10 Directors Who Peaked With Their First Movie

Kevin Smith It's always an encouraging sign when a new filmmaker emerges out of nowhere and completely knocks it out of the park on their first step up to the plate. However, it can also create a problem of expectation for the director's next work, in that if they come out swinging with a masterpiece, we expect their sophomore effort to be just as good, and when it inevitably disappoints - as, let's be honest, it most often does - we're left wondering what went wrong. In actual fact, nothing went wrong; they just were lucky (or unlucky) enough to get their best work out the way first, and even if the rest of their body of work is solid, it's always going to be said that such a director has peaked too early. The likes of M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense), Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption) very nearly made this list, though each had made a little-known film prior to their Hollywood hit, so had to be exempted. Here are 10 directors who peaked with their first movie...

10. Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko)

Donnie Darko 2001's Donnie Darko was a breath of fresh air from a hot young director who couldn't do any wrong; film buffs worshiped at his alter almost immediately, and the film became one of the 21st century's biggest cult hits to date. Even if the movie was relatively difficult to completely understand, it was unlike anything being made at the time, and seemed to indicate that Richard Kelly was a sure talent to watch...something he completely dismissed by actually making a second movie...and a third. Southland Tales, starring the likes of Justin Timberlake and...The Rock...was an ambitious mess that was so poorly received at the Cannes Film Festival premiere that Kelly took to cutting huge chunks of the movie out, but it didn't fare much better upon general release. His The Box enjoyed slightly stronger success with an easier-digestible story, though was still a waste of an intriguing premise, causing many to postulate that Kelly has made one great movie, and that may be his lot. Perhaps he can prove us wrong with his upcoming Corpus Christi, but it's best not to hold your breath...

Frequently sleep-deprived film addict and video game obsessive who spends more time than is healthy in darkened London screening rooms. Follow his twitter on @ShaunMunroFilm or e-mail him at shaneo632 [at] gmail.com.