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Added by Georgini on 5 May 2017 05:43

The 15 Most Accomplished Music Video Directors

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Best Music Videos: “Express Yourself”, Madonna (1989); “Vogue”, Madonna (1990); “Cradle Of Love”, Billy Idol (1990); “Freedom '90”, George Michael (1990); “Straight Up”, Paula Abdul (1998); “Janie’s Got A Gun”, Aerosmith (1994)
Best Movies: Seven (1995), Fight Club (1999), Zodiac (2007), The Social Network (2010)

At their best, David Fincher’s movies tap into mankind’s darkest psychological terrain, presenting damaged characters and subdued nihilism through gloomily lit cinematography. So it should came as no surprise that he first cut his directorial teeth shooting such bleak music clips as…Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up”? And Madonna’s lively ode to supermodel chic, “Vogue”?

OK, so Fincher’s pre-cinema video efforts were mostly pop-centric and bubbly, but the visuals were always uniquely compelling; it wasn’t until 1994’s “Janie’s Got A Gun,” though, that the now-prolific and mega-gifted director displayed his austere brilliance. Staged like a brooding thriller, the Aerosmith clip is a mini-movie that transpires like a tragic Lifetime Movie funneled through a nightmarish prism.

It’s a fitting preamble to Fincher’s filmmaking breakthrough, the following year’s magnificent serial killer downer Seven, which laid the foundation for his string of desolate humanity meditations of the uncomfortably humorous (Fight Club), patiently macabre (Zodiac), and fascinatingly naturalistic (The Social Network) varieties. Two Academy Award nominations later (both for Best Director), it’s no wonder that Fincher’s book-to-film The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is this year’s most anticipated film across all platforms; trust, it’s most definitely going to be more Janie than Paula.
Best Music Videos: “I Touch Myself”, Divinyls (1991); “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)”, Meatloaf (1993)
Best Movies: Bad Boys (1995), The Rock (1996), Armageddon (1998), Bad Boys II (2003), Transformers (2007), Transformers: Dark Of The Moon (2011)

Haters have to admit this about Michael Bay: The man has always been obsessed with overboard spectacle. Just look back at his breakthrough, pre-Hollywood music video, Meatloaf’s “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)”; nearly long enough to be considered a short film, the clip is a highly ambitious Beauty And The Beast/Phantom Of The Opera mash-up that appears to have the budget of a reasonably priced motion picture, not an overzealous music clip.

Bay is nothing if not consistent, and it’s that lasting desire to blow budgets that has defined his financially massive film career, kicked off by the Martin Lawrence/Will Smith buddy cop smash Bad Boys and recently signified by the dumb yet entertaining Transformers movies.

Many purists—you know, folks who harp on little details such as story, acting, and coherence—love to ridicule Bay’s films for their soullessness, but to do so is missing the point: Oddly enough, the game’s biggest purveyor of pricey eye candy is also one of Hollywood’s most reliable filmmakers. He promises spectacle, and, as Meatloaf first learned some 18 years ago, he delivers spectacle.
Best Music Videos: “American Jesus”, Bad Religion (1993)
Best Movies: The Ring (2002), Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl (2003), Rango (2011)

Clearly, Hollywood is where Gore Verbinski belongs, not in the depths of MTV or VH1. Thanks to Johnny Depp and the immensely profitable Pirates Of The Caribbean, of which Verbinski directed the first three, the man born Gregor has established himself as one of the film industry’s most formidable summer blockbuster creators, a tag that actually distracts pundits from acknowledging his ability to direct super-creepy horror (The Ring) and magnificently strange kiddie fare (Rango).

Verbinski’s box office strangling jobs alongside Captain Jack Sparrow have also overshadowed his music video beginnings, though not sadly so. Working within the indie rock scene back in the early to mid-'90s, Verbinski shot a handful of clips that showed a less inventive, more traditional video shooter; in no way do his pre-Ring music visuals hint at the Pirates flicks’ undeniably epic action sequences, or The Ring’s nuanced disturbia.
Average listal rating (269 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 0
Best Music Videos: “Buddy Holly”, Weezer (1994); “Sabotage”, Beastie Boys (1994); “Drop”, The Pharcyde (1996); “Sky’s The Limit”, The Notorious B.I.G. feat. 112 (1997); “Weapon Of Choice”, Fatboy Slim (2001); “Get Back”, Ludacris (2004); “Flashing Lights”, Kanye West (2008); "The Suburbs", Arcade Fire (2010); “Otis”, Jay-Z & Kanye West (2011)
Best Movies: Being John Malkovich (1999), Adaptation (2002), Where The Wild Things Are (2009)

Compared to his staggeringly long music videography, Spike Jonze’s film output has been rather sparse; those three flicks listed above as his “Best Movies” are the only ones he’s directed so far in his singular career. Batting a flawless 3-for-3, the Jackass producer is an auteur we’d love to see more from, and we don’t just mean typically great music videos like his most recent clip, Jay-Z and Kanye West’s simple yet outlandishly fun “Otis.”

Whether he’s working with hip-hop acts or indie rock luminaries, Jonze has always separated his videos from the rest of MTV’s pack with sheer inventiveness: supplanting Weezer into a Happy Days episode for “Buddy Holly”; giving the impression that The Pharcyde are walking the streets in backwards motion for “Drop”; filming Christopher Walken’s mesmerizing one-man dance-off for Fatboy Slim’s “Weapon Of Choice.” Jonze knows nothing about “conventional.”

And the same goes for his movies. In his control, twisty narratives are both funny and disorienting (Being John Malkovich and Adaptation), and kids’ movies are un-childlike and hypnotically surreal, yet still poignant (Where The Wild Things Are). Frankly, we need a fourth Jonze flick; another fulfilling brain-tickle is long overdue.
Best Music Videos: “Human Behaviour”, Bjork (1993); “Around The World”, Daft Punk (1997); “Heard 'Em Say”, Kanye West feat. Adam Levine (2005)
Best Movies: Human Nature (2001), Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004), The Science Of Sleep (2006)

Michel Gondry’s style lends itself to audience mind-fucking, but not in Gaspar Noé-like, psychologically damaging ways—the ways in which he scrambles brains are like sex by way of Walt Disney on LSD. The French visionary’s knack for harmlessly bizarre direction traces back to his earlier music videos, such as Bjork’s oddball “Human Behaviour,” which offsets its dark nature through cuddly, man-sized teddy bears with Coraline-esque, sewed-on eyeballs. That same quirkiness pervades Gondry’s other clips, namely Daft Punk’s demented circus in “Around The World.”

Staying true to his sensibilities, Gondry’s best feature films share this whimsically unsettling vibe; his cinematic magnum opus, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, for example, is a love story with Freudian sentiments and dreamlike imagery. Even his lesser movies, like this year’s uneven The Green Hornet, don’t lack in visual creativeness; in a Michel Gondry production, whether good or bad, the viewer’s psyche is bound to get freaked. No complaints here.
Average listal rating (25 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 0
Best Music Videos: “Free Your Mind”, En Vogue (1992); “Are You Gonna Go My Way?” Lenny Kravitz (1993); “Closer”, Nine Inch Nails (1994); “Scream”, Michael Jackson feat. Janet Jackson (1996); “Got Til It’s Gone”, Janet Jackson (1998); “Hurt”, Johnny Cash (2002); “99 Problems”, Jay-Z (2004)
Best Movies: One Hour Photo (2002), Never Let Me Go (2010)

Even if Trent Reznor’s industrial metal isn’t your bag, you have to admire the video for Nine Inch Nails’ dizzying 1994 single “Closer” for its sheer insanity. A phenomenal, and seminal, music clip, “Closer” is weirdly hallucinogenic enough to leave even David Lynch exclaiming, “Man, that’s some crazy shit!” It’s a testament to director Mark Romanek’s gifts; “Closer” is more grandiose than his other videos, but, no matter the scope, Romanek’s footage is always stark and never immediately accessible. For additional proof, see Jay-Z’s non-narrative stroll through urban gloom in MTV Video Music Award-winning “99 Problems” visual.

Or have a look at Romanek’s scarce cinematic productivity. Back in 2002, he turned the bouncy and hilarious Robin Williams into a subdued, frightening sociopath in the underrated, off-putting One Hour Photo; last year, he took author Kazuo Ishiguro’s heartbreaking, dystopian 2005 novel Never Let Me Go and crafted a faithful, equally dense, and intellectually challenging coming-of-age flick. It’s as if Romanek shoots things to only please his own eccentricities, and certainly not mass audiences. You’ve got to love that.
Average listal rating (31 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 0
Best Music Videos: “Donkey Rhubarb”, Aphex Twin (1995); “Aerials”, System Of A Down (2002); “Sour Girl”, Stone Temple Pilots (2006)
Best Movies: Hard Candy (2005), 30 Days Of Night (2007)

We’re willing to bet that you’ve never seen any of David Slade’s old music videos before. Want to know why? Because the Brit’s vids, namely electronic stalwart Aphex Twin’s batshit “Donkey Rhubarb” and Stone Temple Pilots’ Teletubbies-minded trip in “Sour Girl,” aren’t the kinds of countdown fodder seen by widespread audiences—they’re fucked-up little oddities that don’t make it past the loyal fan-site stage.

Slade’s movies, though, have been increasing in public recognition. Hard Candy, his 2005 debut about a game of cat-and-mouse with a pedophile, wowed critics and festival goers with its ability to captivate in a single home setting through the director’s manipulative camera angles; yet, outside of indie film lovers, Hard Candy remains largely obscure. Two years later, Slade took his first shot at mainstream acceptance with the brutal vampire flick 30 Days Of Night, a solid and delightfully grim big-studio horror pic that performed marginally.

But then, last year, Slade did the unthinkable: He somehow made a Twilight movie watchable. His installment, Eclipse attempted to provide a few straightforward horror set-pieces amongst its poorly acted monster-human romance; a noble effort, if not in vain, since a filmmaker could shoot Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart kissing on a couch for two hours and Twi-hards would buy tickets like stubs were crack rocks. But we appreciated Slade’s ambitious efforts nonetheless.
Best Music Videos: “The Most Beautiful Girl In The World”, Prince (1994); “Gangsta’s Paradise”, Coolio (1995); “Citizen Soldier”, 3 Doors Down (2007)
Best Movies: Training Day (2001), Shooter (2007)

Coolio’s once-ubiquitous “Gangsta’s Paradise” plays like an exercise in overcooked melodrama today; from Coolio’s unconvincingly tough leering at fish-out-of-water Michelle Pfeiffer to big man L.V.’s heavy breathing in close-up, the Dangerous Minds accompanying visual doesn’t hit nearly as hard now as it did 16 years back.

Its biggest impact to the senses comes with the realization that Antoine Fuqua shot it, and the video’s forceful sentiment has carried over into Fuqua’s movies. Save for the laudable Training Day and sneakily effective Shooter, Fuqua’s films have demonstrated a consistent lack of subtlety. But you know what? We’re not mad at him. In modern-day battlefields (Tears Of The Sun), Medieval settings (King Arthur), and inner city warzones (Brooklyn’s Finest), the eclectic Fuqua knows his way around jarring violence. He may never match the greatness of Training Day again, but he’ll forever command our attention.
Average listal rating (36 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 0
Best Music Videos: “Hold On”, En Vogue (1990); “Losing My Religion”, R.E.M. (1991)
Best Movies: The Cell (2000), The Fall (2006)

Give Tarsem Singh a mediocre script, and he’ll mold the underwritten dud into a visual goldmine. With his striking 2000 debut, The Cell, the Indian director, previously known for R.E.M.’s award-winning “Losing My Religion” video, took an intriguing premise (psychologist enters a psycho’s mind to find a missing girl) and went ballistic, using the film’s altered reality states to present gorgeous cinematography, trippy images, and lavish color schemes; at its best, The Cell is a moving art gallery. Everything else about the movie is off, though; it’s abundantly clear throughout the flick that Tarsem deserved better.

And that’s what he got with The Fall, his second movie and long overdue chance to work with a stronger screenplay. Also largely set in unreal dream-worlds, Tarsem’s sophomore flick has earned a cult status since its inconspicuous 2006 release, showcasing a filmmaker who’s more invested in eyeball treats than anything else. His next project, however, feels like a step back towards Cell-like unevenness; Immortals, a Greek gods action-adventure for the chest-bumping crowd, looks visually Tarsem-esque but also suffers from a series of trailers that seem like 300 knockoffs.
Average listal rating (68 ratings) 5.9 IMDB Rating 0
Best Music Videos: “It Was A Good Day”, Ice Cube (1992); “I Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That”, Cypress Hill (1993); “Natural Born Killaz”, Dr. Dre and Ice Cube (1994); “Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik”, Outkast (1994); “Waterfalls”, TLC (1995); “Show Me What You Got”, Jay-Z (2006)
Best Movies: Friday (1995), Set It Off (1996), The Negotiator (1998), The Italian Job (2003)

F. Gary Gray’s contributions to hip-hop’s music video history is cemented, no doubt, but there’s one video in particular that will keep his name amongst the Hype Williams’ of the game forever and ever—Ice Cube’s classic “It Was A Good Day.” An observational stroll alongside Cube throughout his drama-free day, Gray’s visual aid to the former N.W.A. member’s storytelling tune made up for what it lacked in stylistic touches with stark naturalism.

Though he directed several other notable clips, Gray’s “It Was A Good Day” work is the most indicative of his moviemaking career: Like Cube’s best video, Gray’s filmography is devoid of any individualism. He’s hopped around through genres, most successfully stopping in comedy (Friday) and rollicking, heist-centered action flicks (The Italian Job); an inability to carve out his own “That’s an F. Gary Gray film” identity, though, leaves him with a curious air of anonymity. Nevertheless, he’ll always have that one good day to his credit.
Best Music Videos: “Shut ‘Em Down”, Public Enemy (1992); “Jeremy”, Pearl Jam (1992); “One”, U2 (1992)
Best Movies: Arlington Road (1999), The Mothman Prophecies (2002)

Released to moderate success in 1999, Arlington Road established its director, Mark Pellington, as a filmmaker to watch. A domestic tale about a college professor (Jeff Bridges) who thinks his new neighbors (Tim Robbins and Joan Cusack) are evildoing terrorists, Pellington’s taut and paranoid thriller still packs a mean punch today, ripping along at a nervy, Hitchcockian pace on its way to a ballsy, unhappy ending. Three years later, Pellington recaptured a decent amount of Arlington Road’s pervasive mood for The Mothman Prophecies, a dreary white-knuckler that posited the director as a promising craftsman of psychological unease.

Nine years have passed since Mothman, though, and Pellington has yet to nurture his potential any further, losing cred with forgettable crud like the Luke Wilson-led Henry Poole Is Here. A quick revisit to his 1992 video for Pearl Jam’s downbeat “Jeremy” should remind you of just how proficient Pellington is with desolate narrative; the video’s climactic shot, that of its title character blowing his brains out before a classroom full of mime-like seat-fillers, is no less devastating today.
Best Music Videos: “Gone Till November”, Wyclef Jean (1997); “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing”, Aerosmith (1998); “Fortunate”, Maxwell (1999); “Girl’s Best Friend”, Jay-Z (1999); “I’m A Slave 4 U”, Britney Spears (2001); “Cry Me A River”, Justin Timberlake feat. Timbaland (2003); “Bad Romance”, Lady Gaga (2009)
Best Movies: Constantine (2005), I Am Legend (2007)

There’s a certain fantastical elegance to Francis Lawrence’s music videos. The ice castle aesthetic of Jay-Z’s “Girl’s Best Friend,” set inside an enormous piece of bling; the swank fetish party going down in Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance”; the astral dream-world of Maxwell’s “Fortunate”; and, most enjoyably, the near-orgy taking place in Britney Spears’ sexiest video, “I’m A Slave 4 U.” He’s a visual storyteller, and his expensive-looking videos reflect that.

As does Constantine, Lawrence’s 2005 movie debut that distracts eyes from star Keanu Reeves’ perpetual flatness with Gothic showiness and comic book daringness. His follow-up, the Richard Matheson adaptation I Am Legend, is best examined for Will Smith’s strong last-man-alive performance and how Lawrence presents a barren Manhattan as a post-apocalyptic tomb, particularly in the movie’s first half—the less said about the horribly rendered CGI creatures that ruin the second half, the better.

Earlier this year, Lawrence once again did his best with a weak project: Water For Elephants, a visually stunning romance that falters under the frosty chemistry between stars Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon. One of these days, Lawrence is going to find a script worthy of his chops. Might we suggest expanding Britney’s bottled-up sex bash into I’m A Slave 4 U: The Movie?
Average listal rating (209 ratings) 4.9 IMDB Rating 0
Best Music Videos: “Tonight’s Da Night”, Redman (1993); “Nuttin’ But Love”, Heavy D & The Boyz (1994); “Triumph”, Wu-Tang Clan (1997); “Heartbreaker”, Mariah Carey feat. Jay-Z (1999)
Best Movies: Rush Hour (1998), The Family Man (2000), Red Dragon (2002)

Snarky film bloggers love to bitch slap Brett Ratner with their words, understandably so. He’s certainly directed a few shitty action movies, like 2004’s After The Sunset and 2006’s near-franchise-killer X-Men: The Last Stand, but Ratner has also helmed a few creative triumphs, particularly the well-acted, slickly directed, and altogether thrilling Silence Of The Lambs prequel Red Dragon. It’s not like Ratner should give a damn about the naysayers—those Rush Hour movies by themselves have generated enough cash for the Hollywood Enemy Number One to sit back, relax, and count bills.

In addition to enormous funds, Ratner also has the appreciation of rap dudes and chicks raised on Yo! MTV Raps; if he doesn’t, then he really should. After working with ex-3rd Bass member Prime Minister Pete Nice for his debut videos, Ratner went on to call shots for Redman, LL Cool J, Heavy D, and Wu-Tang. The above “Triumph” video alone should pardon The Rat from excessive slander. Assuming his next action-comedy, Tower Heist (led by Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy), doesn’t bomb atomically.
Average listal rating (114 ratings) 4 IMDB Rating 0
Best Music Videos: “Fly”, Sugar Ray (1997); “Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)”, The Offspring (1998); “All Star”, Smash Mouth (2000)
Best Movies: Charlie’s Angels (2000), We Are Marshall (2006)

Or, as the government likes to call him, Joseph McGinty Nichol—there, that definitely sounds better than his pretty-fly-for-a-white-guy stage name. His lame moniker might leave him susceptible to insulting barbs, and his last movie, Terminator Salvation, shit the bed, but McG is, as discomforting as it may feel, worthy of praise.

He’s a proven box office contender, a status triggered back when his first flick, 2000’s glossy Charlie’s Angels reinvention, opened with a $40 million intake and gave him, at the time, the highest opening weekend stat ever for a debut flick. In 2003, its sequel, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, raked in $259 million worldwide, and, beneath haters’ radars, he’s produced a gang of hit TV shows: The O.C., Supernatural, Chuck, and Nikita. He could easily tweak his nickname into McGreenbacks, cynics, and there’s not a damn thing any of us could do about it.
Best Music Videos: “Ready Or Not”, The Fugees (1996); “No Time”, Lil Kim feat. Puff Daddy (1996); “Victory” Puff Daddy & The Family feat. The Notorious B.I.G. and Busta Rhymes (1998); “Shining Star”, Sunz Of Man feat. Ol’ Dirty Bastard and Earth, Wind & Fire (1998); “Whatcha Gon’ Do”, Terror Squad (1999)
Best Movies: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)

Keep in mind, “most accomplished” designates that the filmmakers on this list have achieved notable amounts of success—it doesn’t necessarily mean that their movies have all been top-quality. Case in point: Marcus Nispel, the German-American director behind a slew of beloved rap videos from the mid to late-’90s, most importantly The Fugees’ tense “Ready Or Not” and Puff Daddy’s grandiose and operatic “Victory.”

Watching either one of those clips, it’s difficult to comprehend that a guy who oversaw such epic videos could go on to call the plays for two of the worst remakes of the last three or so years: Friday The 13th and this past weekend’s Conan The Barbarian. Both characterless and loudly idiotic, Nispel’s takes on Jason Voorhees and Robert E. Howard’s iconic warrior represent the worst of Hollywood’s cash-in treatment of old, cherished films.

But, hey, Nispel’s reboots normally premiere with extremely lucrative opening weekend grosses (Conan not included), and, to be fair, his 2003 modernization of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has its strong moments. Besides, who do you think they’re going to call when it’s time to remake Child’s Play?

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