Which Kubrick-Compared Director Is the Most Kubrickian?

With Christopher Nolan’s Inception arriving on Blu-ray and DVD this week, it’s time to address an important issue: Comparisons to Stanley Kubrick were de rigueur in 2010 for a certain kind of filmmaker — ambitious, mysterious, and a little control-freaky. Sometimes the comparison is self-made — witness Kanye West’s recent assertion that he was influenced by Kubrick as he directed his 30-minute video for “Runaway.” In other cases (as in Nolan’s), it was journalists drawing parallels. We’ve decided to take a look at some of the working filmmakers most regularly compared to Kubrick and have given them a grade on the Kubrick-o-Meter, ranging between 0 (meaning not very Kubrickian at all) to 10 (meaning, basically, Stanley Kubrick). (Also, please note that there are several directors who’ve been around a while and have become institutions in and of themselves that we’ve left off the list, such as Martin Scorsese, the Coen Brothers, and David Lynch.)

Control Freak Tendencies: Is super-secretive about his projects — even his Batman movies — and exercises total power over them, usually free of studio interference. Ostensibly Super-Smart Subject Matter: Made a movie about dreams within dreams within dreams. Most Kubrickian Work: Probably The Prestige, with its intricate tale of obsessive characters engaged in fatal gamesmanship. Kubrickian Street Cred: None that we know of, though even he must be getting tired of the Kubrick comparisons by now. Kubrick-o-meter: 5
Control Freak Tendencies: Known to be a perfectionist, but has recently been working in a verite, semi-improvisatory run-and-gun style that runs counter to that; then again, so did Kubrick with A Clockwork Orange and Full Metal Jacket. Ostensibly Super-Smart Subject Matter: Made a movie about math (Pi). Most Kubrickian Work: The Fountain, sadly. Kubrickian Street Cred: He’s been compared to Kubrick since his first film. Kubrick-o-meter: 4
Control Freak Tendencies: Has been known to do 75 takes of a shot. Ostensibly Super-Smart Subject Matter: Made a movie about hackers-cum-billionaires. Also made a couple of movies about super-smart serial killers. Most Kubrickian Work: Zodiac, probably; though The Game, with its elaborate mice-caught-in-a-trap story line, is a close runner-up. Kubrickian Street Cred: Was attached for years to direct Rendezvous With Rama, based on the novel by 2001 co-writer Arthur C. Clarke. Kubrick-o-meter: 7
Control Freak Tendencies: Exercises painstaking control over practically every aspect of his films, right down to the scientifically engineered sound design. Super-Smart Subject Matter: The daringly structured Irreversible tells its story backwards. Most Kubrickian Work: Enter the Void, which has earned comparisons to 2001 for its immersive, groundbreaking visual razzle dazzle, though Kubrick would have probably been more careful with the dialogue. Kubrickian Street Cred: Admitted to us that he has a collection of vintage 2001 movie posters. Kubrick-o-meter: 4
Control Freak Tendencies: Do you really have to ask? Ostensibly Super-Smart Subject Matter: Invented an insanely detailed distant planet, complete with its own flora and fauna, for Avatar. Could probably talk your ears off about the right texture for the membrane under the tongue of an imaginary blue, flying horse-dragon hybrid. Most Kubrickian Work: The Abyss, which sought to do for the underwater world what 2001 did for space. Kubrickian Street Cred: Actually got to hang out with Kubrick once, though Kubrick mostly just grilled him about the F/X technology he used for True Lies. Kubrick-o-meter: 5
Control Freak Tendencies: Like the multi-hyphenate performer he is, pretty much tries to do everything. Also, tries to control other people’s awards shows when they don’t go his way. Super-Smart Subject Matter: Erm. Most Kubrickian Work: His 30-minute video “Runaway” isn’t exactly Kubrickian, but in its overt nods to The Shining, it comes the closest. Kubrickian Street Cred: Not so much. Kubrick-o-meter: 2
Control Freak Tendencies: Aside from his usual perfectionism, it also seems to take him years to find a film he’s comfortable making. Ostensibly Super-Smart Subject Matter: Made a movie, based on an allegedly “unfilmable” book, about an alternate past in which human clones are bred for their organs. Most Kubrickian Work: The icily precise One-Hour Photo. The 2001-like video for Michael and Janet Jackson’s “Scream.” Kubrickian Street Cred: Used to haunt the alt.movies.kubrick Usenet group under a pseudonym. (We know ‘cause we were there, too.) Has recently grown a massive, impressively Kubrickian beard. Kubrick-o-meter: 6
Control Freak Tendencies: The kind of director whose perfectionism has been written about for decades now. Also, reports suggest he drove Johnny Depp completely mad on the set of Public Enemies. Ostensibly Super-Smart Subject Matter: Heavily researches his subjects, right down to minutest details. Some narcotics lawyers we know still marvel at the authenticity of the jargon used in the feature version of Miami Vice. Most Kubrickian Work: Probably Heat. Kubrickian Street Cred: See under: Christopher Nolan. Kubrick-o-meter: 3
Control Freak Tendencies: Not known for being much of a control freak on set, but he shoots miles and miles of film and then takes years to edit it. Super-Smart Subject Matter: The screenplay for the upcoming The Tree of Life encompasses the history of the universe. We’re not exaggerating. The history of the universe. Most Kubrickian Work: None of his films could be said to be remotely Kubrickian, but the Tree of Life definitely looks to have 2001-like overtones. Kubrickian Street Cred: His last official photograph dates back to 1997, which would probably have made the publicity-shy Kubrick green with envy. Also, the F/X on Tree of Life were done by Douglas Trumbull, who also worked on 2001. Kubrick-o-meter: 3 (will go to 5 if Tree of Life actually turns out anything like its script)
Control Freak Tendencies: Virtually re-created the Watchmen comic book frame-for-frame for the Watchmen movie. Super-Smart Subject Matter: The purportedly unfilmable Watchmen. Most Kubrickian Work: Probably Watchmen. Kubrickian Street Cred: None that we know of, though he probably has some Dave Bowman action figure stashed away in a trunk somewhere. Kubrick-o-meter: 3
Control Freak Tendencies: Reportedly drove people mad during the making and marketing of Magnolia. Says he’s mellowed out now, though he retains an impressive amount of control over his films. Ostensibly Super-Smart Subject Matter: We’re still not sure what Punch-Drunk Love was about, but we’re pretty sure it was very smart. Also, did heavy research for There Will Be Blood; the “I drink your milkshake” line had a historical basis! Most Kubrickian Work: There Will Be Blood, which sported a Jonny Greenwood score full of homages to the music utilized by Kubrick in 2001 and The Shining. Kubrickian Street Cred: Got to talk to Kubrick on the phone once, while working with Tom Cruise on Magnolia. Kubrick-o-meter: 6
Which Kubrick-Compared Director Is the Most Kubrickian?