The MTV Movie Awards may very well be the anti-Oscars – giving popular movies a bigger platform for award respect, and keeping those Oscar-bred, critic-loving films on the backburner. While popcorn blockbusters get all the love (especially in recent years with the Twilight movies and The Hunger Games), there have been prominent directors who have achieved success as a result of these awards.
From 1992 to 2002, eleven talented filmmakers would be honored with the music network’s Best New Filmmaker Award. John Singleton, Carl Franklin, Steven Zaillian and Steve James were the first four to get the honor. These next three men would achieve this similar feat:
1996: Wes Anderson, Bottle Rocket
The Texas-born director achieved his first taste of cinematic glory with a full-length version of a short film he wrote and directed in the mid-1990s. Three men (Owen Wilson, Luke Wilson and Robert Musgrave) pull off a robbery and thus begins a series of wild misadventures in the Southwest – even featuring a Spanish maid who doesn’t speak English and even meet a landscaping boss (James Caan) who gets them wise to life. Even though it wasn’t a runaway box office hit, this film certainly opened critical eyeballs to Anderson’s work as a director. Without this film, the world would have been deprived of Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums and Fantastic Mr. Fox (the latter two films earning him Oscar nominations). This debut earned Anderson the 1996 MTV Movie Award for the Best New Filmmaker.
1997: Doug Liman, Swingers
The New York-born director would also be a graduate of USC’s hugely-successful film program, and had helmed the 1993 thriller Getting In before pulling off an indie hit with this 1996 comedy-adventure. Two actors (Vince Vaughn and writer Jon Favreau) take a trip to Las Vegas to get away from the Hollywood life, and to pick up a little romance along the way. Liman’s work with the film’s small budget made Swingers a profitable hit, made Favreau and Vaughn stars, and gave the director plenty of opportunities to top it. He would direct the successful action films The Bourne Identity & the Brad Pitt-Angelina Jolie Mr. & Mrs. Smith, and even directed the pilot episode of the cult teen series The O.C.
1998: Peter Cattaneo, The Full Monty
Before taking on his full-length debut, the British filmmaker had already achieved a taste of critical success. Cattaneo directed the 1990 short Dear Rosie (featuring a script co-written by The Queen‘s Peter Morgan), and he earned Academy Award & BAFTA nominations. Seven years later, Cattaneo finally managed to pull off a full-length – and he did it with a group of unemployed workers who decide to put on a strip show to restore their financial and personal dignities. The film launched the international careers of Robert Carlyle, Mark Addy and Tom Wilkinson, and it would even be adapted into a Broadway musical. Cattaneo won Oscar & BAFTA nominations for directing The Full Monty, but he has only directed three films since – his most recent being the 2008 Rainn Wilson vehicle The Rocker.
Coming up in the concluding Part Three: a Brit goes gangster, a music video icon launches his second act, a director’s daughter breaks through, and a superhero filmmaker closes the award with a bang…