Dial M for Murder and Rear Window (1954)
Old Hitch was prolific as all hell, and throughout his career, he was known for making multiple films in the same year. My favorite duo has to be Dial M for Murder, a patient thriller about a husband plotting to kill his cheating wife, and the classic that is Rear Window. Two of Hitch’s best films, released just three months apart.
The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries (1957)
I honestly still can’t believe this happened. Four months after Bergman released The Seventh Seal, a classic that may be his most well known film, we got Wild Strawberries, as beautiful and melancholic a film as he’s ever made. Two cinematic masterpieces, released back to back. If this list was ranked in terms of preference, you can be sure Bergman’s ‘57 pair would top.
Throne of Blood and The Lower Depths (1957)
First up was Throne of Blood, a remake of Macbeth, followed by The Lower Depths, a remake of a classic French film. Shakespeare and Renoir in one year… ballsy, and not half bad.
Winter Light and The Silence (1963)
As two thirds of Bergman’s Faith Trilogy (preceded by Through a Glass Darkly, 1961), Winter Light and The Silence are two of the most emotionally brutal films I’ve ever seen. They’re both brief in running time, but last longer than you can possibly imagine.
Francis Ford Coppola
The Conversation and The Godfather Part II (1974)
Between the two Godfather films (and all of their massive, impressive scope) Coppola made a smaller, more nuanced film about a surveillance professional who thinks he may have accidentally discovered the plot of a potential murder. Relentless in its repetition, maddening in its pace, The Conversation is a ‘70s staple, and Coppola followed it up with one of the best films ever made. So there’s that.
A Short Film About Killing and A Short Film About Love (1988)
When Krzysztof Kieślowski made The Decalogue, his miraculous 10-part series based loosely on the Ten Commandments, he was contractually obligated to expand two of those segments into feature length films. He chose segments Five and Six, the plots of which are aptly described in their respective titles. The lasting impact of those films, however, is far longer than their titles suggest.
The Doors and JFK (1991)
Two lengthy biopics, two controversial landmarks in Stone’s ultimate body of work. The first was met with a Spring Break-appropriate release date, for fans both new and old to once again rejoice in the troubled world of Jim Morrison. The latter was fitted for an Oscar-friendly release date, and remains, perhaps, Stone’s best film.
Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List (1993)
Erin Brockovich and Traffic (2000)
I’m counting these two entries as a tie because I think both are fine examples of a great director releasing two worthy films in the same year. However, while I like Jurassic Park and Erin Brockovich enough, I’m not sure I would label them as great. Or at least not as great as the films each director released next.
Waking Life and Tape (2001)
Part of what makes me love Waking Life and Tape so much is that they couldn’t be more different. Sure, both are radical experiments made by a guy who has based his career on experimenting, but their tone, complexity and execution vary drastically. I love them both wholeheartedly; two of the best films Linklater has made.
Rescue Dawn and Encounters at the End of the World (2007)
My favorite narrative Herzog from this century, paired with my favorite documentary of his career. That’s a damn good year. Although Encounters at the End of the World was technically released in American theaters in 2008, it made a huge impact cruising the festival circuit in ‘07. Either way, these are two very different films made by one very different kind of man. I dig. I will always dig.