With the riveting news that Peter Berg is hopping off Dune and with Paramount’s search for a new director come the names Neill Blomkamp and Neil Marshall being tossed around. Clearly, Paramount is contractually obligated to hire a director named Neil (which explains why Berg probably left).
However, we here at FSR are never content with the obvious. Instead, we’d like to throw out a few directorial talents we think could turn the new adaptation of Dune and make it something special. Hopefully, a few of the names will surprise, and you should be warned that we haven’t consulted the Bene Gesserit with any of these names.
So here they are, in no particular order:
7. Martin Campbell
The Pitch: Despite not being named Neil, Campbell blew everyone away with Casino Royale. So much so that he nabbed the job directing Green Lantern, and people still don’t realize he directed GoldenEye. He’s got an eye for darkness within humanity and pulling every ounce of that from his characters, and it would be excellent to see him play around with a character who can see past, present, and future at will.
6. Duncan Jones
The Pitch: Despite not being named Neil, Jones rose to geek prominence with Moon this year, and judging by his ability to create an epic-feeling moonscape with pocket change, it might just be magical to see the universe if he’s given a much larger paycheck. The downside? Jones would have to work with more than one actor. The upside? His entire filmography would rhyme.
5. Ridley Scott
The Pitch: Despite not being named Neil, Scott was actually originally attached to Dune back in 1979 during the development hell the flick was going through. I full recognize that Scott has a few missteps in his catalog, but the man brought the science fiction masterworks Alien and Blade Runner to the world as well as the politically propelled storyline of betrayal and corruption with Gladiator. If the man’s full talent was on target, it could be the film that finally won him an Oscar for Best Director, and we’d get a damned fine film.
4. Kathryn Bigelow
The Pitch: Despite not being named Neil, Bigelow has an eye for action and has already been to the desert once this year with The Hurt Locker (which, yes, I will continue to praise to the hilltops). It could be argued that she hasn’t tackled plots as intricately woven in her career yet, but she has an incredible eye for character and doesn’t mind getting a little sand in her boots.
3. Tom McCarthy
The Pitch: Despite not being named Neil, and despite you tilting your head to the side and asking, “Who’s Tom McCarthy?” this guy has done a ton of work. As an actor. But beyond memorable roles in “The Wire” and Flags of Our Fathers, McCarthy also wrote and directed the beautiful The Visitor. Plus, he’s helming the pilot for “Game of Thrones,” an adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” epic fantasy series involving kings, queens, knights, and a bunch of battling for a powerful chair. As an actor, turned television/film director, he’s sort of already like Peter Berg, and although he hasn’t been tested with the size budget this flick would require, isn’t that part of the fun?
2. Neill Blomkamp
The Pitch: First of all, his name is Neill. Second of all, yeah, sure, okay, he’s made a phenomenal first film (and theoretically could bring along Peter Jackson as a producer. A Peter Jackson-produced Dune. Geek out on that) and has shown with District 9 he has a keen understanding of sci-fi and interpersonal relations.
1. Steven Soderbergh
The Pitch: Despite not being named Neil, it is our firm belief that you don’t necessarily need an epic filmmaker to direct Dune. You get a director who has mastered character and story, and then get them a great cinematographer. With Soderbergh, you get both. Plus, being one of the most diverse directors working today, he seems like the type that would be game for diving deep into a world that needs serious commitment. We only hope that he’d write a script and hire professional actors, although a mumblecore-style Dune might be the strangest thing we’ve seen in years.
Bonus: Alan Smithee
The Pitch: Did you know there’s already a version of Dune out there directed by Alan Smithee? Plus, the guy is incredibly prolific. (Just kidding. We know he’s fake).
Editor’s note: This list was lovingly brainstormed by Robert Fure, Paul Sileo and Cole Abaius.