Congratulations, Robert Altman. Not only are you totally deserving of that Lifetime Achievement Oscar but, as America's finest living director of narrative films, you have catapulted--huzzahs!--into my Magnificent Seven. In the year 2006, you stand proud among Film Culture's seven greatest narrative filmmakers on earth.
The last time I offered my list to Phoenix readers, Billy Wilder was alive as the best of the US, and, around the world, I bestowed my blessing on Krzysztof Kieslowski (Poland), Stanley Kubrick (England), and Akira Kurosawa (Japan). With this splendid four ascended to cineaste heaven, only three masters survive from my original grouping: Michelangelo Antonioni (Italy), Ingmar Bergman (Sweden), and Jean-Luc Godard (France). For 2006, Altman makes four. And my final three choices? Werner Herzog (Germany) , Roman Polanski (Poland), and......?????? The final pick is hardest. Martin Scorsese (USA)? Wong Kar-Wai (Hong Kong)? Abbas Kiorostami (Iran)? My favorite woman director, Claire Denis (France)? I opt for the most obscure filmmaker on my list for those under forty: France's Claude Chabrol, who made a string of masterpieces in the 1960s (Le Boucher, This Man Must Die, etc.) up there with Godard and Truffaut, and has made countless features since, often starring Isabelle Huppert.
That's it. And what's your choice of the Magnificent Seven, dear readers?
Please supply me with your lists, and some commentary if you wish, e-mailed to gpeary(at)geraldpeary(dot)com.