31. Sidney Lumet
12 ANGRY MEN, NETWORK, DOG DAY AFTERNOON, THE PAWNBROKER
It’s easy to call Sidney Lumet an “Actor’s Director.” Some of the finest performances in film history can be found in Lumet’s films. However, to label Lumet in this way is to imply that he works well with actors, then sits back and lets them do all the work. This is not the case. As we see in films like 12 Angry Men and Dog Day Afternoon, Lumet utilizes filmmaking technique- such as quick cutting, close-ups, and subjective camera angles- to put us in the world and, in some cases, in the minds of the characters we’re watching. The result is not merely the feeling that we’re watching strong characters being performed well, but rather that we are stuck with these people, forced to deal with them in a way that we perhaps aren’t totally comfortable with. His ability to manipulate our emotions through basic stylistic flourishes- all in service of the people on screen- makes Sidney Lumet much more than an “Actor’s Director.” He is, in fact, a “Character’s Director.”
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