Top 10 Directors Of The Noughties

Six Brits make up our list of the ten best new directors of the last decade...

We all know the importance of the director, they are the heart and soul of a film (in layman terms... we don't want to go into the auteur theory here) and few have careers that flourish decade after decade, yet the Spielberg's and the Scorsese's are still going strong. The future of cinema is folly to guess, but below are a list of ten of the best visionaries in the industry from the past eleven years, filmmakers I hope go on to define the 21st century. I've decided to look back on the last decade, and moving forward into the current, to see what filmmakers have made the greatest impressions and gone on to take the world by storm, with the future of cinema in the back of my mind. Here's a look at what new talent I think has grown and will flourish from 2000 to the future;

10. Ben Affleck

I think even Ben Affleck himself is baffled by how well he took to directing, after a slowly spiralling acting career, he debuted in 2007 with the sublime thriller Gone Baby Gone, which he followed up last year with the equally competent, Sidney Lumet-like heist movie The Town. Years spent by the director€™s side (important in many cases learning what NOT to do) has served Affleck well, as his films feel controlled and calculated like they were crafted by a twenty year filmmaking veteran. Ballsy performances gel with aesthetic handheld cinematography to capitalise on the realism of these criminal worlds he imagines. After shunning some of the biggest jobs going last year (Superman: The Man of Steel, Tales From The Gangster Squad... and an offer currently on the table for Stephen King's The Stand) next for the 39 year old is Argo, a middle East thriller he himself stars in alongside Breaking Bad legend Bryan Cranston. We fully expect him to make it a knockout trio of debut films.

9. Joe Wright

A racing Chemical Brothers beat, strobe lit industrial backdrops, a distorted theme park; it may be a world away from the eccentric, eloquent ideals of the British countryside, but both have been elegantly established on the big screen by Joe Wright, in both Hanna and Atonement/Pride and Prejudice respectably. Much like James Mangold, Wright is an auteur who seems to effortlessly float through different genres, never repeating himself but never being an invisible voice behind the camera either. He too is an actor's director, getting Oscar recongised performances from his thesps frequently and it's no wonder they keep coming back to work with him. This up and coming Brit director has carved himself a promising CV over the last decade and looks set to continue, working with his frequent collaborators on next year€™s adaptation of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina featuring Keira Knightley (the third time she has lead a movie for him), Olivia Williams, Matthew Macfadyen and Saoirse Ronan (another third timer). Joe Wright continues to mix British sensibilities with a sharp eye for poetic cinema.

8. Tom Hooper

The Oscar€™s alone provide adequate reason alone as to why Tom Hooper should be/and is on this list, as his last film The Kings Speech seeminglyballed over most critics and took enough gold to turn Peter Jackson and James Cameron himself green with envy. But this quintessential Brit has made some good films in the last few years, as The Damned United proves (I€™ve yet to see his debut, Red Dust). In the noughties he made two of the very best character portraits of unusual historical filmic leads. His films present a directorial grace which resonates in audiences and always pack iconic lead roles around brilliant support. Hooper€™s currently tackling a new take on Les Miserables, here's a man who€™s quickly rose to success and looks set to stay at the top.

7. Richard Kelly

If you€™ve read my article on Donnie Darko, you€™ll know my appreciation for Richard Kelly and his dynamic debut, so no I won€™t bore you with a detailed account of how faultless Darko truly is or how it may possibly be a mini masterpiece, but I would like to take a little of your time to talk about his slated second feature, the infamous Southland Tales. A film which one fan perfectly summed up as €˜a masterpiece he wouldn€™t recommend to anyone€™, it is indeed a cult film, one which appeals to some but mostly the bare minimum. I happen to adore it, a step down from Darko yes, but still an unprecedented €˜underrated film€™. Its style is that of the satirical, it doesn€™t take itself seriously, and that is how it should be viewed. A definite grower Southland Tales is cinematic, hilariously apt and mythical deep. It€™ll take a few views to come accustomed to their world, yet it€™s worth the time. The same unfortunately can€™t be said for The Box, which like M Night Shyamalan€™s The Happening, attempted to rekindle that B-movie feel, with catastrophic affect. At such a young age for a director, Kelly has the potential for further successes; he€™s just currently an intriguing filmmaker who€™s finding his feet. His films may not resonate as broadly as some of the names on this list but he's an eccentric who one day could very well turn out a Kubrick style wonder.

6. Duncan Jones

Though critics steer away from the fact and Duncan Jones himself is probably sick of it being mentioned, he is undoubtedly the son of the legendary David Bowie, a simple fact which goes some way to explaining his filmography. The Sci-fi go-to-guy, Jones has now made two distinct, beautifully haunting pieces of breathtaking science fiction, that can only really come from a filmmaker whose childhood and life has been that of one surrounded by and engulfed in the magic of cinema, this love for the unusual, the supernatural. Moon is a solid, twisted tale of isolation, focusing squarely on our every man Sam Bell played perfectly by the wonderful Sam Rockwell, such a brave and touching debut, Jones did us Brits proud back in 09 and has since made the equally original, yet slightly flawed Source Code. Still easily one of the best films of this year (not really saying much), Source Code does superbly illustrate a complex idea, but dips into too many genres, an emotional penultimate scene however proves Jones was no one hit wonder like a certain Chesney Hawkes. With talks of Jones discussing future projects with none other than WETA, well this is one star to keep an eye very closely on.

5. Matthew Vaughn

Before making a bad-ass out of Daniel Craig and further promoting Nicholas Cage€™s crazy on screen persona, Matthew Vaughn was Guy Ritchie€™s right hand man, the two owned the British crime genre in the late 90s/early 00s. Vaughn produced both Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch before making his directorial debut, the vastly underrated Layer Cake. Layer Cake in my opinion, is the quintessential British gangster film in a sea of mediocrity and copy cats. A stylised directorial tour de force, this film packed high octane drama amongst great characters and the many twists and turns which follow. Skipping passed the hit-and-miss Stardust, 2010 saw Vaughn back in the hot seat with comic book adaptation Kick-Ass. Working with Jane Goldman once more, they set out to revolutionize a saturated market, and spin the teen drama on its head with a fresh, exhilarating beast of a film. Kick-Ass is deliciously violent and unlike X-Men: First Class, appropriately silly and serious in equal amounts. The cast shine bright, with Chloe Moretz as the iconic Hit-Girl and Nicolas Cage doing his best Adam West impression. Kick-Ass may lose some of its spark on further viewings, but it€™s one of the top comic book movies out there. Though I didn€™t care for Stardust or the X-Men prequel, Layer Cake and Kick-Ass have made this British director one of the hottest filmmakers around and deservedly so.

4. Jason Reitman

The son of Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman, Jason Reitman made his directorial debut in 2005 with Thank You For Smoking, and has being quietly honing his skill ever since with huge success. His self assured debut was a competent piece of cinema, yet with Diablo Cody€™s debut script Juno, Reitman became a household name, and at such a young age. The beautifully poignant Juno was an indie rom com of the highest calibre, one which hit every emotional mark, made you laugh and cry as Ellen Page and Michael Cera strolled through teen life in such a realistic portrayal of pre-adulthood and pregnancy. His follow up feature Up In The Air was never going to surpass its predecessor, but the eerily apt drama came very close. George Clooney is scarily well suited for this, a depiction of society constantly on the move; Clooney is both, forlorn and hollow yet as ever charming and spellbinding. Reitman€™s success could be down to him having a keen eye for realism and social issues, always creating cinema which defines its generation with a bitter sweet accuracy yet the heart which channels these themes makes him a pivotal director of our time.

3. JJ Abrams

Godfather of the modern American TV series, JJ Abrams carved out a seemingly endless winning streak in the early noughties, with the action packed Alias and the compelling enigma that was LOST before moving into films. It took Tom Cruise and his underrated Mission: Impossible franchise to rouse the storyteller€™s interest. 2006€™s Mission: Impossible 3 is the best in the franchise, a delightful actioner with stellar action sequences and a genuine evil in the guise of Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Combining twisting tales around these huge blockbuster archetypes, that debut set the stage for Abrams who since has made the exceptional Star Trek and the similarly magical Super 8. This filmmaker has an undeniable love for cinema and more importantly storytelling, his films have proven that Hollywood can sometimes get it right, in a world of money grabbing franchises and lack-luster remakes, Abrams has established himself as a hypocritical heavyweight, yet one that delivers with every project.

2. Edgar Wright

Quickly casting aside €˜A Fistful Of Fingers€™, I mean come on, Edgar Wright debuted onto the big screen with zom-rom-com Shaun Of The Dead back in 04, a delicious romp of a genre mash up, this side splitting and brain chewing British comedy introduced the world to a filmmaker with not only gallons of (blood) style and influence, but also heart and humour. With co-writer Simon Pegg, Wright€™s band of regular British talents would go on to make Hot Fuzz 3 years later, an equally hilarious buddy cop movie. Wright hit gold for a third time last year with the cult hit Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, a film Wright seemed destined to helm, accumulating all his talent and geek trivia into a postmodern fireball of indie grunge, video game fighting and cliched teen drama, all contorting in Michael Cera€™s deluded mind. Possibly the king of cult, Edgar Wright has yet to stumble and goes from strength to strength. A delight to follow, this director not only obsesses with cinema, he also defines it.

1. Chris Nolan

Could it really be anyone else? Nolan has dominated the last decade of film, pushing the boundaries of the conventions of how to tell a story on film and as the budgets got bigger, so did his imagination and scope but the stories never suffered. He first came on to the radar with the complex and satisfying puzzler Memento which became one of the most repeated DVDs in many film fans collection. In 2002, he delivered a compelling entry into the crime genre with Insomnia before getting the helm on the Batman franchise and turning in two of the best superhero films of all time... The Dark Knight perhaps being one of the greatest overall films of all time. In the middle of those Batman epics was The Prestige, a terribly under-rated thriller about dueling magicians which in the hands of the ultimate showman is such a joyous film to behold. His last movie the cerebral Inception redefined what we expect of the summer blockbuster from here on in and with The Dark Knight Rises on the horizon next year, we are happy to predict many more masterpieces to come down the line from this British auteur. Any further recommendations?
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UK-based writer. Great lover of cinema; music, TV and literature.