So yesterday we brought you the news that despite shepherding the 007 franchise towards making more money than a Bond villain ransom demand with Skyfall, Sam Mendes actually turned down directing the next installment due to winning a golden ticket to a Shakespeare play or something.
With Skyfall reaching the critical and commercial success that it did, whoever directs the follow-up would have some pretty big shoes to fill. Well, I’ve been out measuring creative feet, restraining order and public decency be damned, and here are a couple fellows (and one lady) that I think could be a pretty good fit for Mr Mendes’ size 9’s.
There has never been a female Bond director before. Now while I definitely don’t believe that simply due to that lack of gender representation that EON Productions should suddenly give the job to a lady, but if they were that way inclined, then it would rather difficult to not make a case for Kathryn Bigelow.
She may have truly only entered the mainstream zeitgeist with her Oscar winning The Hurt Locker and most recently Zero Dark Thirty, but Bigelow has been around for a long time, responsible for such modern classics as Point Break and Strange Days. She possesses a faultless technical ability and is blessed with a no nonsense, whip cord lean directing style that could make for a rather mature and intense Bond film. Plus, she was married to James Cameron for a while, so she probably has a good grasp on how to handle complicated men.
The biggest challenge would be seeing how she handles that slight essence of whimsy that still exists in and is integral to 007’s world. While she is insanely technically accomplished, you rarely get a snigger out of a Kathryn Bigelow movie. And what would Bond be without a little cheese?
To be fair, I tend to throw Alfonso Cuaron’s name into the mix for just about every major directing gig that opens up, but there’s a very valid reason for that. He’s just that damn good. He’s already shown that he can do big tentpole blockbusters, and do them with a level of maturity that elevates the source material, when he directed arguably the best of the Harry Potter films in The Prisoner of Azkaban.
And when it comes to action, his Children of Men showed his masterful ability to craft Swiss engineered levels of well choreographed action sequences that employed subtle, technical wizardry to ratchet up tension to nigh unbearable levels. His next insanely ambitious film, Gravity, will have him taking those skills to the next level and then a couple levels more just for good measure (topping the crazy single take shots he did in Children of Men, Gravity will have a 17 min long single shot opening sequence). And according to those lucky enough to have seen it already, it’s going to be a gamechanger for the director.
This is important, because as the least accomplished director on this list awards gold-wise, his name is probably going to start coming up in a whole lot more conversations that weren’t just started by me.
Juan Antonio Bayona
Guillermo Del Toro protege Juan Antonio Bayona arrived on the scene with quite the splash. That splash being the kiloliters of urine that he scared out of cinemagoers with the Spanish language little horror film, The Orphanage. Showing a Hitchcockian affinity for tense sequences, there’s no doubt that a Bayona directed Bond will have you on the edge of your seat.
And then, just to prove that he could also handle the big budget blockbuster elements of Bond as well, Bayona went and made The Impossible (See Noelle’s review here). Okay, so he didn’t specifically make that movie just to prove his eligibility as a James Bond director, but as one of the hottest new talents in Hollywood, he presents the strong combination of a fresh new face that has already established himself with critics and fans alike.
While Skyfall was arguably the best action movie about a spy from the last couple years, the best actual spy movie award undoubtedly belongs in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy‘s trophy case. After wowing audiences with the 2008 Swedish vampire film Let The Right One In (remade in English by Matt Reeves as Let Me In), Alfredson would probably not have been the first choice to adapt a John LeCarre espionage novel. But boy, oh boy, did he ever adapt it. Taut and meticulously executed, with a dedication to authentic production design that was second to none, it was easily the best espionage film to come out of Hollywood in years.
And actual espionage is an area where James Bond has always been a little lacking. Now I’m definitely not saying that we should suddenly turn man of action Bond into a soft spoken and bespectacled paper pusher, as Alfredsson would definitely adapt to the framework of the franchise, but a little more spying and a little less surfing fake CGI waves is certainly not a bad thing. His pure action chops may be a little untested at the moment, but judging by how well he does everything else, I’d have some high hopes for him.
No list of possible [INSERT MOVIE FRANCHISE NAME HERE] directors would be complete without at least mentioning Christopher Nolan. And looking at the man’s filmography, it’s not hard to see why. A meticulous craftsman in every sense of the word, he’d be capable of deconstructing the James Bond we know and building him up into something better. Had Sam Mendes not just already done this, that is.
From small scale psychological character pieces to large scale wide-eyed spectacle, and everything in between, he’s already proven his directing acumen multiple times over. Also, his well documented aversion to CGI in favour of practical effects would be a gigantic, physically built, tick in the plus column when it comes to Bond. The Brosnan era’s Lucasian green-screen addiction was the death knell for that iteration of the character, and you can be damned sure that Nolan would never let that happen again.
The one-two combo of Nolan and his regular cinematographer Wally Pfister would also be one of the only filmmaking duos out there that could give the eyeball-meltingly beautiful lensing job that Mendes did with his cinematographer, Roger Deakins, a run for its money.
Plus, there’s the whole fact that he’s actually said that he wants to do it. He even admitted that the entire snowy mountaintop sequence in Inception was just so that he could get a Bond movie out of his system.
If the deciding test as to who should direct the next Bond film was simply one of Britishness, then Danny Boyle would have this in the bag. Luckily, Boyle also brings a whole lot more to the table than just an inbred love of cucumber sandwiches and warm beer.
Taking on and proving himself adept at just about every genre, from Shallow Grave‘s crime noir leanings to Trainspotting’s dark comedy to Slumdog Millionaire‘s uplifiting spirit to 28 Days Later‘s thrills and chills to 127 Hours grueling human drama and hell, even a little bit of sci-fi horror action in Sunshine; there’s literally no single aspect of James Bond’s mythos that Boyle has not already tackled (and tackled well) in his career before.
Plus, there’s this whole thing about how technically he’s already directed James Bond! Yes, it was only for an opening sequence of the London 2012 Olympics, but the fact is that he already has a toenail in the door at 007’s MI6.
Being the most critically and commercially successful of all the directors on this list, he would certainly be exactly the type of marquee name that would ensure a chance of matching Skyfall‘s success. And did I mention just how very British he is?
The only thing that could possibly mar Danny Boyle’s chances of directing the next Bond, is, well, Danny Boyle. When asked about the chances of him directing a 007 feature film last year, he shot it down saying that he wasn’t very good at making movies “with huge amounts of money.” Oh, c’mon Danny boy! Everybody’s already forgiven you years ago for The Beach!
Honourable Mention: Martin Campbell
Despite being hamstrung by Warner Bros and ending up with the dismal Green Lantern in his filmography, Martin Campbell is still an exciting prospect for the next Bond film, having already been responsible for the character’s two previous highly successful rebirths in Goldeneye and Casino Royale. But that’s the problem, he’s already had the gig twice, and I don’t think they’d give it to him a third time.
With the unprecedented success of Skyfall, I think it’s safe to say that that the days of journeymen directors tackling James Bond are over and that the Broccoli clan over at EON Productions are going to be looking for an established auteur, who has as much clout in the Hollywood circles as he/she has talent behind the camera. Whomever eventually ends up being picked, it’s certainly one of the most interesting times to be a Bond fan.
So what do you guys think, who are your picks to helm the next adventure of everybody’s favourite cold blooded, alcoholic, misogynistic super spy?
Last Updated: March 8, 2013