Tuesday, September 22, 2009

FORUM: 50 Best Directorial Debuts, and My Top 25...

So, last night I decided to bring back a favorite feature of this site, the top 10. Sure, it wasn't to heady as it was just the 10 Best High School Films, but it seems like more and more people are chimming in with their own respective new lists. First, InContention came out with their 10 Best Best Picture Winners Ever (a list you better damn well know I'll be stealing soon), but the really interesting one has come out of Time Out London's website.

Here's how Cinematical sums up the idea:

Making a list of debut films is tougher because it's sometimes hard to know when to start. (Do you count short films as debut films? What if, as in the cases of Kathryn Bigelow and Federico Fellini, the first credit is a shared one?) Some of the greatest filmmakers made really unremarkable debuts: can anyone name, or has anyone actually seen, John Ford's debut? And David Cronenberg's official debut is a deadly dull film he made at college. Then there's the sticky question as to how valuable a debut film really is if the filmmaker did not live up to his or her promise (Justin Lin, etc.)? Not to mention that this kind of list requires actual research. I don't think you can plug "debut film" as a keyword into the IMDB search engine. You have to actually comb through your DVD collection and lists of your favorite directors to find the great debuts.

Well, Time Out London has actually done a brilliant job in creating this easily falable list of Directorial Debuts. Sure, there are a few glaring holes (Reservior Dogs not cracking the top 20, and there really controversial picks for #2 and #1), but they also have some stunning and inspired choices. Ranging from Jaques Tati to Gaspar Noe, this list is a really well thought out cross section of cinema. However, it's not my top 25, so it doesn't matter. So in honor of this inspired idea, here IS my list of the 25 greatest Directorial Debuts.

25. Brick
24. Buffalo '66
23. Performance
22. Man Bites Dog
21. Texas Chainsaw Massacre
20. I Stand Alone
19. Kids
18. Eraserhead
17. City of God
16. Knife in The Water
15. Being John Malkovich
14. Gates of Heaven
13. L'Age D'or
12. Badlands
11. Hard Eight
10. George Washington
9. Killer of Sheep
8. Memento
7. Bottle Rocket
6. Pi
5. Primer
4. Blood Simple
3. Reservoir Dogs
2. Breathless
1. 400 Blows

These are the 25 BEST first films from film makers ranging from new legends like Paul Thomas Anderson, to gods like Godard. Let the debate begin.

Go see something good!


  1. How is Michael Clayton not on that list? A great first movie for Tony Gilroy, and he was nominated for the Best Director Oscar for goodness' sake!

  2. I will let you know why it's not on the list. I just plain forgot. I'm ashamed. It's number 26 in spirit.

  3. Haha, I was actually talking about the 50-movie list moreso than yours...25 isn't a huge number, so it's understandable that some good movies wouldn't quite make the list. But let's face it, some of the movies on that other list are crap, and Michael Clayton has got to be better than at least half of them.

  4. Oh, AGREED!!! Seriously, while I don't mind Throw Mama From The train, but REALLY? Over Michael Clayton? You have to be kidding me. I do like the list a lot, but there are a few gapping holes.

  5. Following is Nolan's debut film not Memento. It was pretty good.

  6. I also think you could make the argument for Welcome To The Dollhouse. I would probably argue against a few of them but very solid list.

  7. The biggest miss on their list by far is 12 Angry Men. WOW! Sorry after reading this list I became obsessed with it. HAHA.


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