Top 10 Movie Mavericks Of All Time
From Johnny Depp to Orson Welles to Diane Keaton — people who changed the way we look at movies.
-PJ Gach, Sponsored by CINEQUEST FILM FESTIVAL
A maverick isn’t afraid to go his or her own way. Mavericks are secure enough in their visions that they want to share them with the world. More often than not, by offering a different way to look at things, they created endless possibilities for filmmakers and their fellow man and woman. Right now, filmmaker Darren Aronosky (Black Swan, The Wrestler) and actor Jeff Bridges (True Grit, The Big Lebowski) are two high profile movie mavericks who are garnering tons of attention. Aronosky constantly challenges the audience to think via his intense, mythically charged films. Jeff Bridges never takes the same role twice. He’s constantly changing things up, stretching his acting muscles, playing with our imagination. Both of these men are mavericks; by challenging the status quo, they broaden not only filmic horizons, but our own.
Here are our picks for the 10 movie mavericks of all time …
Spike Lee, director
Do The Right Thing (1989) was Spike Lee’s third film, but it was the one that really made his career. He unflinchingly dissected the racial tensions between African Americans and Italian Americans in a Brooklyn neighborhood and didn’t serve up a “Hollywood ending.” Throughout his career, Lee’s been accused of courting controversy. In truth, he was moving in a direction that other directors didn’t want to go. Lee has again and again explored race relations in modern day America, from Jungle Fever (1991) to his latest film, Miracle at St. Anna (2008).
Through Lee’s perseverance into what was previously thought as either unbankable or uninteresting (and sometimes both) subject matter, Lee has paved the way for filmmakers as diverse as John Singleton and Tyler Perry.
Johnny Depp, actor
Johnny Depp could have used his movie star looks to coast in box office hits, yet the actor, fresh from 21 Jump Street, chose to be involved in intellectually stimulating and offbeat films. From Edward Scissorhands (1990) and Benny and Joon (1993) to Chocolat (2000) and Charlie And The Chocolate Factory (2005), Depp’s humanity makes characters like his self-deluded transvestite Wood and his murderous Sweeney Todd sympathetic to the audience. Depp doesn’t try to make his characters likeable; he’s more interested in their internal journey, the “why” of their being — and that is what makes Depp so watchable.
Jack Nicholson, actor
Oh those eyebrows! That maniacal grin! Jack Nicholson’s first movie roles, Little Shop of Horrors (1960) and The Raven (1963), were for Roger Corman, who is called the king of kitschy B movies. Only Nicholson and Michael Caine have been nominated for acting (lead or supporting) by the Academy Awards in each decade from the ‘60s to now. Nicholson starred in movies that defined a generation: Five Easy Pieces (1960) and Easy Rider (1969).
Like Bogart, Nicholson is not conventionally handsome, and like Bogart, he’s played his fair share of “heavies.” He’s known for taking roles that have a dark side. Interestingly enough, this penchant for dark, tormented characters — think The Shining (1980) — has made him very popular with the ladies. Perhaps it’s because no matter how bleak his character, he injects a sense of vulnerability.
Nicholson searches for and picks roles not for box office likeability, but because they speak to him on a personal level. Even when portraying The Joker in Batman (1989) or the lead in Hoffa (1992), Nicholson takes these roles because of personal interest and a desire to grow and stretch as an actor.
Sponsored by Cinequest
Next: She paved the way for Angelina Jolie…