The 10 Most Badass Actor/Director Teams In Movies


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A truly great movie requires a connection between the actors and the man behind the camera. And when you make a powerful connection, you don’t want to let it go. Join us as we spotlight 10 actor/director duos who have worked together on numerous occasions and indisputably bring out the best in each other.

10. Kurt Russell and John Carpenter

From sci-fi (Escape from New York) to horror (The Thing) to high-flying kung-fu fantasy (Big Trouble in Little China), Carpenter and Russell bring a sense of fun to any genre. Perhaps it’s time that they reunite once again for a third Snake Plissken outing. If Mad Max can come back, so can Snake.

9. Toshiro Mifune and Akira Kurosawa

The most influential director in Japan’s movie industry had an incredible partner in Toshiro Mifune, a leading man who brought incredible passion to each role. Kurosawa was notoriously meticulous and controlling behind the camera, and Mifune counterbalanced that with his own energy. Together, the duo created masterpieces like Rashomon and Seven Samurai.

8. Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi

The scrappy early films of Sam Raimi were greatly aided by the presence of Bruce Campbell, a weirdly charming actor who brought good looks and ironic distance to the role of Ash in the Evil Dead trilogy. The pair have worked together on numerous occasions, and rumor has it that they’re set to pair again for the much-rumored Evil Dead TV series.

7. Penelope Cruz and Pedro Almodovar

Spanish director Pedro Almodovar is famous for his ability to write strong female characters for the screen, and he found an incredible muse in Penelope Cruz. The pair have collaborated in a quartet of films, which brought the best out of Cruz as an actress and allowed her to stretch her dramatic wings beyond “very pretty lady.”

6. Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Cameron

It’s no stretch to say that Cameron is responsible for some of Arnie’s best films. Terminator, T2, True Lies…we only wish this duo would work together more often.

5. John Wayne and John Ford

The greatest director of Westerns the silver screen has ever seen and the actor who epitomized American masculinity for over half a century – is it any surprise that they left an indelible mark on cinematic history? John Ford directed John Wayne in many of his most famous movies, from 1938’s Stagecoach to Donovan’s Reef. Their best film is probably 1956’s The Searchers.

4. Chow Yun-fat and John Woo

Chinese director John Woo single-handedly re-invented action cinema in the 1990s, but he had a lot of help from stoic actor Chow Yun-fat. The duo first teamed in 1986’s A Better Tomorrow, which was a commercial and critical success, and further refined the formula in that film’s sequel and with 1989’s undisputed classic The Killer. Woo’s balletic cinematography coupled with Chow’s incredible presence resulted in some truly incredible films.

3. Johnny Depp and Tim Burton

There is literally no pairing in modern film that’s tighter than Burton and Depp. Since the duo first worked together in Edward Scissorhands, Depp’s lent his quirky leading man abilities to seven other films, from Ed Wood to Dark Shadows. That’s a pretty serious run of flicks, and even though their pairing has produced decidedly mixed results of late, it’s still a partnership to be reckoned with.

2. Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese

Who knew when Leo was a ’90s teen hearthrob that he would turn into one of his generation’s most acclaimed actors? Leo’s transformation from puppy dog-eyed love interest into seasoned actor is due in no small part to his ongoing working relationship with Martin Scorsese, a pairing that has given us everything from Gangs of New York to their most recent success, The Wolf of Wall Street.

Click here to see all showings of The Departed on IFC.

1. Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese

As prolific as Scorsese and DiCaprio have been in recent years, they still have yet to top one of the most heralded cinematic partnerships in history. Starting all the way back in 1973 with Mean Streets, Scorsese and De Niro’s partnership has extended through almost five decades. Scorsese brings out the best in almost all his actors, but when he works with De Niro, fireworks are guaranteed. The duo are said to be working on a new film, titled The Irishman.

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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Byrning Down the House

Everything You Need to Know About the Film That Inspired “Final Transmission”

Documentary Now! pays tribute to "Stop Making Sense" this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Cinecom/courtesy Everett Collection

This week Documentary Now! is with the band. For everyone who’s ever wanted to be a roadie without leaving the couch, “Final Transmission” pulls back the curtain on experimental rock group Test Pattern’s final concert. Before you tune in Wednesday at 10P on IFC, plug your amp into this guide for Stop Making Sense, the acclaimed 1984 Talking Heads concert documentary.

Put on Your Dancing Shoes

Hailed as one of the best concert films ever created, director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) captured the energy and eccentricities of a band known for pushing the limits of music and performance.

Make an Entrance

Lead singer David Byrne treats the concert like a story: He enters an empty stage with a boom box and sings the first song on the setlist solo, then welcomes the other members of the group to the stage one song at a time.

Steal the Spotlight

David Byrne Dancing
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Always a physical performer, Byrne infuses the stage and the film with contagious joy — jogging in place, dancing with lamps, and generally carrying the show’s high energy on his shoulders.

Suit Yourself

Byrne makes a splash in his “big suit,” a boxy business suit that grows with each song until he looks like a boy who raided his father’s closet. Don’t overthink it; on the DVD, the singer explains, “Music is very physical, and often the body understands it before the head.”

View from the Front Row

Stop Making Sense Band On Stage
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Demme (who also helmed 1987’s Swimming to Cambodia, the inspiration for this season’s Documentary Now! episode “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything”) films the show by putting viewers in the audience’s shoes. The camera rarely shows the crowd and never cuts to interviews or talking heads — except the ones onstage.

Let’s Get Digital

Tina Weymouth Keyboard
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Stop Making Sense isn’t just a good time — it’s also the first rock movie to be recorded entirely using digital audio techniques. The sound holds up more than 30 years later.

Out of Pocket

Talk about investing in your art: Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz told Rolling Stone that the members of the band “basically put [their] life savings” into the movie, and they didn’t regret it.

Catch Documentary Now!’s tribute to Stop Making Sense when “Final Transmission” premieres Wednesday, October 12 at 10P on IFC.

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