Spike Jonze has managed to insert pop-culture references into much of his work, giving a new twist to well-worn genres. And so Happy Days finds its way into Weezer’s “Buddy Holly,” musicals get turned upside down with Björk’s “It’s Oh So Quiet,” and we’re still recovering from what he and the Beastie Boys did to cop shows in “Sabotage.” Unlike some of the people on this list, despite Jonze’s success as a feature-length director, he continues to ply his trade in music videos, cutting clips for LCD Soundsystem (“Drunk Girls”) and Arcade Fire (“The Suburbs”). But his finest music moment might have been when he persuaded actor Christopher Walken to retrace his dance roots (Walken originally trained in music theater) and gracefully glide through Fatboy Slim’s “Weapon of Choice” (see below), which was named best video of all time on the U.K. version of VH1 in 2002.
But he’s undoubtedly established as a film director too, having done Being John Malkovich, Adaptation and Where the Wild Things Are, all movies that were nominated for or won Oscars and Golden Globes. Malkovich, in particular, looks as fresh now as it did upon its release in 1999. That was also the year Jonze married Sofia Coppola. And while they’re no longer together, we’re arguably able to see their relationship play out on screen in Coppola’s Lost in Translation. The part of John (Giovanni Ribisi) is rumored to be based on Jonze, despite her denials.
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