Cord Jefferson may be a first-time feature director, but the longtime television writer and Emmy-winner is more than well-versed in classic cinema. Jefferson, who is Oscar-nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture for “American Fiction,” has a diverse palette in terms of his all-time favorite films, with picks ranging from auteurs like Quentin Tarantino to Spike Lee and Stanley Kubrick.
Of course, given “American Fiction’s” status as a darkly comedic satire about racism and tokenizing in the publishing industry, several of Jefferson’s favorite films are also meta projects that spoof modern issues. It won’t be a surprise to see that he took influence from projects like “Network” and “Adaptation” while writing the hit comedy, which stars Jeffrey Wright as an author whose attempt to parody the stereotypical Black works championed by the publishing world backfires when his book becomes an unironic smash hit.
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Jefferson previously wrote for acclaimed series like “Succession,” “The Good Place,” and “Watchmen,” and recently explained that he has a trio of scripts in the works between his TV deal with Warner Bros. The writer/director was feted with the Breakthrough Award at the IndieWire Honors, saying about his debut, “I’ve never directed anything before I made this movie, I’ve never written a movie before I made this movie. Putting it into the world is a vulnerable experience. It is something that I was terrified people were going to hate and that someone would say, ‘Don’t ever do that again, and we’ll never give you money to do that ever again. The fact that it has been embraced in the way it has been embraced, it means the world to me.”
As for his favorite films, Jefferson told IndieWire “My metric for great art is: Am I thinking about it days after I’ve seen it? Months after I’ve seen it? How frequently does this come to my mind after I’ve consumed this thing. And so it would break my heart if people came and saw the film and then left the theater going like, ‘Ok, that was fine. Where should we go to dinner? Let’s debate about that.”
In honor of Jefferson’s Oscar nomination, IndieWire decided to take a look at some films that meet the director’s metric for great art. Selections are compiled from interviews that Jefferson has given over the years. Read on for IndieWire’s list of Cord Jefferson 16 favorite films, listed in no particular order.
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