10 Directors and the 10 Movie Ideas for Which They are Perfectly Suited
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Project Dreamlight: 10 Directors and the 10 Movie Ideas for Which They are Perfectly Suited

By Rob Payne | Seriously Random Lists | July 9, 2013 | Comments ()


Here at Pajiba, we spend a lot of time dreaming about the movies that we wish the clever, beautiful and genius studio executives would make. Well, I do. Or, I’m the one who routinely subjects you all to crappy Photoshops, anyway. But rather than slotting more of our favorite actors and actresses into characters befitting their talents, I thought it was time to move onto directors and the projects I’d love to see them wrestle from the maw of non-existence.

Do you remember HBO’s “Project Greenlight?” It was a reality competition show that focused on screenwriting and film directing, particularly of an independent (re: no money) bent, rather than modeling and cooking and surviving. This is kind of like that, only instead of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck I’m your celebrity host. Now that you can’t possibly be more disappointed, here are 10 Movie Ideas I Need to Exist, and the 10 Directors Who Should Make Them.


Pushing Ice: The David Fincher Sci-Fi Movie
Now, I am of course aware that Fincher has already directed a science fiction film, but Alien 3 was his first major motion picture and by most accounts, nobody is really very happy with the outcome. Chalk that up to being a novice or studio meddling, but it’s clear that Fincher has evolved into one of the directors out there, who can build tiny detail upon tiny detail onto ever larger canvasses. He’s a stylist without being in your face, unless that’s exactly what the movie moment calls for. He also knows his way around directing female leads in action roles, which will come in handy when Alistair Reynolds’ novel’s two heroines — Captain Bella Lind and Svetlana Barseghian — square off over the fate of their ship and, eventually, the survival of humanity itself. (H/T to SLW for the book rec.)

Torso: The Christopher Nolan Period Noir
Brian Michael Bendis’ and Marc Andreyko’s graphic novel about the lesser of Eliott Ness’s most-famous cases has been on the verge of adaptation for years. The two even wrote a book about that. About a serial killer in Cleveland during the mid-1930s, who left only his victims’ torsoes for the authorities to find, it’s not surprise that David Fincher was attached at one point, and it looks like another indie darling is looking to take on the Torso Killer now, too. But, damn it, Nolan needs to do a historical crime story to really marry his two favorite genres. He’s done period pieces and he’s done detective stories, and Torso would enable him to do both and costume all his male leads in perfectly tailored, contextually approprite suits.

Good Omens: Terry Gilliam Teams Up with Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
This has been on my personal wishlist since I first read the Gaiman-Pratchett team-up over a decade ago, and it’s at the top of my list whenever somebody asks for something new to read. Following two angels (one good, one fallen [so, a demon]) as they try to upend the impending Apocalypse at the pre-pubescent hands of a little Damien, Good Omens is surprisingly too epic too really summarize. It’s about the end of the world, sure, but there are also corporate paintball matches to participate in. Of any director alive, with his precise ability to capture the whimsy and mundanity of reality, Gilliam seems the most apt person to bring this tale to the screen.

Hellboy III: At the Mountains of Madness: Guillermo Del Toro Finally Makes His Lovecraftian Epic
The first Hellboy movie, loosely based on the Mike Mignola’s first Hellboy comic books, touched upon the Elder Gods of H.P. Lovecraft, but it’s most fondly remembered for making evil Nazis cool again. The second one ditched Cthullhu and all the rest in favor of steampunk gollems, and now he’s coming out with Pacific Rim, which is the long-awaited (by some) unification of Elder Gods and Anime. None of this is bad, but after his adaptation of At the Mountains of Madness starring Tom Cruise stalled again, it’s abundantly clear the man has Shoggoth on the brain. Godtopus knows, we can’t blame him. So, I say the studios should let his dreams come true, only with Hellboy investigating the original novel’s missing investigators. Something tells me that Ron Perlman in that make-up would be both cheaper and more of a draw than Cruise, anyway.

Batwoman Begins: The Kathryn Bigelow Superhero Movie
To put it bluntly, the world needs a good female superhero movie. I’m not entirely sure we need more alpha males beating each other up, but I’m damn sure we need women besides Scarlett Johansson and Anne Hathaway getting fourth billing (if they’re lucky) in another ensemble. I’d go with Wonder Woman first, but we’ll get to here. Instead, let’s go with a cinematic universe that’s already established — Christopher Nolan’s Gotham — and a heroine that is immediately believable. I’ve been beating on the Batwoman drum for a while, and it’s not just because Kate Kane is a spitting image of my favorite FemShep in the Mass Effect trilogy. She’s just as much a badass as Bruce Wayne, and more relatable because she doesn’t do everything with all the money in the world. As for Bigelow, she more than proved she can handle taut thrillers with explosive action with a ginger lady lead. Why wouldn’t a woman direct the first big superheroine flick since Catwoman?

Kill Bill vol. 3: The Final Chapter in Quentin Tarantino’s Bride Trilogy
To be fair, Uma Thurman’s Beatrix “The Bride” Kiddo was basically a superhero in her fictional world and she was pretty awesome, too. But coming from the world of grindhouse and exploitation cinema rather comic books, Tarantino got to craft one of the bloodiest arthouse movies ever. But what great, modern epic only comes in two parts? From practically the very first scene, when the Bride takes out Vernita Greene in front of her own daughter, it’s established that Kiddo’s and the kiddo’s stories are not done. Their paths will cross again… in Kill Beatrix. With Elle Driver still on the loose, capable of training the orphaned revenge seeker, and 10 years after the release of the first volume, it’s probably just about time for this movie to happen and to remain relevant. (H/T on the accompanying art to Winston Williams.)

The Black Panther: The Spike Lee Superhero Movie
I know I said we don’t necessarily need another generic male superhero movie, but before we give up the genre completely, let’s ensure we’ve got at least one person of color who dones a cowl or a cape and fights crime. No, Blade doesn’t count — he’s super powered, but in an action horror franchise — and neither does Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, who’s one heroic moment was spent shooting and missing a pre-takeoff jet with a missile launcher. I’ve written before about how Black Panther could make the transition from page to screen, and with a guy like Lee at the helm, it’s sure to be a memorable movie. Lee might seem an unlikely choice, considering he’s mostly dramatically concerned with race and social upheaval, but if there’s one comic book character tailor-made for his skillset, it’s the King of Wakanda. Plus, Inside Man showed that he can do a studio picture with finesse, and it really should be a black filmmaker tackling this kind of project. Sorry, Tim Story, but, as much as I like Barbershop, you’ve proven you can’t be trusted with a big budget, much less a camera.

The Stars My Destination: The Nicolas Winding Refn Sci-Fi Movie
It’s been quite a few years since I read Alfred Bester’s cynical sci-fi classic, also known as Tiger, Tiger in some circles, but the main character’s visceral anger and his going-mad-with-power arc has always stuck with me. It’s a deceptively simple tale about a man being lost in space, tumbling forever in a tube that can barely maintain its own life, and much less his. Then through sheer force of will saves himself, and wreaks all manner of destruction on those he believes wronged him. To me, that sounds exactly like the basic story structure of all Refn’s films to date. Bronson, Valhalla Rising, Drive — they all deal with violent men with their own sense of nobility and righteousness, and either Tom Hardy or Mads Mikkelson would be perfect in the role of Gully Foyle, Bester’s antagonistic protagonist. I’m pretty sure there’s a role for Christina Hendricks, too.

Wonder Woman: Joss Whedon’s Homeric Epic Horror Movie
But, seriously, there needs to be a decent Wonder Woman movie. She’s the world’s most famous female superhero and the best pop culture can offer is an aborted travesty and a (admittedly, good) one-shot animated movie? If Nicolas Winding Refn doesn’t direct one starring Hendricks, somebody talented needs to get on the ball and make this happen. Of course, years ago — and before superheroes just exploded all over our collective faces — Whedon hired by Warner Bros. and DC to bring Princess Diana of Themiscyra to pulse-pounding life. That was after Serenity and before The Avengers, when “In Whedon We Trust” t-shirts were only worn by a select few Comic Con attendees. Now, though, once he’s done doing movies the Marvel way, he’ll be in demand for every major blockbuster at every major studio. I’m just saying he needs to get back to his “Buffy”-esque roots, because nobody else can do it.

Community: The Movie: Justin Lin’s Fast and Furious Escape
Six seasons a movie, right? That’s been the refrain since, I believe, the first clip show episode of NBC’s Dan Harmon’s “Community.” Astonishingly enough, the series about a random study group at an absurd community college that trades in pop culture references like most successful sitcoms trade in laugh tracks, is on its way to a fifth season. One more and all that’s left to make the dream of every Greendale human being come true is a producer to finance a movie, a studio to distribute it, and someone crazy enough to direct. My first thought was Dan Harmon’s directorial debut, but even I’m not that crazy; then I figured Joe and Anthony Russo, who directed the largest chunks of the first three seasons, would be no-brainers. But until Captain America: Winter Soldier comes out, they are mostly untested in these waters. However, Justin Lin directed some of the shows best episodes (the above “Modern Warfare” for starters) and he’s directed two of the undisputed best action movies in the last decade: Fast Five and Fast Six, or whatever their real titles are. He’s a director who knows precisely what he’s doing, and he’s been doing it since his personal genre parody, Better Luck Tomorrow. If nobody in Hollywood wants to do this, maybe we can Kickstart it? (H/T to Badass Digest for this art.)

Rob Payne also writes the comic The Unstoppable Force, tweets on the Twitter, tumbls on the Tumblr, and his wares can be purchased here. He doesn’t really expect any of these to be made, but he’s a dreamer and he’s not the only one.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Batwoman Batwoman Batwoman! I love her so much. I love that she's a lesbian who got kicked out of West Point for being gay (great backstory), I love that she's a redhead (I am too, Kate Kane let's be friends!), I love that she's a scrappy badass with her equally badass father (he made her costume and helps her build her gear), I love that she has/had a relationship with the female Question. She is great and I love her and there will be bonus points for the movie that has all that stuff.

  • I like to sound a bit more dignified, but I'm silly. So, yeah. Basically THIS.

  • megaera

    Pshh. Joss Whedon needs to do Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan. I don't care how. It just has to happen. Preferably with Dinklage as Miles. (oh come on, y'all thought the same thing when you first saw him!)

  • BlackRabbit

    I'm gonna play devil's advocate, because I want to be proven wrong-sell me on Black Panther. He's a really rich king who takes religiously ordained herbs to gain his superpowers?

  • It's probably very wrong of me to see it this way, not least of which because the character preceded the activist group, but Black Panther has always sort of stood in for all black superheroes. (Again, to me.) I see him very much in the way I see Captain America, except with an obvious empowerment aspect that Cap could never have. I know there's Cyborg and Falcon and Bishop and other black comic book capes, but I never found them as interesting. Black Panther is Batman but on Daredevil's scale. I feel like he's ripe for something great, like Wonder Woman, and just needs the right vision.

  • BlackRabbit

    But the argument could be made that there's no "hook." Or is there? Dazzle, me, baby!

  • e jerry powell

    So, only adaptations and sequels. Not really very Project Greenlight.

    Just sayin'...

  • Well, I mean, what kind of asshole would I be to say anybody, much less these talented people, should direct MY big idea?

  • e jerry powell

    True enough.

  • batshit

    Neil bloomkamp-metal gear solid. Crazy scifi. Crazy political

  • Yocean

    I've had it with these motherfuckin super heroes in this motherfuckin planet!!

  • I am so very close to writing that post.

  • AudioSuede

    Also, I think a Kavalier and Clay movie would be brilliant. But who would direct it?

  • Mrs. Julien

    The idea is brilliant, but is it possible to do it justice? More than being possible, how likely is it for the book to receive a great adaptation?

  • Tinkerville

    One of my favorite books of all time so I ponder this a lot and still haven't landed on an ideal choice yet.. Please god, not Fincher though. He would over dramatize it and fail to grasp the balance of humor and wit with the more serious parts like the book does so well. I think Fincher can be great with drama, but he'd be way too heavy-handed for this.

  • Fight Club is pretty funny.

  • Curtis Hansen did pretty well with Wonder Boys. Fincher could do it more than a little justice, too.

  • AudioSuede

    Well, Charlie Kaufman and Guillermo Del Toro are working on a Slaughterhouse-Five movie, so my dreams are going to be realized if that happens.

    But you know who hasn't had a movie in a while? Michel Gondry. You know what would be a perfect project for him? An adaptation of Blankets.

    I would also accept Richard Linklater adapting Black Hole.

  • llp

    Gondry doing an adaptation of Blankets - hot damn. You might have just made my Freebies list.

  • I saw that Slaughterhouse-Five news after this posted, but Del Toro just seems ill-suited to me. It's not all set on Tralfamadore. I'd rather Kaufman direct it, or Spike Jonze/Michel Gondry. Now if we're talking an adaptation of The Sirens of Titan, Del Toro's your man.

  • AudioSuede

    But if I had to pick one director to do character designs for the Tralfamadorians, who are easily going to be the trickiest part of that adaptation, it would be Del Toro. Plus, Pan's Labyrinth showed that he can do a complicated narrative with ambiguous twists. He's not my first choice, but I'm definitely not opposed to the idea.

    But yeah, a Sirens of Titan movie would be preferable, if only because a studio would have a much harder time screwing it up.

  • Totally! I'm kind of surprised nobody has tried to make it. It's got to be one of Vonnegut's most accessible novels AND it has spaceships and robots and aliens.

    Stupid Hollywood.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    I agree on pretty much all of them, but:

    "The second one ditched Cthullhu and all the rest in favor of steampunk gollems"

    Boy, three mistakes in one sentence. There is an abundance of "L"s, and the movie was about the Fey, not the golems.

  • You're an abundance of Ls!

  • psemophile

    Alejandro Jodorowsky's Dune.
    That is all.

  • Artemis

    Is it weird that I really, really want to see Sarah Polley direct an adaptation of anything Guy Gavriel Kay has written? She hasn't really done anything in the epic period fantasy genre, but somehow I just feel like it would work. Most of his books have really interesting female characters, and they would all make amazing movies (well, Fionavar may be unfilmable, but the rest are manageable). And I feel some Canadian pride in the idea of having a Canadian director take on one of our best living authors' work.

    I lean toward Lions of Al-Rassan as the most easily adaptable, but I'd personally like to see Tigana on the big screen.

  • I haven't read Kay's work, but I'd be down for a Sarah Polley fantasy epic.I'd be down for a Sarah Polley anything, though.

  • splinter

    fuck yeah to the stars my destination idea. make that happen.

  • cgthegeek

    As much as I want a Black Panther movie, I do not want it directed by Spike Lee. Have you seen the hot mess that was "Miracle at St. Anna's"?!

  • Spike Lee would only work for Black Panther if the movie was based on the terrible Hudlin run aka "Black Jesus O'Awesomeballs Ruled His Douchebag Utopia With His Forced Marriage To Storm Simply Because She was African".

    In other words, that is a terrible idea.

    If you cannot tell, I REALLY hate that run. THEY WITHHELD THE CURE FOR CANCER. How do you do that and consider yourself a hero? How?

  • As Genevieve said, I would love to see Whedon use Gina Torres as Wonder Woman; that's definitely #1 for me.

    However, I would also like to see Whedon tackle video game movies, starting with UNCHARTED. *hint* *hint*

  • Alberto Cox Délano

    Uncharted: Only Whedon and Fillion we take!

  • cgthegeek

    I think the guy who actually voices Drake is pretty damn handsome.

  • lowercase_ryan

    Fillion is too old to play Drake, sorry.

  • AudioSuede

    The game studio is requesting Seth Rogen.


    What are your thoughts on Fillion now?

  • Luke Anthony Matthews

    They were actually requesting Seth Rogen to write, not star.

  • AudioSuede

    Oh. That's a relief, then.

  • lowercase_ryan

    ....I'm all cuss words now, I can't focus on anything.


  • AudioSuede

    I even LIKE Seth Rogen and I think that's a terrible decision.

  • lowercase_ryan

    Oh I like him a lot, but as a fan of the games I'm hugely offended.

  • Tinkerville

    I would replace Batwoman (who I don't find all that interesting) with Miss/Captain Marvel, who deserves her own movie so much its heartbreaking.

  • foolsage

    Katee Sackhoff would be perfect as Carol Danvers. So say we all.

  • Yeah, I already said all that in a prior post linked here in the Spike Lee entry.

  • Genevieve Burgess

    Let's do Wonder Woman the respect of invoking Gina Torres's Zoe rather than Buffy Summers. I'd like my Wonder Woman to be a WOMAN rather than another of Whedon's magical but damaged teenagers.

  • I meant "Buffy"-esque more in terms of the show, about a female led superhero. Hence the quotation marks. I agree that anyone who could believably say, "Careful. My bones." probably shouldn't play Wonder Woman.

  • boblabla

    wonderwomanwonderwomanwonderwoman, done properly, will be a game changer, not just for female characters, which dear god we need to get right at least once, but evolution of superhero mythology too, i don't know how many superhero stories can just be laid on top of each other and names are different but everything else develops the same way.

    unfortunately, i don't think Torres is right for this role, she's everything that i want from a Wonder Woman, behaviorally, but i don't think she has the physicality that the role requires, like im talking Tom Cruise levels of physical commitment, rather than dilute Wonder Woman with stunt doubles i think we should use an actor that can match that level of commitment.

    personally, or until a better suggestion is made, i see Paula Patton as a viable Wonder Woman...bottom line though, wonder woman needs to have hue, muscles and still be a woman - tropical not albino, not ripped but no twig-bitches allowed, voluptuous but not Jessica Rabbit, hence Paula Patton.

  • boblabla

    ...oh, and yes an actual fucking WOMAN...i know they exist...if there's a god damn love triangle where at the end she conveniently doesn't have to make a decision...

  • Captain D

    So, you basically want Whedon to do "Man of Steel," only it would be about Wonder Woman with no emotion or depth and would star Gina Torres.

  • Genevieve Burgess

    I'm really confused by this comment. Are you implying that only teenage girls have emotions? That you found Zoe to not have any emotion or depth? Because I disagree with that. Although even if you don't think Zoe had much depth, Gina Torres is clearly capable of playing roles with more emotional depth than Zoe if you've seen her in other series.

    My point is that I'd like to see a Wonder Woman who is of age with the men who have been cast in recent superhero movies, late 20s to mid 30s. A woman who is fully mature, confident, and assertive. It doesn't necessarily have to be Gina Torres, but that's the concept I was going for.

  • Captain D

    I think Gina Torres is a fine actress and agree you do not need a teenager slinging the lasso of truth. I felt too often in Firefly we had stoic, no-nonsense Zoe who hasn't left behind her time as a soldier. That's fine for an ensemble or secondary character, but we have had enough superheroes that the movie goer cannot emphasize with lately.

  • cgthegeek

    Y U no like waif-fu?


    Gina Torres has not only seen the mock-ups of her as Wonder Woman, but she has said she'd LOVE to play the part. Here's hoping...

  • $27019454

    Why does Spike Lee have to make any more movies?

  • zeke_the_pig

    I would watch the shit out of that full-length Community/Lin love in.
    Usually I would be totally opposed to a series being put over the rack of a movie treatment.

    But this one? This one I've got a gut feeling about. A 'I'd go out and rob a bank to finance this project' gut feeling about.

    Or, you know, do a Kickstarter or whatever.

  • MichaelAndTheArgonauts

    You're forgetting Neil Blomkamp and the Halo movie. Also Darren Arnofsky and his superhero movie. He was in talks at various times to direct Batman Begins, The Wolverine, and Man of Steel. The dude needs a superhero movie.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    For some reason... I'm feeling Doctor Strange?

  • I support this comment.

  • Pants-are-a-must

    My kingdom for Good Omens to actually become a 3-part BBC miniseries, to be honest. It's too beautiful a universe for just a movie.

  • Idle Primate

    Maybe by the people who make the discworld miniseries

  • Wednesday

    No. Have you seen some of the TV adaptations of Pratchett's work? They are...not good.

    I think it could be a good movie, in the right hands. But honestly, I don't think Gilliam has those hands. I'd be afraid it would veer off into overlong wackiness too soon. Good Omens would take a light touch. And I'd rather not see it than see it done badly.

  • AshBookworm

    The 'HogFather' adaptation was very dull, IMO. As for 'The Colour of Magic', while I love both David Jason and Sean Aston, I felt they were both terribly miscast as Rincewind and Twoflower, respectively.

    However, I did enjoy 'Going Postal. I may be a bit biased as it is one of my favourite Pratchett novels, but I really enjoyed Richard Coyle, Clair Foy and Charles Dance. That said, it could have been a lot better.

  • Pants-are-a-must

    This is not just Pratchett, though. It's Gaiman as well, and Gaiman's work has had more than a few great interpretations. I'd love to see a good filmmaker to step in for this, especially with the recent trend of filmmakers making tv series.

  • Wednesday

    Not on TV, he hasn't. Gaiman's had good movies, and I'm not a Dr. Who fan so I can't say if his episodes have been a success or not. But I watched TV version of Neverwhere and it was pretty awful. So putting Gaiman AND Pratchett in the hands of British TV is not such a comforting feeling.

    Maybe I'll feel better if American Gods comes off well on HBO. It should have a budget of more than $1.95, so it will have the edge on Neverwhere in that regard, at least.

  • Return of Santitas

    Oh, the TV adaptation of Neverwhere was terrible indeed! I stumbled on it recently and was so excited, because I didn't know it existed. After about fifteen minutes of "huh?" I had to turn it off and erase it from my memory. I would rather keep Good Omens out of the hands of the BBC (sorry, beeb). I think a feature film would be sufficient for G.O. in the right hands.

  • Return of Santitas

    Got confused there, the TV version of Neverwhere came before the novel--but it was still terrible. There, I said it.

  • And this one, too.

  • MrsAtaxxia

    I totally agree. There is too much in Good Omens for it to be condensed into one film. I would love a BBC miniseries.

  • NateMan

    I agree with all of these except Terry Gilliam for Good Omens. I think Tim Burton could do a good job - Edward Scissorhands Burton, not Alice in Wonderland Burton. Or Alfonso Cuaron. It's a tough call on that one. They need to be able to show the absurdity of the story and also its depth of character. I'd like to see it as an HBO or BBC miniseries, actually.

  • TCH

    It may be too late for Burton. I think he needs people to keep him balanced.

  • TCH

    Which is difficult given the financial success of his pictures.

  • Mrs. Julien

    He needs to be the art director or production designer only. The whole auteur thing isn't working out for him.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I would say Cuaron. I think Gilliam is good for upping the weird content, but I think Good Omens needs to seem like it is part of a normal world.

  • I submit 12 Monkeys and The Fisher King.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I still haven't seen 12 Monkeys. I'm iffy on The Fisher King though - I'd need to rewatch. I'm a King Arthur junkie, though, and I remember being "meh" about it. (should I also note that those movies are pretty much 20 years ago?)

  • 12 Monkeys is a MUST see. I love The Fisher King, maybe because I like King Arthur best in theory than in practice, generally? I also adore Tideland, which was recent, but I realize I'm very much alone in that assessment. I do agree that Cuaron is an excellent choice, as well.

  • John G.

    12 Monkeys is one of my favorite films of all time. The Fisher King is merely wonderful and great.

  • AudioSuede

    I respond to your submission with Tideland and Time Bandits, with the caveat that I hate Terry Gilliam.

  • John G.

    Time Bandits is great. I have no excuse for Tideland except that it's better than The Brothers Grimm

  • Some Guy

    Baron Munchausen, while weird at it's core, wonderfully combines the weird aspects with a modern (albeit early 19th century setting) setting that offers a bit of respite from the tales.

    Brazil, too.

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