TERRENCE MALICK FOR THE THIN RED LINE (1998)
The competition (Cliff: 5 for 5!)
Steven Spielberg for Saving Private Ryan
John Madden for Shakespeare in Love
Peter Weir for The Truman Show
Roberto Benigni for Life Is Beautiful
NOTE: dark blue text denotes individuals who won Oscars for the film being discussed, while light blue indicates those who were nominated.
Whew, dashing this off during a break before the last half hour of Traffic—just in time to bolt out the door! As my word choice probably indicates, these will be pretty quick and instinctive posts, but I’ll do what I can to do justice to both films!
The principal sacrifice I made in setting my June 7th deadline for this Best Director project was passing up the chance to see The Thin Red Line on the big screen. Watching the Criterion Collection Blu-Ray on a 65-inch screen was a pretty decent substitute, but I regret that my first trip to one of his transcendental cinematic planets could not be in the dark asylum of a movie theater. From the very first shot of an alligator gliding into the scummy pond, Malick captures a lyricism that somehow has eluded every filmmaker before or since. Much credit goes to the brilliant cinematography of John Toll (on a hot streak after back-to-back wins for Legends of the Fall and Braveheart, but the fact remains that Malick has managed to elicit the same kind of magical aesthetic with three generations of collaborators–even the bombastic Hans Zimmer‘s is tamed by his pacific outlook. The film is ultimately a testament to an immaculate directorial vision for the ages.