Top 10 Director/Actor Duos

20 03 2010

Since Alice in Wonderland and Shutter Island were both released recently, it seemed like an appropriate time to put this list together.  Let me know what I missed in the comments section!

1) Werner Herzog & Kluas Kinski

Fitzcarraldo and Aguirre: The Wrath of God are two of my personal all-time favorites, and their Nosferatu remake is one of my favorite horror films.  Their two other projects, Woyzeck and Cobra Verde, are also great.  Their collaborations are all the more interesting considering how animosity-filled they were.  The two claimed to completely hate one another yet were also “best friends.”  Herzog actually pointed a loaded gun at Kinski once, and even considered taking a local tribe up on their offer to murder the crazy actor.  Kinski would often go on screaming rampages on set and even fired a gun in the direction of Herzog’s tent  in the middle of the night,  shooting the finger off an extra (See Herzog’s documentary My Best Friend for more details).  But despite how incompatible they may seem, the pair managed to create 5 amazing and innovative films that makes them, in my mind, the greatest director/actor duo.

2) Martin Scorsese & Robert DeNiro

Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, New York New York, Raging Bull, The King of Comedy, Goodfellas, Cape Fear, and Casino.  That list of films pretty much speaks for itself, as most of them are classics.  Taxi Driver will probably go down as the greatest film portrait of insanity, while Raging Bull will probably be remembered as one of the greatest “sports” films ever. 

3) Akira Kurosawa & Toshiro Mifune

– These two collaborated on a whopping 16 films together over a 17 year stretch.  Their most notable films are all masterpieces: Rashomon, Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, and the Shakespeare adaptation Throne of Blood

4) Alfred Hitchcock & Jimmy Stewart

– Hitchcock went back and forth between Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart.  Grant starred in a few greats like North By Northwest and Notorious, but Stewart starred in Rear Window, Rope (the original Russian Ark), and an all-time favorite: Vertigo.

5) Martin Scorsese & Leonardo DiCaprio

– They’re 4 for 4 so far.  Gangs of New York, The Aviator, and The Departed have all ended up on many best of the decade lists, and 2010’s Shutter Island was pretty damn good too.

6) Woody Allen & Diane Keaton

– Woody Allen’s had a few lasting relationships with great actresses, but his collaborations with Diane Keaton were by far the best.  They worked together on Play it Again Sam, Sleeper, Love and Death, Interiors, Radio Days, Manhattan Murder Mystery, and arguably Woody’s two best films: Annie Hall and Manhattan.

7) Wong Kar-Wai & Tony Leung

2046, In the Mood for Love, and Chungking Express are all incredible films.  The two also made Ashes of Time together, which was recently re-released.

8 ) Frederico Fellini & Giuletta Masina

– Fellini and his wife Giuletta Masina made some of the most charming and whimsical films together, such as La Strada, Nights of Cabiria, and Juliet of the Spirits.

9) George Roy Hill & Paul Newman

– Their 3 collaborations together are all classics: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting, and of course, Slap Shot. 

10) Tim Burton & Johnny Depp

– Though much of their recent work has been tiresome and actually pretty annoying, there’s no way to ignore their wonderful early collaborations such as Ed Wood, Edward Scissorhands, and Sleepy Hollow.

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6 responses

20 03 2010
Anastasya

When you say director/actor duos, I automatically think of:

Jean Pierre Juenet and Dominique Pinon
City of Lost Children, Delicatessen, Amelie (and every single movie Juenet has made)

Jim Jarmusch and John Lurie
Permanent Vacation, Stranger Than Paradise, Down by Law

20 03 2010
mangold

Those are good ones. The reason I didn’t use Juenet and Pinon is because he’s usually a minor character. I think he was only the lead for Delicatessen.

Jarmusch and Lurie’s a great one though, I might add that to the honorable mentions. I still need to see Permanent Vacation actually.

21 03 2010
Paragraph Film Reviews

Almaldovar & Cruz
Coens & Buscemi
Besson & Reno
Von Trier & Barr

Tempted to put in Ridley Scott & Crowe too?

Great to see Scorsese & DeNiro, they would probably make my number 1.

21 03 2010
Mangold

Those are all great too. I decided to use people with a minimum of 3 collaborations, since otherwise it would be impossible to fit everyone in and determine quality vs. quantity. So that’s why Almodovar and Cruz didn’t make it. Plus if I did use duos with only 2 collaborations, there’s Coppola and Brando (Godfather and Apocalypse Now), Cronenberg and Viggo (History of Violence and Eastern Promises) and a whole slew of other great ones. Just would have been too tough.

Coens and Buscemi’s great, just he’s always been a small character. I was also thinking about using Paul Thomas Anderson and Phillip Seymour Hoffman, but didn’t for the same reason.

Scott and Crowe’s great, and you’re right they should probably be on there. I’m kind of excited for Robin Hood, actually.

I didn’t know Besson and Reno had more than 1 collaboration, I’ve only seen Leon. What other films did they do? I’ll have to check those out!

Here are some others I was thinking about:

John Huston/Humphrey Bogart
Alfred Hitchcock/Cary Grant
David Fincher/Brad Pitt
Chris Nolan/Christian Bale
Francis Coppola/Robert Duvall
Coens/John Goodman or Frances McDormand
Mel Brooks/Gene Wilder (Should probably be on there actually)
Steven Soderbergh/George Clooney or Matt Damon
Woody Allen/Mia Farrow
Spike Lee/Denzel
John Carpenter/Kurt Russell

There’s so, so many.

23 03 2010
Paragraph Films

Reno and Besson really helped kick start each others careers, so the films are all pretty old (and some non-main parts): Leon, Nikita, The Big Blue & Subway were the main ones.

I always think that Wasabi (2001) was another Reno/Besson combo… alas it is not. Just a Reno / Besson rip-off.

22 03 2010
ptpotts

I was gonna add – Coens/McDormand –
Not big on Scorsese/DiCaprio – seems like they teamed up together to try to win an Oscar
Cronenberg/Viggo – totally!
Not 3 yet but am a fan of Michael Mann/Pacino as well.

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