20 Best Fringe Directors: Part One

This Top 20 is presented by new writer and all round movie buff Grif O’ The Wisp.

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Certain directors get all the attention – Welles, Kubrick and Spielberg dominate any talk of whom the best directors are. So how is a young director to make his name? My answer to this was to create a new list of my favorite directors with the added stipulation that they must meet certain criteria.

They could not have directed a movie that has made $100 Million dollars or more domestically. They could not have won an Oscar for Best Directing or, in the case of the few directors working in animation, a Best Animated Feature. They are not power players who can make whatever they want on good will. Finally, they must be working in directing consistently today. They are my 20 favorite Fringe and/or up and coming directors.

In alphabetical order:

1. Alejandro González Iñárritu

Movies: Babel, 21 Grams, Powder Keg

Coming Up: Biutiful with Javier Bardem.

Why he makes the list: Hailing from Mexico González Iñárritu is the least Big Hollywood of three amigos that are Guillermo Del Toro, Alfonso Cuaron and himself. His films have a simple beauty, a personal edge and a worldwide scope.

2. Andrea Arnold

Movies: Fish Tank, Red Road, Wasp

Coming Up: Remake of Wuthering Heights.

Why he makes the list: The first woman on the list Arnold brings women onto the silver screen. Her coming of age films are full of powerful yet troubled women and the growth of character that comes with growing up. A welcome voice in a male centric medium Andrea brings different vantage point.

3. Antoine Fuqua

Movies: Training Day, King Arthur, Tears of the Sun, The Replacement Killers

Coming Up: Consent to Kill with Gerard Butler and Colin Farrell plus the long gesturing Tupac Shakur bio-pic.

Why he makes the list: A director who has yet to write his own films Fuqua still manages to leave his own mark on each film. He tends to show a gritty side of the story and doesn’t shy away from violence if the story needs it. Not mention he also directed Denzel Washington to his Best Oscar win.

4. Charlie Kaufman

Movies: Wrote Adaptation, Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Directed Synecdoche, New York with Philip Seymour Hoffman and Catherine Keener.
Coming Up: TBD

Why he makes the list: Known for Brilliant scripts Kaufman took a stab at directing in 2008. Still needs to prove himself he does show real promise as a filmmaker to watch for and possibly win multiple awards.

5. Darren Aronofsky

Movies: Pi, Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain, The Wrestler.

Coming Up: Black Swan with Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis.

Why he makes the list:Is possibly the weirdest filmmaker since Terry Gilliam. Aronofsky makes original pieces that seem to come from nowhere. Each tells a wonderful story but frequently toys with timelines or realities.

6. David Cronenberg

Movies: The Fly, Existenez, History of Violence, Eastern Promises

Coming Up: A Dangerous Method with Viggo Mortensen and Keira Knightley.
Why he makes the list:Not only does he make the fringe list but he also makes movies about people who don’t fit in. This makes him fringe squared. His films are also rock solid storytelling with mood and suspense in spades.

7. Duncan Jones

Movies: Whistle, Moon.

Coming Up: Source Code with Jake Gyllenhaal and Michelle Monaghan

Why he makes the list: Another director with only one feature to his name Jones shows plenty of promise. He made a mind blowing and original science fiction debut to critical acclaim. We’ll see how his follow-ups do and see how he holds up.

8. Edgar Wright

Movies: Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs the World.

Coming Up: Remake of THEM and the Marvel Comics mini-hero Ant-Man.

Why he makes the list: A comedy director Wright plays with the conventions of different genres to great, and hilarious results. He does not sacrifice original story for spoof like many modern satire but does his own thing and wows us.

9. George Clooney

Movies: Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Good Night Good Luck, Leatherheads.

Coming Up: The Boys of Belmont (as director).

Why he makes the list: His acting projects have been thoughtful and diverse and now his directing jobs are too. Solid work from one of the most intelligent people in Hollywood. None of his directing efforts have exactly ignited the box office but this cool cat has the power to pick the projects he wants to get behind.

10. Guillermo Del Toro

Movies: Cronos, Mimic, Blade 2, Hellboy, Hellboy 2, Pan’s Labyrinth.

Coming Up: The Haunted Mansion for Disney. (just announced)

Why he makes the list:He is the Ray Harryhausen of our times with his use of original creatures, bright colors and an earnest love for the creatures as well as the characters. He may be big budget of late but his more personal Spanish collection keeps him on the list.

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