Each week, IndieWire poses a question to a select panel of film critics — responses are published on Monday afternoons.
This week's question: Which director are you most excited about watching in the next decade, and why are you excited for the potential of their future work?
Photo : A24
Mike McGranaghan @AisleSeat, The Aisle Seat, Ranker
Without a doubt, my pick here is Ari Aster. With just two films — the extraordinary “Hereditary” and the somehow even better “Midsommar” — he has shown an ability to use the horror genre to address substantive themes in a way that's as enlightening as it is chilling. He helps to prove, as some of the greatest filmmakers before him did, that artfulness and horror are not mutually exclusive. There is ambition to Aster's two movies that's really exciting, especially in a time when the majority of movies play it safe. I'm excited to follow his career wherever it may lead.
Photo : TWC
Emmanuel “E-Man” Noisette @EmansReviews, The Movie Blog
Ryan Coogler is easily the one director I'm really excited to see in the next decade. His filmography of feature films is small, but he's grown exponentially in my opinion. I was really impressed with “Fruitvale Station” in how he was really able to capture a complex perspective of an African-American father who was a victim of police brutality. Then Coogler displayed his ability to tackle a franchise piece of work with “Creed,” but still maintain that unique perspective he built from “Fruitvale Station.”
To top it all off, he showed that he can handle an even bigger budget film like “Black Panther,” which expanded his black perspective to an even larger scale. Over the course of those three films, Coogler has been able to develop as a director in terms of his storytelling ability anddepicting that vision. I'm hopeful that he'll improve in the action scene department, and become an even more-well rounded director.
Photo : A24
Deany Cheng @dennynotdeeny, Freelance
As much as it's always a treat to get a new film from established masters like Paul Thomas Anderson or Bong Joon ho, I'm much more interested in the uncertainty that comes with watching a relatively new director's career unfold, and no emerging filmmaker is more attuned to my personal wavelength than Gerwig. “Lady Bird” is my favorite film of the 2010s, and though I haven't seen it, “Little Women” looks like much more of the same: Generous and deceptively sophisticated explorations of artistic women's interior lives. She tells the sort of stories we need more of — intimate and character-driven and resplendent with details and grace notes that show how closely she pays attention.
Maybe she'll keep churning out masterpieces, or maybe they'll be more than a few clunkers from her over the 2020s. Whatever happens, it's always a unique thrill to watch an artist find and refine her voice, and a new Gerwig film will always be an event to me.
Photo : Sony
Joey Keogh @JoeyLDG, Wicked Horror,Birth.Movies.Death, Vague Visages, The List, Girls On Tops
Coming into the next decade, there's nobody whose work I'm more excited for than Greta Gerwig. “Lady Bird” was a stunning, gut-punch of a debut, simultaneously incredibly specific to the filmmaker's own experience and yet inescapably universal so that a kid from Dublin like me could easily relate to it as her own. Then, follow-up “Little Women” proves Gerwig has form with stories that aren't necessarily hers, as well as the skill to corral a bulging cast, further spotlight young talents and, crucially, continue to insist on putting women front and center.
I've been a massive fan of Gerwig throughout her hugely impressive career, and I was always frustrated by how little attention her clever and intuitive screenwriting got along the way. Now that she's finally being given the opportunity to branch out solo, outside of her work with longtime partner Noah Baumbach, it feels like we've only scratched the surface of what she can really do. Already, Gerwig has two hugely important female-led stories to her name, both of which are unique and fascinating in their own right while also carrying her stamp. The sky is surely the limit for her.
Photo : Sony
Don Shanahan @casablancadon,Every Movie Has a Lesson,25YL, Medium.com
It's high time that a woman leads a hopeful list like this for a new decade. Let the glass ceiling-shattering progress continue and let Greta Gerwig be the face of such a surge for a new Roaring Twenties. Sure, it helps that I just watched “Little Women” this past week, which was richly extraordinary, but I would have gladly endorsed this excitement on “Lady Bird” alone.What impresses me about her directorial work are her choices and the ambiance she creates for her actors.
The range between “Lady Bird” and “Little Women” shows me that Gerwig is not afraid of any artistic challenges of scope or production detail. She is showing her confident potential to rise even more without any sacrifice of ambition. On-screen, I love the natural behaviors Gerwig allows for her actors operating within the guises of their characters.Many scenes in “Little Women,” for example, feature Gerwig's measured gaze stepping back from the inspired speeches and monologues to allow the mingling of performers inhabiting a scene.No one is trying to hit a mark or show off and nothing is ever dull.
This tone extends the interaction and expands the connections of character-building and relationships.Unlike more stiff and formal approaches, Gerwig's films flow with this vivacity and it's a joy to watch.I want more if it and I want the next generation of filmmakers to put her on the pedestal to copy those chops.
Photo : Photo by Mary Cybulski
Sarah Marrs @Cinesnark,LaineyGossip.com, Freelance
I am most excited for the continuing work of Marielle Heller. She made three films this decade, each of them excellent as well as directing episodes of “Transparent” and “Casual”. Her films are notable for their empathy and humanity, but also for the way in which Heller quietly upends genre expectations.
Heller debuted with the unapologetically horny coming-of-age tale “The Diary of a Teenage Girl,” a film that could easily have been any combination of exploitative, judgmental, or cheap, but Heller's film is deeply empathetic and understanding of teenage protagonist Minnie and her rampaging hormones. The film is as much a confidence anthem as it is a coming-of-age story.
Heller has since made two biopics, both of which find interesting pockets beyond the standard biopic formula. “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” is prickly and uninterested in building audience sympathy for its protagonist, forger Lee Israel. And yet, Heller's camera is unfailingly compassionate and sensitive to the circumstances that drive Lee's decisions. In contrast, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” embodies the kindness and warmth of Fred Rogers, yet is as much a film about letting go of anger as it is the life of Mr. Rogers. Heller never fails to find an interesting approach to her material, and I look forward to what she accomplishes in the next decade. If anyone can make us see well-worn genres in a new light, it's her.
Ethan Warren, Bright Wall/Dark Room
I like to go big or go home, so I'm going to lay my chips on one as-yet unheralded voice: Amanda Kramer, whose first feature, “Ladyworld,” was finally released this fall after a long festival tour. While it's often labeled “Lord of the Flies with girls,” that easy pitch obscures the ruthless formal experimentation Kramer brings to her feverish and perversely enchanting shriek of a debut.
She is an artist willing to disorient and alienate the viewer in ways that run roughshod across the line between the enjoyable and the unbearable, and she's kicked her filmography off with a work more genuinely daring than most directors manage in an entire career, clearly taking to heart the adage to make your first movie as though it might be your only one and leaving no nerve unshredded in the process. The end of the decade has been blessed by that consequence-damning risk, but as the movie is still largely undiscovered by lovers of cinematic psychic torment, Kramer seems ideally positioned as the roaring voice of the '20s should we be so lucky as to get a return trip to her singular nightmarescape.
Photo : Amazon
Anne McCarthy @annemitchmcc,BBC,The Guardian,Teen Vogue
One director who I'm particularly excited about is Ladj Ly, the French filmmaker whose 2019film “Les Misérables” took Cannes Film Festival by storm this year, and nabbed the Cannes Jury Prize. Ladj's groundbreaking film also secured France's nomination as its official submission for the 2020 Oscar race for the “Foreign Language Film” category.
Ly's work feels urgent, timely, and well-crafted. His films plop you in the middle of the story, and it's as if you're along for the ride, becoming part of the story yourself. It's the mark of a great film: you forget you're watching a movie because you feel as if you're so immersed in it. Ly's work accomplishes this challenging and elusive feat, and I look forward to watching more of his work as his star continues to — quite deservedly — rise.
Photo : Reiner Bajo
Joel Mayward @joelmayward,Cinemayward.com
Terrence Malick made two feature films in the '70s, skipped the '80s ogether, returned with one film in the '90s and 2000s apiece, then went and made six films in the 2010s, all of them exemplary. The enigmatic filmmaker turns 76 next week, but shows no signs of slowing down — Malick is currently in Italy filming “The Last Planet,” a film apparently about episodes from the life of Christ. It's as if all the ideas and questions he's accumulated over a lifetime are now spilling forth through the medium of cinema at an ever-increasing rate.
Whatever this next decade holds, Malick's wandering philosophical camera-eye will be there to capture it.And who knows? At the pace he's going, maybe Malick will make ten transcendent films over the next ten years.
Danielle Solzman @DanielleSATM, Solzy at the Movies, Freelance
With both Sundance and Slamdance taking place in just under two months, not only are we about to get to discover new films, but new filmmakers in general. There are a number of filmmakers that I always see what they do Paul Feig, Adam McKay, Judd Apatow, Christopher Nolan but there are filmmakers who I am looking forward to seeing how they follow up their recent projects. One such filmmaker is “The Vast of Night” filmmaker Andrew Patterson. After watching the film during Slamdance and again during Toronto, I'm excited to see what he does next with his career and how he follows up the unique “Twilight Zone”-esque feature.
Photo : A24
Joanna Langfield @Joannalangfield, The Movie Minute
There are a whole lot of very exciting new directors just beginning to make their marks. And when I say exciting, I will personally attest to that. I swear I got a contact high hearing what the Safdie Brothers had to say after a recent screeningof their remarkable “Uncut Gems.” But, forced to pick just one, I'll go with Lulu Wang, the director whose beautiful “The Farewell” won both hearts and acclaim this past year.
Her clear-eyed, open-hearted story telling is a strength we need more of on the screen. Yes, Wang is of Asian descent, an immigrant, and a woman. For those looking to support non-white males, naming Wang ticks a lot of boxes, but to pigeonhole her that way could diminish what is her true talent and potential. I hope Wang's upcoming stories will continue to include those of her family and friends, as well as anything else she wants to tell us.
Photo : ARRAY
Robert Daniels @812filmreviews,The Playlist,Mediaversity, Freelance
At 19, on the northwest of Chicago, I was drinking Heinekens on Sunday nights in a friend's basement before my morning classes. On other hand, this year Louisiana filmmaker Phillip Youmans created a thought provoking exegesis called “Burning Cane.” Mistakes were made, but not by Youmans.
At his age, the director already promises a fully developed cinematic vision. Framed by the Southern Baptist church of his childhood, “Burning Cane” flashes through several devastating discussions with regards to toxic masculinity, the passivity of the devoutly religious, and the hypocrisy of the church. His film isn't just fantastic for a 19-year-old, it's incredible for any filmmaker. And now, going into a new decade, he will enter into his twenties primed to raise his voice over a landscape that's witnessed an explosion of powerful diversified perspectives.
Tribeca awarded the director's “Burning Cane” the festival's highest honor: Best Narrative Feature — while the Independent Spirit Awards nominated the film for the John Cassavetes Award and Wendell Pierce has also received high honors from both bodies too. But more than the awards, Youmans at a young age has earned the respect of veteran creatives like the aforementioned Pierce, “Beasts of the Southern Wild” director Benh Zeitlin — who served as executive producer — and Ava DuVernay: Her ARRAY distributed “Burning Cane” through Netflix which is available now. What Youmans has accomplished is exciting, but his potential remains tremendous. And the future can't come soon enough.
Photo : SPC
Clint Worthington @clintworthing,Consequence of Sound,The Spool
I couldn't believe my eyes the first time I gazed upon the raw, naturalistic splendor of ChloéZhao's “The Rider.” Living somewhere between a gripping Kiarostami-esque docufiction the story of real-life rodeo rider and horse trainer Brady Jandreau, playing himself and a painterly elegy for the Old West, Zhao's sophomore film feels borne of the mature, sensitive hand of someone who's been at this for decades. There's a patience and empathy in her work I don't see very often, and that kind of sincerity should be treasured and cultivated.
“The Rider” didn't make much of a splash outside of the occasional Wal-Mart endcap — despite acclaim from myriad professional critics, the DVD cover sports a pull quote from Professional Bull Riders of all places. But Zhao herself got enough heat from its release to land a cushy Marvel gig directing “The Eternals”; she's got a pretty solid professional foundation to move forward as a filmmaker. But after she's done with superhero films, I can't wait to see what the next ten years of authentic ChloéZhao output gives us. In a just world, we'll see several more “Rider”-quality tone poems, and the world of cinema will be all the better for it.
Photo : Andre D. Wagner/Universal Pictures
Anna Biller and Melina Matsoukas
Andrea Thompson @areelofonesown, The Chicago Reader, Film Girl Film, A Reel Of One's Own, The Young Folks
The fact that I'm excited about two directors is partly due to recency bias, but I still can't wait to see what Anna Biller and Melina Matsoukas come up with next. I saw Matsoukas' feature directorial debut “Queen & Slim” last week, and I feel like I'm still reeling emotionally. Matsoukas had mostly made her name as a music video director, notably for Beyonce's “Lemonade,” and she brings her lushly poetic sensibility to “Queen & Slim” for her vision of Black Americana and lovers on the run from a racist system intent on bringing them down.
Anna Biller has been directing for even longer, but she didn't gain prominence until 2016, when she made her second feature “The Love Witch.” The film subverts the sexploitation films of the '60s and '70s, with a female gaze that's as feminist as it is feminine, with Anna Biller not only writing and directing, but editing, composing the music, and designing the sets and costumes. And it looks like we won't have to wait too long for her next film, which will be her unique take on the Bluebeard story, with a similarly retro feel.
I honestly can't wait to see what these two come up with next, and neither have shown any signs of slowing down.
Alejandra Marquez Abella, Alonso Ruizpalacios, Natalia Beristáin, and Lila Áviles
The next generation of brilliant directors is arriving and I'm so excited to see what will their movies be. There are so many!I'mparticularlyexcited to see what the new wave of Mexican directors will do. Alejandra Marquez Abella, Alonso Ruizpalacios, Natalia Beristáin, and Lila Áviles have unique perspectives that examine reality and identity, and I can't wait to see what will they create, separately, in the following 10 years.
Photo : IFC Midnight
Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe
Sara Clements @mildredsfierce,Exclaim!,Daily Dead
Whether they continue as a duo or branch off on their own, Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe are two directors that should be on everyone's radar. This year, they turned their 2016 SXSW award-winning short film, “Greener Grass,” into a feature, and it's one of the most inventive films of the year. It's a satirical, absurdist take on envy and competition in the middle-class American suburbia; an environment almost alien in its obsession with perfection.
The film is an insane comedy-horror mashup with nods to John Carpenter, John Waters, and David Lynch. But their biggest inspiration for “Greener Grass” was photography, which is one of the many reasons that proves they have a unique eye — one I can't wait to see more of.