March 6, 2019

Is Michael Bay Worthy of “Auteur” Filmmaker Status... Or Nah?

Michael Bay
Examining the career of highly successfully, but often critically panned, filmography of Michael Bay.

I’m very curious as to what the No Film School audience consensus is on Michael Bay. A polarizing figure in just about all film circles, Michael Bay has enjoyed a long - and somewhat surprisingly decorated - career as a major blockbuster filmmaker.

According to Wikipedia, his films have “grossed over $7.8 billion worldwide, making him one of the most commercially successful directors in history." He also has the distinction of having not one, but two films selected for the Criterion Collection (The Rock and Armageddon - in case you were curious).

He’s also been the epitome of the sleazy all style / no substance mega Hollywood blockbuster film director for years. From having casting calls where he photographs actresses washing his car in bikinis, to wacking audiences senseless with five Transformer movies (not counting the latest spin-off Bumblebee).

However, in a very thorough two-part series by film Youtuber Patrick (H) Willems, we are presented with a compelling quandary as to how we must reconcile the abhorrent filmmaker with his unquestioned status as a “true american auteur”.

Or, as Willems puts it in part one of his series: “Judgement Bay: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Michael Bae.”

Michael Bay: Understanding a True American Auteur (Part One)

Michael Bay: Understanding a True American Auteur (Part Two)

Let us know your thoughts though. This is more than a "can we separate the art from the artist?" situations. It comes down to the merit of his art itself, and how we stand to reconcile with it for years to come.

Your Comment

6 Comments

Bay is definitely a successful filmmaker, but that doesn't mean he is a good one.

*Bay sees this comment*
Me: *explodes*

March 6, 2019 at 10:36AM

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Evan Olow
Writer and Director
256

I'm going to have to say no on this one. Michael Bay is no where close to a Auteur. Alfred Hitchcock is a Auteur. When I think of Bay and his "Bayhem" I instantly think that what I'm about to watch is going to be complete waste of time. Its true his filmmaking style is sleazy all style / no substance but one of the key factors is hes a commercialized sell out. He will slap a name brand of something anywhere and as often as he can to showcase that product to get advertising points. His movies make me feel like I'm watching a 2 hour commercial. I don't even bother watching his films anymore because I know it will be time I will never get back.

March 6, 2019 at 1:41PM

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Bennett Todd
Director of Photography, Gaffer, Key Grip (IATSE 491 Grip)
110

It's pretty simple. Either you like all of his movies, some of his movies or none of his movies. The amazing part is, you get to decide.

March 6, 2019 at 8:55PM

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Mike Tesh
Pro Video / Indie Filmmaker
815

Bay is a master of his craft, no doubt about it. But like some craft breweries, his films all taste overly hoppy and seemingly blend together. He's a great filmmaker to study for his lessons in technique which are all in BIG PRINT and easy to comprehend. He's a salesman of story. His narratives are merely vehicles for product placement. It's not a judgment call, just a fact. His movies are commercials, epic, explosive, erotic commercials.

March 7, 2019 at 6:11AM

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Adam Kuykendall
Screenwriter/Director
81

Early on he was bright and shining star for a new moment in action films. But after The Island it really seems he has lost his way and focused more on commercial success than artistic ability and evolving his style of film making. Much like Paul W.S. Anderson in some aspects.

I seriously doubt that Truffaut in writing about Auteurs would have included Michael Bay in his essay as he was originally criticizing directors of his time for not being imaginative and only focusing on adaptations of classic literature...

So no, I don't think he could be considered a true American Auteur.

March 8, 2019 at 9:47AM, Edited March 8, 9:47AM

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Kyle Dockum
Videographer and Editor
1416

Barring the last 2 transformers films I love his work...

March 8, 2019 at 8:29PM, Edited March 8, 8:29PM

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Tony Davis
Filmmaker
164

If one is capable of a better performance or product but one then delivers something less, or lackluster - can it be said that such a one has sold out?
It is easy to market one's skill-set to the lowest common denominator. This neither polishes the skill-set nor elevates the ones who are consuming one's work.
This might lead us to regard this as a 'SHILL-set', where money is the only consideration. Then again, if I were to have no esteem for my work ... it might be best to rake it in ($) and consign my work to be forgotten.

April 22, 2020 at 6:51PM, Edited April 22, 6:51PM

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Leif Olshanskii
Cinephile
1