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Which Director Is Best at the Most Important Thing a Director Can Do?

By Rebecca Pahle | Miscellaneous | November 11, 2014 |

By Rebecca Pahle | Miscellaneous | November 11, 2014 |

So what’s the most important thing a director can do? Working with actors? Visual storytelling?



Have you ever noticed just how many of the official behind-the-scenes photos of directors are of said directors imperiously pointing at something off in the distance? Well, you will now! It’s almost like being a director isn’t the most visually snazzy of jobs, so whenever one does something that’s not just standing around looking vaguely constipated, the set photographer is all up on that. There’s only so much mileage you can get out of the old “looking at dailies” pose, and pointing is a more common activity than the hand thing. You know. THE HAND THING. Show us the hand thing, Bryan Singer.


OK, now go away, Bryan Singer.

But which director has the best point? Let’s examine some options.

Kathryn Bigelow:

bigelow pointing.jpg

There’s a certain casual feel to this point that I really like. Maybe it’s the hand posed in the background like she’s in a classical painting. It screams “Do what I tell you. Or don’t. Your call. But if you don’t, you’re a fucking idiot.”

Bong Joon Ho:

bong joon ho pointing.jpg

I love this point. It veritably screams “Snowpiercer is on Netflix Instant now. What the fuck are you doing still reading this? GO WATCH SNOWPIERCER.

Paul Thomas Anderson:

anderson pointing.jpg

Combine the ruler-like straightness of the arm with his fixed impression, and Anderson’s actually managed to out-intense Daniel Day Lewis here, which is no small feat. But he’s not quite as authoritative as…

Antoine Fuqua:

fuqua pointing.jpg

Fuqua is down for no half-assed pointing on his sets. Watch out, fellow directors. He’s here to win.

Peter Jackson:

jackson pointing.jpg

Peter Jacksons’s approach is far more chill—he doesn’t even utilize the extended finger—but it’s more forceful on a subtle psychological level. If you don’t follow his instructions, he’ll just have his murderous sidekick Jack Black leap through the computer screen and replace all your DVDs with King Kong.

Steven Spielberg:

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Spielb, I’m not sure the dinosaur is listening to you. You might need to dangle a steak or something.

Michael Bay:

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Blue and orange. Who’s surprised?

Tim Burton:

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Props to Burton for getting Albert Finney to provide some dramatic flair of his own. A for effort, A for outfit coordination, C- for Big Fish.

J.J. Abrams:

abrams pointing.jpg

Abrams is pointing at two things in two completely different directions, and while I appreciate him going for that extra level of complexity, I think he might want to nail the basics, first.

Coen Brothers:

coen bros pointing.jpg

Joel and Ethan Coen utilize hive mind! It’s super effective! Brad Pitt is utterly captivated!

Amy Heckerling:

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Check out that hat, though! I wonder what its tactical value is, because I can feel Alicia Silverstone being distracted by its feather… butterfly… thing.

Terrence Malick:

malick pointing.png

Get it together, Terrence.

Brett Ratner:

ratner pointing.jpg

Nah, Sorry, Rather. I can’t focus on anything but The Rock. Nice try. Mr. The Rock, meanwhile, is thinking of how he can best beat your ass for directing Hercules.

M. Night Shyamalan:

shyamalan happening premiere pointing.jpg

The aura of smugness here is overwhelming. “You. Yeah, you. You saw The Happening. I’m not going to apologize for A N Y T H I N G.”

Alfonso Cuarón:

cuaron pointing.jpg

Cuarón, why are you pointing at the sky? This is from Children of Men. You hadn’t even started on Gravity yet.

Ridley Scott:

scott pointing.jpg

“The black people are over there! No, there’s one behind the potted plant. Tilt your head a little.” Negative points*.

Zhang Yimou:

yimou pointing.jpg

There’s some real precision to this point, the same as Zhang Yimou’s direction of the Beijing Olympics opening ceremonies. Bale can be paying attention, or he can not be. It doesn’t matter. The pointing shit is on lockdown.

There’s no cut-and-dried answer to the question of who the best pointer is. My vote goes to Fuqua or Bigelow, but there are a lot of factors here. It’s a very intricate issue. Who gets your vote?

pointing italian spiderman.gif

*See, because this is an article about pointing. Yar har har.