15 Greatest Directors Currently Working Today

While there are certain aspects of film-making they can’t always control, ultimately it is the skill of the director that determines whether a movie is good or bad. To make this list of the greatest modern directors, a director must still be actively making movies and only movies from the last 15 years are considered in the ranking of the directors.

The factors in the rankings obviously include the general quality of the directors films but also takes into account the number of films made in the given time period as well, the impact of the director on the filmmaking scene as a whole, and the potential they have for making more great movies in the future. The sheer number of quality directors ensures that a good number were excluded from the list as many excellent filmmakers such as Ang Lee, Kathryn Bigelow, Edgar Wright, Danny Boyle, Nicolas Winding Refn, and others fell just short.

Each of the following directors has an instantly recognizable style and many of them are responsible for the some of the finest modern films.

the rest here

9. Steve McQueen

The newest director on this list, Steve McQueen only has two movies to his name currently, with a third coming out later this year, but they just happen to be two of the best works of the last decade, ensuring him a place on this list. McQueen rose to prominence in the 90′s as an artist as well as with a series of experimental short films.

His first full-length feature, 2008′s Hunger, depicted the 1981 Irish Hunger Strike with breathtaking results. Starring Michael Fassbender as political prisoner Bobby Sands, McQueen showcased his talents as one of the premier visual stylists working today, stringing together a series of astonishing images. The film’s centerpiece is a seventeen and a half minute unbroken shot of Sands and his priest engaging a discussion filled with both political and philosophical ramifications. Hunger topped Sight and Sounds list of best films of that year and is one of the great movies of the last decade.

McQueen followed this with 2011′s Shame, an incredibly affecting portrait of a man consumed by addictions. Featuring once again McQueen’s penchant for visual flair and another incredible performance from Michael Fassbender, Shame was unfortunately snubbed from the Academy Awards but remains one of 2011′s most acclaimed films.

McQueen’s next film, 12 Years A Slave, will be released later this year and is one of the most anticipated films of the 2013 and hopefully will propel McQueen into the filmmaking elite.

Eligible Films: Hunger (2008), Shame (2011)

7.Michael Haneke

Arguably the most respected filmmaker in the world, Michael Haneke has become famous for his dark, morally complex films that generally present the viewer with lots of ambiguity. Haneke believes that films should cause self-reflection and should not provide all the answers, resulting in many of his film being confusing and feeling almost unfinished according to conventional standards.

Haneke’s first film after the cut off date was 2000′s the Code Unknown which earned him a Palme d’Or nomination at the Cannes Film Festival. His breakout film was 2005′s Cache, a deeply unsettling mystery film that became one of the years most acclaimed movies. 2009 saw the release of the White Ribbon, which won the highest honor at Cannes and earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language film. In 2012, his film Amour also received considerable acclaim, again winning Cannes as well as winning Best Foreign Language film and receiving a nomination for Best Picture.

While Haneke does not currently have any films in development, he has already done enough to earn a place on this list as his films are among the most interesting and though-provoking films there are.

Eligible Films: Code Unknown (2000), The Piano Teacher (2001), Time of the Wolf (2003), Cache (2005), The White Ribbon (2009), Amour (2012)

3. Terrence Malick

One of the all-time great filmmakers, Malick would arguably be number one on this list if he had directed more than three movies in the last twenty years.

In 1998 he created one of the all-time great war films in the Thin Red Line, which was nominated for Seven Academy Awards and praised by Martin Scorsese as the second best film of the 90′s. Malick experimented a good bit with the Thin Red Line, eventually cutting out whole parts and reshaping the narrative around different characters. The film featured Malick’s signature visual brilliance and has a good bit of thematic depth if you look hard enough.

Malick’s next film came almost a decade later with 2005′s the New World, a retelling of the story of Pocohantas. While earning mixed reviews upon release, it has since gone on to become one of the most acclaimed films of the 2000′s and again featured incredible visuals while Malick experimented even more narratively.

His 2011 film The Tree of Life is one of the most significant films of recent years as it is a work of vast scope and ambition. Essentially, the film juxtaposes the lives of a family in 1950′s midwest America with the birth,life, and death of the cosmos. Praised by critics such as Roger Ebert, who later put it on his top 10 films of all time list, the Tree of Life was voted onto Sight & Sounds list of best films only a year after its release.

Malick is best known as an incredible visual stylist as many of his films are considered among the most beautifully shot movies ever made. A former philosophy professor, Malick’s films contain a variety of moral, philosophical, and religious themes, giving them a sense of significance few other films can match. With several movies in production, Malick is currently the most prolific he has ever been and he could very well be number one on this list a few years from now.

Eligible Films: The Thin Red Line (1998), The New World (2005), The Tree of Life (2011)

2. Christopher Nolan

The current king of blockbuster cinema, few directors are as capable of holding together huge films the way Nolan does while at the same time making them interesting.

Nolan’s first movie was the very impressive Following, depicting a young writer who follows strangers in London for inspiration. Nolan broke out with his 2000 cult film Memento, about a man with memory loss who attempts to hunt down his wife’s murderer. Memento was notable for having two story-lines, one going forward and the other backward and Nolan deftly balances them in a way few other filmmakers could. His next film was the 2002 thriller Insomnia about a murder investigation in Alaska. While very solid, Insomnia is arguably Nolan’s weakest film to date but featured Robin Williams as a great villain in a brilliant casting choice.

In 2005, Nolan resurrected the Batman franchise with Batman Begins, one of the greatest superhero films and a brilliant imagining of the batman character.He followed that with 2006′s the Prestige, his most underrated film, about rival magicians who embark on a deadly game of one-upmanship. Nolan returned to the batman world in 2008 with his most successful and iconic film, the Dark Knight. Featuring a legendary performance from Heath Ledger, the Dark Knight broke box-office records and redefined how good a superhero film could be.

2010 saw the release of what is likely Nolan’s best film so far as Inception became one of the most mind-bending blockbusters ever made as well as one of the most acclaimed. 2012 saw Nolan return once more to the batman universe, unfortunately the Dark Knight Rises was seen by many as a bit of a disappointment although the film was not without its merits, most notably Tom Hardy’s brilliant portrayal of Bane.

Nolan earns a place on the list for his ability to put together extremely difficult films and make it look easy as well as his ability to make financially successful films that still respect an audiences intelligence. Finally, I had to put him this high because there are few thing scarier than an angry Christopher Nolan fanboy.

Eligible Films: Following (1998), Memento (2000), Insomnia (2002), Batman Begins (2005), The Prestige (2006), The Dark Knight (2008), Inception (2010), The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

1. Paul Thomas Anderson

While in my opinion he is a director whose films are easier to admire than to love, its hard to make a case that there’s a more talented director out there than Paul Thomas Anderson as he’s reached a level where every movie he makes is an event not to be missed.

His first film after the cut-off date is Magnolia, a sprawling epic focusing on the interconnectedness of a multitude of characters in Los Angeles. The film is arguably among the most ambitious films ever made and its reputation has only grown since its release. Anderson’s next film was the smaller but no less impressive Punch-Drunk Love, starring Adam Sandler of all people, which follows a lonely man with anger management issues. The film earned Sandler the best reviews of his life and the film is considered by many to be a modern classic.

Anderson followed that with what many to be his magnum opus, 2007′s There Will Be Blood. Following oil tycoon Daniel Plainview, There Will Be Blood became one of the most acclaimed films of the decade and features an all-time great performance from Daniel Day-Lewis. After a five year break, Anderson released the Master, one of 2012′s most impressive, yet divisive and controversial, films. Loosely based on the rise of scientology, The Master is a brilliant but arguably unfocused movie that benefits from absurdly good performances from Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix. Voted the number one film of 2012 by Sight & Sound, the Master was acclaimed by many but missed out on a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars.

Anderson is currently in pre-production on his next film, based off Timothy Pynchon’s novel Inherent Vice. A technical virtuoso, Anderson is one of the best visual directors working today, having a host of tricks up his sleeve. Anderson also laces his films with a variety of themes that ensure there is enough beneath the surface to keep his films interesting on repeat viewings.

Perhaps his most important ability as a director is his penchant for pulling incredible performances from actors as several of his films, such as There Will Be Blood and The Master, feature iconic performances from several different actors. Anderson’s overall abilities and his imposing filmography make him the best director modern cinema has to offer.

Eligible Films: Magnolia (1999), Punch-Drunk Love (2002), There Will Be Blood (2007), The Master (2012)

Where are the queens Coppola and Bigelow tho


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