6. Mark Romanek
Best Music Videos: “Free Your Mind”, En Vogue (1992); “Are You Gonna Go My Way?” Lenny Kravitz (1993); “Closer”, Nine Inch Nails (1994); “Scream”, Michael Jackson feat. Janet Jackson (1996); “Got Til It’s Gone”, Janet Jackson (1998); “Hurt”, Johnny Cash (2002); “99 Problems”, Jay-Z (2004)
Best Movies: One Hour Photo (2002), Never Let Me Go (2010)
Even if Trent Reznor’s industrial metal isn’t your bag, you have to admire the video for Nine Inch Nails’ dizzying 1994 single “Closer” for its sheer insanity. A phenomenal, and seminal, music clip, “Closer” is weirdly hallucinogenic enough to leave even David Lynch exclaiming, “Man, that’s some crazy shit!” It’s a testament to director Mark Romanek’s gifts; “Closer” is more grandiose than his other videos, but, no matter the scope, Romanek’s footage is always stark and never immediately accessible. For additional proof, see Jay-Z’s non-narrative stroll through urban gloom in MTV Video Music Award-winning “99 Problems” visual.
Or have a look at Romanek’s scarce cinematic productivity. Back in 2002, he turned the bouncy and hilarious Robin Williams into a subdued, frightening sociopath in the underrated, off-putting One Hour Photo; last year, he took author Kazuo Ishiguro’s heartbreaking, dystopian 2005 novel Never Let Me Go and crafted a faithful, equally dense, and intellectually challenging coming-of-age flick. It’s as if Romanek shoots things to only please his own eccentricities, and certainly not mass audiences. You’ve got to love that.