12. Francis Lawrence
Best Music Videos: “Gone Till November”, Wyclef Jean (1997); “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing”, Aerosmith (1998); “Fortunate”, Maxwell (1999); “Girl’s Best Friend”, Jay-Z (1999); “I’m A Slave 4 U”, Britney Spears (2001); “Cry Me A River”, Justin Timberlake feat. Timbaland (2003); “Bad Romance”, Lady Gaga (2009)
Best Movies: Constantine (2005), I Am Legend (2007)
There’s a certain fantastical elegance to Francis Lawrence’s music videos. The ice castle aesthetic of Jay-Z’s “Girl’s Best Friend,” set inside an enormous piece of bling; the swank fetish party going down in Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance”; the astral dream-world of Maxwell’s “Fortunate”; and, most enjoyably, the near-orgy taking place in Britney Spears’ sexiest video, “I’m A Slave 4 U.” He’s a visual storyteller, and his expensive-looking videos reflect that.
As does Constantine, Lawrence’s 2005 movie debut that distracts eyes from star Keanu Reeves’ perpetual flatness with Gothic showiness and comic book daringness. His follow-up, the Richard Matheson adaptation I Am Legend, is best examined for Will Smith’s strong last-man-alive performance and how Lawrence presents a barren Manhattan as a post-apocalyptic tomb, particularly in the movie’s first half—the less said about the horribly rendered CGI creatures that ruin the second half, the better.
Earlier this year, Lawrence once again did his best with a weak project: Water For Elephants, a visually stunning romance that falters under the frosty chemistry between stars Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon. One of these days, Lawrence is going to find a script worthy of his chops. Might we suggest expanding Britney’s bottled-up sex bash into I’m A Slave 4 U: The Movie?