Date of Award

Spring 5-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Film Studies

First Advisor

Nam Lee

Second Advisor

Kelli Fuery

Third Advisor

Erica Aguero


Beginning in the mid-2000s and carrying through the next several years, a small, dedicated group of critics and cinephiles worked at reevaluating certain contemporary Hollywood genre filmmakers whose work had been largely maligned or ignored by both critics and mainstream audiences. This group, termed as “vulgar auteurism,” distinguished directors like Michael Mann and Paul W.S. Anderson for their audacious and unique formal styles, often using digital technologies and imagery. This thesis proposes that the films and filmmakers associated with vulgar auteurism are connected through how they uniquely portray life in the early 21st century using three of Tony Scott’s late-period films: Man on Fire (2004); Déjà Vu (2006); and The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009). These films exemplify “post-cinematic affect,” a term used by Steven Shaviro to define how both changes in filmmaking and larger economic shifts have together created new forms of aesthetics for articulating lived experience. This paper also utilizes two areas of focus—postmodernism and neoliberalism—to better understand the sociocultural and economic backgrounds post-cinematic affect derives from. Through close analysis of the three Tony Scott films mentioned above, this thesis demonstrates that the films and directors reappraised by vulgar auteurism provide new critical insights into how we live and move through the early 21st century, examining contemporary cultural and political issues like international terrorism, government surveillance, and financial instability.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.