Five Essential… New Directors of the 21st Century

Gary Collinson selects his Five Essential New Directors of the 21st Century…

In thinking of an article to mark the end of the decade a number of ideas passed through my mind – best movies (too common), worst movies (where to begin?), best directors (possibly), best directorial debuts (getting there) – before finally settling upon the Five Essential New Directors of the 21st Century.

Now the selection process for this list is very simple and limited to just three points. Firstly, they need to have made their first feature in the year 2000 or later (which sadly excludes the likes of Christopher Nolan and Edgar Wright). Secondly, they must have made another picture following said debut. And last but not least, I have to be aware of them. Simple! So, without further ado, let’s get onto the list (in alphabetical order only)…

Judd ApatowJudd Apatow

The former stand-up comedian already had a number of producing credits to his name before hitting gold (and $177m in worldwide grosses) with his debut feature The 40-Year-Old Virgin in 2005. His next effort Knocked Up (2007) went on to enjoy even greater success, although this year’s Funny People failed to resonate with audiences and stands as a blip on the filmmaker’s CV. In between, producing credits on hit comedies such as Superbad (2007), Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008) and Pineapple Express (2008) has helped to establish his reputation as the man who can transform dick and fart gags into big, big business.

Jon FavreauJon Favreau

With a handful of minor acting roles throughout the early nineties, Jon Favreau had his break as writer and star of the comedy Swingers (1996) before reteaming with co-star Vince Vaughn for his 2001 directorial debut, Made. Favreau enjoyed a festive box office bonanza in 2003 with the comedy Elf ($220m world-wide), although third feature Zathura (2005) disappointed financially and struggled to reclaim its $65m budget. Favreau then restored his reputation (and established his position on the Hollywood A-list) in 2008 with the blockbuster Marvel adaptation Iron Man ($585m in global receipts), with a sequel set to follow in 2010.

Alejandro González IñárrituAlejandro González Iñárritu

Alejandro González Iñárritu’s gritty 2000 debut Amores perros was named Best Film Not in the English Language at the 2001 BAFTAs (as well as Best Picture at the Mexican Ariel Awards and an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film), while English language follow-up 21 Grams (2003) continued to earn the filmmaker further critical acclaim. González Iñárritu completed his ‘Death Trilogy’ in 2006 with the multi-award winning Babel, becoming the first Mexican to be nominated in the Best Director category at the Academy Awards and gaining a Best Film – Drama Golden Globe to add to his already crowded mantelpiece.

Jason ReitmanJason Reitman

Canadian filmmaker Jason Reitman (son of comedy legend Ivan) made his feature debut in 2006 with the highly rated satire Thank You for Smoking, while follow-up Juno (2007) continued to enhance his reputation with a host of awards and a Best Director nomination at the 80th Academy Awards. This year Reitman re-teamed with Juno screenwriter Diablo Cody as producer on Jennifer’s Body, while his third feature Up in the Air is hotly tipped to enjoy Oscar success this coming March. Be sure to read Trevor Hogg’s indepth profile on Jason Reitman here.

Zack SnyderZack Snyder

After working as director and cinematographer on a host of TV commercials, Zack Snyder made his feature debut with the 2004 ‘re-imagining’ of George A. Romero’s classic zombie horror Dawn of the Dead, which proved to be one of the better remakes of recent times despite its near-sacred source material. Snyder continued to demonstrate his impressive visual style in bringing Frank Miller’s 300 to the big screen in 2007 before turning his attention to another graphic novel, Alan Moore’s revered superhero epic Watchmen (2009). Up next is animated fantasy adaptation Guardians of Ga’Hoole, based on Kathryn Lasky’s critically acclaimed children’s book series and set for release in September 2010.

Honourable Mentions…

J.J. Abrams
Stephen Daldry
Andrew Dominik
Richard Kelly
Thomas McCarthy

Agree? Disagree? We’d love to hear your comments on the list…

Gary Collinson

Essentials Archive

  • Anonymous

    This is the worst list I've ever seen. You should be ashamed in yourself. Seriously, though, Reitman and Apatow are the only ones to actually make a good film this decade. Innaritu and Snyder have made nothing but awful films and Favreau is mediocre at best. I like a few of your honourable mentions, but the mention of Kelly ruins that too.

  • Anonymous

    This is the worst comment I've ever seen. You should be ashamed of yourself. I like your criticism of Snyder, but Ammos Perros pisses all over Judd Apatow.