4. Hirokazu Koreeda
Like Father, Like Son (2013) – Our Little Sister (2015) – After the Storm (2016) – Shoplifters (2018)
The dysfunctional family drama director of the 2010s, Hirokazu Koreeda has been quietly successful in his homeland of Japan for decades, but his latest crop of domestic theses have truly broken through in the west.
Now a household name for any film fan who’s into their world cinema, Koreeda’s Shoplifters was Oscar-nominated and next year sees his English/French-language debut The Truth, with an all-star international cast.
The one to watch: Our Little Sister
Shoplifters may have received the Oscar nomination, but Our Little Sister is pitch-perfect in its intimacy, low-key emotion and spirit. Family takes many forms, and bad blood and contentious history sometimes ends up strengthening the unit overall.
5. Steve McQueen
Shame (2011) – 12 Years a Slave (2013) – Widows (2018)
Visual artist-turned-visionary filmmaker, Steve McQueen’s films have hit hard and pilloried society’s ills, from prejudice to inequality and addiction time and time again. He’s not one for sentimentality or excess – everything serves an important purpose and is presented with frankness and honesty.
McQueen’s films are visually arresting enough to be hung in a gallery, the themes debated endlessly in intellectual circles and they often leave you spiritually reeling.
The one to watch: 12 Years a Slave
One of the best films everyone should see at least once, balancing brutality with ethereal beauty, it’s simply essential. The nightmarish experience of Solomon Northup is another account that should be known by every school child as a key example of the indomitable human spirit.
6. Joe & Anthony Russo
Captain America: Civil War (2016) – Avengers: Infinity War (2018) – Avengers: Endgame (2019)
No other filmmakers have put their names to so many of the decade’s box office behemoths. It’s been a massive ten years for Marvel Studios and their Cinematic Universe and the Russo Brothers are intrinsically linked to their success.
Through their close working relationships with eclectic ensemble casts, inspired writers and a ridiculously talented army of visual effects artists and production designers, the Russos more than anyone else even working within the MCU have defined the decade in blockbuster filmmaking.
The one to watch: Avengers: Endgame
Endgame is an impossible, sublime victory lap of genre filmmaking – all the superheroic set up pays off in crowd-pleasing fashion, eye-popping comic splash pages are expertly transposed to the big screen and the imposing scale somehow never masks the big emotions.
Recommended for you: Avengers: Infinity War (2018) Review
7. Martin Scorsese
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) – Silence (2016) – The Irishman (2019)
Even in his sixth decade of filmmaking, Martin Scorsese is still the very best at what he does. After all these years, he still guides flawed antiheroes down a winding path and he still seems to have a complicated concept of his own faith, morality and purpose in life.
Criticised as being a one-trick pony, but constantly evolving and refining his distinct style, no one else brings amoral titans crashing down so beautifully as Scorsese
The one to watch: The Wolf of Wall Street
Protagonists don’t need to be likeable, they just need to be interesting. Jordan Belfort was a fascinating, love-to-hate stock marketeer and his story of greed, excess and intoxication was a compelling fable on quaaludes.
Recommended for you: The Irishman (2019) Review