10 Movie Directors Who Make The Most Complex Films

5. Maya Deren

Maya Deren is a legend in avant-garde and independent filmmaking, and also a director who surely makes some of the most complex films.

Believing that creating an experience is something necessary in filmmaking, she is able to bring choreographies and surrealism with great camera work and impressive imagery in her black-and-white short films. Her debut short, “Meshes of the Afternoon,” is truly among the best short films ever made.

Being a very influential avant-garde artist, Deren, with the sui generis atmosphere of her films and for being a director who is able to bring such powerful symbolism in her work, truly deserves to be among the directors that make the most complex movies.

Maya Deren movies you should watch:

– Meshes of the Afternoon (1943; co-directed with Alexander Hammid)
– At Land (1946)
– Ritual in Transfigured Time (1946)


4. David Cronenberg

One of the most underrated – and most amazing – filmmakers of all time.

Canadian director David Cronenberg usually uses horror and science fiction to deeply explore the psyche of the characters of his films.

The way he approaches different realities – or the power the mind has over our perception of reality – in films such as “eXistenZ” (1999), in the masterpiece “Videodrome” (1983) or even in “Spider” (2002) is something truly remarkable.

Going from science fiction to the visceral horror, and from character-driven dramas to making one of the best graphic novel adaptations of all time with “A History of Violence,” Cronenberg is without a doubt a master of the seventh art.

For using many nuances and for his intricate way of approaching the characters in his films, Cronenberg definitely deserves to be in an article like this.

David Cronenberg movies you should watch:

– Videodrome (1983)
– Naked Lunch (1991)
– Crash (1996)
– Spider (2002)
– A History of Violence (2005)


3. David Lynch

In 2017, Cahiers du Cinéma elected “Twin Peaks: The Return,” a TV series, as the best movie of the year. So, years after the premiere of “Twin Peaks” in 1990, one of the best television series of all time, David Lynch comes back with the show and it is considered by one of the greatest cinema magazines in the world the greatest film of the year. Also, he is the director of “Mulholland Drive,” elected by the BBC as the best movie of this century (at least so far).

One of the best American filmmakers of all time, Lynch is able to make a sui generis mix out of sound and music, painting, photography, light and shadows, among many other things that create an unique atmosphere on his films.

If you have watched films such as “Blue Velvet,” “Eraserhead” or the most recent “Mulholland Drive” and “Inland Empire,” it is not difficult to notice we are in front of an artist who enjoys standing on very complex ground and is not worried to make things a little bit difficult for the audience.

David Lynch is an amazing filmmaker whose works are as brilliant as they are complex, and who definitely deserves a place on this list.

David Lynch works you should watch:

– Eraserhead (1977)
– The Elephant Man (1980)
– Blue Velvet (1986)
– Mulholland Drive (2001)
– Inland Empire (2006)
– Twin Peaks (1990-1991 & 2017)


2. Jean-Luc GodardAfter his debut with “Breathless,” a movie that truly changed cinema forever, Jean-Luc Godard films – I guess we could say from the end of the 60s until today – seem to be more complex and complicated to understand (and to define) each time.

Sometimes turning movies into film critics, using the plots (or the pure absence of them) to reflect about the human condition and contemporary life, or for the way he understood 3D technology in “Goodbye to Language” better than most filmmakers, Godard could never be considered an artist who is anywhere near simplicity.

With so many nuances and powerful images, allied with an always strong mise en scène, Godard definitely deserves a place among the filmmakers who make the most complex films.

Movies by Jean-Luc Godard you should watch:

– My Life to Live (1962)
– Contempt (1963)
– Pierrot le Fou (1965)
– Alphaville (1965)
– Je Vous Salue, Sarajevo (2006; short)
– Goodbye to language (2014)
– Khan Kanne (2014; short)


1. Luis Buñuel

Born in Spain in 1900, Luis Buñuel became one of the best filmmakers of all time.

From his criticism toward social, political and religious issues, to the use of such intricate and brilliant visual metaphors, Buñuel’s filmography is something definitely as unique as it could be.

As acclaimed poet Octavio Paz once said about the films of Buñuel, “The marriage of the film image to the poetic image, creating a new reality. Scandalous and subversive.”

The worlds full of imagery and the characters/situations seen in his films are so complex for the way they are built, bringing surrealism on the screen to a whole new level at the time that his works become truly a challenge to viewers.

Buñuel is one of cinema’s greatest masters, one of the greatest surrealist artists in history, and definitely deserves to be remembered among the filmmakers who make the most complex movies.

Luis Buñuel movies you should watch:

– Un Chien Andalou (1929; short)
– The Golden Age (1930)
– Viridiana (1961)
– The Exterminating Angel (1962)
– Belle de Jour (1967)
– The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)

Author bio: Vítor Guima is a filmmaker, writer and musician from São Paulo, Brazil. Every day he watches a movie, reads a few pages from a book, listens to an album and freaks out with the feeling of not having enough time to see everything. You can follow him on Instagram on @ovitorguima.