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Brian De Palma
Cooperation and creative versatility distinguish winning directors
Cooperation and creative versatility distinguish winning directors

A number of recent movies — including some of this year's top awards contenders — revive a decades-old debate about the type of director who shapes the most memorable films. In his famed 1962 essay, "Notes on the Auteur Theory," Andrew Sarris gave the highest praise to strong-willed directors like Alfred Hitchcock and John Ford, who stamped their movies with an unmistakable personal vision. In a celebrated counterattack, Pauline Kael cried hogwash and championed more flexible, versatile directors like Carol Reed and Fred Zinnemann, who worked in a variety of genres and often submerged their own personality into the material they were interpreting. Thanks to her...

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