Top 10 Most Exciting Directors currently working (2014)

In a candid, sometimes uncomfortable, interview at Cannes, Quentin Tarantino spoke candidly on a wide variety of subjects. He did his usual song and dance about hating digital, his love for Leone, his latest screenplay “The Hateful Eight”, and his collection of film prints.

His most interesting comment however was that he and his other friends in the business made a list of their ten most exciting director currently working. As Mr. Tarantino put it: “Exciting meaning that their best work is still in front of them.” Pretty much he meant people who are very talented, somewhat young, and still have the ability to top themselves.

With that being said, here’s a list of my top ten most exciting directors currently working:

10. Edgar Wright

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While the terrible news recently broke out over Edgar Wright dropping out of his latest film, “Ant-Man” it is safe to say that this director has plenty more to show us. Starting out on the criminally under-seen sitcom “Spaced”, Wright’s true break-out endeavor came from his “Cornetto Trilogy” which he worked on along with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. The trilogy of “Shaun of the Dead”, “Hot Fuzz”, and “The World’s End” showed off the development of the director’s keen sense of style, pacing, and action. With the trilogy coming to a close it will be very exciting to see whatever Wright’s next film will be.

9. Spike Jonze

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I was really on the fence about whether to include Wes Anderson, but after Spike Jonze’s most recent film “Her” I have to let him have this one. After building a career of innovative and creative music videos, Jonze directed “Being John Malkovich” and “Adaptation”, two films that perfectly blended Jonze’s visual talents with writer Charlie Kaufman’s surreal screenplays. The result are two of the finest films made in the last two decades. Following this Jonze made his dark adaptation of “Where the Wild Things Are” harkening back to a “Dark Crystal” like story of tip-toeing the fine line between children and adult entertainment. Where he goes next with his work is beyond me.

8. Jason Reitman

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After his dark-comedy debut “Thank You For Smoking”, Reitman has found himself a niche in the realm of honesty comedy that rivals some of Alexander Payne’s best work. He followed up “Smoking” with the indie-darling “Juno” starting a writer-director partnership with Diablo Cody, which brought about my favorite film of his so far: “Young Adult.” Much like Tarantino, Reitman is able to portray people who ethics and feelings are morally skewed and yet get you to root for them. Critically he had a brief hiccup with his attempt at straight drama in “Labor Day”, but I highly doubt he won’t quickly bounce back.

7. Shane Carruth

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One of the more interesting selections, Shane Carruth has only directed two feature films; yet those two films make a strong case for him to be on this list. Being probably one of the only modern-day auteurs, Carruth acts, directs, writes, edits, produces, and does music for all of his film; and his talent shines in nearly every category. Starting with his cerebral time-travel drama “Primer”, Carruth took an extended hiatus trying to get an ambitious science fiction film made. When that failed he returned to the independent circuit again with another cerebral and more surreal film titled “Upstream Color.” The film was a worthy successor to “Primer” and showed us Carruth’s films are only getting better with his experience.

6. David Fincher

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One of the more obvious choices, David Fincher has somehow broken through the mainstream of cinema, while at the same time delivering dark and grimy dramas through a unique vision. His films are instantly recognizable for their bleak visuals and stark greys, greens, and yellows. After shocking us with thrillers like “Se7en” and “Panic Room”, Fincher’s greatest work came with a more straightforward drama: “The Social Network.” The film proved that Fincher’s storytelling abilities did not just work for the crime and thriller dramas, and that he is able to bring his style to any genre.

5. Rian Johnson

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I have spoken candidly about Rian Johnson’s career, but why not once more? Johnson’s first film “Brick” showed the director had a knack for writing dialogue and story as much as he did with camera placement and shot selection. This one two punch proved that Johnson rose to a higher level of filmmaker. The writer-director is usually seen as a more respectable position, and in Rian Johnson’s case his writing has been some of the most unique stories in cinema. After “Brick” his second film was the luke-warm received “Brothers Bloom” after this he made arguably his best film to date: “Looper” a neo-noir time travel drama. Since then he has been in Paris writing his next film, it’s only a matter of time before he blows the doors off again.

4. Richard Linklater

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Linklater is probably the director who has flown under the radar most on this top ten list. During his Cannes interview Tarantino said aside from David Fincher, Linklater appeared on every one of his friend’s top ten lists. The interviewer was astonished at this; and that is honestly a damn shame. Linklater has become more known for his bigger studio films like “School of Rock” and the remake of the “Bad News Bears.” But his true talents lie in his honest dramas the “Before” trilogy, his dramedy “Dazed & Confused”, and his journey into science fiction with “A Scanner Darkly.” These movies prove Linklater possesses a near poetry level genius of the english language. The conversations his characters have are the most realistic scenes of dialogue I have ever seen. With his most creative endeavor “Boyhood” coming out this summer, I cannot be more excited for what he does next.

3. The Coen Brothers

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Sweet babies, what can be said that hasn’t already been said about the Coen Brothers? Tackling nearly every genre of film, the pair of Joel and Ethan have managed to make masterpiece after masterpiece. Their eccentric fast talking characters and their partnership with the greatest cinematographer alive, Roger Deakins, has made their run almost believable; but the Brothers manage time and time again to somehow one-up themselves. They can journey into the surreal territory with such works as “Barton Fink”, “A Serious Man”, and “Inside Llewyn Davis”, and then go more towards the drama-comedy realm with work like “Fargo”, “Big Lebowski”, and “Blood Simple.” With many Oscar awards and nominations under their belts I still feel their best work is yet to arrive.

2. Quentin Tarantino

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Yes, the man himself who generated this list. It doesn’t get more fun or more memorable than a Quentin Tarantino movie. Pretty much the zeitgeist of the 90’s independent movement, Tarantino broke through the style of traditional filmmaking and brought forward his non-linear approach and ability to introduce pop-culture into the mouths of his characters. Taking many queues from the late great Elmore Leonard, Tarantino makes pretty much every character you encounter in his stories memorable. Nearly every line is quotable, and is movies are just so damn fun, JAN GET IT?! I digress, but one of his more recent films “Inglorious Basterds” showed audiences that “Pulp Fiction” wasn’t his only masterpiece.

1. Paul Thomas Anderson

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The master himself, Paul Thomas Anderson has had quite the cinematic run. After delivering his Scorsese-like film about pornography titled “Boogie Nights”, PTA topped himself with the greatest film of our generation: “There Will Be Blood.” The film delivered an American classic only the most talented makers have become close of equating. His implementations of Jonny Greenwood, and use of film cameras, have given PTA’s work a weighty commanding feel to them. After his Kubrick-esque endeavor “The Master”, Anderson is now in post-production on his latest film titled “Inherent Vice” teaming him back up with the criminally snubbed Joaquin Phoenix as a pot-smoking hallucinating detective. The man Tarantino calls his friendly rival only gets better with age.

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