I’m going to preface this by saying that James Cameron didn’t make my list. He’s not an overrated director. If anything, he’s an overrated to below average writer. I’ll also say that Spike Lee and Oliver Stone didn’t make my list because they have made at least two great films (JFK and Wall Street for Stone and Malcolm X and Do the Right Thing for Lee). There’s no way I can name a director with at least two films of a 9 or 10 quality overrated because you can catch lightning in a bottle once but not twice. For example, George Lucas is not on my list despite some people’s grumblings about the prequels. The guy directed American Graffiti, THX 1138 (one of the most underrated sci-fi masterpieces of all time), and Star Wars. You can’t be overrated if those were the only good films you ever made. Anyway, I just wanted to explain my logic going into this. So here we go:
5. Ang Lee: Other than Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, this guy is the master of the good but not great and sometimes awful. Sense and Sensibility was OK and got nominated for seven Academy Awards, Brokeback Mountain was decent but got too much attention because of its controversial subject matter (including a directing Oscar for Ang Lee), and Hulk was horrible. I never get excited for his work because he’s very inconsistent and never amazing.
4. Kevin Smith: Kevin Smith is a very good writer and an extremely overrated director. If you watch any of his films, they are devoid of any sense of style whatsoever. He actually shoots them like a sitcom. It’s a 2-shot, 3-shot, 1-shot type of approach that I’m very familiar with working in the TV business. His compensation in making films has always been that he’s very smart and writes some great dialogue. He also has an adamant cult following that few filmmakers enjoy. I’m a big fan of Clerks but the rest is full of his filmography is very hit or miss and the hits are never out of the park.
3. M. Night Shamylan: He’s actually starting to get exposed as a fraud. After The Village, Lady in the Water, The Happening, and The Last Airbender, he’s proven that he no longer has any good ideas. I was actually a fan of The Sixth Sense, Signs, and Unbreakable but none of them are great. I’d give Sixth Sense an 8, Unbreakable and Signs a 7. The rest are 4 and below quality. A lot of people forget that he was once thought of as the next Spielberg. I’d say those voices are mute now.
2. Ron Howard: Ron Howard movies are generally stuffed with way more emotion than is needed and very little ground that has never been tread before. Most of his style is derivative of other, more talented directors, like Zemeckis and Spielberg. He has one great film in his entire 30 year resume and that would be Frost/Nixon. And, as far as that film goes, the main engine is the performance of Frank Langella, which is spellbinding if you’ve never seen it. The rest of his work is average. Beautiful Mind is horribly overrated, Backdraft is OK, Grinch, Davinci Code and its sequel were horrible, and Splash has been forgotten. A bad director? No way, but very overrated.
1. Baz Luhrman: This guy nearly squeaked into my top 5 worst directors list. He should thank his personal God that there are people like Uwe Boll and Roland Emmerich out there. He has been nominated several times for Academy Awards and I don’t get it. He has never made one film that would qualify for better than shitty in my book. Strictly Ballroom was awful, Romeo and Juliet was an incoherent mess, Moulin Rouge was absolutely horrendous, and Australia was a critical and commercial flop despite two A-list stars. He has a visual style that I would actually classify as annoying.