There are some people whose IMDb pages are all over the place. It’s a little surprising, sometimes; you know someone for one thing and one thing only, and there they are, in over a dozen categories not even including “thanks.” We all know about Werner Herzog, of course, and Sidney Pollack, but there are other directors who have spent their career all over the place. One of them was Michael Apted, who was more than just the director of all but one of the Up films.
In fact, before 7 Plus Seven—the first of the series he directed himself—he was a researcher, helping to select the children. So while he may not have directed it, he was still deeply and personally involved with the project. (He later said that, if he’d seen the future, he would’ve focused less on class and more on both race and gender issues.) It’s hard to imagine how it will go without him, really, though hopefully arrangements have been made and the series will not end early.
But beyond it, there are enough other movies to make it legitimately shocking that he was never nominated for an Oscar. So okay, the Up series is for television—he’s won BAFTAs for it, but after all the “T” in “BAFTA” is for “television.” But he didn’t get nominated for Best Director for Coal Miner’s Daughter or Gorillas in the Mist. Those are awfully prestigious. The sort of thing where you might expect a Best Director nomination, and he didn’t get one.
Spies Like Us is on The List; I was even given it for Christmas once. My antipathy for Chevy Chase has kept me from watching it. Therefore, I am unfamiliar with his one brief cameo in it—okay, so Herzog and Pollack both have much longer acting credits. But he’s done writing, directing, and producing, both of fiction and documentary, and that puts him in the Herzog camp. At bare minimum, he deserves to be part of the conversation for more than just the Up series.
And, okay, not everyone likes Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I myself thought it was flawed by the determination that Jadis needed to be in every movie despite being canonically dead, but I doubt that was Apted’s decision. Because, yes, he directed that as well. He was a versatile man. We will miss for from him than continuing to see the lives of a handful of British people every seven years.