Ron Howard – Rush
Howard does a fantastic job directing this movie, even on the parts of it where he does a horrible job. I guess you have no idea what that means. I barely do myself. Well, let me talk about the simple stuff first. This film tells the story of two Formula One racing rivals in the seventies. Howard gives the film a fantastic look; the movie has a grainy, almost sepia-toned look to it. Everything is gritty and used and a little banged up, from the pistons to the people. And Howard does amazing effects, creating images that look like paintings and moments of incredibly fast speed photography to capture water droplets hovering in the air or the brief ripple of a breeze across a jumpsuit. About the only problem I had with Rush was that I didn’t feel that the racing sequences were at all effective; they were, in short, not thrilling. I wasn’t getting the titular rush, if you know what I mean. And, in this movie, about these two men and the things that they’re driven by, the races need to really pop; they need to have a huge emotional impact, they need to be visceral. And they aren’t. So, in one sense, I feel like Howard screwed that all up. But in another sense, I almost love the race sequences for the flamboyance Howard shows and the experimentation that he’s clearly using. The fast cuts focus on the small details: a drop of water rolling down the foggy inside of a driver’s mask, a piston pumping, a bubble in the gas line, a blade of grass quivering as a car sails by. All in all, this is easily Howard’s showiest direction; from the very look of the film to the way the camera works and moves, this film is always consciously directed and obviously directed. Howard never lets you forget for a second that he’s been around and that he’s not Opie anymore – he’s an absolute directorial master. His self-assurance is compelling and intense. He’s gotten direction nominations before; he never really deserved them, frankly. With this fantastic, meticulously perfect direction job, he proves that he finally does.
Next time, it’s a horror film that came and went without any real splash this past year. It’s worthy of note for a lot of reasons, but the director set himself an absurd challenge and managed to actually pull it off.