love to hear some of your answer!

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