With the news of his (apparent) retirement from directing following some messiness with distribution companies declining to pick up his latest feature 'Behind The Candleabra', the true story of larger than life Liberace (Michael Douglas) and his much younger lover Scott (Matt Damon), we've decided now is as good a time as any to look back over the works of one Steven Soderbergh. The director has tackled just about every genre going, and has pretty much mastered them all. But even when his movies have turned out less than successful - The Good German, Ocean's Twelve and The Girlfriend Experience come to mind - they're still never less than arresting, interesting cinema. Soderbergh has threatened retirement once before, around the time of Ocean's Thirteen, but went on to direct another nine movies after that, so fingers crossed he'll return to us once again. But for now, on with the list! Everyone will have their own favourite of his films, some of which may not even be on this list, so for fairness we'll be doing this alphabetically, starting off with…
This disaster movie as medical pandemic movie felt a little too close to home upon its release, with the events in the movie almost predicting an eventuality in real life. A viral disease begins to spread, killing millions and causing worldwide panic as government officials try to find its source and create a cure. If you could detach yourself from jumping in fright every time the person sitting next to you coughed, what we have here is an epic thriller, spanning the globe with its hugely impressive cast (Kate Winslett, Jude Law, Matt Damon, Gwyenth Paltrow, Bryan Cranston and Marion Cottilard to name but a few).
ERIN BROCKOVICH (2000)
Based on a true story, this is the movie that finally turned Julia Roberts in Oscar-winning Julia Roberts, with her turn as Erin finding the actress at her most likeable and down to earth since Pretty Woman. The story of an unemployed single mother getting caught up in a lawsuit with her new boss (Albert Finney) that will eventually find them taking on a massive Californian power company who may have been polluting the city's water supply, Soderbergh directs this tale with a necessary light touch, bringing out the requisite LOLs as well as the necessary teary moments.
THE LIMEY (1999)
Terence Stamp plays Wilson, an ex-con fresh out of prison, who is heading off to Los Angeles to find out who is responsible for the death of his daughter, intending to get revenge. But what sounds like prequel to Taken is actually a very emotional character piece, with more time spent on investigating Wilson the man, as well as Wilson the father. Soderbergh directs the whole thing with a weird dream-like quality, and the movie ends on an ambiguous note that will have you questioning everything you've just watched.
MAGIC MIKE (2012)
Initially thought to be nothing more than an all-male version of Showgirls, we really should've expected that Soderbergh would find the hidden depths in the world of stripping. Less about getting your kit off for money, and more about the complexity of modern male relationships, as well as a subtle look at the current economic recession, Magic Mike is far from just “"hat naked dudes movie". But, to be fair, it is ALSO “that naked dudes movie”, with the dance sequences genuinely impressive. Warning: all male viewers will find the sudden urge to hit the gym after watching this.
OCEAN'S ELEVEN (2001)
The presence of two of the world's most handsome men made this a sure fire hit from the get-go, and it helps that it's also one of the coolest heist flicks ever made. Clooney and Pitt lead a specially selected team into Las Vegas to rob three of Andy Garcia's casinos in one night, with the glitz and sparkle of the city barely able to keep up with the charisma of the movie's all-star cast. One of Soderbergh's most purely entertaining movies.
OUT OF SIGHT (1998)
This was Soderbergh's comeback after a series of flops you've probably never heard of, never mind seen. It was also the movie that made the world sit up and realise that George Clooney was going to be a MASSIVE star, as well as being the only documented evidence that Jennifer Lopez can actually be a good actress. Clooney is the career criminal and Lopez the agent determined to bring him down, despite the fact that they are hopelessly attracted to each other. Insanely sexy and very, very cool, with the car-trunk scene one of the best seductions in the history of cinema.
SEX, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE (1989)
This is where it all began, with Soderbergh's debut winning him the Palm D'Or at Cannes and nominating him for Best Original Screenplay at the Oscars. The tale starts of with Ann (Andie McDowell) who finds out that her husband John (Peter Gallagher) is having an affair with her sister Cynthia (Laura San Giacomo). But when John's old friend Graham (James Spader) arrives in town, he reveals himself to have a very unusual fetish, and all of their lives get turned upside down. A very funny and smartly emotional movie.
SIDE EFFECTS (2013)
Yes, this is to be Soderbergh's last theatrical release, which is very sad. We won't go into too much detail (read the full review here), but we will just say that Side Effects is in cinemas now, and you should go see it as soon as possible before someone ruins the ending on you!
Soderbergh's goes sci-fi with this tense and emotional psychological-thriller-drama (ALL of the genres!), telling the story of psychiatrist Dr. Klein (George Clooney) receiving an urgent request to come visit his friend who is currently aboard a space station orbiting the planet Solaris. When Klein arrives, he finds that an entire security detail and most of the crew are missing or dead, with only two survivors left on board. But soon Klein begins seeing visions of his deceased wife (Natasha McElhone), but is Klein really losing his mind, or does Solaris have an unforeseen power?
Released within a few months of Erin Brockovich - a good year for Soderbergh - Traffic won the man man the Best Director Oscar, as well Best Editing, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for Benicio Del Toro. A criss-crossing tale of the war of drugs, presented from both sides by a stellar cast (Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta Jones, Don Cheadle, Topher Grace, Albert Finney, Dennis Quaid), this was complicated, intelligent and urgent film-making.