50 Greatest Directors of the 21st Century

49. Richard Kelly

21st Century Filmography:Donnie Darko (2001), Southland Tales (2007), The Box (2009) Richard Kelly came out of nowhere with his mind-bending science-fiction masterpiece Donnie Darko, a brilliant time-travel puzzle masquerading as a teen angst flick. With its slow, relative climb into certified cult classic, the young director found himself branded an indie movie hero at just 27. Since then, Kelly has struggled to find major success with any of his follow-up features (the messy Southland Tales in 2007 and mediocre horror The Box in 2009), but the sheer originality of the $4.5 million Donnie Darko and its impact on the independent film circuit provides as good a message in an age of budding filmmakers: low-budget doesn't have to be restrict the imagination. First Feature:Donnie Darko (2001)Cream of the Crop: Donnie Darko (2001)Next Up:Corpus Christi (2013)

48. Duncan Jones

21st Century Filmography:Moon (2009), Source Code (2011) The son of legendary British musician David Bowie, Duncan Jones made his name in 2008 with old-school science-fiction yarn, Moon, after shifting from a prospering career in advertisement. Moon triumphed on two levels - as an undeniable love-letter to classic sci-fi flicks and as a modern resurgent for a genre-in-need. Though it proved a modest success at the box office, critics and producers alike saw Moon for exactly what it was: a contemporary gem (produced on a surprisingly low-budget). Jones followed it with the hugely-acclaimed Source Code, an ingeniously twisted blend of Groundhog Day and Murder on the Orient Express, and now stands as one of very few true visionaries working in the science-fiction genre today. First Feature:Moon (2009)Cream of the Crop:Moon (2009)Next Up:Mute (2013)

47. Edgar Wright

21st Century Filmography:Shaun of the Dead (2004), Hot Fuzz (2007), Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010) Edgar Wright graduated to feature filmmaking after directing two series of a particularly movie-infatuated TV classic: Spaced. Spaced gave Wright time to hone his particularly kinetic style as a storytelling device: This peaked when he helmed Shaun of the Dead in 2004 (penned by himself and fellow Spaced alumni Simon Pegg), arguably the funniest comedy of the 21st century so far. Described purposefully as "a romantic comedy. With zombies," it served as an equal parody and love letter to the George A. Romeo films that both Wright and Pegg grew up idolizing. Pitch-perfect in almost every way, it became an instant classic. Hot Fuzz came next in 2007, a similarly-executed feature that transposed the American buddy cop genre to a small Somerset town. Though messier and less focused than its predecessor, Wright showed the world that he was no one-hit wonder. He made his first steps into Hollywood with an explosive adaptation of comic book Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, and is joining the billion-dollar ranks of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with an adaptation of Ant-Man (set for a 2014 release). Yes - the future is looking exceedingly Wright. First Feature: Shaun of the Dead (2004)Cream of the Crop: Shaun of the Dead (2004)Next Up: Ant-Man (2014)

46. Guillermo Del Toro

21st Century Filmography:The Devil's Backbone (2001), Blade II (2002), Hellboy (2004), Pan's Labyrinth (2006), Hellboy 2: The Golden Army (2008) Guillermo Del Toro is a big nerd at heart: it's his love of the horror genre and directors like George A. Romero, Alfred Hitchcock and Mario Bava that drive his movie-making passions. But instead of expressing these passions with homage-clad films like those of, say, Quentin Tarantino or Edgar Wright, Guillermo spins his influences into an original kind of gothic mysticism that might find its roots in his Mexican heritage. That's assured that his films are always identifiably Del Toro. Although he's found himself at the helm of several adaptations and sequels over the course of this century, Del Toro's best works are definitely those produced from his own ideas: The Devil's Backbone, a brilliantly-told ghost story, and Pan's Labyrinth, a tour de force in genre blending, special effects and label-defying. First Feature: Cronos (1993)Cream of the Crop: Pan's Labyrinth (2006)Next Up: Pacific Rim (2013)
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