Directors of the 21st Century

These directors are placed in order of their film making potential through the next decade. Bias is emphasized primarily on personal preference, with secondary significance based on the strength of previous films, and films in production (as of January 2011). Cult and indie status given considerable weight as well.

Feel free to humor me with suggestions and criticism.

(currently still in the process of writing up quick blurbs about each director, so bare with me)
View:
Log in to copy items to your own lists.
1.
Duncan Jones
Director, Moon
“ This guy has some serious indie chops already. I placed him at the top because of how amazing his first film was, and also that he is so young in his film-making career. I'm pretty sure his cult status preceded the release of Moon, as he is the son of Glam Rock star David Bowie. I think his placement on this list may also be a great indication of my excitement in Sam Rockwell's acting career. As I understand that Duncan is also a fan of Sam (he wrote the script of Moon with the express intent of having Sam play the role of Sam Bell, the sole character in the film), I am further swayed to place him atop this list because of his enthusiasm for rewriting the next generation of Sci-Fi. For those who feel this placement is a bit ambitious, check out his short-film Whistle, in Moon's bonus features, as it may give you a better idea of his sense of style.

Notable projects:
-Whistle (short)
-Moon
-Source Code (2011) ” - ogjoedivola
 
2.
Darren Aronofsky
Darren Aronofsky was born February 12, 1969, in Brooklyn, New York. Growing up, Darren was always artistic: he loved classic movies and, as a teenager, he even spent time doing graffiti art. After high school, Darren went to Harvard University to study film (both live-action and animation). He won several film awards after completing his senior thesis film...
“ I enjoy the themes that Aronofsky explores in his films. They are all quite dark, with hints of humanity. His placement as #2 is well deserved after two back-to-back nods from the academy and a gob full of indy awards and nom's.

Notable projects:
-Pi
-Requiem for a Dream
-The Fountain
-The Wrestler
-Black Swan
-The Wolverine (2011) ” - ogjoedivola
 
3.
Christopher Nolan
Best known for his cerebral, often nonlinear storytelling, acclaimed writer-director Christopher Nolan was born on July 30, 1970 in London, England. Over the course of 15 years of filmmaking, Nolan has gone from low-budget independent films to working on some of the biggest blockbusters ever made. At 7 years old...
“ The man who can do no wrong. His films are all box office hits (if not smashes) and he is also well respected among the independent industry. He already has a cult following, and as much as I want to say that his films are junk food for the brain (as they enjoy mass appeal), I enjoy them all immensely.

Notable projects:
-Following
-Memento
-The Prestige
-Dark Knight Trilogy (completes by 2012) ” - ogjoedivola
 
4.
“ Another great story teller of the 21st century. While it is interesting to watch how the daddy issues progress in most of his projects, the approach is always fresh and exciting.

Notable projects:
-Felicity (TV series)
-Alias (TV series)
-Lost (TV series)
-Fringe (TV series)
-Star Trek
-Super 8 (2011)
-Mission: Impossible (2011) ” - ogjoedivola
 
5.
Paul Thomas Anderson
Anderson was born in 1970. He was one of the first of the "video store" generation of film-makers. His father was the first man on his block to own a V.C.R., and from a very early age Anderson had an infinite number of titles available to him. While film-makers like Spielberg cut their teeth making 8 mm films, Anderson cut his teeth shooting films on video and editing them from V.C.R. to V.C.R...
“ Quite a range on this guy. His films are consistently well recieved.

Notable projects:
-Magnolia
-There Will be Blood ” - ogjoedivola
 
6.
Wes Anderson
Wesley Wales Anderson was born in Houston, Texas. His mother, Texas Ann (Burroughs), is an archaeologist turned real estate agent, and his father, Melver Leonard Anderson, worked in advertising and PR. He has two brothers, Eric and Mel. Anderson's parents divorced when he was a young child, an event that he described as the most crucial event of his brothers and his growing up...
“ Notable projects:
-Rushmore
-The Royal Tenenbaums
-Life Aquatic
-Darjeeling Limited
-Fantastic Mr.Fox ” - ogjoedivola
 
7.
Spike Jonze
Producer, Her
Spike Jonze made up one-third (along with Andy Jenkins and Mark Lewman) of the triumvirate of genius minds behind Dirt Magazine, the brother publication of the much lamented ground-breaking Sassy Magazine. These three uncommon characters were all editors for Grand Royal Magazine as well, under...
“ Notable projects:
-Video Days
-Mouse
-Being John Malkovich
-Adaptation
-Yeah Right!
-Hot Chocolate
-Fully Flared
-Where the Wild Things Are ” - ogjoedivola
 
8.
Sofia Coppola
Writer, Somewhere
Sofia Coppola was born on May 14, 1971 in New York City, New York, USA as Sofia Carmina Coppola. She is a director, known for Somewhere, Lost in Translation and Marie Antoinette. She has been married to Thomas Mars since August 27, 2011. They have two children. She was previously married to Spike Jonze.
“ Notable projects:
-Lost in Translation
-Marie Antoinette
-Somwhere ” - ogjoedivola
 
9.
Zack Snyder
Director, 300
Zachary Edward "Zack" Snyder (born March 1, 1966) is an American film director, film producer, and screenwriter, best known for action and science fiction films. Snyder made his feature film debut with the 2004 remake Dawn of the Dead and has gone on to be known for his comic book movies and superhero films...
“ Another young promising director. His films seem to focus more on epic story plots and stylistic cinematography, rather than acting as a whole. While I have nothing bad to say about the actors in his films, I feel the characters in his stories do not give much weight to the conclusion, as they lack any sort of autonomy that would compel me to express any type of psychological association with them.

(Or maybe I just can't make any attachment with these characters because my senses are dumbfounded with the amazing imagery)

Notable projects:
-300
-Watchmen
-Superman: Man of Steel (2012) ” - ogjoedivola
 
10.
Guy Ritchie
Director, Snatch
Guy Ritchie was born in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, UK on September 10, 1968. After watching Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid as a child, Guy realized that what he wanted to do was make films. He never attended film school, saying that the work of film school graduates was boring and unwatchable. At 15 years old, he dropped out of school and in 1995...
“ Notable projects:
-Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels
-Snatch
-RocknRolla
-Sherlock Holmes
-Untitled Sherlock Holmes Sequel (2011)
-Excalibur (2012) ” - ogjoedivola
 
11.
Michel Gondry
He grew up in Versailles with a family who was very influenced by pop music. When he was young, Gondry wanted to be a painter or an inventor. In the 80s he entered in an art school in Paris where he could develop his graphic skills and where he also met friends with whom he created a pop-rock band called Oui-Oui...
“ Notable projects:
-Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind
-Be Kind Rewind
-Science of Sleep
-The Green Hornet (2011) ” - ogjoedivola
 
12.
“ Notable projects:
-Trainspotting
-28 Days Later...
-Sunshine
-Slumdog Millionaire
-127 Hours ” - ogjoedivola
 
13.
David Fincher
Director, Fight Club
David Fincher was born in 1962 in Denver, Colorado, and was raised in Marin County, California. When he was 18 years old he went to work for John Korty at Korty Films in Mill Valley. He subsequently worked at ILM (Industrial Light and Magic) from 1981-1983. Fincher left ILM to direct TV commercials and music videos after signing with N...
“ Notable projects:
-Fight Club
-The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
-The Social Network
-Rendezvous with Rama (2013) ” - ogjoedivola
 
14.
Joss Whedon
Writer, The Avengers
Joss Whedon is the middle of five brothers - his younger brothers are Jed Whedon and Zack Whedon. Both his father, Tom Whedon and his grandfather, John Whedon were successful television writers. Joss' mother, Lee Stearns, was a history teacher and she also wrote novels as Lee Whedon...
“ Notable projects:
-Buffy (TV series)
-Firefly (TV series)
-Serenity
-The Avengers (2012) ” - ogjoedivola
 
15.
Robert Rodriguez
Producer, Grindhouse
Robert Anthony Rodriguez was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, USA, to Rebecca (Villegas), a nurse, and Cecilio G. Rodríguez, a salesman. His family is of Mexican descent. Of all the people to be amazed by the images of John Carpenter's 1981 sci-fi parable, Escape from New York, none were as captivated as the 12-year-old Rodriguez...
“ Notable projects:
-Once Upon a Time in Mexico
-Grindhouse
-Sin City
-Machete ” - ogjoedivola
 
16.
Quentin Tarantino
Writer, Pulp Fiction
Quentin Jerome Tarantino was born in Knoxville, Tennessee. His father, Tony Tarantino, is an Italian-American actor and musician from New York, and his mother, Connie (McHugh), is a nurse from Tennessee. Quentin moved with his mother to Torrance, California, when he was four years old. In January of 1992...
“ Notable projects:
-Reservoir Dogs
-Pulp Fiction
-Jackie Brown
-Kill Bills
-Grindhouse
-Inglorious Basterds ” - ogjoedivola
 
17.
“ & Ethan Coen,

Notable projects:
-Fargo
-The Big Lebowski
-O Brother, Where Art Thou?
-The Man Who Wasn't There
-No Country for Old Men
-Burn After Reading
-A Serious Man
-True Grit ” - ogjoedivola
 
18.
Alejandro González Iñárritu
Producer, The Revenant
His six feature films - Amores Perros, 21 Grams, Babel (comprising the "Death Trilogy"), Biutiful, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), and The Revenant - have garnered critical acclaim and numerous accolades, including Academy Award nominations and wins. In 2015, Iñárritu won the Academy Award for Best Director...
“ Notable projects:
-Amores Perros
-21 Grams
-Babel
-Biutiful ” - ogjoedivola
 
19.
“ This guy just recently came into my cross-hairs a few years ago with The Proposition, a gritty western set in the australian outback, followed up a few years later with The Road, a Cormac McCarthy adaptation. So far I've really enjoyed his films because they reveal the dark side of what people are capable of when pushed to desperation. But, what really makes his films work for me is that he contrasts these acts of desperation with glimpses of humanity. I like to think that his projects may appeal to a Coen Brothers mentality, but they lack the quirk which seems to hinder a few of their films. Hillcoat seems to be much more interested in telling a story of human achievement, spawning within an uncooperative environment. I'm also very excited about his upcoming film The Wettest County in the World. While I am assured that this adaptation will hit its mark, I can't be more excited about his casting. Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Guy Pearce.

Notable projects:
-The Proposition
-The Road
-The Wettest County in the World (2012) ” - ogjoedivola
 
20.
“ Notable projects:
-Chopper
-The Assassination of Jesse James
-Cogan's Trade (2012)
-Blonde (2012) ” - ogjoedivola
 
21.
“ I wish I knew more about this upcoming director, but until I recently made the link that he had done both Session 9 and The Machinist, he has been off my radar completely. With some promising projects on the horizon, and an early foundation of quality indie flicks, he may be pushed up this list sooner than later.

Notable projects:
-Session 9
-The Machinist
-Transsiberian
-Fringe
-Jack (2011)
-All Lost Souls (2011) ” - ogjoedivola
 
22.
Alex Proyas
Director, Dark City
Alex Proyas has moved effortlessly between helming TV commercials and music videos to feature films. Born to Greek parents in Egypt, Proyas relocated to Australia with his family when he was three years old. He began making films at age ten and went on to attend the Australian Film Television and Radio School along with Jane Campion and Jocelyn Moorhouse...
“ Another very aesthetically focused director. With The Crow and Dark City alone, he has an incredible cult following.

Notable projects:
-The Crow
-Dark City
-I, Robot
-Paradise Lost (2012) ” - ogjoedivola
 
23.
Jim Jarmusch
Moved to New York City at the age of seventeen from Akron, Ohio. Graduated from Columbia University with a B.A. in English, class of '75. Without any prior film experience, he was accepted into the Tisch School of the Arts, New York.
“ Another film maker who's projects are few and far between, but completely worth the wait. While I wish he would put out more films, I can appreciate that his patience overrides my greed, as all of his films are painstakingly deliberate, yet ambiguous.

Notable projects:
-Down By Law
-Mystery Train
-Dead Man
-Coffee and Cigarettes
-Broken Flowers
-The Limits of Control ” - ogjoedivola
 
24.
David Cronenberg
Director, The Fly
David Cronenberg, also known as the King of Venereal Horror or the Baron of Blood, was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in 1943. His father was a journalist, and his mother was a piano player. After showing an inclination for literature at an early age (he wrote and published eerie short stories, thus following his father's path) and for music (playing classical guitar until he was 12)...
“ Cronenberg is great, such a wierdo. Plus, he shares an equal obsession with Viggo Mortenson.

Notable projects:
-Videodrome
-The Dead Zone
-The Fly
-Naked Lunch
-Spider
-A History of Violence
-Eastern Promises
-A Dangerous Method (2011)
-Cosmopolis (2011) ” - ogjoedivola
 
25.
Michael Mann
Producer, Heat
A student of London's International Film School, Michael Mann began his career in the late 70s, writing for TV shows like Starsky and Hutch. He directed his first film, the award-winning prison drama The Jericho Mile, in 1979. He followed that in 1981 with his first theatrical release, Thief starring James Caan as a safe-cracker who falls under the spell of the mob...
“ I don't really know anything about this guy other than his films. If they get made, I go see them. Mostly because I can count on quality cinematography, acting, and writing.

Notable projects:
-The Last of the Mohicans
-Heat
-Ali
-Collateral
-Public Enemies ” - ogjoedivola
 
26.
“ Probably one of the most respected film maker of the last 20 years, this guy is still throwing the heat. I'm particularly excited about his latest project Restless, the description feels to me like a modern adaptation of Harold & Maude, with a twist.

Notable projects:
-My Own Private Idaho
-Good Will Hunting
-Psycho
-Elephant
-Last Days
-Milk
-Restless (2011) ” - ogjoedivola
 
27.
Oliver Stone
Director, Platoon
Oliver Stone has become known as a master of controversial subjects and a legendary film maker. His films are filled with a variety of film angles and styles, he pushes his actors to give Oscar-worthy performances, and despite his failures, has always returned to success. William Oliver Stone was born in New York City...
“ Mr.Stone has been exploring social commentary for decades already. While I personally prefer Natural Born Killers and U-Turn, as opposed his more politically charged projects like Wall Street and Nixon, I really enjoy how he employs a sort of psychobiography in his films. While it would be easy for any other storyteller to reveal the dirty secrets of these corrupt politicians and bureaucrats, he explores the pathology of his subject to the point of sympathy. While his more aggressive projects have been few and far between the last few years, I refuse to rule him out of this list.

Notable projects:
-Platoon
-Wall Street
-Born on the Fourth of July
-The Doors
-JFK
-Natural Born Killers
-Nixon
-U-Turn
-Any Given Sunday
-W.
-Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
-Savages (2012) ” - ogjoedivola
 
28.
Terrence Malick
Terrence Malick was born in Ottawa, Illinois. His family subsequently lived in Oklahoma and he went to school in Austin, Texas. He did his undergraduate work at Harvard, graduating summa cum laude with a degree in philosophy in 1965. A member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society, he attended Magdalen College...
“ A wonderful visionary who always seems to hit his mark. If you hadn't realized yet, Malick's films always seem to have an intimate relationship with the characters and the landscape. This sense of intimacy is mostly done through camera work as opposed to character development or plot structure. If you don't know what I mean, go watch The New World, The Thin Red Line, or the trailer for his new film, The Tree of Life.

Notable projects:
-Badlands
-Gravy Train
-Days of Heaven
-The Thin Red Line
-The New World
-The Tree of Life (2011) ” - ogjoedivola
 
29.
Terry Gilliam
Terry Gilliam was born in Minnesota near Medicine Lake. When he was 12 his family moved to Los Angeles where he became a fan of Mad magazine. In his early 20's he was often stopped by the police who often suspected him of being a drug addict and Gilliam had to explain that he worked in advertising....
“ God, I hate putting my favorite director at the bottom of this (way too long) list. But over the last decade his films have been so poorly received, and producers don't seem too excited to get into a project with him, that I can't justify any other position (at least among his commercially successful peers).

While I wait anxiously for the Don Quixote adaptation, I know I can still lose myself into the Imaginarium of Gilliam's Filmography.

Notable projects:
-Time Bandits
-Brazil
-The Adventures of Baren Munchauson
-The Fisher King
-Twelve Monkeys
-Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
-The Brothers Grimm
-Tideland
-The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus ” - ogjoedivola