10 Directors with 3 or More Great Films from the 2010s

10 Directors with 3 or More Great Films from the 2010s

The last ten years have been times of great change for cinema, and filmmakers working within the industry at every level have had to be nothing if not adaptable. We’ve seen passionate debate over film vs digital, streaming vs cinema exhibition, the products of the Disney juggernaut vs everything else. What follows is my pick of ten directors who have left a clear mark on this decade in film (in alphabetical order) and their greatest work.
But first, here’s to another decade of bold filmmaking voices making their mark, reaching wide-ranging audiences and continuing to progress the art form in an uncertain world. 

1. Clio BarnardThe Arbor (2010) – The Selfish Giant (2013) – Dark River (2017)

Clio Barnard Movies
A distinct female voice working prolifically within the British film industry and thus far not straying from her Yorkshire home county or compromising on her darkly poetic style, Clio Barnard is a pariah. 
BAFTA and BIFA award nominee Barnard has moved fluidly between docu-drama and geographically rooted dramatic storytelling. Her stories have universal impact but make a particular connection with viewers from West Yorkshire who recognise the bleak-beautiful landscapes and people.
The one to watch: The Selfish Giant
Inspired by Oscar Wilde but feeling more Dickensian and ploughing its own furrow, The Selfish Giant follows two Bradford teen tearaways whose friendship has to survive poverty and adult manipulation. It hits you like a train, always feels genuine and leaves you with unforgettable imagery.

Recommended for you: Dark River (2018) Review

2. Damien Chazelle
Whiplash (2014) – La La Land (2016) – First Man (2018)

Damien Chazelle 2010s Films
Critical darling he may be, but this not without reason as Damien Chazelle has proven himself a stylistically confident young actor’s director, working intensively with his cast and crew to produce his dazzling vision.
Chazelle has confidently tackled the musical, the biopic and Oscar-winning drama, but never presents them quite in the conventional sense. He’s romantic but a realist, so his characters usually have something fundamental missing in their lives or a nigh-on impossible dream they’re shooting for.
The one to watch: Whiplash
The presentation of the psychology of obsession marked Whiplash out, but everyone remembers the barnstorming performances, how Chazelle managed to make a student playing the drums and his teacher saying “Not quite my tempo” more unbearably tense than Neil Armstrong landing on the moon with a faulty guidance system.

Recommended for you: La La Land (2017) Review

3. Ryan Coogler
Fruitvale Station (2013) – Creed (2015) – Black Panther (2018)

Ryan Coogler 2010s Films
Ryan Coogler’s filmmaking captures the zeitgeist. He has a vivid and distinct voice, inescapably rooted in a culture and experiences, and he never disguises it in his work, even as he has moved into the mainstream.
The deeply-held feelings in evidence in all of his work, the deconstruction of injustice and cultural bias in the American experience are presented to us in an appealing, vivid aesthetic. Michael B. Jordan has become Coogler’s figurehead, his mouthpiece to convey earnest, passionately held ideas about the world as they have both moved from the indie to the blockbuster stage.
The one to watch: Fruitvale Station
Oscar Grant’s story was one that needed to be told and should have been more widely known the world over; an injustice that needed to be given a voice. An unremarkable man seemingly living another unremarkable day in his life takes a tragic and history-shaping turn.

Recommended for you: Black Panther (2018) Review

4. Hirokazu Koreeda
Like Father, Like Son (2013) – Our Little Sister (2015) – After the Storm (2016) – Shoplifters (2018)

Kore-eda movies 2010s
The dysfunctional family drama director of the 2010s, Hirokazu Koreeda has been quietly successful in his homeland of Japan for decades, but his latest crop of domestic theses have truly broken through in the west.
Now a household name for any film fan who’s into their world cinema, Koreeda’s Shoplifters was Oscar-nominated and next year sees his English/French-language debut The Truth, with an all-star international cast.
The one to watch: Our Little Sister
Shoplifters may have received the Oscar nomination, but Our Little Sister is pitch-perfect in its intimacy, low-key emotion and spirit. Family takes many forms, and bad blood and contentious history sometimes ends up strengthening the unit overall.

5. Steve McQueen
Shame (2011) – 12 Years a Slave (2013) – Widows (2018) 

Steve McQueen filmography 2010s
Visual artist-turned-visionary filmmaker, Steve McQueen’s films have hit hard and pilloried society’s ills, from prejudice to inequality and addiction time and time again. He’s not one for sentimentality or excess – everything serves an important purpose and is presented with frankness and honesty.
McQueen’s films are visually arresting enough to be hung in a gallery, the themes debated endlessly in intellectual circles and they often leave you spiritually reeling.
The one to watch: 12 Years a Slave 
One of the best films everyone should see at least once, balancing brutality with ethereal beauty, it’s simply essential. The nightmarish experience of Solomon Northup is another account that should be known by every school child as a key example of the indomitable human spirit.

6. Joe & Anthony Russo
Captain America: Civil War (2016) – Avengers: Infinity War (2018) – Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Filmography 2010s Russo Bros
No other filmmakers have put their names to so many of the decade’s box office behemoths. It’s been a massive ten years for Marvel Studios and their Cinematic Universe and the Russo Brothers are intrinsically linked to their success.
Through their close working relationships with eclectic ensemble casts, inspired writers and a ridiculously talented army of visual effects artists and production designers, the Russos more than anyone else even working within the MCU have defined the decade in blockbuster filmmaking.
The one to watch: Avengers: Endgame
Endgame is an impossible, sublime victory lap of genre filmmaking – all the superheroic set up pays off in crowd-pleasing fashion, eye-popping comic splash pages are expertly transposed to the big screen and the imposing scale somehow never masks the big emotions.

Recommended for you: Avengers: Infinity War (2018) Review

7. Martin Scorsese
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) – Silence (2016) – The Irishman (2019)

Scorsese Movies 2010s
Even in his sixth decade of filmmaking, Martin Scorsese is still the very best at what he does. After all these years, he still guides flawed antiheroes down a winding path and he still seems to have a complicated concept of his own faith, morality and purpose in life.
Criticised as being a one-trick pony, but constantly evolving and refining his distinct style, no one else brings amoral titans crashing down so beautifully as Scorsese
The one to watch: The Wolf of Wall Street
Protagonists don’t need to be likeable, they just need to be interesting. Jordan Belfort was a fascinating, love-to-hate stock marketeer and his story of greed, excess and intoxication was a compelling fable on quaaludes.

Recommended for you: The Irishman (2019) Review

8. Denis Villeneuve
Incendies (2010) – Sicario (2015) – Arrival (2016) – Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

Denis Villeneuve Director 2010s
A storyteller who moulds time and perspective, Denis Villeneuve may be the director of the decade. No other auteur has had such a clear throughline, distinct vision and unwavering quality to their work over ten years.
From dark-as-the-abyss dramas to percussive thrillers and beyond to sci-fi, nothing seems to phase Villeneuve. Next November, we get to see his take on Dune, which promises to be fascinating, perhaps even definitive.
The one to watch: Blade Runner 2049
Not just a belated sequel to a recognised IP, but an expansion of a distinct future world and its many mind-expanding concepts and implications. This is simply beautiful, spiritually healing sci-fi. 

9. Taika Waititi
Boy (2010) – What We Do in the Shadows (2014) – Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016) – Thor: Ragnarok (2017) – Jojo Rabbit (2019)

Taika Waititi Films
A mischievous maverick equally at home with home-grown indie comedy, deeply personal family dramedies and anarchic takes on Hollywood blockbusters, Taika Waititi stands out from the crowd.
One of the most prolific and versatile filmmakers of the 2010s, Waititi continually subverted expectations on every budget level. Waititi lept from grounded and distinctively accented dramas to delightfully playing with genre tropes and working with A-List casts.
The one to watch: Hunt for the Wilderpeople 
One of the biggest-hearted films of the decade, this tale of a foster kid and his unwilling uncle on the run from social services has laughs, tears and a social conscience to boot.

Recommended for you: Jojo Rabbit (2019) Review

10. Ben Wheatley
Kill List (2011) – Sightseers (2012) – A Field in England (2013) – Happy New Year, Colin Burstead (2018)

Ben Wheatley Movies 2010s
Six movies in a decade makes Ben Wheatley the most prolific director on this list and while he’s moved outside of his British indie roots to work with big stars (Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, etc.) he’s never compromised on his dark-hearted vision.
There are laughs to be had in Wheatley’s films, but they’re almost always of the dark variety and he never seems adverse to showing society and its outcasts at their most contradictory. Next up is Wheatley’s surely unique take on Rebecca, which I’m sure he’ll make entirely his own.
The one to watch: Kill List 
One of the most disturbing films of the decade, this trickles down your spine and never allows a sense of profound dread to dissipate. It’s a hitman movie, a psychological thriller and the strangest of horror movies presented in a single package.

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