GUEST POST: The Flix List – Six hack directors working in Hollywood today

By Ted Saydalavong

So what is the true definition of a hack? We hear that a lot from film critics and fans alike. Well to me, a hack is someone who works on projects solely for financial reasons, rather than creative reasons. It is not about a filmmaker who is simply bad, well let me correct myself, some directors are just plain bad. However, I believe that some directors on this list do have some talents but for whatever reasons they tend to stay in their comfort zone and some just don’t have any talents at all, besides knowing how to shoot and edit action scenes together. I’ll also name a couple of directors who thinks they’re talented but in reality they’re pretty bad at what they’re doing.

Here’s my list of hack directors, in no particular order:

1. Tony Scott
Yes, Ridley’s little brother is on this list. I didn’t want to include him at first but then I tried to remember the last good film he made within the last four or five years and couldn’t think of one. In my opinion, the last good film he made was Spy Game back in 2001, after that it’s been a downhill slide for him. Again it’s hard for me to put him on this list, he made some very good films back in the 1990s, True Romance, Crimson Tide and Enemy of the States are some of my favorites from that decade. But then I looked at most of the films he made, Top Gun, Days of Thunder, Beverly Hills Cop 2, The Last Boyscout (this one is one of my favorite guilty pleasure flicks), Domino, Déjà vu, The Taking of Pelham 123 and recently the awful Unstoppable. I truly believe that he made those films for just the money and I’ll admit some of them were very entertaining but they all lacked creativity. Some will ask what about Man on Fire? Well I like that film but I just thought it was too much style and not enough substance. Had they followed the original script, the film might’ve been great.

2. Paul W.S. Anderson
I think I won’t get a lot of disagreement over Mr. Anderson, let’s face it this man is the ultimate YES man to the studios. Whenever they need to get a movie out fast and earn some quick cash, they call Mr. Anderson. For example, he was brought in to rewrite the script for Alien vs. Predators because Fox wanted to be more kid friendly and of course Mr. Anderson obliged and made a PG-13 rated Alien vs. Predators flick! Of course the movie was awful and after that I refuse to watch any films from this man. I don’t think this man has any talents at all besides shooting cool action scenes and made his actors look good on screen.

3. Brett Ratner
Ah yes Mr. Brett Ratner, where I should begin? Well let’s start with him declaring himself to be as good as Steven Spielberg after X-Men: Last Stand earned some big money at the box office. News flash Brett, people went to see an X-Men film because it’s an X-Men film, not because of you. Ratner is another YES man type; in fact he was brought in to finish up X-Men: The Last Stand after Bryan Singer decided to do Superman Returns. The original director who replaced Singer was Mathew Vaughn, but he left the project because he told the studio he couldn’t finish the film in time for a summer of 2006 release, Fox insisted that the film opens before Singer’s Superman. After Vaughn left, Fox called Ratner and he was more than willing to come in and finish it up for them. The movie of course was a big hit but in my opinion Ratner ruined it. Fox should’ve waited for Singer or gave Vaughn more time to finish it.

I do give Ratner some credits for trying to go out of his comfort zone; he directed Red Dragon and After the Sunset. Both films looked promising when I first saw the trailers but the final product didn’t turn out so well, maybe Ratner just doesn’t have the talent to actually tell a good story; I guess he should just stick to finishing up a film for Hollywood executives and his crappy Rush Hour films.

4. Michael Bay
Mr. Bay is the quintessential hack director; in fact he admitted that he only make films for 14 year old boys and large sum of money. Most of the actors who worked with him said he would places more importance on the visuals than on his characters and actor themselves. He does very few takes of intimate character driven scenes, as he prefers to spend more time on action sequences and visually interesting moments. He would tell his writers on his films that they should just write the boring part and when the action scene starts, just write down action scene goes here.

He was given a great script, The Island, by Steven Spielberg but somehow he turned it into a boring chase movie. I saw both of his Transformers films but all I could remember from those films were people running and giant robots fighting, I don’t think there’s a plot in either film. But I guess that’s the point, people wants to see explosions and giant robots fight one another; Bay delivered and made quite a bit of money from it.

5. Richard Kelly
Now here’s one of the directors who I think doesn’t have much of a talent yet he kept getting money from studios to make his ridiculous films. I think Kelly is one of the most pretentious hack directors in Hollywood today, seriously I can’t stand any of his films, and luckily there are only three of them. He came up with all these high concept ideas and never delivered, for example The Box has a very cool concept and it was quite good until the second half of the film fizzled into sci-fi non-sense. Donnie Darko was a high concept idea and again Kelly made it into another sci-fi non-sense, same with Southland Tales<, probably one of the worst films of 2000s. With the box office failure of The Box, we may never get to see a new film from Mr. Kelly again ever and I’m fine with that. There are tons of great talents in Hollywood and the executives should spend their money on making films from those people than from this pretentious hack. Yeah I know I really despise this guy.

6. M. Night Shyamalan
M. Night started out great with The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable (one of my favorite films from 2000s, I lost count of how many times I’ve watched it). Then after the release of Signs in 2002, Time magazine put him on their cover and named him the next Steven Spielberg, ever since then it’s been a downhill for this man. The Village was bad and then after an ugly divorce from Disney, he made an even worse film, Lady in the Water for Warner Bros and it tanked at the box office.  I wouldn’t even dare to watch The Happening or last summer’s The Last Airbender. I would put him in the same category as Richard Kelly, he thinks he’s talented but in the end he’s just a hack with limited talents and somehow was able to trick the Hollywood executives to give him a lot of money to make his crappy films.

Honorable Mentions:


McG, Len Wiseman, Stephen Sommers, Peter Hyams (he hasn’t done a film for a while but he’s definitely a hack back in the 80s and 90s) and John McTiernan (his last good film wasHunt for Red October).

I was going to put JJ Abrams on this list but so far I only saw two of his films, one good (Star Trek), one bad (M: I-3), I’ll wait and see how his new film Super 8 turns out before I call him a hack.


So what do you think? Do you agree that these guys are a bunch of hacks or you think they’re talented? Feel free to discuss and list your own names of hack directors.


81 thoughts on “GUEST POST: The Flix List – Six hack directors working in Hollywood today

  1. This is a pretty good little list. There are a handful of films that I REALLY like that were made by these directors (Donnie Darko; Event Horizon) but I’ve yet to see a film since that I’ve liked from either Anderson or Kelly. And “Southland Tales” was brutal with a capital B.

    The one that gets me is Brian DePalma. His movies are straight-up theft of classic movies. It’s one thing to pay homage, it’s something completely different to copy them the way DePalma does it. Examples: the stairs sequence in The Untouchables (right out of Battleship Potemkin), and the Hitchcockian score in “Carrie”.

    1. Ah, I didn’t know that about DePalma, but I remember you mentioning that Untouchables scene being a carbon copy of Battleship Potemkin.

      Ted – I think this is a solid list. In the case of M Night, as I told you before over email, I think he still might be able to ‘recover’ if he just tread carefully and not be too greedy. I really respect Unbreakable and for that reason I haven’t given up on him yet.

    2. Vince

      I used to think of Brian DePalma as a hack but in retrospect, I get the feeling he is a true movie fan (he rips off from the best) and sort of a parody of himself (he rips himself off too!) Let’s face it – none of us would know about Potemkin without DePalma’s theft. I’ve got a soft spot for Dressed to Kill and his earlier films like The Fury and Sisters. Yes, he is most definitely a rip-off artist but I kinda love the guy too… I haven’t seen his latest movies though.

      1. Dave

        I would have known about Potemkin… but I learned about that in editing class. It’s pretty much a staple for teaching. Without it it still a great movie though…

        “you stinkin’ Irish pig.” “Oh… I like this one.”

    3. Ted S.

      I feel the same way about DePalma as I do to Tarantino, they rip off old films but somehow they improved upon them. Also, I guess I’m sort of bias since DePalma was one of my favorite directors, he hasn’t done anything good for a while though.

      I guess we can put DePalma on the honorable mentions list. 🙂

  2. What a list! ha!

    Len Wiseman is on your honorable mention?? What did he do that was bad? I was impressed with Underworld series! One of the better trilogies (soon to be 4-ology) in franchise history! Live Free or Die Hard wasn’t that great, I’ll agree, but I’m hopeful for his Total Recall remake.

    Completely agree with M. Night and Michael Bay! They better step it up or else! ha! 🙂

    1. Ted S.

      To me Wiseman is too generic in the way he directed his films, none of them has anything that you’ll say “That’s a Len Wiseman’s film” when you see it. I enjoyed the first Underworld film but the sequels were lame. And yes I didn’t like Die Hard 4 at all. Let’s hope he’ll do a good job on the Total Recall remake.

      1. You make a good point in that his films don’t say “That’s a Len Wiseman film”, but I’d say that has something to do with the actors in his films doing mostly a great job! Several directors make films that don’t necessarily have their recognizable stamp on them, but doesn’t necessarily make them fit into the category of “hack” according to your definition.

        I’d consider putting Joel Schumacher in the honorable mention section in his stead. While Phantom of the Opera, A Time to Kill, and The Client were great. Batman Forever, Batman&Robin, Phone Booth, Bad Company, 8mm tend to place him in that category more often than not for me!

        Thanks for this great post! It brings out some great points of view from many people!

        1. Vince

          Oh man, Schumacher should be #1, 2 and 3. If there ever was a big money journeyman director Joel is it!!! Good call Scarletsp1der!!!

        2. Ahah, I was waiting for someone to mention Joel. I immediately thought of him when I received this post from Ted: “I guess I was wondering why Joel Schumacher wasn’t on the list, but I think even though he’s bad, but at least he has his own vision” and this is Ted’s answer: “I was going to put Schumacher on there but I haven’t seen a lot of his films other than the two awful Batman films, I liked The Client and 8 MM but other than those films, I don’t really pay attention to his work. I quite enjoyed The Lost Boys though.”

          @Scarlet – Glad you think Phantom was great, LOVE you even more for that comment 😀 I may not think he’s a good director but I’m forever grateful for introducing GB to me (and to other ladies in the world) from that film. Say what you will about his singing, but ze Butler was amazing in that role and he brought so much passion and emotion into the Phantom that I’ve never even seen in the stage version, including the sequel Love Never Dies. In any case, yeah, Joel’s work tends to be in the ‘miss’ instead of ‘hits’ category, unfortunately.

          1. Dave

            You mean I gotta defend Joel??? Ok He made 2 adaptations from Grisham novels. They’re on par with the Firm and Presumed Innocent. Novels are tricky to do so bonus points to him. He did the way underated Phone Booth with Farrell. The studio buried the film and killed it. Veronica Guerin… where’s the love for Blanchett? Falling Down is probably my favorite film of his.

            He made The Lost Boys and St. Elmos Fire. Quintessential films of the 80’s. Even if I didn’t care for them personally. I mean “St. Elmos Fire” was my prom song. The girls out numbered the boys in voting…. we wanted Led Zeppelin… “Stairway”. LOL

            Now the Bad… “the Batman”. I think people will never forgive him for the Batsuit nipple thing. lol. Also he went for the comic book look and failed miserably. Why? Because instead of trusting the true comic book nerds like K. Smith or Whedon… We give it to Schumacher or Beatty (looks like Andy Warhol threw up on the screen… Warren, we didn’t forget about Dick Tracy)

            At best he’s average. Taylor Hackford it a true hack. His three most notable movies? An Officer and a Gentleman (Lifetime movie), Delores Claiborne (ok… that was good. Inspired casting. Jason Leigh and Bates, Strathairn, John C Reiley, Bob Gunton {Shawshank}, Bogosian, Ellen Muth {Dead Like Me} and C. Plummer), and Ray (a great performance in an average movie… see Eastwood’s Bird or Tavernier’s Round Midnight for a great music biopic)

  3. God, what a great list and a great #1. Think I’d put Ratner at the top spot if only for that bonus shiteating grin of his, but Scott is a close 2. Cannot believe that these guys get work and I think I’d care more about Anderson if he wasn’t so easy to ignore.

    1. Ha..ha.. I was thinking the same thing about Ratner’s grin! It’s like every photo on Google has that smug look on him. Yeah, he deserves to be on the top of the list for sure!

  4. I would never put Stephen Sommers in this list. He doesn’t belong there. He does make movies which bring lots of money, but his movies are quality films in their genre. MUMMY, VAN HELSING, MUMMY RETURNS were great films in their respective genres – entertaining adventure flicks. They don’t have to be profound dramas to be quality films.
    Sommers has always shown a refined talent for details, for visual splendor, for wildly entertaining scenes, for magnificently written characters, for choosing actors with natural chemistry, and above all he lives for movies which bring fun and classic Hollywood splendor to cinemas. He is a man of vision and love. And I don’t see vision nor love in the works of many of today’s directors who are currently popular in Hollywood for making dark and pessimistic movies.

    1. I like The Mummy, Dezzy, but I haven’t seen the sequels nor Van Helsing. You’re right that entertaining adventure flicks are totally ok in my book.

  5. Mike

    I’m an old guy, who remembers watching lots of “B” movies while growing up. Let’s remember that “film art” is a fairly new concept, if you consider film making has been around since about 1901. In the day ALL movies were trashy or corny. Eye-candy movies that don’t necessarily make sense are the bread and butter of Hollywood. At the end of a long week at work sometimes you just wanna see something stupid with lots of explosions. Which leads me to believe many of these guys will be making movies for a long time to come.

    That said, I completely agree with who’s on the list and why.

    1. Mike, you always start your comment about you being old… stop it, you are NOT old! 🙂

      Well, based on your comment, methinks you’re gonna loooove Expendables, ahah.

  6. Rodrigo

    So you think Donnie Darko is “nonsense” and you thought MI3 was bad?

    Well, at least that tells me to never enter this site again

    1. I must say that I am curious to know your point of view as to how/why MI3 was any good. It was not at all a MI movie. just another action flick that happened to star Ethan Hunt. The worst of the 3, and 4 better be good! Please do share your thoughts, Rodrigo!

      1. yes, I’m with Flixy and Scarlet, everybody has a freedom to express opinions if they are not rude or offensive. Flixy’s place is always a haven for people of different opinions.

    2. It’s called OPINION, Rodrigo. Practically every blog you visit has ’em. If you want to find posts that ALWAYS agree with you, you’ll be running out of stuff to read real soon.

      1. haha, we posted our replies at the same time! haha, and yes, opposing views will always be present, which is what makes it so much more interesting! It’s boring if we all like the same stuff. 🙂

        1. Yeah, I saw that. You’re right, we can’t possibly agree on EVERYTHING even if we’re conjoined twins! Anyway, don’t bother asking him questions, I have a feeling he won’t be coming back.

      2. There is always a people like him Ruth, visit your blog…say something nasty and never come back 🙂

        Tho in this case he didn’t say something nasty, he just didn’t explain his objection.

    3. Ted S.

      Can you at least give reasons why you like those films before you leave this site? Also, please please explain Donnie Darko to me since you didn’t think it was non-sense.

      1. I re-watched Donnie Darko recently, and while i didn’t think it was a masterpiece i still think it was enjoyable. There was one minor aspect of time travel that i didn’t exactly get(Not sure if i want to say it hear since it might be a spoiler) and i think the characters are interesting enough that even if the sci-fi stuff may come off as pretentious its still a god movie imo.

        From what i’ve heard there is supposed to be a directors cut of Donnie Darko that has more explanation(I re-saw it my 360 through netflix streaming so i haven’t seen this version)

        His other movies(The Box and Southland tales) i have a similar opinion on, although i would rank the Box above SOuthland tales. At the very least, i wouldn’t put him in a list with Michael Bay

        I realize this probably won’t change your opinion of his movies, but i figured someone should defend him here without being insulting like Rodrigo

        1. Ted S.

          Nicely said dirtywithclass, but yeah that still won’t change my mind about Kelly. Yes there’s a director’s cut version of Donnie Darko, I watched that version too and it’s even more ridiculous than the original version. My opinion of course. 🙂

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  8. Julio Ibanez

    Great list!

    Although, I’ll hesitantly defend Ratner’s work on X-Men 3 as a decent job considering he had a MONTH of pre-production before the cameras were to roll on a major shoot. I hear a lot about him “ruining” the franchise, when really it was Fox, as you pointed out, that was recklessly pushing ahead to beat out Singer.

    But otherwise, Ratner isn’t bad, he’s just merely competent. The Rush Hour movies were fun but forgetable and Red Dragon ALMOST worked. Otherwise, though, I wouldn’t be terribly sad to never see the “A Brett Ratner Film” credit ever again.

    I’d also disagree slightly with the comment about John McTiernan. He’s VERY hit or miss, but “The Thomas Crown Affair” and even his return to the Die Hard franchise were good outings for him well after “The Hunt for Red October.”

    And now I’m really splitting hairs. 🙂

    1. Ted S.

      I agree that Fox was the one who really ruined the X-Men franchise but Ratner was the one who made the film so both of them gets the blame.

      I like McTiernan, I mean the first Die Hard film is one of my favorite films ever. After he made Die Hard 3 though, his career sort of went down hill, yeah The Thomas Crown Affair was fun but it was a remake of a better film. Then he decided to another remake, Roller Ball, which was directed by the same director of the original Thomas Crown Affair. Unfortunately the original Roller Ball was a bad film and the remake was even worst. Maybe after he got out of jail, he’ll start making good films again.

  9. Hahaha great list…I enjoy reading this a lot!

    Some nobody director claims to be the next Spielberg? Please!! He really needs someone to puch his head.

    Too bad for Shimalayan…he was great at the beginning. The Happening is so boring and no conclusion. He butchered The Last Airbender…or do my friend said since I refuse to see it..

      1. Apologies ted. Maybe it would help if i actually read what was in front of me. My bad. Spy Game is great though. That film he keeps making with denzel washington.. not so great

    1. Ted S.

      Great list and I agree on all of them except maybe Ben Affleck, so far he’s done just two films and they’re very good. But I’ll wait and see if he nails his third film, then I’d put him on that list too.

  10. I agree with you mostly although I’d say Tony Scott is a talented director whereas some of the others wouldn’t know talent if it came and bit them on the rear end. Shyamalan made a classic in Unbreakable but I think he’s either a better writer or a better director – he can’t be both because he has no self-control which has been proven with his work since.

    Richard Kelly is a one-hit wonder, which is unfortunate given the promise shown in Donnie Darko.

    1. Totally agree that Unbreakable is a classic. I think M Night should be in the background more often as some of his concepts are good but lacking in the delivery.

      1. Dave

        The thing about Unbreakable was I wanted to see the next part. The movie didn’t really sizzle ’til the end when they finally meet. That’s the movie I want to see. IMHO.

        1. You got that right, Dave. This is a movie that warrants a sequel, unlike a bazillion other movies in Hollywood that overstay their welcome!

  11. Smashing idea for a post Ruth (if you haven’t already submitted this to IMDb, I think you should:D)

    I like Scott and to some degree Bay. While M. Night has fallen quite rapidly I’m near giving up on him. Great ideas but poorer and poorer execution of those ideas.

    Ratner is the one that stands out the most though…probably why I wrote that post about wanting to see him sent to an island somewhere:P

    1. Well thanks to my awesome guest blogger Ted as he wrote this post 😀 Yes I have submitted it to IMDb already, but thanks for suggesting it Marc.

      Yes I remember your post about Ratner… I’m sure a lot of people would like to ship him off to an island or maybe outer space 😀

      1. Dang it! This is the second time I sailed past the By: line as well as the more obvious title of GUEST POST in bold letters and dove right into reading the post…it shan’t happen again Ruth:)

  12. Corinne

    Yeah, what ever happened to M. Night Shyamalan. I mean everyone had such high hopes for him. I’m going to blame his bad movies on his youth. He was just a kid when he did The Sixth Sense. What is he, about 30 now?

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    1. Hi Andrew, welcome to FC. I haven’t seen Unstoppable, not much interest truthfully, but his other flicks make me think he should be on this list. Again, my friend Ted who wrote this post found it hard to include him but he’s got his reasons for it.

  14. I TOTALLY agree about Michael Bay. Transformers, in my opinion, represents the absolute worst that movies can be.

    That said, I thought Ratner’s After the Sunset was quite entertaining. Predictable, of course, and not exactly an Oscar-winner, but definitely a fun movie. I agree about his other films, though.

    And I think John McTiernan should never be put on any hack list because he gave us the action movie that all action movies should look up to: Die Hard. 🙂

    1. Ted S.

      Sorry Marshall, I’ve never watch Lost so I can’t comment on it. But I think JJ Abrams is borderline a hack right, like I said really like his take on Star Trek but can’t stand his M:I-3. We’ll find out if he’s for real when Super 8 opens next month.

      1. Dave

        Lost is the real deal. Best pilot I’ve ever seen. Cost 14 million dollars and it shows. I think the producer was fired before it even aired because of the cost. lol. What do exec’s know?

        It fell apart when in season 2-3 it created more questions than it answered. Kind of like season 2 of Twin Peaks. It came together in the end. Groundbreaking work. Worth seeing for Terry O’ Quinn, Michael Emerson, and the character ‘Hurley’. It’s a cross between Fantasy Island and the best parts of TV’s Survivor. Plus he did Alias, produced Fringe and Cloverfield (done in real-time… if you don’t mid the shakey video cam) He has 2 new series coming out this fall. Saw it on . Alcatraz and something else.

        1. I just saw the trailer for Alcatraz Dave, and boy it looks awesome! That might be one of the 3 shows I’d be addicted to this Fall (I smell a post coming on that topic!)

  15. JJ

    First of all, Len Wiseman has no directed enough to be anywhere near this list. Die Hard 4 was easily the best of the Die Hard sequels. It was far better than it had any right in being, mainly because of Wiseman’s work. Secondly, he did a whale of a job on the Hawaii Five-O 2 hour pilot for CBS, which received near universal praise. He uses very little CG, is great at shooting action and stunts, is very good with a camera, and always seems to get competent performances from his actors.

    But he hasn’t done enough to make a hack list, and what he’s done surely doesn’t reek of hack. I’d like to see Wiseman do something other than genre films, and then we’d get a better idea.

    1. This is my contributor’s list so I’m going to let him respond about Wiseman. But I had no idea he did the Five-O pilot, it’d my favorite series at the moment and I agree the 2-hour pilot was awesome!

    2. Ted S.


      That’s why I put Wiseman on the Honorable Mentions list, I enjoyed Die Hard 4 but in my opinion it’s the worst in the series. But I thought he did a good job on Hawaii Five-0 pilot episode too. To me he’s just a generic director, we’ll find out if he’s for real next summer when his $200mil remake of Total Recall comes out.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  16. Angel

    Great list, but what I absolute love is that you put Richard Kelly on the list. Oh my God he is so deserving of it and it shocks me that there are still so many people to this day that will defend this guy to the death because of one movie. Donnie Darko is not even considered to be across the board good, hence why it’s a cult classic and not just a plain old classic film.

    Don’t get me wrong I liked Donnie Darko, but my God his two other films are beyond awful. What makes him so bad is that he seriously has the intellect of a High Schooler, but at the same time feels he’s the most social conscious person on the planet. That type of mindet works for Donnie Darko because that type of mindset that fits with that character, but try watching the first 5 minutes of Southland Tales and you’ll quickly realize he just should have stuck to high concept teen flicks. Speaking of high concept, does Richard Kelly even know what that term means? Does he think all arthouse films need to have some sort of “what if” premise, or sci fi elements? Has Richard Kelly or any of his fans ever taken a film studies class?

    I can go on and on about Richard Kelly, and it is good to see him get thrown under the bus instead of being put up on a pedestal like most people do with him.

    1. Ted S.

      Thanks Angel and yes I can’t stand Richard Kelly, I’m 100% agree with what you said about him. He’s done one decent film and somehow his fans thinks he’s god or something. I thought Southland Tales was one the worst films I’ve ever seen. I actually enjoyed the first half of The Box but then he decided to go all M. Night on us and the movie just went downhill from there. I think Kelly is one of those pretentious directors who thinks their work is so important and if people criticizes them, they just say we don’t get their work. That’s what their fans said to me too every time I asked them to explain Donnie Darko, Southland Tales and The Box to me, they just said that I don’t get it. I guess I don’t get crappy films. I can go on and on about Kelly too. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and sorry for the late reply, haven’t visit this article for a while.

      1. Dave


        You dissed one of my favorite films on there. Donnie Darko. I’ll discuss that at a later date. Southland Tales. I’ll always give a director for over reaching and failing the turning out competent, money makers like Bay and Scott. The Fountain by Darren Aronofsky and Terry Gilliam’s work recently come to mind. OK… The Box sucked balls. Too long for a 20 minute short story, shouldn’t have been a period piece and Cameron Diaz? Loved Frank Langella though. Glad he’s gotten some starring roles. Love the Twilight Zone version. It’s called “Button, Button” and written by the brilliant Richard Matheson. Find it on the net. Oddly enough Kelly wrote Domino… A Tony Scott production. Actually taken from a true story.

        See Hyams’ 2010 and tell me what you think. His best work especially considering he followed up Kubrick’s 2001. Capricorn One, Outland, The Star Chamber, 2010, The Presidio, Running Scared… wow I think you’re way off on that one. I’m 42 so I may have a different perspective.

        I’ll give you some REAL hacks from the 70’s, 80’s when I get a chance to think.

        Quick 10:
        1 Bay
        2 Scott
        3 Taylor Hackford (Mirren’s husband) My god,… the word, it’s in his NAME!!!
        4 Uwe Boll. He’s on his own level of directing hell.
        5 Ratner
        6 Paul W.S. Anderson… poor Paul Thomas Anderson with people getting them confused
        7 M.Night Shalamading-dong
        8 Tyler Perry? Must be a black thing and I like Spike Lee.
        9 Renny Harlin (Gina Davis’ husband)
        10 McG


        Coppola – WTF happened? He set the bar too high with the Godfather 1&2, The Conversation and Apocalypse Now. Those films nearly killed him. Seriously. See the doc Hearts Of Darkness.

        Oliver Stone – Makes me rethink the entire 80’s. Salvador, Platoon, Talk Radio, Wall Street, Born On The Fourth Of July, and JFK.

        De Palma’s another one. Carrie, Sisters, Body Double, Obsession, Dress To Kill, Scarface, The Untouchables. See what happens when you put Michael J Fox in a Vietnam war movie? There’s a great skit or comedian that does him as Alex P Keaton from Family Ties in the war. “Mallory… Mallory… I’m hurt real bad…” LMAO.

        McTiernan’s not directing much these days because of legal trouble from 2006. But you gotta give him props for Predator, Die Hard and Red October. Then he kinda went down the crapper. I give him a pass for Die Hard alone. It’s arguably the greatest action movie of all time. I saw it in the theater and it was all that. It placed #39 on AFI’s Greatest Thrills list, # 46 villian on AFI’s Greatest Villians 50 list, has a strong female character, (quick name 5 strong female performances in action from pre 1990 and you can’t name Sigourney Weaver… too easy. lol.

        Gotta go.

        1. Ted S.

          Hey Dave,

          I actually enjoyed Donnie Darko so I didn’t mean to include it, but Kelly’s other two films, wow there were bad.

          You know I might have to rethink my opinion about Peter Hyams, I saw all of the films you mentioned and I liked them all. Especially Outland, I wasn’t a big fan of 2010 though, maybe because I’m a huge fan of 2001 and just didn’t want to like it.

          I agree with your list, I didn’t mention Uwe Boll on my list because I only saw one of his films, House of the Dead, and that was enough. I’m not sure how he was able to get money to make his other trashy video game based films.

          Yeah, De Palma, Coppola and Stone, don’t know what happened to them. The last film I saw from Oliver Stone was Alexander and wow it was bad, wish I had 3 hours of my life back.

          I agree about McTiernan, loved Die Hard and Hunt for Red October. Hopefully he can make a comeback after his legal troubles. The last film he made, Rollerball, was beyond awful.

          1. Ted, did you ever get around to seeing Tetro?

            And i’m going to admit Boll has done 2 films i liked. That doesn’t mean i generally go out of my way to see his movies, just being honest.

            1. Ted S.

              Hey dirty, no I haven’t seen Tetro yet, thanks for the reminder. I’m going to put it on my Netflix queue right now. I’ll let you know if I like or not after I watched it.

              1. Dave


                Thank god for netflix. Some people actually put Boll in the John Waters, Ed Wood, Troma category of so bad they’re good? No, no, no. They’re in the so bad they’re freakin’ horrible. Gatta admire the guy for challenging his critics in the boxing ring.

                Donnie Darko… my favorite artist is Salvador Dali, I own the book House Of Leaves by Mark Danielewski (Google it) and my favorite contemporary movie is Gilliam’s Brazil. So that would explain a lot about my attraction to the movie.

                Hyams? I’ll post my list this weekend of 70’s 80’s hacks. They get a pass if the did a really great film of one that I love. Fair? Like Tobe Hooper did The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Poltergeist( Rumor has it that Speilberg worked on the film and did a LOT of the work including the editing but I won’t nitpick) He’s not eligible for the list. Here’s a teaser…

  17. Good list, but I have one disagreement. Although I’m not a fan of Richard Kelly, I don’t think he belongs here: unlike the other directors listed he does have a distinct voice. Granted, it’s a voice I have no interest in, but still he’s not churning out interchangeable crap just for a paycheck. I get the feeling he’s passionate about what he does.

  18. Great list! In my opinion, it’s mostly spot-on. I wouldn’t include JJ Abrams though, he’s a great talent; he brought new life to Star Trek and his Super 8 was amazing. I would add Joel Schumacher, Todd Phillips and Jon Favreau (Iron Man was pretty good but everything else is crap). Honorable mention goes to Robert Rodriguez. He sometimes sneaks in a gem like Sin City but mostly he does shit.

    1. I do like the new Star Trek movie and Super 8 was ok. This is Ted’s list, but I think he’d make a good argument why he’s on the list.

    1. Yeah, especially Batman & Robin, ugh!! But I am always grateful to Joel for introducing me to Gerry Butler, he cast him as Phantom of the Opera even though big stars like Travolta and Banderas both were vying for the role. I mean GB would not have had a chance against those two back then if it weren’t for Joel. I LOVE GB’s singing and he made for a stunning Phantom. Glad Joel didn’t cast him as Batman though, ahah.

  19. arsenal

    John McTiernan honourable mention as a hack ?

    Die hard 1 -3
    Hunt for the red october

    The reason why his films hasn’t been as great before is because he is being monitored by the FBI and any constriction is likely cause conflicts with your art
    Ted Saydalavong
    Are you some kind of Idiot ??

    1. Well assenal… the question of whether McTiernan has become a hack since those films you mentioned is debatable. I’d even take out Die Hard with a Vengeance and add his remake of The Thomas Crown Affair (’99) which I feel was his last good film. Overall I’d say he was 50/50 when it came to making good/bad films. Not a hack IMHO… just a middling director.

      But you gotta admit McTiernan’s the “idiot” for bringing the FBI to his front door for the shady dealings he was involved in and making false statements the the aforementioned FBI. He had been in a disagreement with Rollerball producer, Charles Roven, about what type of film it should be and had hired a guy to investigate his intentions. McTiernan was soon convicted of federal wiretapping and then went and perjured himself in court. The judge even characterized McTiernan as someone who thought he was “above the law”, had shown no remorse, and “lived a privileged life and simply wants to continue that”. It’s hard to feel sorry for the guy.

      On the flip side Terry Gilliam creatively turned the well documented disagreements about Brazil (see the book “The Battle of Brazil” by Jack Mathews or search YouTube) with Lew Wasserman at Universal into the critically lauded and IMHO, best film of his career. Sure Gilliam might be a hack now but it just goes to show you reap what you sow. Gilliam turned it into a positive and McTiernan turned it into a federal crime, bankruptcy, a huge tax debt and legal bills. So his constriction is pretty much self-inflicted but that doesn’t mean that he’s off the hook for being called a hack by someone.

      To look at it from another perspective Charles Manson wanted to be a rock star, except for that one little hiccup in his fledgling music career. I mean The Beach Boys even co-opted one of his songs and Guns and Roses later covered another so who knows what could have been??? But to say that life in prison “constricted his art” and caused Ol’ Crazy Charlie to be a hack… no pun intended (he did record several tapes in prison which were bootlegged). If only not for the judicial and correctional system he could have possibly been somebody instead of a hack. Right? Ironically Manson tragically murdered this next person’s pregnant wife which brings me to my next point.

      Roman Polanski. To the point of “constriction limiting one’s art”, notice how after his wife’s murder, Roman Polanski, already known for Repulsion and most notably Rosemary’s Baby, still went on to make Chinatown and The Tenant. Then in ’77 he was wanted on statutory rape charges for drugging and sodomizing a 13 year old actress/model and to this day isn’t allowed to set foot in the USA. Yet he has done some of his best work since the 70’s, Including The Pianist, Death and The Maiden, The Ghost Writer, Carnage. Don’t think he’s had any constrictions, both tragically caused and self-inflicted, over his career? Sure… he’s still a creeper but it didn’t hold his “art” back and there’s a guy who’s certainly had some excuses. Just sayin’.

      Knowing Ted on these boards for a long time he’s a pretty knowledgeable film guy. He has definitive opinions which makes for good discussion. While Ted and I have wildly different opinions about certain movies and directors (Southland Tales/Richard Kelly for one) I’d never call him an idiot. It’s a bit much, don’t ya think? Especially for an honorable mention. LOL. It’s not like he called out Kubrick or Scorsese. For such transgressions, arsenal, you should be forced to watch a supercut of Lorraine Bracco from McTiernan’s Medicine Man (ALA Alex DeLarge in Clockwork Orange) while wearing Sean Connery’s majestic hair weave from the movie!!! I think it’s only fair for slagging off Ted.

      Can’t believe I spent time on a post that’s been dead for 3 years now. Only because I’m home from work sick and bored out of my mind… and Ted’s a swell guy. 😉

    2. Hello Arsenal, I don’t think I’m an idiot but but maybe I’m wrong. Thanks for reading this posit, it’s been a while since I visited this page. I too loved Predator, Hunt for Red October, Die 1 & 2, the third was okay to me. But what did you of his other films such as Rollerball, The Medicine Man, The Thomas Crown Affair, The 13th Warrior and Basic? Rollerball and Basic were some of the worst films of 2000s. I think McTiernan is a talented director but for a long time he hasn’t made any good films.

      Also, what does his arrest have anything to do with his talent? He put himself in that situation and got busted. He made those bad films I mentioned way before he got arrested.

      Again thanks for reading my article and hope to read your reply soon!

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