Favorite Sopranos director?

David Chase (No votes)
Tim Van Patten (No votes)
John Patterson
Total votes: 3 (100%)
Alan Taylor (No votes)
Allen Coulter (No votes)
Steve Buscemi (No votes)
Jack Bender (No votes)
Mike Figgis (No votes)
David Nutter (No votes)
Dan Attias (No votes)
Henry J. Bronchtein (No votes)
Terence Winter (No votes)
Phil Abraham (No votes)
Rodrigo Garcia (No votes)
Steve Shill (No votes)
Peter Bogdanovich (No votes)
Lorraine Senna Ferrara (No votes)
Danny Leiner (No votes)
James Hayman (No votes)
Nick Gomez (No votes)
Total votes: 3

Director poll

Who's your favorite director to work on The Sopranos?

Guide to the Sopranos directors

David Chase: The series creator, and director of its first and last episodes. I almost hesitate to include David Chase on the list, but if you're looking for the most influential creative mind of the series, this is the man.

Tim Van Patten: The show's most prolific director, who was there from Season 1 to 6, contributing to every season in between, and shouldering most of the show's final episodes along with Alan Taylor. Tim Van Patten is an integral fixture of the series. He's directed some of its most infamous episodes - Paradoxically, in Season 4 he directed both "Christopher", generally regarded as the show's worst episode, and "Whoever Did This", the high point of the season and pivotal episode of the series as a whole. This paradox perhaps showcases Van Patten's true dedication to the show, through thick and thin. Emotions run high in Van Patten's episodes, bordering on melodrama but with intensity and lethal edge, and the man knows how to stage a tragedy like none other. When his name is on a Sopranos episode, there's a good chance shit will get very real. Since the end of the show, he and Terence Winter, a prominent Sopranos writer and frequent collaborator, have gone on to helm Boardwalk Empire, for which Van Patten has directed every season finale so far. His most notable Sopranos episodes include "Proshai Livushka", "Whoever Did This", "Long Term Parking", "Members Only", "Cold Stones", "Soprano Home Movies" and "The Second Coming".

John Patterson: A friend of David Chase since their college days, John Patterson was Chase's "lieutenant" in the show's production for the first five seasons, until Patterson's untimely death in 2005. He filmed every season finale up through Season 5, plus some other notables. Patterson had a crucial understanding of what made The Sopranos work, what the show is all about - family, death, absurdity. This shows in his finale work, as he consistently delivered a sublime and powerful denouement to each chapter in the Soprano saga. Even post-mortem, Patterson was able to contribute some creative input for the show - on his deathbed he said the words "Who am I? Where am I going?", which would be made famous by Tony Soprano during his coma in "Join the Club". Outside of the finales, Patterson's notable episodes include "The Happy Wanderer", "Bust Out", "Employee of the Month", "No Show", "Where's Johnny?" and "Marco Polo". The season 6 mid-finale, "Kaisha", was dedicated to him.

Alan Taylor: The comeback kid of the Sopranos lineup. Alan Taylor directed "Pax Soprana", an episode in Season 1, which was full of one-off directors as the show experimented with its creative tone. With Taylor's absence in Seasons 2 and 3 it looked like he would join those ranks. But then he came back near the end of Season 4 with "The Strong Silent Type", the memorable episode in which Christopher's drug use goes off the rails, resulting in classic moments such as the death of Cosette the dog, and the intervention beat-down. He went on to direct "The Rat Pack" in Season 5, notably the first episode written by Matthew Weiner, whose pilot for Mad Men would later be directed by Taylor. Season 6, with the professional departure of Allen Coulter and the mortal departure of John Patterson, left a void to be filled, and Alan Taylor stepped up. He directed the mid-season finale, and then he and Tim Van Patten went on to spearhead most of the final 9 episodes. Taylor has a way of putting together a sleek, dark and unpredictable episode, and he shouldered most of the character deaths near the end of the show. His most notable episodes include "The Ride", "Kaisha", "Stage 5", "Kennedy and Heidi", and "The Blue Comet". On an unrelated note, he's also directing "Thor 2: The Dark World" this year.

Allen Coulter: Among the Season 1 lineup, Allen Coulter stood out and made himself known by directing "College", the episode that really put this show head and shoulders above the rest. His talent did not go unnoticed, and he went on to direct the next three season premieres of the show, as well as some more of the show's most memorable mid-season episodes. It's hard to describe what makes a Coulter episode a Coulter episode, but you can see his fingerprint on each one. He really can put together a warmly surreal, often very dark, atmosphere. He was kind of a counterpoint to John Patterson - while Patterson knew how to close the curtains on a season, Coulter knew how to open them. Both directors left the show after Season 5, but Coulter fortunately lived on, and has offered his talents to some other series, including the pilot to "Sons of Anarchy" and particularly memorable episodes of "Boardwalk Empire". He also directed a film called "Remember Me" which drew some negative press for its use of 9/11 as a plot point. I haven't seen it, I should get around to that. Anyways, Coulter's most notable Sopranos episodes include "College", "Isabella", "The Knight in White Satin Armor", "University", "Irregular Around the Margins" and "The Test Dream".

Steve Buscemi: Better known as an actor, more specifically the actor who portrayed Tony Blundetto, Steve Buscemi was involved in the show a creative capacity for some time before his acting role debuted, and after it was gone, directing four episodes over the course of the final four seasons. He made his splash with "Pine Barrens", one of the most memorable and beloved episodes of the series, well-regarded for its dark comedy and meandering storyline. It's hard to pinpoint any one universal element of Buscemi's episodes, except for the blanket term of "off-beat", which they certainly occupy. His first three episodes, "Pine Barrens", "Everybody Hurts" and "In Camelot", all had an eerie and unsettling quality, but this was pretty much entirely absent from his final episode, "Mr. and Mrs. John Sacrimoni Request", which traded that in for some effective melodrama and character development. Anyways, Buscemi will likely earn some votes purely by virtue of his work on Pine Barrens, and rightly so.

Jack Bender: Jack Bender has an innate talent for weaving his way flawlessly through a cluster of parallel storylines. His debut, "Another Toothpick", juggled the plotlines of Carmela joining Tony in therapy, Tony bribing a cop, Baccala Sr. committing his final murders, Artie awkwardly attempting to hook up with Adriana, and Junior getting cancer, plus delivering an anticlimax to the bugged lamp storyline. By virtue of this, even with only four episodes to his name, Jack Bender has significantly contributed to the overall plot development of the series. His Christmas episode, "To Save Us All From Satan's Power", cleverly integrated this plotline-juggling into the show itself, with Tony struggling to get through a stressful Christmas. He also directed "The Weight", the episode primarily dealing with the near-hits on both Ralph Cifaretto and Johnny Sack all over a vulgar joke, and reminding us of the fate lurking around the corner for any character, at any time. His final episode, "Mayham", managed to juggle plotlines in classic Bender style while also waking Tony up from his coma. Bender's talent naturally got him work on the series "Lost".

Mike Figgis: The show's most notable guest director, Mike Figgis helmed the episode "Cold Cuts", a thematic watershed for the series as a whole. It's not often that a guest director's style is able to mesh flawlessly with the rest of a season, but Figgis nailed it, providing us with an episode that mixes classic Sopranos family drama with hints of that surreal standalone quality that explores unseen depths of the characters. The ending of this episode, featuring "I'm Not Like Everybody Else", is a fan favorite of the series.

David Nutter: Another notable guest director, David Nutter handled "Join the Club", Tony's first coma dream episode. The use of a guest director here is almost used on a meta-level, with an opening sequence that leaves us unsure if we're watching the right episode in sequence. Nutter delivers some sublime moments musically, such as the hypnotic scene of Carmela's love for Tony embodied by Tom Petty's "American Girl" and a nostalgic monologue, and the haunting ending set to Moby's bleakly emotional "When It's Cold I'd Like To Die".

Dan Attias: A veteran TV director who handled some episodes that might be considered "filler" and made them into terrific hours of entertainment. He debuted with the second episode, "46 Long", and after a long absence returned with "The Telltale Moozadell", and later "Mergers and Acquisitions". It could be said that Dan Attias embodied the more light-hearted side of The Sopranos, directing brief respites from the mob violence and existential dread that permeated the series, and giving us some time to examine the Sopranos as a traditional American family.

Henry J. Bronchtein: A longtime producer of The Sopranos who tried his hand at directing a couple times. His episodes, while perhaps less notable than some, still provide crucial moments. "From Where to Eternity" was a memorable episode of existentialism that came close to delving into the supernatural, and forced Tony to face what he did for a living, all punctuated with one brutal and perfectly timed moment of violence. "Fortunate Son" gave us a flashback to the most important moment of Tony's childhood, as far as shaping him into the man he is today. "Pie Oh My" introduced a pivotal plot point, and had an ending that showed us Tony's softer side.

Terence Winter: A key member of the Sopranos' writers' room who directed one episode in the Final 9, "Walk Like a Man". It was perhaps one of the slower episodes, but in retrospect served as a farewell to Chris Moltisanti. It was also the last episode that did not feature some kind of huge, game-changing plot twist.

Phil Abraham: Much like Terence Winter, Abraham had been a member of the Sopranos crew for some time, as a cinematographer, and directed one episode of the Final 9. His episode, "Remember When", gave us some great moments with Tony and Paulie together in Miami, as well as a "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"-type storyline featuring Uncle Junior. Phil Abraham has since gone on to be a regular director on Mad Men.

Rodrigo Garcia: Guest director for memorable episode "All Happy Families", which featured both the non-violent removal of Feech LaManna from the show, and the extremely violent removal of Lorraine Caluzzo, plus some of AJ's worst and most farcical behavior to date. Garcia has gone on to be showrunner for HBO's "In Treatment".

Steve Shill: Guest director for "Moe 'n Joe", which I haven't seen in a while. If anyone really liked this episode, feel free to vote for Shill.

Lorraine Senna Ferrara: A one-off Season 1 director who handled "Down Neck", the show's first flashback episode.

Danny Leiner: Guest director of "Luxury Lounge" in Season 6, notable for its Hollywood storyline featuring Ben Kingsley and Lauren Bacall as themselves, plus a compelling Artie Bucco storyline.

James Hayman: Guest director of "Eloise", notable for the departure of Furio, and Paulie's murder of an old lady.

Nick Gomez: Director of the third episode of the show, "Denial, Anger Acceptance", which featured the Moe Greene Special on Brendan.
Taps, lights out, 2200 hours. What's missing? Give up? Television.

Re: Director poll

This is a great poll, and I probably won't have a single favorite, so I will delay casting any vote for now, maybe come back to it in a few weeks. Like every other aspect of the show, I think the direction was uniformly excellent. But as I allowed a first impression to percolate up about an episode that seemed to especially showcase great direction, especially in terms of how the camera and locations were used to tell story, the one that came to mind was Kennedy and Heidi. I'm too lazy to even look up who directed that, but I'd be inclined to give him/her major points on that episode alone. And I also had a more muted but still substantial thought about In Camelot, as I think Buscemi's decision to shoot Fran's creepy "Happy Birthday" with the camera in a first person/Tony perspective was absolutely stellar, plus the lens selection was just right to give that exaggerated foreground perspective that made Fran seem all the more creepy as she approached the camera.
Tony, his spirits crushed after b-lining to the fridge first thing in the morning: "Who ate the last piece of cake?"

Re: Director poll

Alan Taylor directed "Kennedy and Heidi". He was more of an occasional director for the first five seasons, but he really stepped up his game in Season 6 with the absence of both John Patterson (R.I.P.) and Allen Coulter. he also did The Ride, Kaisha, Stage 5 and The Blue Comet. definitely a huge talent, he's gone on to direct the pilot and a few more episodes for Mad Men, plus a couple for Game of Thrones, and now he's breaking into film directing the sequel to Thor. He may become a household name in the future.

I agree with your thoughts on In Camelot. Buscemi's work was always nicely offbeat, especially his debut with Pine Barrens.

I personally chose the late John Patterson, who directed the first five season finales before his death in 2005. He also directed Bust Out, Where's Johnny and Marco Polo, which would all rank in my Top 15 episodes of the show. imo, Patterson contributed more to the series than any other director. Apparently while on his deathbed, Patterson asked "Who am I? Where am I going?" which David Chase incorporated into the show when Tony was comatose. "Kaisha" was dedicated to him.

Maybe I should write up some kind of guide to the various directors for the convenience of potential voters, I've researched that aspect of the show pretty extensively.
Taps, lights out, 2200 hours. What's missing? Give up? Television.

Re: Director poll

It was between Tim Van Patten and Alan Taylor for me mainly due to how many brilliant moments these two have directed. I will have to go with Alan Taylor though for directing my favourite episode of the whole series, Kennedy And Heidi. If there was a writer poll David Chase would be my vote as he did re-writes for every episode.
"I use the technique of positive visualization. How come I always feel undermined?"

Re: Director poll

Goliath55 wrote:It was between Tim Van Patten and Alan Taylor for me mainly due to how many brilliant moments these two have directed. I will have to go with Alan Taylor though for directing my favourite episode of the whole series, Kennedy And Heidi. If there was a writer poll David Chase would be my vote as he did re-writes for every episode.
I think Alan Taylor did the most with directing stylish episodes. Watching the latter part of Kennedy & Heidi--so many amazing and gorgeous shots and transitions. I'd have to agree with you.
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