5. Christopher NolanNolan’s story is probably the most known of our list so far. From his partnership with his brother Jonathan and his debut in the indie thriller Following (1998) to his breakout in the Holy Grail of non-linear pop cinema Memento (2000), Nolan has established himself as a storyteller in search of novelty and urgency.
He took us on a nightmarish tour through Hitchcockian clichés in Insomnia (2002), a trio of Batman movies (2005, 2008, 2012) that redefined the character and its meaning for a new generation, a movie about magicians with the structure of a magic trick (The Prestige, 2006), a dreamlike journey through the possibilities of the human mind in Inception (2010), and a weird heartfelt trip through space and the meaning of humanity in Interstellar (2014).
While dividing, these films have all been special events to look forward to, even since Nolan established his brand. You might not like the expository dialogue, the over-complicated plots, the sentimentalism, but you cannot deny that Nolan’s a true auteur among studio puppets, and that’s something to be cherished.
Next project: He’s going to take us to WWII in Dunkirk, the Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance-led epic scheduled for July 21, 2017.
4. Guillermo Del Toro
One of the Mexican “tres amigos” that took Hollywood by storm in the 00s and 10s, along with Alfonso Cuarón and Alejandro González Iñárritu, Guillermo del Toro still seems as much as the outsider in Hollywood as he did 14 years ago, when he came Blade II (2002), undoubtedly the best movie of the Wesley Sniped-led series.
Bringing an outstanding insight to genre filmmaking, Del Toro stayed to direct such unique blockbusters as both Hellboy films (2004, 2008), robots-vs-radioactive-monsters epic Pacific Rim (2013), and Gothic horror Crimson Peak (2015), besides creating the FX series The Strain (2014-).
He’s still at his best when he goes back to Spanish-language filmmaking, though, as he was in El Laberinto del Fauno/Pan’s Labyrinth (2006), an absolute masterpiece of fantasy filmmaking – every bit as daring, bizarre, stunning and unforgettable as its creator’s vision.
Next project: He’s attached to a number of projects, including Hellboy 3, but will probably step in to direct a fantasy Civil-War era epic first, titled The Shape of Water, coming in an unspecified date in 2017.
3. Ridley ScottVeteran British filmmaker Ridley Scott has done as many great movies as he’s done mediocre ones. As a producer first and foremost, sometimes Scott offers up pre-fabricated crap like Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014) and Robin Hood (2010).
More often than not, though, he delivers on his good name, honoring a legacy which includes classics like Alien (1979), Blade Runner (1982) and Thelma & Louise (1991) with good, and yet sometimes misunderstood fare like Black Hawk Down (2001), Matchstick Men (2003), Kingdom of Heaven (2005), American Gangster (2007), Prometheus (2012) and The Martian (2015).
A master at coordinating big productions and creating true epics, Scott has built a tonally diverse career in which he was able to navigate very different stories with the same sense of competence and perceptiveness.
Next project: Scott is working in Alien: Covenant, scheduled for August 4, 2017, a sequel to Prometheus and prequel to his first Alien movie.
2. Bryan Singer
When Bryan Singer came into prominence in 1995’s tricky thriller The Usual Suspects, not a lot of critics would have guessed in which direction he was going next.
The New Yorker filmmaker decided to play within expectations first, directing a tense Stephen King adaptation in the form of Apt Pupil (1998), but that didn’t seem to convince critics and audiences much, so he stepped right into a risky enterprise with the first X-Men movie (2000), a film whose success allowed a whole genre to grow and become the unescapable beast that it is today.
His return in X2 (2003) was an even better, more intelligent, carefully crafted movie, and when he stepped out to make Superman Returns (2006), critics were once again delighted by what he accomplished (the audiences didn’t follow suit, unfortunately).
He has stumbled a bit with Valkyrie (2008) and Jack the Giant Slayer (2013), while his return to the mutant franchise in two more X-Men movies (2014, 2016) remembered audiences why he was so right for this universe in the first place. Singer is a crafty filmmaker with a practical visual approach and a great way for rhythm and ensemble pieces.
Next project: He’s stepping out of the X-franchise once again to film Jules Verne classic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in a version that should come to theaters in 2017.
1. Steven Spielberg
We couldn’t not put Steven Spielberg at the top of this list. He’s been the master of blockbuster filmmaking since… well, since his movie Jaws (1975) practically created the concept of a modern blockbuster.
Be it bringing back old-school matinee adventures in all four Indiana Jones (1981, 1984, 1989, 2008) and animated delight The Adventures of Tintin (2011); dabbling in dystopic sci-fi with A.I. (2001) and Minority Report (2002); bringing us into contact with aliens with Close Encounters (1977), E.T. (1982) and War of the Worlds (2005); bringing dinosaurs back to life with the first two Jurassic Park (1993, 1997); or turning history lessons into riveting cinema in The Color Purple (1985), Empire of the Sun (1987), Schindler’s List (1993), Saving Private Ryan (1998), Munich (2005), Lincoln (2012) and Bridge of Spies (2015); the truth is the king still rules them all.
Spielberg sense of setting and humane way with characters is unparalleled among his contemporaries or anyone who’s come after him. He brings extraordinary depth and skill to the art of commercial cinema in a way that we’re certainly going to miss when we lose him.
Next project: He has a number of films coming up, including a possible Indiana Jones 5 in 2019, but we’ll see the wonders he can work with the Roald Dahl classic The BFG, coming out July 1st.
Author Bio: Caio Coletti is a Brazilian-born journalist, a proud poptimist, and has too many opinions to keep them all to himself.