by Benjamín Harguindey
They have as little as a single movie or as much as Quentin Tarantino, but never mind their current output – they’ve recently garnered critical acclaim and worldwide attention, having taken some very interesting steps in the right direction and not once lost their footing. It’s very easy to recommend bona fide mainstays like Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen or the Coen brothers. How about some fresh blood?
1. Tom Ford
A world-renowned fashion designer and creative director for Gucci and Yves Saint-Laurent (before launching his own label), Ford went into filmmaking by writing, producing and directing the critically acclaimed A Single Man (2009). The movie is served well by Ford’s slick style for shot composition, an obvious flair for decoration and the passionately underhanded performance by Colin Firth. Ford went on to release Nocturnal Animals this year, an intense psychological thriller that further illustrates what mastery the man has of a medium in which he’s still relatively new. He doesn’t have any other credits beyond an early-day cameo in Zoolander (2001) and personally clothing Daniel Craig’s 007, which pretty much sum up his trademark in humor and elegance.
2. Damien Chazelle
Chazelle’s debut feature Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench (2009) went by largely unnoticed despite receiving critical acclaim; it wasn’t until he wrote and directed Whiplash (2014) – expanding on a short film of the same name made a year earlier – that he made a name for himself. The intense musical drama about practice-makes-perfect earned three Academy Awards and established Chazelle as a young up-and-coming talent of his own. He went on to co-write the taut horror thriller 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016) and write & direct the beautiful La La Land (2016), which by all means is up for several Oscar nominations. Despite worming his way from the indie scene into mainstream Hollywood, his movies continue to carry a personal gravitas signaled by the recurring themes of sacrifice, self-improvement and the ever-present devotion to the sensibility of jazz.
3. Denis Villeneuve
French-Canadian réalisateur Denis Villeneuve has actually been rigorously at work since the late 90s, directing several feature films, short films and documentaries. But it wasn’t until he made the Oscar-nominated Incendies (2010) that he caught worldwide attention, and thereon he’s gone to make a slew of excellent thrillers ranging from the psychological Enemy (2013) and the criminal Prisoners (2013) to the action thriller Sicario (2015) and this year the hardliner sci-fi thriller Arrival (2016). Even when working on a weak script, Villeneuve always churns out strong performances, giving each of his movies a distinctive look and feel while keeping a measure of ambiguity. He’s currently tasked with sequelizing Blade Runner (1982), and everything in his curriculum says he’s the right man for the job.
4. Nicolas Winding Refn
Like Villeneuve, Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn has been working since mid-to-late 90s but stayed in relative obscurity. After cobbling the Pusher crime trilogy of films (1996-2005) and stepping out of the limelight with Bronson (2008) and Valhalla Rising (2009) he earned his cult movie craftsman cred with offbeat genre send-offs like Drive (2011), its maligned spiritual successor Only God Forgives (2013) and currently with The Neon Demon (2016). His movies are deeply spiritual and meditative in tone, but are also peppered with bursts of bizarre bloodletting. You never know what he’ll pull out next.
5. Robert Eggers
As of yet Eggers has made a single feature length film: horror movie The VVitch: A New-England Folktale (2015). Before that he has art director, production and costume designer credits on a number of horror-themed short subjects. Despite his brief resume, this movie alone is promise enough of an interesting writing-directing career. In a world plagued by cheap found footage rollercoaster rides and derivative jump-scare fests, The VVitch relies on pace, tone and atmosphere to craft an original story that has the makings of a modern horror movie classic, a perturbing psychological tour de force built on insinuation. More of that please.
Benjamín Harguindey / Managing Editor, Writer (Mar del Plata, Argentina – 1989) Screenwriter graduated from Universidad del Cine, Buenos Aires. Benja’s worked for EscribiendoCine as a film critic since 2010, covering the Biarritz, San Sebastián and Venice festivals. He judged the CILECT Prize and won several writing & criticism contests. He’s published one novel, Noches de Tartaria (2006).