While some long-standing filmmakers continue to consistently deliver great work, the past few years have brought a whole new generation of promising directors into the limelight. Armed with strong visions of their own, this new batch of storytellers is among those leading Hollywood into the future, each with recognized critical and commercial successes to their respective names. Here are five directors that we believe could be behind the camera on some of the best films in the near future. For the record, we’re limiting our list to filmmakers who have really only broken out since 2010.
1. Denis Villeneuve
Perhaps the most accomplished filmmaker on this list, Villeneuve already has three critically acclaimed English-language films to his name. From the intense missing-child thriller Prisoners to the identity crisis of Enemy, Villeneuve is well on his way to becoming a major Hollywood player. Last year’s Sicario — which stars Emily Blunt and Benicio del Toro — is already gaining tons of buzz as awards season heats up, and Villeneuve is signed on to helm the long-discussed sequel to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner.
2. Ava DuVernay
DuVernay’s Selma may not have received as much Oscar love as its fans would have preferred, but the film still brought its filmmaker to the head of the class for up-and-coming directors. Considering how sorely lacking Hollywood is in powerful female filmmakers, DuVernay is boldly breaking that unfortunate trend and has become hotly in-demand in the past year. After directing a pair of smaller films prior to Selma, she has seen her profile soar, even being approached to direct a Marvel Studios film (which she opted out of).
3. Gareth Edwards
After the aptly titled Monsters put Edwards on the map, it made perfect sense that Warner Bros. would turn to him for their big-budget reboot of the king of the monsters. The 2014 Godzilla finally redeemed the dreadful 1998 American remake that preceded it and brought Edwards newfound Hollywood clout. In addition to a Godzilla sequel (currently slated for summer 2018), the director is signed on for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the first in an ongoing series of standalone anthology films set in the George Lucas-created universe.
4. Damien Chazelle
Although Chazelle’s debut feature released in 2009, it was his 2013 short film Whiplash — and its subsequent feature-length adaptation — that led to his Hollywood breakthrough. Anchored by two fierce performances from J.K. Simmons (who won an Oscar for his role) and Miles Teller, the film delves deep into an insight-filled exploration of the creative process and the nature of genius even as it demonstrates Chazelle’s seemingly effortless skill in telling his own story. His next film, musical La La Land, stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone and arrives in theaters in 2016.
5. Alex Garland
Before making his directorial debut, Garland was better known as the screenwriter of genre fan-favorites like Dredd, Sunshine, and 28 Days Later. However, Ex Machina has emerged as one of the most revered sci-fi films in years, and Garland — also the renowned novelist of books like The Beach — stands as such a bright talent that cinephiles will no doubt be closely watching whatever project he tackles next. If it’s half as intelligent or gripping as the mind-bending tale at the center of his directorial debut, Garland may achieve greatness yet again.
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