Favourite directors of the 21st century

The people doing the consistently best work in film these days.
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1.
“ O Brother Where Art Thou, The Man Who Wasn't There, Intolerable Cruelty, The Ladykillers, No Country For Old Men, Burn After Reading, A Serious Man, True Grit, Inside Llewyn Davis ” - Jeff Hayward
 
2.
“ Code Unknown, The Piano Teacher, The Time Of The Wolf, Caché, Funny Games, The White Ribbon, Amour ” - Jeff Hayward
 
3.
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...
“ Amores Perros, 21 Grams, Babel, Biutiful, Birdman, The Revenant ” - Jeff Hayward
 
4.
“ Sexy Beast, Birth, Under The Skin ” - Jeff Hayward
 
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...
“ Punch Drunk Love, There Will Be Blood, The Master, Inherent Vice ” - Jeff Hayward
 
6.
“ Songs From The Second Floor, You The Living, A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Reflecting On Existence ” - Jeff Hayward
 
7.
“ Hunger, Shame, 12 Years A Slave ” - Jeff Hayward
 
8.
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...
“ Adaptation, Where The Wild Things Are, Her ” - Jeff Hayward
 
9.
Steven Soderbergh
Director, Ocean's Eleven
Steven Andrew Soderbergh was born on January 14, 1963 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, the second of six children of Mary Ann (Bernard) and Peter Soderbergh. His father was of Swedish and Irish descent, and his mother was of Italian ancestry. While he was still at a very young age, his family moved to Baton Rouge...
“ Erin Brockovich, Traffic, Ocean's Eleven, Full Frontal, Solaris, Ocean's Twelve, Bubble, The Good German, Ocean's Thirteen, Che, The Girlfriend Experience, The Informant, And Everything Is Going Fine, Contagion, Haywire, Magic Mike, Side Effects, Behind The Candelabra ” - Jeff Hayward
 
10.
Noah Baumbach
Writer, Greenberg
Born in Brooklyn in 1969 Noah Baumbach is the son of two film critics, Georgia Brown and Jonathan Baumbach (also a writer). His studies at Vassar College were the subject of his first film (made as he was 26 years old), Kicking and Screaming. His second major picture, made ten years later, The Squid and the Whale was no less autobiographical but went back further in his personal history...
“ The Squid & The Whale, Margot At The Wedding, Greenberg, Frances Ha, While We're Young, Mistress America ” - Jeff Hayward
 
11.
David Lynch
Born in precisely the kind of small-town American setting so familiar from his films, David Lynch spent his childhood being shunted from one state to another as his research scientist father kept getting relocated. He attended various art schools, married Peggy Lynch and then fathered future director Jennifer Lynch shortly after he turned 21...
“ Mulholland Drive, Inland Empire ” - Jeff Hayward
 
12.
Werner Herzog
Director, Grizzly Man
Director. Writer. Producer. Has studied history, literature and theatre, but hasn't finished it. Founded his own production company in 1963. Has staged several operas, besides others in Bayreuth, Germany, and at the Milan Scala in Italy. Herzog has won numerous national and international awards for his films.
“ Invincible, Wheel Of Time, The White Diamond, Grizzly Man, The Wild Blue Yonder, Rescue Dawn, Encounters At The End Of The World, Bad Lieutenant, My Son My Son What Have Ye Done, Happy People, Cave Of Forgotten Dreams, Into The Abyss, Queen Of The Desert, Salt And Fire, Into The Inferno ” - Jeff Hayward
 
13.
Lars von Trier
Writer, Melancholia
Lars von Trier (the "von" was adopted during his stay at the Danish Film School) was born in Copenhagen, Denmark in April 1956. He graduated from the Danish Film School in 1983 with his short film Befrielsesbilleder ("Images of Relief"), which won the Best Film award at the Munich Film Festival the following year...
“ Dancer In The Dark, Dogville, The Five Obstructions, Manderlay, The Boss Of It All, Antichrist, Melancholia, Nymphomaniac ” - Jeff Hayward
 
14.
Richard Linklater
Director, Before Sunset
Self-taught writer-director Richard Stuart Linklater was born in Houston, Texas, to Diane Margaret (Krieger), who taught at a university, and Charles W. Linklater III. Richard was among the first and most successful talents to emerge during the American independent film renaissance of the 1990s. Typically setting each of his movies during one 24-hour period...
“ Waking Life, Tape, School Of Rock, Before Sunset, Bad News Bears, Fast Food Nation, A Scanner Darkly, Me And Orson Welles, Bernie, Before Midnight, Boyhood, Everybody Wants Some!! ” - Jeff Hayward
 
15.
“ J'ai tué ma mère, Heartbeats, Laurence Anyways, Tom At The Farm, Mommy, It's Only The End Of The World ” - Jeff Hayward
 
16.
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...
“ The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, The Darjeeling Limited, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Moonrise Kingdom, The Grand Budapest Hotel ” - Jeff Hayward
 
17.
Jim Jarmusch
Jarmusch came to New York City from Akron, Ohio to study at Columbia and NYU's film school. He would also study film at the Cinematheque Francaise in Paris. He worked as an assistant on Lightning Over Water, a film by Nicholas Ray and Wim Wenders, before making his first film, _Permanent Vacation (1982)_...
“ Coffee And Cigarettes, Broken Flowers, The Limits Of Control, Only Lovers Left Alive, Paterson ” - Jeff Hayward
 
18.
“ George Washington, All The Real Girls, Undertow, Snow Angels, Pineapple Express, Your Highness, The Sitter, Prince Avalanche, Joe, Manglehorn, Our Brand Is Crisis ” - Jeff Hayward
 
19.
Alfonso Cuarón
Writer, Gravity
Alfonso Cuarón Orozco was born on November 28th in Mexico City, Mexico. From an early age, he yearned to be either a film director or an astronaut. However, he did not want to enter the army, so he settled for directing. He didn't receive his first camera until his twelfth birthday, and then immediately started to film everything he saw...
“ Y Tu Mamá También, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Children Of Men, Gravity ” - Jeff Hayward
 
20.
“ Impolex, The Color Wheel, Listen Up Philip, Queen Of Earth ” - Jeff Hayward
 
21.
“ Irreversible, Enter The Void, Love ” - Jeff Hayward
 
22.
Pedro Almodóvar
The most internationally acclaimed Spanish filmmaker since Luis Buñuel was born in a small town (Calzada de Calatrava) in the impoverished Spanish region of La Mancha. He arrived in Madrid in 1968, and survived by selling used items in the flea-market called El Rastro. Almodóvar couldn't study filmmaking because he didn't have the money to afford it...
“ Talk To Her, Bad Education, Volver, Broken Embraces, The Skin I Live In, I'm So Excited, Julieta ” - Jeff Hayward
 
23.
Charlie Kaufman
Avid reader Charlie Kaufman wrote plays and made short films as a young student. He moved from Massapequa, New York to West Hartford, Connecticut in 1972 where he attended high school. As a comedic actor, he performed in school plays and, after graduation, he enrolled at Boston University but soon transferred NYU to study film...
“ Synecdoche New York, Anomalisa ” - Jeff Hayward
 
24.
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...
“ Kill Bill, Death Proof, Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained, The Hateful Eight ” - Jeff Hayward
 
25.
“ The Guitar Mongoloid, Involuntary, Play, Force Majeure ” - Jeff Hayward
 
26.
Yorgos Lanthimos
Director, The Lobster
Yorgos Lanthimos was born in Athens, Greece. He studied directing for Film and Television at the Stavrakos Film School in Athens. He has directed a number of dance videos in collaboration with Greek choreographers, in addition to TV commercials, music videos, short films and theatre plays. Kinetta, his first feature film...
“ My Best Friend, Kinetta, Dogtooth, ALPS, The Lobster ” - Jeff Hayward
 
27.
Kelly Reichardt
Director, Wendy and Lucy
Kelly Reichardt was born and raised in Miami-Dade Country, Florida, to a family of police officers. She had an interest in photography from a very young age. She started by using her father's camera, which he used for photographing crime scenes. She went to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston...
“ Old Joy, Wendy And Lucy, Meek's Cutoff, Night Moves, Certain Women ” - Jeff Hayward
 
28.
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...
“ Human Nature, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, The Science Of Sleep, Be Kind Rewind, The Green Hornet, Mood Indigo, The We And The I, Is The Man Who Is Tall Happy ” - Jeff Hayward
 
29.
Denis Villeneuve
Director, Arrival
Denis Villeneuve is a French Canadian film director and writer. He was born in 1967, in Trois-Rivières, Québec, Canada. He started is career as a filmmaker at the National Film Board of Canada. He is best known for his feature films Arrival (2016), Sicario (2015), Prisoners (2013), Enemy (2013) and Incendies (2010). He is married to Tanya Lapointe.
“ Polytechnique, Incendies, Prisoners, Enemy, Sicario, Arrival ” - Jeff Hayward
 
30.
Shane Carruth
Composer, Primer
Writer-director Shane Carruth, a former software engineer, burst onto the independent movie scene with his extremely low-budget science-fiction film Primer in 2004. Carruth also played one of the two leads in the film and composed its music. "Primer" won the Grand Jury Prize and the Alfred P. Sloan Award at the Sundance Film Festival...
“ Primer, Upstream Color ” - Jeff Hayward
 
31.
Jeff Nichols
Writer, Mud
“ Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter, Mud, Midnight Special ” - Jeff Hayward
 
32.
Martin Scorsese
Martin Charles Scorsese was born on November 17, 1942 in Queens, New York City, to Catherine Scorsese (née Cappa) and Charles Scorsese, who both worked in Manhattan's garment district, and whose families both came from Palermo, Sicily. He was raised in the neighborhood of Little Italy, which later provided the inspiration for several of his films...
“ Gangs Of New York, The Aviator, The Departed, Shutter Island, Hugo, The Wolf Of Wall Street ” - Jeff Hayward
 
33.
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...
“ Requiem For A Dream, The Fountain, The Wrestler, Black Swan, Noah ” - Jeff Hayward
 
34.
Adam McKay
Producer, Step Brothers
Adam McKay (born April 17, 1968) is an American screenwriter, director, comedian, and actor. McKay has a comedy partnership with Will Ferrell, with whom he co-wrote the films Anchorman, Talladega Nights, and The Other Guys. Ferrell and McKay also founded their comedy website Funny or Die through their production company Gary Sanchez Productions...
“ Anchorman, Talladega Nights, Step Brothers, The Other Guys, Anchorman 2, The Big Short ” - Jeff Hayward
 
35.
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...
“ Ali, Collateral, Miami Vice, Public Enemies, Blackhat ” - Jeff Hayward
 
36.
David Wain
David Wain was born and raised in Shaker Heights, Ohio. He met the other members of the comedy troupe The State while a film student at NYU, where he graduated from in 1991. As part of The State, he co-created and co-starred on their self-titled MTV sketch comedy show in the mid 90's. He then continued to work with his State partners on many other projects...
“ Wet Hot American Summer, The Ten, Role Models, Wanderlust, They Came Together ” - Jeff Hayward
 
37.
Sarah Polley
Sarah Polley is an actress and director renowned in her native Canada for her political activism. Blessed with an extremely expressive face that enables directors to minimize dialog due to her uncanny ability to suggest a character's thoughts, Polley has become a favorite of critics for her sensitive portraits of wounded and conflicted young women in independent films...
“ Away From Her, Take This Waltz, Stories We Tell ” - Jeff Hayward
 
38.
“ Ratcatcher, Morvern Callar, We Need To Talk About Kevin ” - Jeff Hayward
 
39.
“ Melissa P, I Am Love, A Bigger Splash ” - Jeff Hayward
 
40.
Alexander Payne
Producer, The Descendants
Director, producer and screenwriter Alexander Payne was born in Omaha, Nebraska. His parents, Peggy (Constantine) and George Payne, ran a Greek restaurant. His father is of Greek and German ancestry, and his mother is of Greek descent; the family name was originally Papadopoulos. He has two older brothers...
“ About Schmidt, Sideways, The Descendants, Nebraska ” - Jeff Hayward
 
41.
Andrea Arnold
Actress, No 73
“ Red Road, Fish Tank, Wuthering Heights, American Honey ” - Jeff Hayward
 
42.
“ Berberian Sound Studio, The Duke Of Burgundy ” - Jeff Hayward
 
43.
“ Trouble Every Day, Friday Night, The Intruder, 35 Shots Of Rum, White Material, Bastards ” - Jeff Hayward
 
44.
“ The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Funny People, This Is 40, Trainwreck ” - Jeff Hayward
 
45.
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.
“ Lost In Translation, Marie Antoinette, Somewhere, The Bling Ring ” - Jeff Hayward
 
46.
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...
“ Memento, Insomnia, Batman Begins, The Prestige, The Dark Knight, Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, Interstellar ” - Jeff Hayward
 
47.
Nicolas Winding Refn
Nicolas Winding Refn is a Danish film director, screenwriter and producer. He moved to the United States in 1981 and is known for directing the crime dramas Bleeder (1999) and the Pusher films (1996, 2004, 2005), the fictionalised biographical film Bronson (2008), the dramatic adventure film Valhalla Rising (2009)...
“ Fear X, Bronson, Valhalla Rising, Drive, Only God Forgives, The Neon Demon ” - Jeff Hayward
 
48.
Rick Alverson
Director, Entertainment
Rick Alverson (1971) is a filmmaker from Richmond, Virginia. His feature film Entertainment premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival as well as screening that year at Locarno, SXSW and New Directors / New Films. It was released by Magnolia Pictures in 2015. His previous dramatic feature The Comedy premiered in competition at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and was distributed by Tribeca Film...
“ The Builder, New Jerusalem, The Comedy, Entertainment ” - Jeff Hayward
 
49.
Paul Feig
Actor, Spy
“ Bridesmaids, The Heat, Spy, Ghostbusters ” - Jeff Hayward
 
50.
Pablo Larraín
Director, Jackie
Born in Santiago in 1976, Pablo Larraín is, along with Sebastián Lelio, Chile's greatest movie director as well as a major producer (through his Fabula company). Not for the weak-hearted, his films are straightforward, generally aggressive and interspersed with violence. They paint a hard-hitting portrait of his country...
“ Fuga, Tony Manero, Post Mortem, No, The Club, Neruda, Jackie ” - Jeff Hayward
 
51.
“ Greek Pete, Weekend, 45 Years ” - Jeff Hayward
 
52.
Kar-Wai Wong
Wong Kar-wai (born 17 July 1956) is a Hong Kong Second Wave filmmaker, internationally renowned as an auteur for his visually unique, highly stylised, emotionally resonant work, including Ah fei zing zyun (1990), Dung che sai duk (1994), Chung Hing sam lam (1994), Do lok tin si (1995), Chun gwong cha sit (1997)...
“ In The Mood For Love, 2046, My Blueberry Nights, The Grandmaster ” - Jeff Hayward
 
53.
Jeremy Saulnier
Cinematographer, Blue Ruin
Jeremy Saulnier has slyly defined a unique cinematic aesthetic that complements his idiosyncratic narrative premises. His sophomore feature, Blue Ruin (2013) a quirky, crime drama set in a pretty, but grimier part of suburban America was a festival darling and supplanted his name within the independent movie scene...
“ Murder Party, Blue Ruin, Green Room ” - Jeff Hayward
 
54.
Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Apichatpong Weerasethakul (b. 1970, Bangkok) grew up in Khon Kaen, a city in the north east of Thailand. He has a degree in Architecture from Khon Kaen University and a Master of Fine Arts in Filmmaking from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has been making films and videos since the early 90s...
“ Syndromes And A Century, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, Mekong Hotel, Cemetery Of Splendor ” - Jeff Hayward
 
55.
“ In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths ” - Jeff Hayward
 
56.
Harmony Korine
Director, Spring Breakers
Harmony Korine was born in Bolinas, California, in 1973. His family moved to the east coast of the United States when he was five, and he spent his early years in Nashville, Tennessee, and New York. At the age of 19, he wrote the critically acclaimed screenplay Kids for director Larry Clark...
“ Mister Lonely, Trash Humpers, Spring Breakers ” - Jeff Hayward
 
57.
Edgar Wright
Edgar Howard Wright (born 18 April 1974) is an English director, screenwriter, producer, and actor. He is best known for his comedic Three Flavours Cornetto film trilogy consisting of Shaun of the Dead (2004), Hot Fuzz (2007), and The World's End (2013), made with recurrent collaborators Simon Pegg...
“ Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim, The World's End ” - Jeff Hayward
 
58.
“ Down Terrace, Kill List, Sightseers, A Field In England, High-Rise ” - Jeff Hayward
 
59.
“ Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy, Lady Vengeance, I'm A Cyborg But That's OK, Thirst, 60 Seconds Of Solitude In Year Zero, Stoker, The Handmaiden ” - Jeff Hayward
 
60.
Todd Solondz
Director, Happiness
Todd Solondz was born in Newark, New Jersey. One of his earliest jobs in the film industry was when, as a young man, he worked as a messenger for the Writers' Guild of America. During this time, he wrote several screenplays. Solondz's first color film with sync sound was the short "Schatt's Last Shot" (1985)...
“ Storytelling, Palindromes, Life During Wartime, Dark Horse, Wiener-Dog ” - Jeff Hayward
 
61.
Woody Allen
Writer, Annie Hall
Woody Allen was born Allan Stewart Konigsberg on December 1, 1935 in Brooklyn, New York, to Nettie (Cherrie), a bookkeeper, and Martin Konigsberg, a waiter and jewellery engraver. His father was of Russian Jewish descent, and his maternal grandparents were Austrian Jewish immigrants. As a young boy...
“ Small Time Crooks, The Curse Of The Jade Scorpion, Hollywood Ending, Anything Else, Melinda & Melinda, Match Point, Scoop, Cassandra's Dream, Vicki Cristina Barcelona, Whatever Works, You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger, Midnight In Paris, To Rome With Love, Blue Jasmine, Magic In The Moonlight ” - Jeff Hayward
 
62.
Thomas Vinterberg
Director, The Hunt
With Last Round (Last Round), his graduation short from The National Film School of Denmark, he got an early taste of critical success. He received the Jury's and Producers' Awards at the International Student Film Fest in Munich and won the 1st Prize at the Tel Aviv Film Fest. Popular success followed with his breakthrough short fiction film...
“ The Third Lie, It's All About Love, Dear Wendy, When A Man Comes Home, Submarino, The Hunt, Far From The Madding Crowd, The Commune ” - Jeff Hayward
 
63.
Roman Polanski
Director, The Pianist
Roman Polanski is a Polish film director, producer, writer and actor. Having made films in Poland, Britain, France and the USA, he is considered one of the few truly international filmmakers. Roman Polanski was born in Paris in 1933. His parents returned to Poland from France in 1936, three years before World War II began...
“ The Pianist, Oliver Twist, The Ghost Writer, Carnage, Venus In Fur ” - Jeff Hayward
 
64.
“ Sound Of My Voice, The East ” - Jeff Hayward
 
65.
Derek Cianfrance
Derek Cianfrance began making movies at age 13. He later attended The University of Colorado where he studied under avant-garde film legends Stan Brakhage and Phil Solomon. His first three films, 'Five O'clock Shadow', 'Raw Footage', and Brother Tied, won consecutive Goldfarb Awards for best film...
“ Blue Valentine, The Place Beyond The Pines, The Light Between Oceans ” - Jeff Hayward