Films have been at the forefront of civilizations for the better part of the last 100 years. Within the last century, the medium has gone through a plethora of changes, and behind each change is someone who risked doing things differently. We are listing five such visionary directors currently working in the Hollywood industry. These pioneers have, time and again, been going against the norm in terms of cinematography, screenplay, editing, and even script choices. Please note that this isn’t a list of the best directors working today but just a collection of directors with a unique style of filmmaking.
Christopher Nolan is the ultimate blockbuster filmmaker working today. In an industry where big franchises and IPs dominate the box office, Nolan stands out as someone who could bring in millions without the help of any pre-existing franchise. Nolan started his career with “Following (1998),” which he shot with a meagre budget of $6000. It was said that Nolan was only able to shoot this film on weekends and with actors he knew. The film, although not a big hit, was well-received by the critics. With this movie, Nolan showcased his unique vision of telling a story through a fractured, non-linear narrative method, which he would go on to perfect in his next film, “Memento (2000),” from which he would go on to direct one smash hit after the other. He broke into mainstream media when he made the gripping “Batman Begins” (2005) before cementing his greatness with the brilliant sequel “The Dark Knight” (2008), which is still considered the greatest comic book movie ever made. Nolan is known for his flawless direction, larger-than-life concepts, and his obsession with time manipulation, as seen in movies such as “Inception” (2010), “Interstellar” (2014), and “Tenet” (2020). Christopher Nolan has garnered a cult following over the years, and he rightfully deserves it. Nolan is one of those rare filmmakers who hasn’t made a single bad film in his career, someone who strives for something unique and groundbreaking in every new project.
This Canadian filmmaker is known for his breathtaking cinematography and his ability to completely immerse you in his films. His directing style is all about subtlety; Villeneuve is not known for big action set pieces. His movies, such as “Prisoners (2013)” and “Enemy (2013)” are dark psychological tales with a focus on emotions and drama. Even when he’s helming a sci-fi movie on a grand scale, he makes sure not to let the focus shift away from his characters. Denis Villeneuve has been making one classic after the other for the past decade. From his brilliant drama “Incendies” (2010) to his recent sci-fi epics such as “Blade Runner 2049” (2017) and “Dune” (2021), Villeneuve has managed not to make even one objectively bad film. He is also known for his jaw-dropping visuals; with “Arrival” (2016), he showcased his knack for beautiful filmmaking, which he improved on with the stunning “Blade Runner 2049,” in which every frame was breathtaking, and every scene was visually pleasing to look at. With “Dune: Part Two” on its way to theatres later this year, it is looking to be a promising career ahead for the filmmaker.
Richard Linklater is best known for his “Before” trilogy and “Boyhood” (2014). But those are just the tip of the iceberg of his filmography. Linklater is also known for his unique filmmaking techniques. With “Boyhood,” he shot the film over a period of 12 years with the same actors. This technique is also seen in the “Before” trilogy, as each succeeding movie was shot nine years after the previous one (with the same actors). Most of Linklater’s movies are thought experiments on life and relationships without any of the Hollywood cliches we are used to seeing. His movies are known to have great dialogue and are mostly about people going on with their lives. What makes them so great is their realness. You rarely feel as if you are watching a film. Sometimes you get a continuous shot of about 5 minutes of people just talking, and the conversations are so captivating and authentic. What’s great about Linklater is that he is always ready to go against the norm, like in “Slacker (1990),” where he essentially follows one character in their day-to-day activities for a while before switching to another.
Robert Eggers rose to fame with “The Witch” (2015), and he never looked back as he went on to produce even better movies such as “The Lighthouse” (2019) and “The Northman” (2022). All of his movies are similar in the fact that they all look drop-dead gorgeous and are set in different time periods. Eggers’s movies may just have the best cinematography in recent years, and the way he’s able to slowly build up tension and dread is second to none. With “The Witch,” he made a claustrophobic horror thriller, but he topped it with “The Lighthouse.” The raw eeriness he’s able to create is chilling, as “The Lighthouse” is dubbed as one of the most bizarre and unsettling movies in recent years. Eggers again showcased his talent for beautiful cinematography with his recent movie, “The Northman.” While his other movies were dark and had sombre colours, Eggers played with the combination of fire and darkness in his latest films and produced some of the most striking images ever seen in a movie.
Ari Aster shocked everyone with his directorial debut, “Hereditary (2018).” With “Hereditary,” he made one of the scariest and most disturbing horror films ever. Ari Aster was able to create spine-chilling sequences along with a disturbing story, to say the least. The thing that separates “Hereditary” from other horror films is the way it is able to tell a horrific story. The story here is more creepy than any jump scare or ghostly figure could ever hope for. Aster continued his dream run with “Midsommar (2019),” another horror/thriller with a disturbing story at its center. The movie was unique in the way it features beautiful scenery and bright sunny days, scenes that you usually wouldn’t expect from a horror film. But Aster was able to use the stunning scenery and jolly mood and transition it slowly into a creepy situation in a way never seen before. With the filmmaker set to return to the big screen with his latest film, “Beau is Afraid,” in 2023, fans are expecting yet another horrifying tale from the director.