Successful Hollywood duos
Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio
In a way, they saved each other. DiCaprio invigorated Gangs of New York, The Aviator, and The Departed with a vibrant, masculine rage that hadn’t been present in Scorsese’s work for years. And Scorsese rescued DiCaprio from heartthrob prison and guided him into challenging, dangerous roles. Planned collaborations: Shutter Island, in which DiCaprio will play a U.S. marshal, and The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, in which the actor will, we hope, carry a big stick and say ”Bully!” a lot as the 26th U.S. president.
Clint Eastwood and Paul Haggis
As a directing/writing duo, they raise the level of each other’s game, making smart, provocative dramas with potent Oscar appeal: Million Dollar Baby, Letters From Iwo Jima, and Flags of Our Fathers. Eastwood tempers a maudlin streak in Haggis’ solo work (Crash, In the Valley of Elah), and Haggis brings emotional warmth and political heat to Eastwood’s cool distance (Mystic River, Blood Work).
Joe Wright and Keira Knightley
They can’t quite claim the lofty status of Director and Muse just yet, but Wright and Knightley are off to an impressive start. In Pride & Prejudice and next month’s Atonement, Knightley infuses Wright’s gilded period environments with youthful, modern fire. Wright returns the favor by handing his ingenue complex roles that showcase her range. Pride scored Knightley her first Oscar nod. Atonement may be her second — and his first.
Ang Lee and James Schamus
This 15-year yin-yang partnership between the quiet director (Lee) and loquacious writer-producer (Schamus) is a testament to friendship and talent. Schamus, CEO of Focus Features, has produced each of Lee’s movies and has been involved in the writing of all but two of them. Their collaborations have spanned languages and genres, from family dramas (The Ice Storm) to Westerns (Ride With the Devil) to groundbreaking action (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon).
Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin
Some of the most fabulous images ever captured on screen were dreamed up by this married filmmaking team. Strictly Ballroom, Romeo + Juliet, and Moulin Rouge were operatic fantasies set in alternate realities that only they could create. He’s the writer-director-producer. She’s a costume designer and production designer. Together they’re extraordinary. Next: the romantic epic Australia with Nicole Kidman.
Steve Jobs and John Lasseter
They’re the financial brain and creative heart (respectively) behind Pixar’s precedent-busting, paradigm-shifting success. At Apple, Jobs is a famous micromanager, but with Pixar, he helped Lasseter build a literal dream factory and then fiercely (and wisely) protected Lasseter’s creative control. The result: $1.9 billion in domestic box office, seven Oscars, the most powerful brand name in animation, and the heart and mind of every kid in America.
Alfonso Cuarón and Alex Rodríez
The pace, energy, and emotion of film come from the editing, and director Cuarón and editor Rodríez share a crucial sense of rhythm. Children of Men and Y Tu Mamá También raw, kinetic, and agile; they’re movies you experience rather than watch. The two work so closely — Rodríez spends lots of time on set and Cuarón shares editing credit — that it can be almost impossible to delineate the vision from its execution.
Oren Aviv and The Rock
It’s strange to think of a studio executive and an actor as a team, but Disney production president Aviv and Dwayne ”The Rock” Johnson have done pretty well by each other. Aviv reinvented the former wrestler/action hero as a family film star in The Game Plan, upping his leading-man quotient after the film opened to $23 million. The script was one of the first Aviv revamped after being promoted to top dog, so Johnson’s success in the role proved that Aviv can deliver a hit. Better still, both men are smart enough to know a good thing when they see it: Johnson’s about to star in Disney’s remake of Escape to Witch Mountain.