Steven Soderbergh and Daniel Craig on the set of "Logan Lucky".
So much for the so-called "retirement" from feature-length movies. It was only four years ago when Steven Soderbergh made that announcement after helming "Behind The Candelabra", now, he is back calling the shots with his latest heist comedy titled "Logan Lucky". Not to mention the movie also boasts an all-star cast that includes Channing Tatum, Adam Driver and Daniel Craig.
7. "Contagion" (2011)
To coincide with the upcoming release of "Logan Lucky" this 7 September, here are the 7 best movies directed by Soderbergh over the past few years.
Jude Law is one of the A-list ensemble cast featured in "Contagion".
Soderbergh's take on a disease outbreak isn't your typical Hollywood thriller told in a sensational manner. Instead, he and screenwriter Scott Z. Burns offers a subdued but intriguing look at how an unknown virus can affect people and the overall population in general. Like the disease itself, Soderbergh brings a distinctly cold and detached visual to evoke a foreboding sense of dread while effectively tapping the underlying theme of basic human fear against the unknown. Like "Traffic", he handles his ensemble cast well enough while Cliff Martinez's minimalist electronic score is among the biggest highlights in this movie.
6. "The Limey" (1999)
Wilson (Terence Stamp) is looking for a vengeance in "The Limey".
A vengeful English father (Terence Stamp) who just got out of prison, is looking to seek justice against the death of his daughter Jennifer (Melissa George). With a brief synopsis like that, "The Limey" could have gone the standard route of your average revenge-thriller genre, but Soderbergh steps up his game by experimenting the particular genre with an ingenious use of disconnected editing style to explore the fractured time and memories seen through the eyes of Stamp's character. At the heart of this revenge flick is Terence Stamp's intense performance as Wilson, while Soderbergh cleverly juxtaposed some of the footage from Stamp's earlier role of his 1968's "Poor Cow" during the movie's flashback sequences.
5. "Out Of Sight" (1998)
Jack Foley (George Clooney) and Karen Sisco (Jennifer Lopez) getting to know
each other inside a car trunk in "Out Of Sight".
During the mid and late-1990s, Elmore Leonard's list of crime novels was on the hot streak for three times in a row with a trio of memorable big-screen adaptations: Barry Sonnenfeld's "Get Shorty" (1995) and Quentin Tarantino's "Jackie Brown" (1997). The third one, of course, is Soderbergh's "Out Of Sight". The movie, which tells of a career criminal (George Clooney) getting tangled up in a complicated affair with a beautiful U.S. Marshal (Jennifer Lopez), is best known for revitalising Soderbergh's flagging career following a string of underachieving effort ranging from 1991's "Kafka" to 1996's "Gray's Anatomy". Blessed with a witty Oscar-nominated adapted script by Scott Frank, "Out Of Sight" proves that Soderbergh is able to jump ship from his indie status to a mainstream Hollywood level for the first time ever. Part of the movie's success is Soderbergh's stylish direction that allows him to let loose and have fun with Leonard's source material without going overboard or being particularly experimental. He also made good use of his ensemble cast from George Clooney's charming performance as Jack Foley right down to a pair of uncredited performances by Michael Keaton (reprising his FBI agent role from "Jackie Brown") and Samuel L. Jackson as a convict who shares the prison van with Foley. Die-hard fans and viewers probably remembered the sizzling chemistry that Clooney and Lopez shared together on the screen (yes, the trunk scene quickly comes to mind). But let's not forget the final heist sequence: Who could have thought that Soderbergh was able to come up with a "Pulp Fiction"-like "gun-accidentally-went-off" moment without looking like a carbon copy?
4. "Erin Brockovich" (2000)
Julia Roberts plays the real-life Erin Brockovich in "Erin Brockovich".
2000 was particularly a banner year for Soderbergh who scored the double jackpot with "Traffic" and prior to that, "Erin Brockovich". Based on a true story of the same name, Julia Roberts plays the title character who works in a case involving the water contamination in Hinkley caused by Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E). Soderbergh smartly eschews his usual stylistic direction in favour for a more straightforward approach and yet, he manages to deliver an absorbing drama presented in the vein of a classic David vs. Goliath story. Of course, none of this would have worked if not for Susannah Grant's vibrant script and Julia Roberts' tour de force performance as the foul-mouthed and provocatively-dressed Erin Brockovich. Roberts went on to win an Academy Award for Best Actress the following year, while the movie itself was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director (Soderbergh won this award for "Traffic" instead), Best Supporting Actor (Albert Finney) and Best Original Screenplay.
3. "Ocean's Eleven" (2001)
(L-R) George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Elliott Gould and Don Cheadle in
After demonstrating his stylistic flourishes of the two heist pictures seen in "The Underneath" (1995) and "Out Of Sight" (1998) with varying degrees of successes, Soderbergh had finally perfected the genre in "Ocean's Eleven". A slick remake of the 1960 heist movie of the same name (with the exception of "11" turning into "Eleven"), Soderbergh's big-time caper is famously known for its all-star cast appearances. Instead of the original Rat Pack starring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr., the 2001 remake gets a huge boost from the likes of George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle and Bernie Mac. Soderbergh handles his ensemble cast pretty well, with Clooney and Pitt's effortlessly cool and charismatic performances deserving a special mention here. Best of all, watching Clooney's Danny Ocean and his 10 accomplices pulling off an elaborate heist on three Vegas casinos has never been this fun and stylish.
2. "Sex, Lies, And Videotape" (1989)
James Spader and Andie MacDowell in "Sex, Lies, And Videotapes".
Soderbergh was only 26-years-old when he made his feature-length directorial debut in "Sex, Lies, And Videotape". The USD1.2 million low-budget drama, which revolves around the sex life of four principal characters including Graham (James Spader), Ann (Andie MacDowell), John (Peter Gallagher) and Cynthia (Laura San Giacomo), was famously responsible for kickstarting the indie film movement in the 1990s. Despite the obvious title, the movie isn't so much about the physical depiction of sex and nudity in the mould of a standard erotic drama. Instead, Soderbergh explores the subject matter through emotionally verbal revelation as the characters openly talk about sex and other related matters. Although the movie relies heavily on dialogues, Soderbergh's script - which reportedly took only 8 days to write on a yellow legal pad - is both relevant and thoughtful for its frank depiction. All four actors are great, with the young James Spader's engaging performance as an impotent individual who videotaped women confessing their sex life in front of his camera, scored a well-deserved Best Actor win at Cannes. "Sex, Lies, And Videotape" also won the coveted Palme d'Or and later earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay.
1. "Traffic" (2000)
Benicio Del Toro won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in "Traffic".
Based on the U.K.'s six-hour miniseries "Traffik" in 1989, Soderbergh's epic depiction of America's War on Drugs is undoubtedly a magnum opus and remains his best work to date. Backed by Stephen Gaghan's well-written script, Soderbergh brilliantly juggles three main interweaving narratives while loaded the movie with great performances all around. Benicio Del Toro, who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for playing a morally ambiguous Mexican cop Javier, is particularly a scene-stealer here. Soderbergh also gives the movie a distinct visual aesthetic of his own as he experiments different filters (the bleached-out sepia tones seen in the Mexico sequence and icy blue shades for the Ohio and Washington sequences) and camerawork ranging from traditional to handheld styles. In addition to Best Supporting Actor win, "Traffic" scored three more Oscars including Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Film Editing. Too bad the only nomination that failed to win was the Best Picture category, which (unfortunately) went for the more popular "Gladiator" instead.
"Logan Lucky" opens in cinemas nationwide on 7 September 2017.
Cinema Online, 02 September 2017