Anyone who has ever worked on a film knows it is a totally collaborative process. There are so many roles and everything has to come together just right. And bringing all of those elements and people together is the producer. Or, in this case, the producers – because even production is often better in teams.
This week we celebrate the release of “The Lost City of Z.” Directed by James Gray and starring Charlie Hunnam and Robert Pattinson, the film was produced by the award-winning team of Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner and Brad Pitt. To commemorate this team, we are looking at the top 10 producing teams of the millennium.
It should be noted that most of these teams have had other partners on various projects. In each case, the producers listed are the ones that have worked together on multiple projects.
10. The Wachowskis
The Wachowskis are one of the best known sibling teams in the business. With such projects as the “Matrix” franchise, “V for Vendetta” and “Cloud Atlas,” they are known for their darker plot lines that delve into fantasy and science fiction. Although their work is often polarizing, together they make a strong creative team. These days, they are working on the Netflix television series “Sense8.”
9. James Wan and Peter Safran
Although James Wan has worked with many producers along the way, he seems to have found a good pairing with Peter Safran. Currently in the middle of pre-production for “Aquaman,” Safran is producing and Wan is set to direct. But it is their teamwork on the successful “Conjuring” films that has turned them into a strong team. “The Conjuring” has turned into a full-fledged franchise with spin-off films including “Annabelle” and “Annabelle: Creation” (due out this summer), as well as another spin-off, “The Nun,” which is scheduled for 2018.
8. Ron Howard and Brian Grazer
Ron Howard and Brian Grazer have been working together since the ’80s. Their collaborations are well known and many of them are beloved films. They have been twice nominated for Academy Awards, winning for “A Beautiful Mind” in 2001. They also won and were nominated for several Golden Globes and Emmys for the should-have-been-a-hit series “Arrested Development.” They were nominated for a second Oscar in 2008 for “Frost/Nixon.” Not all of their films are critical darlings, but they are working just as hard now as ever.
7. Danny Boyle and Christian Colson
Although they have worked on plenty of projects separately, Danny Boyle and Christian Colson do really well when put together. Their first joint effort earned them the Academy Award with “Slumdog Millionaire.” Two years later, they were again invited to the party when they were nominated for “127 Hours.” Their latest, “T2: Trainspotting,” didn’t exactly win over audiences. But perhaps they’ll have better luck this fall with a film that you will likely be hearing a lot about during awards season: “Battle of the Sexes.”
6. Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh
Few Hollywood couples make their marriages work. And even fewer manage to make it work while working together. But Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh have worked together on many huge projects. Most notably, of course, is the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. The films were nominated for a collective 30 Academy Awards, winning 17 overall. Each installment was nominated for Best Picture, but it was “Return of the King” that finally gave them the win. They went on to produce “King Kong,” “The Lovely Bones” and “The Hobbit” trilogy. They have been out of the spotlight a little bit in recent years, but have forever earned their place in film history for creating what had once been considered the impossible.
5. J.J. Abrams and Bryan Burk
At this point, it’s virtually impossible for a “Star Wars” film to lose money. But J.J. Abrams and Bryan Burk managed to reinvigorate excitement for a series that will never leave the public consciousness. And that was after they had already rebooted “Star Trek” more successfully than anyone expected. Ditto for the “Mission: Impossible” series. These two are a force unto themselves. They seem unstoppable right now.
4. Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
Another set of siblings that deserves a place on this list is certainly the Coen Brothers, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen. They have been making delightfully quirky, often dark films for decades. And they seem to just keep getting better. Nominated for several Academy Awards, they took home the Best Picture prize for “No Country for Old Men.” Next, they may be able to pick up an Emmy for season 3 of “Fargo,” which has a solid fanbase, but just seems to get edged out by bigger limited series.
3. Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas
Another couple that plays well together is the pair behind the “Dark Knight” series, “Inception” and more. Christopher Nolan and his wife Emma Thomas have worked together on just about every project: from “Following” and “Memento,” right on through to today. They were nominated for “Inception” in 2011 and are in the conversation for Oscars this year with the upcoming release of “Dunkirk.”
2. Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal
Of course, everyone knows Kathryn Bigelow made history as the first woman to win the Academy Award for Best Director for “The Hurt Locker.” That film was the first time Bigelow worked with writer and producer Mark Boal. They won Best Picture that year and went on to meet up again for “Zero Dark Thirty,” which earned them a second nomination. Two for two in joint ventures is a pretty great track record. Their next project, “Detroit,” is due out in August.
1. Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner and Brad Pitt
The team that started this conversation makes it to the top of the list for consistently producing quality, award-worthy work. Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner and Brad Pitt are partners in the production company Plan B. The trio won the Oscar for “12 Years a Slave” and were nominated for “The Big Short.” Gardner and Kleiner also produced and were nominated for “Selma” and won for “Moonlight.” And if Bigelow and Boal have good stats, this team, by comparison, seems practically unbeatable.