Five Directors Who Could Be Our Next Greats

So I was about to write a list of “Once Great Directors Who Are Struggling” including, in my opinion, Steven Spielberg and Ridley Scott. over the last ten years or so But I remembered that I’ve already written “Five Directors Who Have Really Gone Downhill” and “The Five Worst Working Directors in Hollywood.”

In short, I figured it was time for some positivity. There are a lot of great movies coming out over the past few years from a “new class” of directors. They may only have two or three major films under their belts, but these five all having what I would call a perfect batting average so far. Who knows how long that may continue, but it’s possible that any or all of these five could evolve into directing legends the way Scott, Spielberg or Scorsese have.

Ben Affleck

I was as surprised as anyone when sometimes-okay actor Ben Affleck wanted to take a turn in the director’s chair. I was even more surprised when his films turned out to be good. Yes, he may be in the Boston crime drama niche right now, but both Gone Baby Gone and The Town are phenomenal films in the genre, and Affleck knows how to write well for both himself and his family members. Oh, and other actors too. Argo will be his big test to see if he can break out of the Boston box, and I really hope he can succeed.

Duncan Jones

Out of everyone on this list, Duncan Jones is definitely my favorite. Perhaps that has to do with his penchant for sci-fi, as he’s added two fantastic films to the genre in recent years, Moon and Source Code. Or maybe it’s because I respect him for not calling himself Zowie Bowie, his real name which indicates his famous father. Though I would probably change my name too if it were that. Jones has created a pair of masterful films, and is a fresh breath of air the sci-fi genre needs.

Matthew Vaughn

Vaughn is slyly creeping up lists like these. He might not be a household name yet, but making the R-rated superhero flick Kick-Ass work and being responsible for X-Men: First Class being a good film, even though almost no one wanted it to exist, are both really impressive feats. Vaughn is back soon with Kick-Ass 2, and I’m looking forward to seeing what else he can do after that.

Edgar Wright

Wright is the current king of geek comedy, thanks partially to his friends Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. The three of them have made the fantastic Hot Fuzz and Shawn of the Dead together, and will reunite for a third film at some point. When Wright was on his own, he gave us Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, definitely one of the most memorable films of that year, even if it wasn’t a box office smash.

JJ Abrams

He’s proved he can produce/create on hell of a TV series, but many were skeptical when JJ Abrams wanted to make the jump to film. But he did a solid job on Mission Impossible 3, then blew everyone’s socks off with Star Trek. Super 8 was a quality film as well, even if he did crank his Spielberg dial until it broke off completely. Star Trek 2 should be a worthwhile sequel, and I have a hunch we’re going to see a hell of a lot of good films out of JJ before he’s done.

So who am I forgetting?

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  1. Matthew Vaughn isn’t directing Kick Ass 2, he’s only producing. He’s too busy developing the sequel to first class.
    I would add drew goddard to this list, he’s only directed one movie but that was cabin in the woods he also wrote cloverfield so needless to say I’m sold on his talent.
    There’s also one REALLY BIG name you left off…Joss Whedon. If the criteria is two or three movies he definitely deserves a spot on this list as his two feature films are bonafide classics.

  2. JJ Abrams is awesome…his lense flairs are not! and does this mean Joss is already there? because he has only done 3 movies, i think hes a stud and cannot wait for him to do anything else

  3. Surprised you left Nolan out, although I”m of the opinion that he’s a populist studio creature now and unlikely to go back to the director he was. Batman broke his ass. Wright is likely to be condemned to cult status if he keeps sticking to nerrdy movies and I’m down with that. Being a “great” usually means selling your soul to the devil and making a career of fluff and I’d rather he continue making films that most people are too dumb to get.

  4. Methinks JJ’s losing his ‘mojo’ at least so far as his TV creations are concerned. I think he was tempted too strongly by Hollywood to indulge his every visual fantasy, and the loss of quality is the price. Like Spielberg, he verges too often these days on the precipice of “selling a story” instead of “telling a story.”

  5. I’d also include Rian Johnson. Brick is incredible, Brothers Bloom is extremely underappreciated and from everything I’ve heard Looper is gonna be one for the ages.

  6. Ah I didnt know Brothers Bloom was from the same due who did Brick, it always shows up on netflix during lazy sundays and I pay it no mind, maybe the whole having Mark Ruffalo turns me way too much off , but I’ll check it. Also I’ll be on Looper from day one. Fuck Mark Ruffalo.

  7. Steve McQueen and Nicolas Winding Refn are good calls.

    I’d also like to add two more who I believe are the future of American independant cinema:

    Jeff Nichols who directed Shotgun Stories and Take Shelter

    Debra Granik who directed Winter’s Bone and Down to the Bone

  8. Matthew Vaughn has 4 movies. Darren Aronofsky has 5… but I’d probably put Aronofsky as a current great along with Christopher Nolan. (I’d rank Aronofsky higher though personally.)

    Spike Jonze, however, has only done 3. Being John Malkovich, Adaptation and Where The Wild Things Are. Sure he’s done a lot of shorts, but those don’t count.

    Joon-Ho Bong (The Host, Mother) absolutely fantastic Korean director.

    Christopher Smith (Triangle, Black Death) is making some great horror flicks and I think has a lot still to show us.

    And though I’ve only seen one film from Jeff Nichols so far (Taking Shelter) his new film “Mud” already has great reviews and I’m expecting a lot from him in the long run…

    Most controversially, I think I ought to have George Clooney on the list. I think he could be following the Clint Eastwood pattern as someone who started out with acting roles, but is learning from his directors and has a lot of talent to put to use. I’m not sure though because while I thought Clooney’s first two movies “Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind” and “Good Night And Good Luck” were fantastic, he seems to have gone down since then. “The Ides Of March” was distinctly lacking. But most directors have their off days and in the long run George Clooney may still have many more great films left to direct.

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