The Sopranos is certainly among the most important landmarks not only in television history but in the history of filmed drama. I am confident that it will be studied in film schools as long as such schools exist while also nosing its way into conventional college literature courses. David Chase's name easily belongs next to names like Tennessee Williams and William Shakespeare. His genius as a writer and as an observer of humanity is that towering.
Without James Gandolfini's virtuostic skill as an actor and God-given capacity to elicit sympathy, even when behaving in the most unsympathetic ways, I know I would never have come to love this show as deeply as I love it. My obsession could never have happened without his face, his voice, his mannerisms, his paradoxically hulking frame and palpable vulnerabilities making me care so deeply about Tony Soprano.
The base of supporting talent is also remarkable. The co-writers -- in particular Terrence Winter, Robin Green, and Mitchell Burgess -- are certainly deserving of big time solo gigs on the strength of their outstanding contributions to The Sopranos.
The supporting cast all had their moments to shine over the years, and not one of them ever failed to deliver when it was their turn at bat. Though I had little like for Christopher as a character, I credit Michael Imperioli with making him as real and dynamic as any character on the show. Dominic Chianese and Aida Turturo were equally impressive in their supporting roles. And no mention of casting could be complete without acknowledging the late, great Nancy Marchand, who quite simply breathed life into a character of legendary proportions. Had she made it through a few more seasons, I very likely would consider her the second most important actor on the show.
Instead, I grant that consideration to Edie Falco. Though her character is secondary to Gandolfini's in importance, she is second to no one in the consistent excellence of her performances. Perhaps the ultimate tribute to Falco is that she could share the screen so often with an actor/character combination as imposing as Gandolfini/Tony and still command just as much attention.
The regular and guest directors certainly did their fair share to make this series a classic, and season 6B may well mark the finest-directed series of episodes yet. They have been ably assisted by the two main directors of photography, who consistently lit and captured the most alluring pictures on television. The editing of the footage, as supervised by Chase, was every bit as good as the capture. Throughout the production chain, the executive crews always found appropriate visual and aural techniques to convey the story, sometimes in very innovative ways. After 80-odd hours featuring countless acts of violence, it's a tribute to their creativity and quest for truth that they could so thoroughly put the viewer inside a moment as surreal and startling as the Torciani hit of Stage 5
To all these folks, to every single member of the cast -- departed and current, to all the production staff who performed hour after hour of essential but unglorified work, to Brad Grey and the executives of HBO who saw early what no one else in programming could see and laid out the cash to bring this series to the screen, I offer my deepest thanks. You've all been part of something that really matters. For myself and many that watched this series, it will remain deeply embedded in our psyches for the rest of our lives, helping to shape the way we view film and even the way we view the complexities of human existence. Not a bad way to spend 10 years.