The most exciting directors working today

by krems81 | created - 14 Feb 2013 | updated - 09 Mar 2013 | Public

This list is mostly newer directors with fresh perspective and new ways of telling stories, but there are some seasoned vets in there who've just not stopped pushing boundaries, or who stopped for a while and started again.

The list is probably more for film conisseurs, but these directors offer a good entry point into offbeat films for people who have usually seen conventional movies. The films made by these directors tend to be so gripping and well crafted that they can open people's eyes to amazing new ways to tell and be told stories. They do that for me all the time and my delight and surprise with these movies is what I want share by making this list.

The list is not really in particular order. The movies listed are my personal favorites from each director.

1. 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, Milton Cronenberg, was a journalist and editor, and his mother, Esther (Sumberg), was a piano player. After showing an inclination for literature at an early...

Eastern Promises, 2007

A History of Violence, 2005

2. Andrew Dominik

Director | Chopper

Andrew Dominik was born on October 7, 1967 in Wellington, New Zealand. He is a director and writer, known for Chopper (2000), Killing Them Softly (2012) and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007).

Killing Them Softly, 2012

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, 2007

3. Jacques Audiard

Writer | De rouille et d'os

Born in Paris, France, in 1952. Jacques Audiard's family has always been involved in movie business. His father, Michel, was a popular screenwriter and director and his uncle a producer. But in his teens he refused that world and wanted to be a teacher. He studied literature and philosophy at the ...

A Prophet, 2009

4. Sean Baker

Writer | Tangerine

Sean Baker is a writer/director known for the Spirit Award nominated films Take Out (2004), Prince of Broadway (2008) and Starlet (2012) (winner of the Robert Altman Spirit Award). His latest film Tangerine (2015) premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and will be released by Magnolia Pictures in ...

Take out, 2004

5. David O. Russell

Writer | Silver Linings Playbook

David Owen Russell is an American film writer, director, and producer, known for a cinema of intense, tragi-comedic characters whose love of life can surpass dark circumstances faced in very specific worlds. His films address such themes as mental illness as stigma or hope; invention of self and ...

6. Lynne Ramsay

Director | We Need to Talk About Kevin

Lynne Ramsay was born on December 5, 1969 in Glasgow, Strathclyde, Scotland. She is a director and writer, known for We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011), You Were Never Really Here (2017) and Morvern Callar (2002).

Morven Callar, 2002

7. Joe Swanberg

Writer | Easy

Joe Swanberg was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1981. He moved around quite a bit growing up, even spending two years on an island in the Pacific Ocean named Kwajalein. He studied film production at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, where he developed an interest in emerging video technology ...

Hannah Takes the Stairs, 2007

8. Joel Coen

Writer | Fargo

Joel Coen was born on November 29, 1954 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA as Joel Daniel Coen. He is a producer and writer, known for Fargo (1996), A Serious Man (2009) and Inside Llewyn Davis (2013). He has been married to Frances McDormand since April 1, 1984. They have one child.

Ethan too. You can't add them together.

No Country for Old Men, 2007

Fargo, 1996

9. Jim Jarmusch

Director | Broken Flowers

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.

Down by Law, 1986

10. Michael Haneke

Writer | Caché

A true master of his craft, Michael Haneke is one of the greatest film artists working today and one who challenges his viewers each year and work goes by, with films that reflect real portions of life in realistic, disturbing and unforgettable ways. One of the most genuine filmmakers of the world ...

Funny Games, 2007

11. Wes Anderson

Writer | Fantastic Mr. Fox

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 ...

Moonrise Kingdom, 2012

12. William Friedkin

Director | The French Connection

Friedkin's mother was an operating room nurse. His father was a merchant seaman, semi-pro softball player and ultimately sold clothes in a men's discount chain. Ultimately, his father never earned more than $50/week in his whole life and died indigent. Eventually young Will became infatuated with ...

Killer Joe, 2012

13. Lee Daniels

Producer | Precious

Lee Daniels gave his parents an early Christmas present when he entered the world on December 24, 1959; unfortunately, the Philadelphia native was to have a difficult relationship with his police officer father who later reacted violently to his son's sexuality. Despite the brutality of his ...

Precious, 2009

14. Olivier Assayas

Writer | Personal Shopper

Olivier Assayas was born on January 25, 1955 in Paris, France. He is a writer and director, known for Personal Shopper (2016), Something in the Air (2012) and Demonlover (2002).

Carlos, 2010

15. Asghar Farhadi

Writer | Darbareye Elly

Asghar Farhadi was born in 1972 in Iran. He became interested in cinema in his teenage years and started his filmmaking education by joining the Youth Cinema Society of Esfahan in 1986 where he made 8mm and 16mm short films. He received his Bachelors in Theater from University of Tehran's School of...

A Separation, 2011

16. Abbas Kiarostami

Director | Bad ma ra khahad bord

Abbas Kiarostami was born in Tehran, Iran, in 1940. He graduated from university with a degree in fine arts before starting work as a graphic designer. He then joined the Center for Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults, where he started a film section, and this started his career ...

Certified Copy, 2010

17. David Michôd

Writer | The Rover

David Michôd is a writer and producer, known for The Rover (2014), Animal Kingdom (2010) and War Machine (2017).

Animal Kingdom, 2010

18. Christopher Nolan

Writer | Interstellar

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.

...

The Dark Night, 2008

The Prestige, 2006

Memento, 2000

19. Steve McQueen

Director | 12 Years a Slave

Steve McQueen was born on October 9, 1969 in London, England as Steve Rodney McQueen. He is a director and writer, known for 12 Years a Slave (2013), Shame (2011) and Hunger (2008).

Shame, 2011

20. David Fincher

Director | Se7en

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...

Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, 2011

Social Network, 2010

21. Andrew Bujalski

Writer | Computer Chess

Andrew Bujalski, born in Boston in 1977, is the son of an artist-turned-businesswoman, Sheila Dubman, and a businessman, Edmund Bujalski. Andrew studied film at Harvard's Department of Visual and Environmental Studies, where the Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman was his thesis advisor.

He shot his ...

Mutual Appreciation, 2005

22. Bob Byington

Director | Somebody Up There Likes Me

Bob Byington is an actor and director, known for Somebody Up There Likes Me (2012), Olympia (1998) and 7 Chinese Brothers (2015).

RSO [Registered Sex Offender], 2008

23. Woody Allen

Writer | Manhattan

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...

When he does stuff like Matchpoint, 2005

24. Sarah Polley

Actress | Dawn of the Dead

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 ...

25. Sofia Coppola

Director | Lost in Translation

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 (2010), Lost in Translation (2003) and Marie Antoinette (2006). She has been married to Thomas Mars since August 27, 2011. They have two children. She was ...

Lost in Translation, 2003

26. 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...

Django Unchained, 2012

Inglorious Basterds, 2009

27. Cristian Mungiu

Writer | 4 luni, 3 saptamâni si 2 zile

Cristian Mungiu was born on April 27, 1968 in Iasi, Romania. He is a writer and director, known for 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007), Dupa dealuri (2012) and Bacalaureat (2016).

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days

28. Courtney Hunt

Director | Frozen River

Courtney Hunt was born in 1964 in Memphis, Tennessee, USA. She is a director and writer, known for Frozen River (2008), The Whole Truth (2016) and Fear the Walking Dead (2015).

Frozen River, 2008

We'll see if she gets back to doing movies.

29. Mike Leigh

Director | Secrets & Lies

Mike Leigh was born on February 20, 1943 in Salford, Greater Manchester, England. He is a director and writer, known for Secrets & Lies (1996), Another Year (2010) and Naked (1993). He was previously married to Alison Steadman.

Another Year, 2010

Happy-Go-Lucky, 2008

Vera Drake, 2004

30. Mark Duplass

Actor | Safety Not Guaranteed

Mark Duplass was born on December 7, 1976 in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA as Mark David Duplass. He is an actor and producer, known for Safety Not Guaranteed (2012), Creep (2014) and The One I Love (2014). He has been married to Katie Aselton since August 26, 2006. They have two children.

with Jay, his brother and filmmaking partner

Jeff, Who Lives at Home, 2011

31. Malik Bader

Actor | Street Thief

Malik Bader is an actor and director, known for Street Thief (2006), Cash Only (2015) and Killerman (2018).

Street Thief, 2006

32. Vera Farmiga

Actress | Up in the Air

Vera Farmiga is an American actress who received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Up in the Air (2009) and a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her role in Bates Motel (2013).

She was born Vera Ann Farmiga, the ...

Higher Ground, 2011

If she keeps directing.

33. 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 ...

Y tu Mama Tambien, 2001

34. Jeff Nichols

Writer | Take Shelter

Jeff Nichols was born on December 7, 1978 in Little Rock, Arkansas, USA. He is a writer and director, known for Take Shelter (2011), Midnight Special (2016) and Mud (2012).

Take Shelter, 2011

35. Ed Harris

Actor | The Truman Show

By transforming into his characters and pulling the audience in, Ed Harris has earned a reputation as one of the most talented actors of our time.

Ed Harris was born in Tenafly, New Jersey, to Margaret (Sholl), a travel agent, and Robert Lee Harris, a bookstore worker who also sang professionally. ...

Appaloosa, 2008

Pollock, 2000

Though he doesn't direct enough.

36. Sebastián Silva

Writer | La Nana

Sebastián Silva was born on April 9, 1979 in Santiago, Metropolitan Region, Chile. He is a writer and director, known for The Maid (2009), Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus and 2012 (2013) and Magic Magic (2013).

The Maid, 2009

37. Cary Fukunaga

Producer | Beasts of No Nation

Cary Fukunaga was born on July 10, 1977 in Oakland, California, USA as Cary Joji Fukunaga. He is a producer and director, known for Beasts of No Nation (2015), Sin Nombre (2009) and True Detective (2014).

Jane Eyre, 2011

Sin Nombre, 2009

38. Laurent Cantet

Director | Entre les murs

Laurent Cantet was born on June 15, 1961 in Melle, Deux-Sevres, France. He is a director and writer, known for The Class (2008), Human Resources (1999) and Time Out (2001).

The Class, 2008

39. Tom McCarthy

Producer | Win Win

Tom McCarthy is an American film director, screenwriter, and actor. He is best known for direct and write The Station Agent (2003), The Visitor (2007), Win Win (2011), and Spotlight (2015), for which he won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, and was nominated for Best Director.

McCarthy...

The visitor, 2007

40. 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 ...

Meeks cutoff, 2010

41. Chan-wook Park

Director | Ah-ga-ssi

Chan-wook Park was born on August 23, 1963 in Seoul, South Korea. He is a director and writer, known for Ah-ga-ssi (2016), Thirst (2009) and Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002).

42. Matteo Garrone

Director | Gomorra

Matteo Garrone was born in Rome in 1968. He is the son of a theatre critic, Nico Garrone, and a photographer. In 1996 he won the Sacher d'Oro, an award sponsored by Nanni Moretti, with the short film Silhouette (1996), that became one of the three episodes of his first feature film Terra di mezzo (...

Gomorra, 2008

43. 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,...