The Best Young Directors (3 full-lengths or less)

by watcherofculture | created - 12 Dec 2012 | updated - 15 Dec 2012 | Public

This is a list with the most promising directors all over the world, with a maximum of three full-length movies.

1. Steve McQueen

Director | 12 Years a Slave

Steve McQueen was born on October 9, 1969 in London, England as Steve Rodney McQueen. He is a director and writer, known for 12 Years a Slave (2013), Shame (2011) and Hunger (2008). He is married to Bianca Stigter. They have two children.

Director of Hunger and Shame, and currently filming 12 Years A Slave (with Bradd Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Fassbender), McQueen is a true contemporary artist, using the body of the actors of his films as a character itself, a subject very used in the modern art.

2. Martin McDonagh

Writer | In Bruges

Martin McDonagh was born on March 26, 1970 in Camberwell, London, England. He is a writer and director, known for In Bruges (2008), Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) and Seven Psychopaths (2012).

Director of In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths, McDonagh made a career as a playwright in the UK, and in his first cinematic attempt, he won an Oscar for Best Short Film. After that, he has done two of the most funny mafia films in recent years, written with a great talent and a very personal and british sense of humor.

3. Rian Johnson

Director | Brick

Rian Johnson was born in Maryland and at a young age his family moved to San Clemente, California, where he was raised. After graduating from high school, he went on to attend the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. His first feature film, Brick (2005), was released in 2005 ...

Rian Johnson his the director of one of the most original films in recent years, Brick, a noir film set in a high school. Johnson is a powerful creator of images, but also, a great writer, things that he had proved in his latest film Looper. He also directed one of the greatest Breaking Bad episodes, Fly.

4. Drew Goddard

Producer | The Martian

Drew Goddard was raised in Los Alamos, New Mexico. He attended Los Alamos High School in Los Alamos, New Mexico and graduated in 1993. He then attended the University of Colorado, and worked as a production assistant in L.A. after graduation. A spec script Drew wrote based on Six Feet Under (2001) ...

Drew Goddard began in the industry as a screenwriter for is companion Joss Whedon. He wrote scripts for Buffy, The Vampire Slayer, and after that, he started to work with related-Abrams series and films like Alias, Lost and Cloverfield. The Cabin in the Woods is his directorial debut, a game changer genre flick.

5. Sean Durkin

Director | Martha Marcy May Marlene

Sean Durkin is a producer and director, known for Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011), Mary Last Seen (2010) and Afterschool (2008).

After a couple of acclaimed short films, Durkin directed his first feature film Martha Marcy May Marlene, presented on Sundance, where it was awarded with the Best Director prize. The movie was the debut of Elisabeth Olsen, who is perfectly directed by Durkin in an emotional performance. Durkin is now working for a British Miniseries and a new film based on an episode of the life of Janis Joplin.

6. Jeff Nichols

Writer | Take Shelter

Jeff Nichols was born on December 7, 1978 in Little Rock, Arkansas, USA. He is a writer, known for Take Shelter (2011), Midnight Special (2016) and Loving (2016).

Jeff Nichols is one of those directors whose films smell and taste American movies. Is second feature, Take Shelter, premiered at Sundance and was one of the best surprises of 2011. In 2012 he presented is new film Mud in Cannes at the last day, and his reception was very good.

7. Valérie Donzelli

Actress | La guerre est déclarée

Valérie Donzelli was born on March 2, 1973 in Épinal, Vosges, France. She is an actress and writer, known for Declaration of War (2011), The Queen of Hearts (2009) and Notre Dame (2019).

European directors know how entertain people too. Valérie Donzelli is a french filmmaker whose last movie, Declaration of War, is a beautiful history based on a real experience with a lot of social implications, but very emocional and fun as well. She premiered her new movie, Main Dans La Main, at the Rome Film Festival, one of the most anticipated european movies of 2013.

8. Nacho Vigalondo

Writer | Los cronocrímenes

Nacho Vigalondo was born in 1977 in Cabezón de la Sal, Cantabria, Spain. He is a writer and actor, known for Timecrimes (2007), Colossal (2016) and Extraterrestrial (2011).

Vigalondo is a cult director in the USA, thanks to his time travel movie Timecrimes, which was shown at Sundance. He is also very famous in is country Spain, and is sophomore effort, Extraterrestial, is more focused on the modern spanish humor with several comedians as characters. He is now working in his first english movie, Open Windows, starring Elijah Wood and Sasha Grey.

9. Andrew Dominik

Director | Chopper

Andrew Dominik was born on October 7, 1967 in Wellington, New Zealand. He is a director and writer, known for Chopper (2000), Killing Them Softly (2012) and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007).

Born in Australia, Andrew Dominik made is first mayor statement when he directed his first american movie, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward of Robert Ford, an artful western which gave Brad Pitt one of the parts of his career. His latest effort is Killing Them Softly, also starring Pitt, a noir and brilliantly filmed movie that pretends to be a metaphor of the actual landscape in the western civilization.

10. Yorgos Lanthimos

Director | The Lobster

Yorgos Lanthimos was born in Athens, Greece. He studied directing for Film and Television at the Stavrakos Film School in Athens. He has directed a number of dance videos in collaboration with Greek choreographers, in addition to TV commercials, music videos, short films and theater plays. Kinetta,...

When the nominations for the 2011 Oscars came out, many people could't believe that Dogtooth, the second film of Giorgos Lanthimos, was nominated, even in a category like Foreign Film. The movie, winner of the Un Certain Regard award at Cannes, has a sinister sense of humor and very surrealistic treatment, but also a clear message about repression. His latest film, Alps, follows the same path.

11. Neill Blomkamp

Director | District 9

Neill Blomkamp was born on September 17, 1979 in Johannesburg, South Africa. He is a director and writer, known for District 9 (2009), Elysium (2013) and Chappie (2015). He is married to Terri Tatchell. They have one child.

Possibly, Blomkamp, a recognized creator of visual effects, is the most successful rookie of this entire list, and we can put the blame on Peter Jackson, who produce his debut, District 9, one of the most unique pieces of sci-fi in decades. His movie was even nominated to the Best Picture Oscar. Now he is finishing his new and anticipated project, Elysium, another ambitious and dystopian sci-fi flick.

12. Christopher Morris

Writer | Four Lions

Christopher Morris was born on September 5, 1965 in Bristol, England. He is an actor and writer, known for Four Lions (2010), The Day Today (1994) and Brass Eye (1997).

Morris follows the tradition of modern british humor, lead by comedians like Ricky Gervais. He has worked a lot in TV, running is own show of fake news The Today Show. In 2010, he directed his first movie, Four Lions, about a group of muslim terrorist that want to attack the UK, winning the BAFTA for Best English Debut. The movie is a masterpiece of modern comedy, funny as hell, and very provocative too.

13. Marc Webb

Director | (500) Days of Summer

Marc Webb was born on August 31, 1974. He is a producer and director, known for 500 Days of Summer (2009), Gifted (2017) and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (2015). He is married to Jane Herman. They have one child.

From Hatebreed to Spiderman. That's a good summary of the career of Marc Webb, who became famous directing videos for many music artist (like David Fincher). In 2009, his debut full-length 500 Days of Summer debuted, and was one of the most acclaimed romantic stories in recent years, which has became the prototype for indie romantic films. After that, he was named the successor of Sam Raimi in the Spiderman franchise. The reboot is good, with a very intimate story and some echoes of his previous indie work. The secuel will be his trial of fire.

14. Sam Dunn

Producer | Metal: A Headbanger's Journey

Sam Dunn was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He is a producer and director, known for Metal: A Headbanger's Journey (2005), Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage (2010) and Hip-Hop Evolution (2016).

Many of the readers might not know who is this guy. But the ones who have any interest in metal music will know. Dunn is a Canadian anthropologist so passionate about heavy metal that did a documentary, A Headbanger's Journey, which became instantly the best metal documentary ever made. After that, he has worked with bands like Iron Maiden or Rush, but hasn't stopped his metal saga with Global Metal and even a series called Metal Evolution. Now he's working in a film about Satan.

15. Sacha Gervasi

Director | Anvil: The Story of Anvil

Sacha Gervasi was born in 1966 in London, England. He is a writer and director, known for Anvil: The Story of Anvil (2008), Hitchcock (2012) and The Terminal (2004). He has been married to Jessica de Rothschild since 2010.

16. Craig Zobel

Director | Compliance

Craig Zobel is a director and producer, known for Compliance (2012), Z for Zachariah (2015) and Great World of Sound (2007).

17. Carlos Vermut

Director | Magical Girl

Carlos Vermut was born on March 6, 1980 in Madrid, Spain as Carlos López del Rey. He is a director and writer, known for Magical Girl (2014), Quién te cantará (2018) and Diamond Flash (2011).

18. Ben Wheatley

Director | Free Fire

Ben Wheatley was born in May 1972 in Billericay, Essex, England. He is a director and writer, known for Free Fire (2016), Kill List (2011) and Sightseers (2012).

19. Benh Zeitlin

Director | Beasts of the Southern Wild

Born in New York City and raised in Sunnyside, Queens and then Westchester County, Benh Zeitlin began his career as a film-maker at the tender age of 6 years when he and a friend made a Batman movie. He continued making films as a child before attending Wesleyan University, where he majored in film...

20. Gareth Evans

Director | Serbuan Maut

Welsh born writer/director, in 2003 directed a short film "Samurai Monogatari" telling the tale of a Samurai waiting to be executed. The short was in Japanese language and starred students from Tokyo who were studying at Cardiff University at the time.

In 2003 he also graduated with an MA in ...

21. Paddy Considine

Actor | Dead Man's Shoes

Paddy (Patrick) Considine was born on September 5, 1973 in Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire in the U.K. As a teenager, Considine studied a drama course at Burton College where he met with now friend and director Shane Meadows, who cast Considine in his first role in a feature film as the disturbed ...

22. Pablo Berger

Writer | Torremolinos 73

Pablo Berger was born in 1963 in Bilbao, Vizcaya, País Vasco, Spain. He is a writer, known for Torremolinos 73 (2003), Blancanieves (2012) and Abracadabra (2017). He is married to Yuko Harami. They have one child.

Berger is a well-known character in the spanish cinema. In 1988, he directed Mama, a short piece that became a cult classic, whose production design was conceived by Alex De La Iglesia (El Día de la Bestia). It was 15 years later when he made his full-length debut, Torremolinos 73, an acclaimed comedy about a couple that gets into the porn business. This year, he return with his silent version of Snow White, Blancanieves, a film that was in his mind for 9 years. The movie is a masterful piece of art which innovates within the silent movies, thanks to a dark and sinister history. Nothing to do with The Artist.

23. Hitoshi Matsumoto

Writer | Dai-Nihonjin

Hitoshi Matsumoto and his childhood friend Masatoshi Hamada teamed up as comedy duo Downtown. When they had their own TV shows in late 80s, they became phenomenal pop culture among young Japanese people. Unlike other comedy duos in Japan, they are still together, and they dominate prime time TV ...

24. Eli Craig

Director | Tucker and Dale vs Evil

Eli Craig was born on May 25, 1972 in Los Angeles County, California, USA as Elijah M. Craig. He is a director and actor, known for Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010), Little Evil (2017) and The Tao of Pong (2004). He has been married to Sasha Craig since September 5, 2004. They have one child.

25. Rodrigo Cortés

Editor | Buried

Rodrigo Cortés was born in 1973 in Pazos Hermos, Ourense, Galicia, Spain as Rodrigo Cortés Giráldez. He is an editor, known for Buried (2010), Red Lights (2012) and The Contestant (2007).

26. Mike Mills

Director | Beginners

Mike Mills was born in 1966, Berkeley, California. He graduated from Cooper Union, 1989.

He works as a filmmaker, graphic designer and artist. As a filmmaker, Mike has completed a number of music videos, commercials, short films, documentaries, and the feature film Thumbsucker (2005). Architecture ...

27. Ari Folman

Writer | The Congress

Ari Folman was born on December 17, 1962 in Haifa, Israel. He is a writer and director, known for The Congress (2013), Waltz with Bashir (2008) and Saint Clara (1996).

28. Alexandre Bustillo

Writer | À l'intérieur

Alexandre Bustillo is a writer and director, known for Inside (2007), Among the Living (2014) and ABCs of Death 2 (2014).

29. Julien Maury

Writer | À l'intérieur

Julien Maury is a writer and director, known for Inside (2007), Among the Living (2014) and ABCs of Death 2 (2014).

30. J.A. Bayona

Director | El orfanato

J.A. Bayona was born on May 9, 1975 in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain as Juan Antonio García Bayona. He is a director, known for The Orphanage (2007), The Impossible (2012) and A Monster Calls (2016).

31. Daniel Sánchez Arévalo

Writer | Azuloscurocasinegro

Daniel Sánchez Arévalo was born on June 24, 1970 in Madrid, Madrid, Spain. He is a writer, known for Dark Blue Almost Black (2006), Fat People (2009) and Traumalogía (2007).

32. Pascal Laugier

Director | Martyrs

Pascal Laugier is a director and writer, known for Martyrs (2008), Incident in a Ghostland (2018) and The Tall Man (2012).

33. Genndy Tartakovsky

Producer | Samurai Jack

Genndy Tartakovsky was born and raised in Moscow, USSR. He and his family moved to Chicago, IL when he was 7 years old, after his father defected to the US. His interest in comic books and animation led him to study animation at CalArts in Los Angeles. While he was there he produced two student ...

34. Josh Trank

Writer | Fantastic Four

Josh Trank was born on February 19, 1984 in Los Angeles, California, USA as Joshua Benjamin Trank. He is a writer and director, known for Fantastic Four (2015), Chronicle (2012) and Fonzo.

35. James Watkins

Writer | Eden Lake

James Watkins was born in 1978 in the UK. He is a writer and director, known for Eden Lake (2008), The Take (2016) and The Woman in Black (2012).

36. Zal Batmanglij

Writer | The OA

Zal Batmanglij is a writer and director, known for The OA (2016), The East (2013) and Sound of My Voice (2011).

37. Colin Trevorrow

Writer | Jurassic World

Born in San Francisco and raised in Oakland, Colin Trevorrow started making short films when he was 12 years old. He studied film and dramatic writing at New York University. After graduation, he wrote and directed "Home Base" a digital short that became one of the early viral successes on the ...

38. Hong-jin Na

Writer | Chugyeogja

Na Hong-jin born in 1974 is a South Korean film director and screenwriter. His debut film The Chaser (2008) won Best Director at the 45th Grand Bell Awards in 2008. The film also won the award for Best Film. His follow up film, The Yellow Sea, was released in South Korea on December 15, 2010. It is...

39. Brandon Cronenberg

Director | Antiviral

Brandon Cronenberg is a director and writer, known for Antiviral (2012), Please Speak Continuously and Describe Your Experiences as They Come to You (2019) and eXistenZ (1999).

40. Joe Cornish

Writer | Attack the Block

Joe Cornish was born on December 20, 1968 in London, England as Joseph Murray Cornish. He is a writer and director, known for Attack the Block (2011), Ant-Man (2015) and The Adventures of Tintin (2011).

41. Juan Carlos Fresnadillo

Director | 28 Weeks Later

Juan Carlos Fresnadillo was born on December 5, 1967 in Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain. He is a producer, known for 28 Weeks Later (2007), Intacto (2001) and Linked (1996).

42. Peter Strickland

Director | Katalin Varga

Peter Strickland was born in 1973 in Reading, Berkshire, England. He is a director and writer, known for Katalin Varga (2009), Berberian Sound Studio (2012) and The Duke of Burgundy (2014).

43. Mia Hansen-Løve

Director | L'avenir

Cinema came into Mia Hansen-Løve's life when she was eighteen, as Olivier Assayas made her start as an actress in Late August, Early September (1998). Two years later, he gave her the part of "Aline" in his Les destinées (2000). Their artistic collaboration was coupled by a union in real ...

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