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Perhaps you've been debating about who the greatest working director is. Well, you can stop barking over beers or locking horns over popcorn because statistics have given us the answer. It's Ben Affleck.
In conjunction with Column Five and Visage, The Roosevelts has done some analysis, looking at the works of such directors as Ben Affleck, Ron Howard, Clint Eastwood, Ang Lee, Steven Spielberg, Wes Anderson, Quentin Tarantino, The Coen Brothers, Christopher Nolan, Martin Scorsese, and David Fincher. And once their number crunching was done, Ben Affleck, director of Gone Baby Gone, The Town and Argo, came out on top. Now before you begin bellowing, let's break down the method to the site's madness.
From the selection above, they decided to gage the value of these helmers' filmographies by only their last decade of directorial efforts. Which means E.T. is out for Spielberg. To measure the worth of each film on a scale of 1 to 100, The Roosevelts referred to that collection of critic's reviews, Rotten Tomatoes. So in the case of Spielberg, his counted films were The Terminal (61% score), War of the Worlds (74), Munich (78), Indiana Jones And the Crystal Skull (78), Adventures of Tin Tin (75), War Horse) (77), and Lincoln (90). Then Spielberg's ranking as a director for the last decades is the average of these numbers, so 76.14.
The Roosevelts did this breakdown for each of the filmmakers listed up top, and here's how that ranking worked out:
Ron Howard (57.57)
Clint Eastwood (61.78)
Ang Lee (73.25)
Steven Spielberg (76.14)
Wes Anderson (80.4)
Quentin Tarantino (81.5)
The Coen Brothers (84.16)
Christopher Nolan (85.8)
Martin Scorsese (86.14)
David Fincher (86.2)
Ben Affleck (94.67)
You can see all the individual bar graphs of this on The Roosevelts; However, let's take a moment to break down their method.
First off, how did this selection of mostly white, entirely male, and mostly American directors get assembled? Simple. They had their staff weigh in on their personal favorites. So from the start, this is an intensely subjective list that doesn't necessarily take Oscar winning (Kathryn Bigelow) or box office success/public popularity (Antoine Fuqua) into consideration.
The second potential flaw in this logic that lands Ben Affleck as the best director of the past decade, is its reliance on Rotten Tomatoes. It's a topic that's been exhausted in the past - how that dreaded fresh/rotten matrix works. But the key point here is that critics who submit their reviews don't give the film a score on a 1 to 10 scale. They submit the link to their review along with whether or not they would classify the film as "fresh" or "rotten." This means a mildly warm review carries as much weight on Rotten Tomatoes as a rave review. Likewise, a mildly negative review could be counted along with the scathing. So that Rotten meter is pretty rotten on its own.
Lastly, it looks like being prolific actually hurts filmmakers in this measuring of their worth. For instance, Clint Eastwood has come out with nine films in the past decade. That includes not only "fresh" titles like Million Dollar Baby (91), Flags of Our Fathers (73), Letters to Iwo Jima (91), Changeling (63), Gran Torino, (79) and Invictus (80), but also rotten ones like Hereafter (46), J. Edgar (43) and Jersey Boys (53). Whereas Ben Affleck only has three titles to his credit: Gone Baby Gone (94), The Town (94) and Argo (96).
Basically, if he wants to keep his status as the best filmmaker of the past decade, Affleck might be better off never to make another movie. He might damage his average. And actually, that's almost guaranteed, because even undisputedly great filmmakers like The Coen Brothers have hit some low Rotten Tomatoes scores (The Lady Killers at 55). Which is all to say, that while this is interesting, and bar graphs are fun, maybe we should close the door on this argument just yet.
Pop some popcorn.