Sam Mendes

Yes that’s right Bond is back to celebrate its 50th anniversary! A series, which began with Dr. No (1962) and has spanned 23 films with 6 Bonds. The 24th and 25th have both been confirmed and will both star Daniel Craig with rumours of Christopher Nolan to direct the 24thinstalment.

Sam Mendes directs Skyfall (2012) and it seems everybody is excited. So does Mendes have the chops to head such an iconic British franchise? Well, for a start he’s British, and that is always a step in the right direction when we’re talking James Bond. A look back at his career will show us if he has more than just nationality on his side.

Before film, Mendes worked for the stage rather than the screen. He really made his name with dark re-imaginings of stage musicals, of which his name is linked to Cabaret (1993), which was also shown as a television movie, Oliver! (1994), Company (1996), again becoming a television movie, and Gypsy (2003). During his time in theatre, Mendes worked with the likes of Judi Dench and Simon Russel Beal, both of which are of course in Skyfall.

In 1999, Sam Mendes got one huge debut in the form of American Beauty – winning a total of 91 awards, which included 5 Academy Awards and 6 BAFTAs, and another 74 nominations. With a budget of $15million, this film, now considered one of the best of all time, pulled in over $350million at the box office. Quite the achievement.

2002 brought his second coming as a director with Road to Perdition, a gangster movie lifted from the pages of a graphic novel. Again this brought awards, though not in the same capacity as before. This was Mendes’ first time working with Daniel Craig for screen; it wouldn’t surprise me if the two had met before during their shared time in theatre.

2003 and Neal Street Productions is formed; a basis from which Mendes now tends to finance his work in film, television and theatre. Under this company came Jarhead (2005), getting mixed reviews for deciding to focus on the boredom and psychological challenges of war over fitting in as many explosions as possible.

Revolutionary Road (2008) was seen by many as a bounce back from his last film in terms of critical success. Starring his then wife, Kate Winslet, the film pulled back its favour with the award ceremonies. 2005 and 2008 also saw collaborations with Roger Deakins ASC BSC, best known for his work with the Coen brothers and on The Shawshank Redemption (1994) – a relationship which has also extended to Skyfall.

Mendes’ last directorial work, Away We Go (2009), was pretty much a flop. It made less at the box office than it cost to make and is mediocre at best; although it does currently hold a 7.1 on IMDB, strange.

You can’t doubt Mendes is a great director, or that James Bond is still as exciting as ever. In a year of absolutely massive films, this is set to be one of the biggest.

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