Pixar’s best director so far

John Goodman says in Argo, “You can teach a rhesus monkey to be a director in a day,” but there’s something about being a director of a Pixar feature film that puts you in rarified air. Maybe it’s that there are only 14 Pixar films so far and even fewer directors of those films, but not just any monkey can join the elite fraternity of Pixar directors.

Ask and most people will know John Lasseter, the original kid at heart who helped start Pixar. Some might even say he’s the answer the question we’re asking: Who is the best Pixar director so far? While it might be true, I decided to test it statistically.

Here are the specs: 10 points for being the director. 7 points for being the only credited writer for the original story. 3 points for being credited, along with others, for the original story. 5 points for each sequel after the original movie. 1 point per Academy Award. Lose 2 points if not nominated for Academy Award. 3 points if the film was rated better than the Pixar average 88.7 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Lose 3 points if the film doesn’t reach the 88.7 percent rating. 1 point per developed, central character. Lost 3 points if the director did not also write the original story. 3 points for a film about an inanimate object or monster. 2 points for a film about an animal, reptile, bug, etc. 1 point for a movie about a human(s).

JOHN LASSETER: 93 POINTS

The brains behind the operation directed the first three Pixar films–Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2–and has the Cars franchise on his resume. He didn’t direct Toy Story 3, though he and a couple others get credited on the original story for the third film of the franchise.

Lasseter’s long-lasting movie franchises don’t benefit him on the character end necessarily because I’m not awarding points to repeat characters throughout a movie series. The way the math works, Lasseter actually gets docked more points than any other Pixar director. His Cars 2 was the only movie not to receive an Academy Award nomination (though we’ll wait and see for Monsters University). Also, his Cars franchise is the worst reviewed of the Pixar movies; in fact, Cars 2 got a 38 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Something else of note. Lasseter didn’t branch out onto any other projects unless he was directing them (or they were the third movie of the Toy Story franchise). That is unlike other Pixar directors, who often contributed as writers.

ANDREW STANTON: 77 POINTS

Andrew Stanton

My favorite of all of the directors on this list, for he directed my favorite animated movie of all time: Finding Nemo. He won an Academy Award for Nemo as well as WALL-E, which is something Lasseter never did.

Stanton gathers a lot of points from having his hands in everything. He either solely wrote or co-wrote six of the 14 Pixar films, including the first three. Also, he received seven points for being the only name credited for Nemo’s original story–only Brad Bird and Brenda Chapman (two names you’ll read later) have done that.

It’s also important to note that a Nemo sequel, “Finding Dory,” is slated for about 2016 and he is projected to direct it, giving him his third such credit. He earned points for his characters, developing fish and machines. He and Lasseter are in an elite category as being the only two directors to adapt machines into a film.

PETE DOCTER: 68 POINTS

Docter won more Academy Awards (4) than any other Pixar director for his two films, Up and Monsters Inc. He, like Stanton, is slated to direct another film within three years. “Inside Out” is the title for the film, coming in 2015.

He was a writer on the first two Toy Story films, while being the only director on the bill for the original story on each of his two films. One unsung hero in all of this is Bob Peterson, who is one of the original story writers for Up. Peterson is making his directorial debut for Pixar in May 2014 on a movie titled, “The Good Dinosaur.”

BRAD BIRD: 42 POINTS

Bird, like Stanton, created The Incredibles out of thin air, by himself. He got seven points for that film alone. He also directed Ratatouille and won three Academy Awards between the two.

Also, Bird is like Lasseter in that he doesn’t mess with projects that he’s not directing. Similarly, he and Lasseter went to art school together and eventually wound up at Pixar together as original animators.

Where Bird should get a lot of credit is in his trend-setting. The Incredibles was released in 2004 before the whole superhero film fad hit its stride. “Spiderman” came out in 2002, which started the trend, while Incredibles was the first animated film of its kind. Incredibles beat out the new Batman franchise, Iron Man, Fantastic Four, Watchmen. Bird’s film was released at similar dates as the X-Men franchise.

Also, The Incredibles came out when superhero films were drooping, see: Hellboy, Catwoman, The Punisher, and Daredevil.

LEE UNKRICH: 31 POINTS

He may have been given the toughest assignment of any Pixar director to date. He was given the reigns to the Toy Story franchise and told not to screw up the third film. Often, a franchise’s third film turns out to have taken the story too far and it’s unappreciated. That wasn’t the case for Toy Story 3, which won two Academy Awards–something Lasseter couldn’t do with the first two.

Unkrich is an unheralded piece of the puzzle for Finding Nemo, receiving co-director credits for that movie (although, don’t get that confused with the director credit for Stanton). He finally got his directorial debut on Toy Story 3.

He did so well, Pixar is giving him another film, which is untitled and slated for a release date in 2016. Also, he didn’t get credit for the Toy Story 3 characters.

BRENDA CHAPMAN: 23 POINTS

The only female to direct a Pixar feature film, Chapman made up all of her points with the success of Brave. The film won an Academy Award and Chapman was credited with being the only writer on the original story. The other director given credit for directing the film, Mark Andrews, had no part in the original story.

DAN SCANLON AND MARK ANDREWS: 13 POINTS

Scoretakers can note that Andrews was the only Pixar director who had points taken away from him for not writing the original story. Instead, he got his points from getting the director credit and the critics’ good reviews. Similarly, Scanlon made all of his points for Monsters University, the latest of the Pixar family.

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Merritt Wever returning to a “New Girl” love triangle

Merritt Wever, who plays Schmidt’s former college girlfriend Elizabeth, is returning to “New Girl” for two episodes this fall, which means the uncertainty of Schmidt’s love triangle at the end of Season Two might be blatantly certain now that this news has come out.

We liked Elizabeth a lot when she first came on the show in season two as she forgave Schmidt for losing weight and getting mean at the end of their relationship. She was a fresh face and superb voice on the show that, for the most part, hasn’t brought in a lot of new characters since the pilot; at least, not ones that stick around.

But her character might have been doomed from the beginning. Consider this: What if creator Elizabeth Meriwether wrote Wever into the show just to give viewers a glimpse of the old Schmidt? What if she wrote her in just to show that side of Schmidt existed? 

It’s a clever, important part of Schmidt’s character, knowing he was a softy once. However, now he’s a softy for Cece and inevitably showed he still had strong feeling for her when Shivrang proposed to her during Nick and Schmidt’s roommate anniversary.

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So Elizabeth, a character that almost instantly got every viewer’s approval, might fall out of the show. We were left with Elizabeth and Cece standing in front of Schmidt asking for a final decision. It’s over with Elizabeth if Schmidt picks Cece and vise versa. 

It’s important to consider how season three will begin (meaning, where in the story). I imagine it wont start right back up at the church, because that’s not the way it usually goes. The season three opener could begin at the apartment as the roommates bug Schmidt for a decision.

It could start with Schmidt already having made a decision because the choice could be so obvious that it’s not even worth discussing. For example, he could pick Cece and we could see Elizabeth on her way out in the only two episodes she’ll appear in. Maybe Schmidt wants to be friends and that’s just not going to happen.

Elizabeth is a tough character to lose because she was so likable, but Schmidt and Cece are star-crossed lovers. Elizabeth is the kind of corky, straight forward sweetheart I really enjoyed seeing in the show, but Cece quenches Schmidt’s thirst for sexy, tall and exotic.

Now, while Schmidt could pick Cece nobody is saying they’ll stay together. It’s pretty clear they’re developing an on again, off again relationship where one of them isn’t going to be happy with something. Remember, Cece left Schmidt to get “serious” about the rest of her life. She wanted a man her family would approve of and one she felt secure starting a life with. Schmidt still isn’t any of those things. Maybe Cece was just horny during her wedding and we know she often sought out Schmidt to satisfy her needs.

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But let me flip the focus back to Schmidt; after all, he’s making the decision. He wants both girls for different reasons — typical Schmidt (eye roll). It’d be really nice to see a Schmidt that isn’t so reliable on Cece. She has him in her hand and she knows it.

It was appropriate that Cece and Schmidt went their separate ways for the same reason in season two. Cece wanted something serious and real and that’s what Schmidt found, but we’re only entering season three and that might be too soon for all of the characters to start settling down.

And we haven’t even talked about the Nick and Jess situation or the hope that we see more of Winston’s new girl — the stunning Brenda Song. 

Attack of the killer reruns: “Hills”

As much as I’m ashamed to admit it, the channel has stopped changing when it hits MTV during the past week. That’s right, I’m blaming this on the TV remote. My minor binge re-watching of “The Hills” is caused by an inanimate object that stops working. That’s the story and I’m sticking to it.

“The Hills” was a great idea at the time, expanding “Laguna Beach” to follow its most popular character, Lauren Conrad, to real world LA. But the series never lived up to the hype did it? At the end of Laguna Beach Season One, Lauren arrived in San Francisco in Stephen’s open arms and it seemed like whatever came of that was going to be interesting.

Five to seven years ago, I couldn’t take my eyes off of MTV. These days, when my damn remote stops working on that over-dramatized channel, I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.

In “The Hills,” everything is so far overblown that it’s disgusting. Oh my god, Audrina talked to Heidi, so when Audrina gets home she’s going to sit on the couch and I’m going to ask her about Heidi because that’s so weird! Oh my god, like, guess who’s in Stephanie’s computer class?? Like totally Lauren is in her class. She just texted me. I don’t even know what to say. Oh my god, Spencer has to have peace and quiet so he can watch ’24’, but he’s also really mad at Brody.

Can you hear their voices yet? I’ve come to the conclusion that watching the show’s reruns could actually kill you, or at least just make you feel really bad about yourself — ashamed, as I feel.

It’s like watching too many back-to-back episodes of “Bar Rescue.” You can’t handle John’s loud mouth anymore so you have to turn it off. Or like watching an entire season of “Mad Men” on Netflix in one sitting — you feel fatter, more exhausted and like a giant waste of space.

For goodness sake, what would my parents think?

Maybe looking back at all of the meat of the show is what makes it so grotesque. Lauren worked at Teen Vogue, a job that literally a million girls would kills for (sorry, Devil Wears Prada). Heidi used to be super cute and then she did all of that plastic surgery and, well, you know the rest.

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Whitney was the only real person on the show. By the time it was all over, anybody anywhere was begging MTV for a Whitney spinoff because they actually cared about her.

Watching these episodes brings me back to the “old days,” but not in a good way. It brings me back to the days when I was a teenager sucked into anything MTV threw on the screen.

Now I’m just here to warn you. It’s tempting when you see it on the TV guide. Everyone wants to relive those days when all they had to worry about was what shit Spencer was going to do in the next episode or which guy Lauren was going to be dating.

Take it from a Hills rerun survivor: you don’t want to relive those days.

The essential history of Emma Watson’s path to hotness

There is a point in every child star’s career where everyone watching them on the big screen realizes, “Oh! They’re going to be really hot,” and then it happens a movie or two later.

Lindsay Lohan’s epic downfall in the past five years may make her a bad example, but this happened to her. In “Get A Clue” (2002), everyone realized she had potential to shatter a thermometer. In “Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen” (2004), she reached the level of stone-cold fox.

For the Olsen twins, it was “Holiday in the Sun” (2001), and they might be a better comparison because they grew up during a movie “series,” if you can even call it that.

Emma Watson’s rise to irresistibility can be traced through the eight Harry Potter movies and everything she has done since. This is that history.

THE KITCHEN MOP STAGE (CIRCA SORCERER’S STONE)

Hermione-Granger-in-HP-and-the-sorcerer-s-stone-hermione-granger-13574341-960-540I quote her first conversation as much as the next guy — “You’ve got dirt on your nose… just there” — but Hermione Granger wasn’t much to write home about in the series’ opening film. Hell, Ron didn’t even write her the summer after their first year.

Remember that one random girl, who is sorted into Hufflepuff at the beginning of the movie? She had Hermione for the crown of cutest first year, and we only got a three-second glimpse of her.

There was a time, before Hermione declared her parents as dentists, when we didn’t know much about her muggle family, and it was conceivable that she was Hagrid’s daughter. I mean, their hair was identical.

THE NO BANGS STAGE (CIRCA CHAMBER OF SECRETS)

hermione-granger-galleryHermione got rid of her bangs, but really didn’t change much. The first movie was a success and it was time to get some serious hair experts in studio. The result? No more moppy bangs.

In her defense, they filmed the first two movies so close together, barely a year apart, that she didn’t have time to grow, but everyone has a growth spurt sooner or later. On a separate note, was anyone else bothered when she showed up in Diagon Alley by herself at the beginning, or was it just me?

THE SCHOOL UNIFORMS AND YOUR HAIR REALLY DOES LOOK LIKE THAT FROM THE BACK STAGE (CIRCA PRISONER OF AZKABAN)

Prisoner-of-Azkaban-hermione-granger-3357631-1200-788A theme developed: her hair. Kind of like a good wine. It got better with age. Two years between movies and Hermione grew up a bit. And yet she asked, “Does my hair really look like that from the back?” It did. But it was shorter.

Hermione was going through what all young, pubescent kids go through. She was confused. She was in between being a little girl and accepting that her body was changing. Her hair was a great example — short, but still a tad moppy. At least she bought a real curling iron for the movie.

This was also the movie of the higher class school uniforms, rather than the towel drapes of the first two movies. Hermione was never hotter in this movie than the early scene in Hagrid’s class, where she pulled her hair back and wore the uniform.

She developed an attitude — a moxy — that filled the big screen. She turned time. She was in command. There’s nothing hotter than that, but she was growing to look the part, too.

THE JOCKS ARE STARTING TO NOTICE STAGE (CIRCA GOBLET OF FIRE)

Viktor-and-Hermione-krum-and-hermione-16833774-2100-1397There comes a moment in a girl’s life when they have a dance. It’s like a coming out party or a released-into-the-wild party. Ah! It’s called a debutante ball. I looked it up. “Goblet of Fire” was Hermione Granger’s debutante ball — and, slowly, Emma Watson’s, as people started to remember her real name.

Viktor Crum, the biggest jock of the magic world, seeks Hermione, she looks great at the Yule Ball and Ron couldn’t have her. For the first time, she was a sought after girlfriend. For the first time, the minimal time between movies — again, one year — didn’t bite her.

Her history was beginning to be written because all of the teenaged guys in the theater sank in their seats, quickly looking left and then right, embarrassed. They were attracted to Hermione Granger, and it felt a little awkward to feel that, at least for a couple minutes.

THE EVERYTHING IS DIFFERENT NOW STAGE (CIRCA ORDER OF THE PHOENIX)

emmaHermione Granger is hot. Emma Watson is a universally-recognized name and she finally rises to the surface as a known face in Hollywood. Everyone agrees: Emma Watson is hot, but, oh, she’d get hotter. This was her “Get A Clue” (referenced above) and she was about to take off.

“Hermione granger order of the phoenix hair” is a popular search on Google. That says it all right there, doesn’t it?

Plus, Order of the Phoenix is the first DVD she catches your eye on.

THE ICE CREAM EATING AND STILL LOOKING GOOD WHEN POTIONS BLOW UP IN HER FACE STAGE (CIRCA HALF BLOOD PRINCE)

emma_watson_in_latest_harry_potter_and_the_half_blood_prince-normalShe looks good in PJs at Ron’s house. She looks good in a dress to her professor’s VIP get together. She looks good eating ice cream. She even looks good when her hair goes crazy, after potions blow up in her face.

Ron is making out with someone else, which is fine for us because we have a better chance with her.

Also, she starts showing up to the movie premieres looking really dynamite. This is it. She’s peaking at the end of the series and it’s only going to keep getting better. Funny, I said that in the last stage, too. During “Order of the Phoenix” and “Half Blood Prince,” she grew into herself and turned into a young woman.

THE END OF THE SERIES AND START OF UNATTAINABLE HOT GIRL STAGE (CIRCA DEATHLY HALLOWS 1&2)

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HermionesHatIntroducing, the versatile, SEXY Emma Watson. She can’t do no wrong. Hermione even ages quite a bit at the end of the second movie, but she still looks young and vibrant. How can that be!? This must be fiction!

We’re blessed with Emma Watson’s first semi-nude scene, even though she’s making out with Harry as a ghost of Ron’s psyche. She’s on fire and aggressively “necking” with Ghost Harry. Daniel Radcliffe admitted, post-production, that Emma Watson really went for it in that scene. I’m OK with that. I loved it. Unfortunately, it was a rather short scene.

These four pictures show her in a variety of moods — work day, gone camping, wedding attendee or dinner party, and winter warmth. But now I’m starting to sound like a fashion guru and I hate it. That’s a job for somebody else. Emma Watson is beautiful, sexy, dreamy, or whatever word you want to attach to it.

This was her evolution. We watched her grow up. She seems to be as beautiful of a person on the inside as she is on the outside. MTV awarded her the Trailblazer Award for outstanding rising star.

By definition, a “trailblazer” is a pioneer or innovator; or a person who makes a new path through wild country. That’s some Webster’s Dictionary stuff for you right there. Emma Watson applies.