50 Greatest Directors of the 21st Century

20. Terrence Malick

21st Century Filmography: The New World (2005), The Tree of Life (2011) If ever a director were to be tagged a visionary, the enigmatic Terrence Malick has definitely earned his place as a firm contender for the title. Though Mallick has been banded with a reputation for disappearing for long periods of time, he managed to make a whopping two films this side of the 21st century - a robust effort for a director whose entire 40-year career only consists of six motion pictures. Often linked to themes of violence and innocence lost, Malick's The New World came to mixed reviews upon first release, but has been reappraised recently as a classic entry to his canon. Malik's 21st century triumph, and arguably his magnus opus, is 2011's The Tree of Life, endlessly debatable, mad, mystic and life-affirming - just like Malick himself. First Feature: Badlands (1973)Cream of the Crop: The Tree of Life (2011)Next Up: To The Wonder (2012)

19. Nuri Bilge Ceylan

21st Century Filmography:Clouds of May (2000), Distant (2002), Climates (2006), Three Monkeys (2008), Once Upon A Time In Anatolia (2011) Director Nuri Bilge Ceylan has established himself as the foremost driving force of homegrown cinema in his native Turkey. Taking his cues from old masters like Tarkovsky and playwright Anton Chekov, Ceylan's films - like the wonderful dramas Climates and Three Monkeys - are drenched in brilliant-realized melancholia. But it was with his most recent picture, the epically titled Once Upon A Time In Anatolia, that Ceylan revealed his capacities as a master filmmaker. A lengthy police procedural built around a murder investigation, it was gloomy, subtle, humorous, and ultimately genre-defying. It was also one of the best movies to hit screens in 2011. First Feature: Small Town (1998)Cream of the Crop: Once Upon A Time In Anatolia (2011)Next Up: -

18. Danny Boyle

21st Century Filmography:The Beach (2000), 28 Days Later (2002), Millions (2004), Sunshine (2007), Slumdog Millionaire (2008), 127 Hours (2010) Danny Boyle made two sensational films in the 90s - crime caper Shallow Grave and the incomparable Scotland-based drama Trainspotting - so expectations for whatever came next were high. Boyle's first film of the 21st century emerged as a massacre of otherwise brilliant source material, but things soon picked up when he teamed with writer Alex Garland for London-based horror film 28 Days Later. Boyle has spent the last ten years working in a variety of genres, showcasing a skillful adeptness for versatility. Recently Boyle's films can be categorized by their frantic pacing and vivid colour palettes: both Slumdog Millionaire (the 2008 Best Picture winner) and survival story 127 Hours show a British director working at the top of his game. First Feature: Shallow Grave (1994)Cream of the Crop: 28 Days Later (2002)Next Up: Trance (2012)

17. Hayao Miyazaki

21st Century Filmography:Spirited Away (2001), Howl's Moving Castle (2004), Ponyo (2008) Japan's answer to Walt Disney, the legendary Hayao Miyazaki has been fighting the good fight for a number of years now, keeping traditional animation well and truly alive into the 21st century with a turnover of modern classics. Miyazaki is renowned for the detailed nature of his animated works, intricately-crafted and drawn with painstaking devotion. Though there's certified genius to be found in the frames of Howl's Moving Castle and Ponyo, it's the unparalleled creativity of 2001's Spirited Away that stands as Miyazaki's defining work: a story of dark, uncompromising beauty that remains as appealing to adults as it does to children. First Feature: Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984)Cream of the Crop: Spirited Away (2001)Next Up: -

16. Wong Kar-Wai

21st Century Filmography: In The Mood For Love (2000), 2046 (2004), My Blueberry Nights (2007) Wong Kar-Wai's In The Mood For Love is one of the most acclaimed motion pictures of all-time. It is, in fact, the highest ranked film of the 21st century in the most recent version of prestigious Sight & Sound's 10-yearly poll as voted by critics and filmmakers. So what exactly is it about the Hong Kong-based picture that has touched so many people? Perhaps it's because Wong Kar-Wai is a master of visuals and tone: with In the Mood For Love, he creates a world so dreamy and so melancholic on visuals atmosphere alone, that the rest of the story seems to just drift into place. There are, of course, many sides to Wong Kar-Wai's talents: his unique regard for relationships, and the subtleties of human interaction, are just to name two. He has also directed the immaculately produced 2046, and the English-language drama My Blueberry Nights. First Feature: As Tears Go By (1988)Cream of the Crop: In The Mood For Love (2000)Next Up: The Grandmasters (2012)
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