As much as people like to complain that there’s nothing creative in Hollywood anymore, there have been some pretty great home runs from a lineup of rookie directors this past year alone. I’ve put together some stats for these newbies as well as some upcoming directors for you to follow as we head further into 2019.
I don’t think Peele has stepped out of the spotlight since Get Out hit theaters in 2017, but with his second feature film Us out in theaters, how can I not mention him.
Known best for his work in his comedy duo Key&Peele, Peele took the world by storm when he took the horror genre and made it Oscar worthy again. What’s great about Peele is that you can tell just how personal his work is to him. You can feel his imprint on every scene in Get Out, which is why the movie made as much noise as it did; Peele didn’t set out to just make a horror movie, he set out to make HIS movie. You don’t get convention with Jordan Peele, you get something that’s uniquely him.
Who would have thought that Jim from The Office would end up directing one of the most popular movies of 2018? A Quiet Place may have been shot on a shoestring budget of $17 milion, but that didn’t stop Krasinski from creating new ways of keeping us on the edge of our seats. Coming out at the height of big budget superhero movies, Krasinski reminded audiences what a good script and performance can do. Like Jordan Peele, Krasinski knows how to add his own flair to his movies. The original screenwriters once commented that when John got the script he really added an extra element of family, opting to use his experience as a new father to create a monster thriller that was really about a family pulling together after a tragedy.
Audiences watched in uncomfortable horror as the first trailer for last year’s Hereditary dropped (strangely a lot of names on this list are horror/thriller films). Aster’s movie about what parents impart to the next generation and the baggage we can inherit from our parents. With a slow, eerie pace, a phenomenally written script (by him) and an intense performance from Toni Collete, the movie stunned and horrified audiences everywhere.
One thing that I admire about Aster is that he didn’t shy away from making his script into a horror movie, a genre that’s often looked down on. Hereditary asks some pretty existential questions and sometimes the best way to talk about things that scare us, is to scare your audience. He’s someone who seems to trust his stories to be bold enough to stand on their own and not have to fall into a certain genre.
“It preys on the fears that don’t really have a remedy. What do you do with a fear of death? What do you do with the suspicion that you don’t really know the people you’re closest to? What do you do with fear of abandonment? The fear of somebody close to you changing? The film is really feeding on those fears.” -Arri Aster (interview with Variety)
Carlos Lopez Estrada
Last July a small indie flick dropped called Blindspotting a (sort of) comedy about a guy who’s trying to keep his nose clean after his release from prison and turn his life around. The film breaks genre convention and tells a personal story that tackles police brutality, gentrification, and themes of identity. Estrada seems more interested in keeping his stories honest to life, rather than adhering to a genre. He’s got a unique tonal style that’s part comedy and part tense drama and I’d love to see more of it.
Riley debuted is first feature film Sorry to Bother You in March 2018 and wow. Riley held nothing back as he made a story about a black telemarketer who uses a white-voice to sell his products to white families. A film that challenges it’s audience while being visually and tonally ridiculous (in a good way). It’s an out of the box idea, to say the least. It’s refreshing to see a movie that’s so inventive with a boring setting of a telemarketer’s office.
And there you have it, five rookies that are gonna kill it in the 2019 season. Keep a look out for their innovative films the next time you’re browsing for something to watch.