Thursday, May 19, 2011

Which is Better?

Martin Scorsese
10 sample films:

Taxi Driver
Mean Streets
The King of Comedy
Cape Fear
The Departed
Shutter Island
Raging Bull
The Age of Innocence


Steven Spielberg
10 sample films:

Jurassic Park
The Color Purple
Empire of the Sun
Saving Private Ryan
Minority Report
The Terminal
Schindler’s List
Raiders of the Lost Ark

Which do you prefer? Let me know in the comments section


  1. Well... shit! That's a hard one!

    I'd go Spielberg for pop-entertainment, Scorsese for more methodical things.

    Both are excellent. I can't pick just one.

  2. If you were to put a gun to my head and make me choose between these two you'd be wiping my brains off the wall.

  3. That's a tough one, but I'm going to have to go with Scorsese.

    He was one of the first great directors I really got into and has remained near the top of my favourites list ever since.
    I've always had problems with Spielberg's work though, but he's still a great director...

  4. First, I'd scrub The Terminal from your list and replace it with Amistad (for fairness sake). Then I'd probably apply a bit of bleach on Always and pencil in Catch Me if You Can.

    Then, once that was done, my head would spontaneously combust. They're really two sides of the same coin. Spielberg does Drama friendly Popcorn flicks while Scorsese does Popcorn friendly Drama flicks. Both have had their misses and mediocre endeavors. But on the whole I'd argue they're rather equal - both with respect to influence and importance.

    That being said, if you tied me down and said I could only watch movies of one of them for the rest of my life, I'd go Spielberg. Then instantly regret the moment Scorsese made another film.

  5. An absolute Mother Hubbard of a question... I'll go Scorsese though. Spielberg's great and everything, but nothing he's done is as good as Raging Bull, Casino or Goodfellas. Conversely, Scorsese's never plumbed the depths of Crystal Skull or Jurassic Park II...

  6. I feel like Spielberg sometimes sabotages his own films in the end, so for that reason I will go for Scorsese if for nothing else than his dedication to proper ends.

  7. @Sebastian – When in doubt I always go with the director whose films have the higher re-watch value.

    @Hatter – Surprising. I would have figured you would go with Spielberg because of your love for Saving Private Ryan.

    @Jack – Solid reason for choosing Scorsese. He is a great director, though I do not believe everything he touches is gold (like some bloggers do). Both he and Spielberg have made some really awful films and some great ones.

    @Univarn – Amistad was awful! I am not a huge fan of The Terminal but I will take it over Amistad any day. I agree with the Catch Me If You Can over Always though.

    Oddly enough, I have never thought of Scorsese as a director who makes popcorn friendly dramas. This is probably due to that fact that I associate popcorn friendly dramas as being fluffier than straight dramas. Though I guess his Oscar bait years (The Aviator, Gangs of New York, etc.) and would fall into that category. I think just need to adjust my definition of what "popcorn films" are in general.

    @Multiplex Slut – Raging Bull and Goodfellas are classic, but I have to disagree with you on Casino (aka. the lesser Goodfellas). Jaws easily tops Casino in regards to overall story, level of tension, and pacing. Frankly Casino would be in my list of the worst Scorsese films (along with Gangs of New York, The Aviator, etc.).

    I will agree that Scorsese has not done the awful money pictures like Spielberg (e.g. Crystal Skull, Jurassic Park II), but that is probably because he has never attempted a summer popcorn film either.

    @Larry - Completely agree that Spielberg has serious problems when it comes to finding the proper ending for his films. Not everything needs to end on a positive not in my opinion.

  8. In the way that everyone's allowed an eccentric view every now and again, Casino is my favourite Scorsese flick... it's like all the elements of Scorsese that I love (killer soundtrack, clannish groups of men, tracking shots, criminal deeds, fabulous costume & set design, Pesci & De Niro) turned up to 11, plus the best-ever female character from any of his films.

    Discuss (or don't).

    Is this your pen?

  9. Scorsese easily, all the way - he is my favourite director. I have no great affinity for Spielberg to be honest. I keep saying that I've never seen a Scorsese film which I've not found something to like.

  10. @Andrew - Kundun?

    Didn't get it at all. Bor-ing.

  11. @Multiplex Slut – Interestingly enough, many of the things you love about Casino are exactly the things I dislike about the film. To me the film feels like Scorsese is phoning it in. He takes elements from his previous, and far better, films but does not offer any new spin on it.

    I will concede that Stone was fantastic in the film. It is funny, whenever we think of Scorsese flicks we immediately focus on the male characters in his film. The women are often secondary in his films in regards to being fully realized characters. Yet Stone’s character really worked well in the film. It is definitely one of Stone’s best performances.

    We will just have to agree to disagree on the film overall. I understand and respect why you love the film, but I just do not feel the same way about it.

    @Andrew – If you had to choose on Scorsese’s period of work you enjoy the most, what would it be? The De Niro era? The DiCaprio era, The stuff in between? Or his documentary work?

  12. I go with Spielberg, because his films have been some of the first you-need-to-watch film-buff essentials... Kind of dragged me into this obsession.

    But Scorcese is a wonderful director as well.

  13. I don't know, it's so random because I do love The Aviator and The Departed but I don't like to think that the ScorCaprio era is better than any other. For example, I think New York/New York and The Age of Innocence are incredible assessments of the woman and society (both, unfortunately, underrated) and of course Taxi Drive is excellent.

    If there's anything I'd fault him with, it's that I wish he'd do more comedy. Even his dramatic work has tinges of comedic beats, and Spielberg does switch up genres - I'll give him that.

  14. Scorsese for me personally. He's made better films and has made less stinkers though I can't think of a film by Scorsese that I don't like.

    Spielberg is more entertaining and I like his work but I want my money back for the Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

    Oh, I did like The Terminal. I thought it was a decent, entertaining film.

  15. This is an easy one for me as I only like ONE Scorsese film. I LOVE Indiana Jones (save for the last one) and I've seen pretty much all of Spielberg's films, they're not overly dark nor violent for my taste. Plus he's making Tintin, a comic I grew up with, so yeah, he's got my vote in a heartbeat.

  16. Oh tough one! I would take Spielberg by a hair. Jurassic Park being one of my favorite movie theater experience ever, Saving Private Ryan being basically a masterpiece and Raiders of the Lost Ark, one of the best movies of the 80's.

  17. @Lime(tte) – Spielberg is the director most experience first. His blockbusters helped create legion of film enthusiasts. Scorsese is the guy most film lovers graduate to as their film taste start to mature a bit.

    @Andrew – Scorsese really could mix it up a bit more. Like you, I would like to see him tackle more comedic fare.

    @thevoid99 – Many people would like their money back for Crystal Skull. I want my money back for Gang of New York. It is nowhere near Crystal Skull level but I still want my money back nonetheless

    @Ruth – What is the one Scorsese film that you actually like? I am with you on Tintin, really looking forward to that film.

    @Castor – Jurassic Park was one of my favourite theatre going experiences as well. Even though I have it on dvd, I will still sit and watch the film whenever it is on television (which is quite often).

  18. I agree with Larry Taylor - Although Spielberg's film are fun to watch, the happy ending that is utilised in so many of his films can become fairly boring and anticlimactical for me. I like that Scorsese isn't afraid to depart from this scaffold and create interesting and thought-provoking endings. So obviously my choice is Scorsese.

  19. @S.S.L. – Scorsese definitely has the upper hand when it comes to having the better endings in his films.

  20. Spielberg. No explanation necessary.

  21. @Rachel - Straight to the point. Not even blinking Scorsese's way I see.

  22. As you might recall, I was shocked when you said this would be an easy choice (even if only for you). This is an incredibly hard choice.

    Larry makes a great point here - "I feel like Spielberg sometimes sabotages his own films in the end." That and the neverending Daddy issues have always bugged me w/ Spiel.

    But...I have to choose him.

  23. @Fletch – I think I am blissfully immune to the daddy issues in Spielberg’s films. I had not even considered them until you brought it up. When it comes to directors with daddy issues, my mind immediately goes to P.T. Anderson.

  24. Haha, I'll see your Frank T.J. Mackey and raise you an Ed Tom Bell (not a great name, per se, but it cracks me up). Speaking of which, Anton Chigurh is pretty great.


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