Following up on last week’s article about directors to look out for after their first two films, here I take a look at those who have made just one so far, listing the five most promising in my mind. Assessment after a debut only is difficult, and a close call between many, with the likes of Richard Ayoade (Submarine), John Michael McDonagh (The Guard), Joe Cornish (Attack the Block), Gareth Edwards (Monsters), Ralph Fiennes (Coriolanus), Adam Elliot (Mary and Max), Neill Blomkamp (District 9) and Justin Kurzel (Snowtown) all displaying vast amounts of potential and yet just about missing out. The top five, then, as I see it…
5. Josh Trank (Chronicle)
Trank directed the hand-held alternative superhero film of 2012 and gave us a memorable debut from nowhere. His reward is to helm the rebooted Fantastic Four, due to go head-to-head with Avengers 2 and quite possibly a Justice League film too in 2015. That’s a pretty difficult task given Avengers Assemble and the star power available elsewhere, but we’re hoping that he brings something just as fresh and exciting to an otherwise tired franchise as the likes of Matthew Vaughn did to X-Men and Star Trek, as Rupert Wyatt did to Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and as Trank himself did with Chronicle, showcasing the talent that Chronicle more than hinted at.
4. J. C. Chandor (Margin Call)
Writer-director Chandor is another who made a big breakthrough early this year, with debut feature Margin Call attracting a lot of attention. Though the play-like setup doesn’t test the camerawork as much as the writing, the skill of the latter can’t be doubted. Chandor came up with a fast-paced, stimulating and witty piece all about… banking, finances and numbers (which takes some doing!), specifically the global credit crash in 2008. All IMDB reveals about his next work is that it’s titled All Is Lost, is due for release next year, starts Robert Redford and is an action film summarised as “a journey of one man’s fight to survive”. Sounds pretty different…
3. Sean Durkin (Martha Marcy May Marlene)
Yet another exciting talent from the very start of this year before we delve all the way back to 2011 for our final two entrants, and it’s to future-cult film about a cult that we go, with Martha Marcy May Marlene. As well as a really fine performance from Elizabeth Olsen and a pretty terrifying opposite cast in leader Patrick (played by John Hawkes), the atmosphere veered between brutal, haunting and remained tense throughout. On top of everything else, it also has one of the best endings of the year with Durkin proving that he knows when to put down the pen and simply fade to black…
2. Paddy Considine (Tyrannosaur)
Who saw this one coming? Recent months have given us Dustin Hoffman and Ralph Fiennes in the chair, whilst Ben Affleck and George Clooney are big-name-actors-turned-directors over the past ten years too, but it’s Considine with the best film of the lot with his first effort. Starring the brilliant Peter Mullan and Olivia Colman, who matches him all the way in her breakout performance in such a serious role, Tyrannosaur is a depressing and disturbing tale of a violent kitchen sink drama that packs a serious punch. Makes Dead Man’s Shoes seem positively cheery. Let’s hope Paddy keeps acting, but at the same time I can’t wait for his next effort as writer-director after this stunning effort.
1. David Michod (Animal Kingdom)
But our winner simply has to be David Michod, responsible for the excellent gritty crime drama from down under known as Animal Kingdom. As well as Guy Pearce in a supporting role, it terrified audiences with breakthrough roles for both Ben Mendelsohn (The Dark Knight Rises, Killing Them Softly) and Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook) as parts of the carnivorous family unit that’s all-at-once functional and dysfunctional too. I can only urge you to check out this terrifying tale of a boy thrown into the deep end of a whole new world. If Australian cinema isn’t exciting enough at the moment with the mention of Kurzel above (whose Snowtown arguably rivals this) plus John Hillcoat and Andrew Dominik, then looking ahead Michod’s follow-up will be a Western featuring Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson. Look out for it, and for him, as I suspect he’ll soon be very big indeed.