Film-making isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Talented film-makers often display extra-ordinary sense of craft in their ventures, and are able to extract subtle performances from their respective acting ensemble, apart from getting their crew of technicians to work cohesively.
I’d like to list out five individuals who have carved out a niche of their own in Hollywood, owing to their exceptional story-telling skills:
- Denis Villeneuve – The French-Canadian writer/director made Hollywood take notice with his excellent indie-flick ‘Incendies’ back in 2010. His filmography constitutes: the crime-drama ‘Prisoners’ marked by two out-of-this-world performances from Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal; the mystery thriller ‘Enemy’ that intrigued viewers with its quirky narrative, again starring Jake Gyllenhaal; ‘Sicario’, presumably the most well-made crime thriller in recent times (that made great use of the scintillating cinematography work by Roger Deakins); ‘Arrival’, a sci-fi drama that had its feet constantly on terra-firma even with an improbable plot; ‘Blade Runner 2049’, a ground-breaking sequel to Ridley Scott’s ‘Blade Runner’, which was critically acclaimed, but went on to become a dud at the box office.
- Wes Anderson – Known for his idiosyncratic style of film-making (characterized by artistic props, rare collectibles and dousing of colours), Wes Anderson films have mostly been offbeat comedies or in-depth character studies. Favorites include: ‘Rushmore’, that launched his career and that of Jason Schwartzman’s, and is one of his sublime works; ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’, that centres around the themes of loss, redemption and familial disorder told in highly sarcastic fashion; ‘The Darjeeling Limited’, a journey of brotherly bonding, set in (a moving train in) India; ‘Moonrise Kingdom’, a coming-of-age drama painted in strokes of eccentricity; ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’, a comedy with neatly-written characters and a stand-out performance from Ralph Fiennes. His stop-motion animation flick ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’ was also well-received for its aesthetic appeal. The world looks on for his next stop-motion venture titled ‘Isle of Dogs’ and featuring a massive voice-over ensemble.
- Richard Linklater – This is a director that makes films as raw and real as they come, with characters behaving exactly how they would in normal life, given the circumstances. His films are delightfully optimistic and carry broad perspectives on life. He loves hitting the nostalgia bone of viewers and relishes structuring films on indefinite narratives (i.e. the beginning and closure are not clearly defined). Have a look at the ‘Before’ trilogy or ‘Boyhood’ where he has filmed actors over a span of 10+ years and incorporated changes based on their own life experiences. Linklater’s films are essentially talkathons where we get to understand characters through exchanges sprinkled with wit, honesty and sentiment. ‘Everybody Wants Some’ was a fantastic throwback to the ‘80s and featured a kick-ass soundtrack.
- Darren Aronofsky – The American filmmaker is renowned for his set of films trademarked by deeply disturbing (and graphic) scenes, in a manner similar to Korean cult-films (of Na Hong Jin, Joon-ho Bong and Chan-wook Park). Films such as ‘Requiem for a Dream’, ‘The Wrestler’, ‘Black Swan’ and ‘Mother!’ aren’t exactly the easiest to sit through. He loves teasing the viewers with perturbing scenes of psychological horror while attempting to convey the characters’ inner turmoil. Aronofsky is evidently one of the most controversial directors in Hollywood at the moment, yet he continues to get A-listers to act in all his films. He has however, been on the receiving end of both criticism as well as accolades.
- M Night Shyamalan – An American screen-writer & film-director with Indian roots, familiar with viewers for films containing supernatural elements and unpredictably twisted finales. He has displayed immense capability in blending drama, horror and science fiction with psychological thrills to conjure up popular films like ‘The Sixth Sense’, ‘Signs’ and ‘Unbreakable’. His career showed a bit of a droop when he made underwhelming films such as ‘The Village’, ‘The Happening’, ‘The Last Airbender’ and ‘After Earth’ but most of them fared decently well at the box office (except for ‘After Earth’). He bounced back in 2015 with the horror-thriller ‘The Visit’ and kept his graph steady in 2016 with the psychological thriller ‘Split’ (both made on budgets less than 10 million) striking gold at the box office and winning the hearts of most critics. He is currently working on a crossover between ‘Split’ and ‘Unbreakable’ titled ‘Glass’ with lead characters from both films returning.