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Catching Fire: Five directors who should have the shot to direct the HUNGER GAMES sequel

Joshua Brunsting

April 7th, 2012

So we’ve all come to this guys and gals.  Just into its third week in the ether, THE HUNGER GAMES has become one of the biggest films that this year has yet offered, and is continuing to be one of the world’s biggest properties.  However, its upcoming sequel, CATCHING FIRE, just around 18 months away from seeing the light of day, has lost a director.

Friday saw the announcement that director Gary Ross would not be returning to the franchise for its pending sequel, leaving the entire franchise up in the air.  Yes, it will continue on its path to billions and billions of dollars, but who will be at the helm for future installments?

Will the team over at Lionsgate go big with a name like, say, JJ Abrams (who geeks have been bantering about as a dream choice), or will they stay in house with someone like Drew Goddard, whose CABIN IN THE WOODS has been one of the most talked about films of the year, even prior to its release.

Who knows?  There are, however, five people I'd love to see take over.  Ross was an interesting choice if only because his filmography is both tiny, and insanely varied.  Well, here are five choices that not only fit that bill, but would be pitch perfect choices for both the story and the film’s style. Hit the jump to see who ranks on this writer's list.

5. Sofia Coppola

Just a personal choice, to start off the list.  Okay, so maybe this auteur may not have the strongest sense of action or how to craft, frame and choreograph a great action set piece, but remember, the truly great aspects of THE HUNGER GAMES weren’t the kills or the action.  It was the stuff in between.  It was the shot of Katniss signaling to District 11, causing uproar.  It is the 99% finally rising up against their sci-fi 1%.  Personally, I think that Coppola could absolutely kill that narrative.  The film itself follows the life of a woman coming into her own on their universes biggest stage, and Coppola has always been one to ponder that ideal.  I think she is an odd fit, but hey, so was Gary Ross.

4. Andrea Arnold

I think through this list, you’ll catch a few themes.  To me, this is not a sci-fi action franchise.  Within the narratives, there is so much more depth narratively and thematically that the best choices here aren’t action filmmakers (I admittedly threw out Lee Tamahori's name on Twitter Friday afternoon, but don't hold that against me), it’s a director with a deft hand narratively and a realistic sense of style and emotion.  Andrea Arnold is that director. With a film like FISH TANK under her belt, she not only has a sense of the female experience, she also has a unique neo-realistic aesthetic and a killer filmmaking style. Again, not one experienced in action direction, but she does know young women, and that, my friends, is what this film truly needs.

3. Lynne Ramsay

From RATCATCHER to WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN, Ramsay has spent most of her career dealing with young characters, and while she, like the majority of this list, doesn’t really have much action experience, she’s had her fair share of shots at the big time.  Most notably losing out ultimately on the production of THE LOVELY BONES, Ramsay has crafted some of the best films that the film world has seen over the past few years, and would knock a film with such a serious and politically charged underbelly right out of the park.

2. Kasi Lemmons

Part one of the “out of the blue” duo of the list. Probably the least known of the list, Lemmons has only crafted a handful of films, all of which are both impeccably made and emotionally resonant.  Ross’ first film felt far too bloated stylistically and the action was nonsensical, and I must say, Lemmons would give a great sense of realism and bring this franchise back down to Earth a bit.  Best known for films like TALK TO ME and the brilliant EVE’S BAYOU, Lemmons is a director who doesn’t have all that much going on, and like my number one, wouldn’t cost all that much to sign on.

1. Mimi Leder

Thanks to the hive mind that is Twitter, this is without a doubt, with a bullet, my number one.  After positing the question on the social networking site, the name Mimi Leder was brought up, and immediately had my mind racing. Who, you may be asking? Leder is best known for films like THE PEACEMAKER and DEEP IMPACT, but with work on TV shows like Luck (where she helmed the finale), she has kept up a great name, making some truly fantastic television. A great pairing of action experience and great skill with narratives, Leder is a no brainer choice for the director’s chair.  Coming with only an adaptation of All Quiet On The Western Front (which I have heard absolutely nothing about) on the docket, she’d not only be a cheap choice, but a choice that fits stylistically and intellectually.  Seriously.  Guys.  She is perfect.

Who do you think should helm CATCHING FIRE?

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