Roger Ebert Home

Are these America's most prominent filmmakers?

My friend Richard T. Jameson sent an e-mail with the subject line: "Why am I depressed?" In it he quoted the first two sentences of an April L.A. Weekly story headlined "Movie Studios Are Forcing Hollywood to Abandon 35mm Film. But the Consequences of Going Digital Are Vast, and Troubling":

Shortly before Christmas, director Edgar Wright received an email inviting him to a private screening of the first six minutes of Christopher Nolan's new Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises." Walking into Universal CityWalk's IMAX theater, Wright recognized many of the most prominent filmmakers in America -- Michael Bay, Bryan Singer, Jon Favreau, Eli Roth, Duncan Jones, Stephen Daldry.

It was that second sentence, RTJ said, that tripped him up. (Later, in a Facebook post, he recommended the article itself, but followed that second sentence with the comment: "The parade's gone by, all right."

Now, I have nothing but praise for Edgar Wright, whose TV series "Spaced" is wonderful and whose "Shaun of the Dead" is one of my favorite movies of the 21st century (I liked "Hot Fuzz" and "Scott Pilgrim," too!). And Favreau directed "Elf" and "Iron Man," so there. Duncan Jones made the cult feature "Moon" and the clever Jake Gyllenhaal science-fiction feature "Source Code." But those other guys? They've made some very popular pictures ("Transformers," "X-Men," "Hostel") and Daldry has nabbed some Oscar nominations for some OK to not-very-good movies ("The Hours," "The Reader").

So, what do you make of the phrase "most prominent," as used above? What (if anything) does it say about how the current state of American movies is perceived? Is there another word you think might be more appropriate? Any other names you think might better qualify as "most prominent" (or that you would prefer to see described as such)?

- - - - -

prominent [ˈprämənənt] adjective 1 important; famous : she was a prominent member of the city council. 2 projecting from something; protuberant : a man with big, prominent eyes like a lobster's. • situated so as to catch the attention; noticeable : the new housing developments are prominent landmarks. See note at NOTICEABLE.


A scratch on someone's face might be noticeable, while a scar that runs from cheekbone to chin would be conspicuous. When it comes to describing the things that attract our attention, noticeable means readily noticed or unlikely to escape observation (: a noticeable facial tic; a noticeable aversion to cocktail parties), while conspicuous implies that the eye (or mind) cannot miss it (: her absence was conspicuous).

Use prominent when you want to describe something that literally or figuratively stands out from its background (: a prominent nose; a prominent position on the committee). It can also apply to persons or things that stand out so clearly they are generally known or recognized (: a prominent citizen).

Someone or something that is outstanding rises above or beyond others and is usually superior to them (: an outstanding student).

Remarkable applies to anything that is noticeable because it is extraordinary or exceptional (: remarkable blue eyes).

Striking is an even stronger word, used to describe something so out of the ordinary that it makes a deep and powerful impression on the observer's mind or vision (: a striking young woman over six feet tall).

Above from the dictionary included with OS X Snow Leopard.

Latest blog posts

Latest reviews

We Grown Now
Blood for Dust
Dusk for a Hitman
Stress Positions
Hard Miles


comments powered by Disqus