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my 5 - Contemporary Directors - Celso Bessa

Ryan's note: Thanks so much to Celso Bessa for our first my 5 post. How does his list of interesting contemporary directors match to yours? We would love to hear from you in the comments.

I love the movies that surprise and challenge me. Most of film directors don't dare too much these days - maybe it’s their lack talent, maybe it's a market thing or maybe they're lazy, I don't know - but, luckily, there are directors, indie and mainstream, that still try to make things in different ways.

So, here you will find My 5 interesting contemporary directors.

The list is in no specific order.

1 - Danny Boyle

What I like most about Danny Boyle is that he directs what I call disguised-genre movies. He takes a genre, keeps the basic story and genre rules and explores them in creative ways and makes you believe that you are watching a genre X movie, but by the end you notice that you just watched a very different movie.

His signature style is based on unusual angles, agile image editing, eclectic soundtracks and great emotional dynamics between characters - whether they are a tribe of outsiders, 3 orphans living in the streets or a guy alone, stuck to a rock in a Canyon.

Select filmography:

2 - Chris Nolan

He's capable of making true what is fantastic in nature. And he does that with such a sense of narrative.In all of his movies, he keeps your attention all the way long and usually deliver us great climax or plot twists, making our jaws dropping. But it happens less by the fact per se, and rather, because of the way you were led and geniously tricked all the way along or how strong is delivered. And yet, you don't think he's cheating you.

Select filmography:

  • Momento
  • Batman Begins
  • The Dark Knight
  • The Dark Knight Rises
  • The Prestige
  • Inception

3 - José Padilha

His storytelling is bold and realistic, and probably this happens because his career balances documentary and fiction. And his fictional movies are strongly based in research and reality, so, you don't know where fiction begins and documentary ends.

He's studiend politics and economics in Brazil and international politics in Oxford, but he's known for directing Elite Squad and Elite Squad 2: The Enemy Within. Both inteligent and dramatic action movies, with high level of realism of the relationship between criminal, police, violence, political corruption and brazilian society, in all of his levels. It's like blending together Dennis Hopper's Colors (1988), Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down (2001), Martins Scorsese's The Departed (2006) and Steven Soderbergh's Traffic (2000).

And this guy is directing the remake of Robocop. Can you imagine that?

Selected Filmography

  • Bus 174 (Documentary)
  • Elite Squad
  • Elite Squad: The Enemy Within
  • Robocop

4 - Guillermo Del Toro

You gotta have nerves of steel to see Del Toro's movies. If you a bad ass, you will cry. If you touchy... you gotta drink a lot of water because you will dehydrate crying.

No other director will make you thrilled, touched and nervous like him in movies such as Cronos, The Devil's Backbone (the best ghost movie i've ever seen), Blade II (ok, i give you that: you will not cry, but it's the best of the trilogy), Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth. And he does that with a great aesthetics. Their movies are beautifully photographed and usually his movies won prizes for Art Direction: they are gorgeous. Great movies for you eyes, brains and hearts.

And, take a look at the movies he chose to direct:  The Devil's Backbone, Pinocchio, Pacific Rim, 2008 Hellboy II, Pan's Labyrinth, almost directed one of the upcoming The Hobbit and wanted to directed the cancelled In the At the Mountains of Madness.

Selected Filmography

  • Hellboy II: The Golden Army
  • Pan's Labyrinth
  • Hellboy  
  • Blade II
  • The Devil's Backbone
  • Cronos

5 - Miranda July

She has only directed 2 feature movies. Both of them are strong, and yet, simple movies, about the strong, and yet, simple things of life.

She writes, produces, directs and stars her own movies, movies that could be your life and the life you see when you watch outside your window. Her storytelling style is realistic, but in a more subtle way, with natural performances - including showing mundane and weird things we do in our lives.  And by doing that, she shows how great life is: it can be fun, it can be melancholic, it can be sad, it can be boring, it can be fantastic.


  • The Future
  • Me and You and Everyone We Know

That's it.

my 5 is a series brought to us from the incredibly interesting readers/friends. If you have a point of view that you want to share in your own my 5, drop us a line.

Celso Bessa

Celso Bessa

Besides being a compulsive reader, music listener and movie addict, Celso Bessa is Brazilian and prefers to build bridges than walls. He is  a digital entrepreneaur, co-founder and Beer Geek in Chief at www.2aces.com.br.

5 things I learned July 23, 2012

1 - Awesome Slow Motion Aerial Footage of Motorcycles Flying Through the Air