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The 10 Best Generation X Directors

14 August 2013 | Features, People Lists | by Sam Silbert

gen x directors

Alfred Hitchcock. Stanley Kubrick. Steven Spielberg. There are plenty of the great directors to choose from. But even the greatest of the greats will not live on forever. Someday we’ll have to choose a new director to be the greatest, so why not now? In this list, you will see younger up and coming directors, as well as directors who have already soldered themselves into Hollywood stardom.

Most of these directors have just released movies in the past two years. All of them are great peices of work. The directors on this list are probably already planning on a new movie. I would suggest you rent out some of their work. Until then, here are the 10 best generation X born directors.


10. Wes Anderson


Best Of: Rushmore, Moonrise Kingdom, The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Why He’s Huge: Wes Anderson is famous in his own way. Not Oscar famous, as I don’t think I can recall any Oscars that he has won. But Wes Anderson sure deserves an Oscar as much as Madonna doesn’t deserve to live with the fact that she covered American Pie. Wes brought Bill Murray’s career back to life, and single-handedly created Owen Wilson’s. As his fans know, each of his movies have that ‘Wes Anderson’ niche to it.

The camera pans, slow motion shots, and some amazing music moments happen in almost all of his films. He is sure to be iconic as his career progresses, and who knows if he’ll get that long deserved Oscar? He can only get better through time, as far as we know.


9. Guillermo Del Toro


Best Of: Pan’s Labyrinth, The Devil’s Backbone.

Why He’s Huge: ‘Famous’ is a disclaimer. Guillermo Del Toro is on his way to becoming a legend. He’s a badass, and he knows it. Rumor has it that Del Toro was watching a screening of Pan’s Labyrinth with author Stephen King. The pale man chase sequence apparently gave Stephen the chills. Now if you know Stephen King, the King of horror, this is quite extraordinary.

There are plenty of stories about the great Guillermo, how he saved modern cinema, about how he just doesn’t give a crap about anything. Guillermo knows what it takes to be a legend, and that’s where he’s going.


8. Quentin Tarantino


Best Of: Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill.

Why He’s Huge: 1992 was an especially important year for Quentin Tarantino. That was the year he released a little independent movie called Reservoir Dogs. Quentin was a small time actor, wannabe director, and was working his ass off to make it into the showbiz. ‘Dogs’ was his ticket there. He became an overnight sensation.

Unfortunately, the critics were looking past the hard work he put into his movies (although they acknowledged it) and focused on the extreme violence, not necessarily pushing boundaries, but still a little too violent. But Quentin was successful. He went on to make a whole bunch of acclaimed work. Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, he was huge and had famous Hollywood actors at his disposal. Quentin has withstood the test of time, more than 20 years since his debut, and that is why he is on the list.


7. Christopher Nolan


Best Of: Memento, The Dark Knight, Inception.

Why He’s Huge: I don’t think I am the first person to say this, but Christopher Nolan has yet to make a bad movie. All of his movies are significant. Whether it be Insomnia, The Prestige, or his lesser known debut Following, all of them are just beautiful. I mean, it takes some skill to make Heath Ledger as The Joker to outshine Christian Bale in The Machinist. Or even some of Daniel Day Lewis’s work, I don’t know. But what I do know is that the next Christopher Nolan movie will not be disappointing.


6. David O. Russell


Best Of: Silver Linings Playbook, The Fighter.

Why He’s Huge: David O. Russell has been rumored to be a pretty mean person. He gets in fights with his cast members, even once got in a fist fight with George Clooney. However, this isn’t the nicest directors list, this is the best directors list, and if that means you have to get into a fist fight with George Clooney to prove a point, so be it.

David is still a talented individual. His first film, Spank The Monkey, garnered several Sundance and was made on grant money. His film Three Kings pushed the boundaries for anti-war films. He got Jennifer Lawrence her first and well deserved Oscar win. David is a mean guy, sure, but if being mean helps you focus on making a movie, David’s got the technique mastered.



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  • gbnz

    Great article… The list is a who’s who of the best films created in the last 15yrs… PTA is a well deserved #1.

  • Solgazer

    You my friend are a certified genius. No. 1 & 2 spots? I was going through the list thinking oh my god he’s not even listing Darren Aronofsky (having seen Paul Thomas on the title page) and then lo and behold you absolutely nail it.
    The two best in the two top spots. So many people never get this stuff right and it just doesn’t seem that hard. Their track records speak for themselves regardless of personal opinion.
    Also – The Fountain rocks. Why does no-one get that film? Are these the same people that think Inception is a dense multi layered, difficult to decipher movie? Probably.

    • Sam Silbert

      Thanks buddy. I had to go morph this list alot to get it right. It started off as 10 best new directors, but I thought this would be better to work with. The top two spots were pretty easy, as they are both as good as Stanley Kubrick, easily my favorite director. The Fountain was great, not as great as some of his other work, and maybe not one of the most memorable ones, but still great. Thanks again! Means alot.

  • Brad Lancaster

    goofd list but where bis Guy???

  • pollitttyler

    PTA=This generation’s Stanley Kubrick

    • YRy El Yadari

      PTA= This generation’s A bit of Martin Scorsese ( Goodfellas influenced Boogie Nights ). Robert Altman ( Inherent Vice reminded me of The Long Goodbye / Magnolia is similar in stucture to Short Cuts ). Orson Welles/John Huston ( There Will Be Blood reminded me of The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre and Daniel Plainview is our Modern day Charles Foster Kane ). John Huston again influenced PTA while making The Master. J.Huston made a documentary (Let There Be Light ) about soldiers suffering from various “nervous conditions”. PTA borrowed lines and themes from it. Max Ophuls influenced Paul’s fluid extensive use of tracking shots. Anybody who came after Kubrick was influenced by him. His unique camera movement and framing, but PTA’s camera movements and framing bare resemblence to Max Ophuls not kubrick. Kubrick’s influenced can be seen in PTA’s use of music ( The opening of There Will Be Blood pays a homage to Kubrick with a similar prologue that jumps in stages over the years and using a soundtrack throughout that employs anachronistic music ).
      Paul Thomas Anderson = Orson Welles + John Huston + Max Ophuls + Robert Altman + Stanley Kubrick + Martin Scorsese.
      but John Huston and Robert Altman Influenced him the most.

  • Deena Malloy

    This list is on the money. Many of the directors on the list have gone on to make amazing films. Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, Richard Linklaters’s Boyhood, David Fincher’s Gone Girl, Christopher Nolan with Interstellar and the Spike Jonze film Her are personal favourites. All on the list are making relevant, thought provoking films now. Great job.

  • Omar Casco

    Where is Sam Mendes?

  • Iván Solorio

    I would’ve gone mad if PTA wasn’t #1 very well deserved.

  • Youssef Ksentini

    Great List !!

    i’ll add Edgar Wright, Michel Gondry and Alejandro González Iñárritu

  • Timelover

    4 out of these 10 directors, are NOT Gen X, they are Baby Boomers.
    So either adjust the heading or change the list.
    NOTE: Gen X are born late 60s and all of the 70s.

  • Pranay Ray

    nolan and tarantino should be 1 & 2 with PTA at 3 and linklater at 4 and fincher at 5

    • jann1k

      Since this is “best” and not “most influential” directors I have to disagree. I really like both Nolan and Tarantino – a lot -, but someone like PTA is just above the rest when you look at the pure craftsmanship of film making.

  • John Davidsson

    (Takashi Miike-Audition is above any lists)

    1. Quentin Tarantino – Inglourious basterds.
    2. Paul Thomas Anderson – There will be blood.
    3. Christopher Nolan – The dark knight.
    4. Alfonso Cuaron – Children of men.
    6. David Fincher – Se7en.
    7. Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu – Birdman.
    8. Darren Aronofsky – Requiem for a dream.
    9. Wes Anderson – The Royal Tenenbaums.
    10. Chan-wook Park – Oldboy.
    11. Danny Boyle – Trainspotting.
    12. Gaspar Noé – Irreversiblé.
    13. Richard Linklater – Boyhood.

    wanna add The Coen brothers and David Lynch to…

  • The Man Who Wasn’t There

    Amazing list but i think Coen Brothers or Alfonso Cuaron should replace David O’Russell.

    • #RememberSammyJankis

      Coen Bros are Baby Boomers.

  • Batsbak

    You predicted that Christopher Nolan’s next movie would be great, and you were god damn right! Interstellar is the best movie I have ever seen.

  • Mauricio Ibieta Moreno


  • Call me Snake

    no consideration for Peter Jackson? (born ’61) that is a list failure right there

  • jann1k

    While del Toro is my personal favorite director and I find Tarantino, Nolan or Fincher to be more enjoyable than Paul Thomas Anderson, I definitley do agree that PTA is the King of the Crop. Probably the best director since Kubrick.

    Other than that I’d for sure remove David O. Russel and maybe(!) Aronofsky – but most certainly lower his rank. Also am I right that you only considered american directors?

  • Samantha

    No Brad Bird?

  • neiba

    Exclude Nolan and add Iñarritu and this list is spot on!

  • Franco Gonzalez

    Very poor detail on each one’s description.. I find saying that PTA is better because he improves adam sandler’s acting very lazy..

    This are all directors working on usa, genius

  • Lenin Sanchez

    i don’t think Wes single handedly created owen wilson’s career, since he wrote along with him his first films as well as acting in them and being nominated for best screenplay. so….. maybe had something to do as well. don’t you think? …luke wilson’s on the other hand…maybe.

  • Stelios Zesiades

    Really like the list but I’d swap the places around a bit since Fincher is my no.1