Top 10 Emerging Filmmakers In Hollywood, Ranked

There have been various exciting new voices that have emerged out of Hollywood in the past 15 years that are still pretty nascent and waiting for the major test of time that will finally prove where they stand among the established greats. As for all legendary filmmakers, they have once been that budding and emerging filmmaking voice that later rose to great heights. Even though it remains a near-impossible task to predict the future, one may try to judge purely on the basis of a very limited body of work. So here this list will consist of the Top 10 Emerging Filmmakers of Hollywood.


10. David Robert Mitchell

David Robert Mitchell marked his presence in the world of English cinema with his brilliant allegorical nightmarish horror film “It Follows” (2014), which is very creepy and filled with unique scares that definitely give one the creeps. It was further followed by a polarizing film which has built a cult following, “Under the Silver Lake” (2018), a brilliantly made puzzle of a film that takes a dig at the Hollywood Elite Culture and also the American Dream, reminiscent of the nightmarish and surrealistic works of David Lynch, and that one may either absolutely love or hate deciphering. Mitchell also manages to etch out one of the quirkiest characters of recent times in his 2018 film through the character of an aimless 33-year-old Sam, portrayed mesmerizingly by Andrew Garfield. His films have a very cool and unique visualization with a penchant for interesting music choices, along with dealing with allegorical themes and exploring the concept of bizarreness. 

9. Jordan Peele

Before helming the director’s chair, Jordan Peele was well known for his acting chops, specifically in the comedic genre. His unexpected shift to directing films marked the emergence of various interesting genre blending horror films filled with dark and satirical humor. Along with that, Peele’s intelligent writing, as seen in “Get Out” (2017) and “Us” (2019), plays a major role in the subversion of various traits and tropes and focuses on narratives that. His films although on the surface level look simplistic, are deeply layered with various themes dealing with racial discrimination, oppression, and trauma faced by the Afro-American people throughout history, and hold a very critical lens toward the USA.


8. David Lowery 

Two masterpieces within a span of four years make David Lowery a filmmaker promising tremendous potential. He has shown his prowess in handling both large-scale epics with grand world-building, as seen in his masterful retelling of the renowned folklore of “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” through his unique lens in the epic-scale medieval fantasy film “The Green Knight” (2021), along with very small-scale and minimalist films such as “A Ghost Story” (2017). Lowery showcases a kind of innovative, meditative, and poetic quality in his 2017 film, which at the same time, is a poignant take on the concepts of love and loss. His visual aesthetics are altogether of a different quality, and one can always hope to see more of this in the near future.

7. Chloé Zhao

Chloé Zhao is an independent filmmaker who showcases a very unique, journalistic, and objective approach to filmmaking, and through this only she makes the viewers connect with the psyche of the characters. Her films are generally quite character-centric rather than heavily plot-driven and showcase traits that blend feature filmmaking with documentaries. Zhao showcases a knack for a very observatory and melancholic picturization, and these elements can be perfectly seen in the films “The Rider” (2017) and her masterwork, for which she also won an Oscar for Best Director, “Nomadland” (2020). Zhao’s visual language possesses one of the most meditative yet very engrossing styles, especially seen in her more personal, intimate, and low-budget indies. Her name could have been on the higher side of this list had she not also directed “Eternals” (2021), which kind of ruined her near-perfect filmography. Still, one should not count her out as one of the most unique voices, as one simply does not make three back-to-back great films purely by accident. 


6. Damien Chazelle

Chazelle’s journey began with a relatively lesser-known and accessible film, “Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench” (2009), followed by one of the most intense music-oriented dramas, “Whiplash” (2014), that marked the emergence of a filmmaker who has a very strong hold on his craft and also brings forth his penchant for classical Hollywood films, especially musicals, along with an inclination toward jazz. Furthermore, “Whiplash” (2014) also gave the world of cinema a riveting character with the obsessive Terence Fletcher, portrayed in an exceptional way by J.K. Simmons. His third venture, and his most popular film, “La La Land” (2016), further showcased his prowess in handling a large-scale cinematic vision that stays rooted to its old-school Hollywood identity and kind of revived the musical genre in Hollywood, which in recent times was in dearth of great films and also fetched him an Oscar for the Best Director that too at the age of 32, making him the youngest recipient of that award. His last film, “First Man” (2018), also showcased his versatility as a director, as it contrasted with his other films and was a very meditative and intimate film based on the life of astronaut Neil Armstrong.

5. Ari Aster

Having only two films to his name, Ari Aster has marked his name as one of the most fascinating and terrifying voices coming out of Hollywood, especially in the genre of horror, with his debut, “Hereditary” (2018). His focus has always been on the horror that comes out from very personal spaces and is not of supernatural elements and plays with the various conventions of the generic tropes. Aster’s mastery over his craft is showcased through how, in the absence of cheap startling tactics quite commonly used in horror films, he meticulously builds and cooks up an environment that is highly terrifying, and also disturbing, and that too in very uncommon ways, such as in “Midsommar” (2019), where it totally negates the use of darkness and rather is majorly in the bright daylight where the actual terror takes place. His films have always dealt with very intimate themes related to dysfunctional families and toxic relationships, and here is where his vision of horror is evoked. 


4. The Safdie Brothers (Josh and Benny Safdie)

In recent years, the filmmaking duo of Josh and Benny Safdie, known as the Safdie Brothers, have definitely made a mark in the cinematic world with their unique way of high-intensity filmmaking with very character-centric narratives. The Safdies are brilliant in etching out great performances from actors who generally were not known for their acting abilities, such as Adam Sandler in a riveting performance in “Uncut Gems” (2019), and Roberth Pattinson in their film “Good Time” (2017) that showcased the potential he possessed as an actor and helped him mark his emergence as one of the greats among current actors. Their films have perfectly dealt with various follies of human beings such as addiction, crime, and greed and, at the same time, reflect upon the very American society. Post-Coen-brothers (Joel and Ethan Coen) they are one the most interesting director duo one should keep an eye on, working in Hollywood.

3. Steve McQueen

Steve McQueen is a master craftsman who is in perfect control of the cinematic language and has made films that are raw, gritty, and visceral, never shying away from addressing disturbing yet relevant subject matters. His voice remains unfiltered throughout his filmography, starting with “Hunger” (2008), a brutal and hard-hitting depiction of hunger protest that sheds light on the inhumane conditions, followed by a massively depressing and perfect depiction of sex addiction, and that too in a very intimate and grim way, in “Shame” (2011). After that, he came up with his most popular film, which also won the Oscar for Best Film, “12 Years A Slave” (2013), which showcases the harsh brutality faced by slaves without sugar-coating or even toning down the hardships, and one cannot even blink an eye, making them feel harrowed due to this shameful past in American history. Other than these three masterpieces that are difficult to rewatch, Steve McQueen also directed the very engaging and entreating neo-noirish thriller “Widows” (2018), which revolves around a heist being conducted by a group of four women.


2. Robert Eggers

Eggers began his filmmaking career with the marvelously eerie and atmospheric horror film “The Witch” (2015), but it is his second film, “The Lighthouse” (2019), that cemented him as one of the unique and fascinating filmmakers one should look out for and could be among the greats in the future. Eggers’ style of filmmaking reflects the highly expressionist paintings and films from Germany along with the noirish vibe from old-school Hollywood. Along with these elements, Eggers mixed his own unique visions and knack for epic folklore tales revolving around various themes of sexuality, identity, and horror that are further visualized by him in a very epic and operatic way.

1. Barry Jenkins

Interestingly, Barry Jenkins follows similar trajectories as the aforementioned Damien Chazelle and debuted with a lesser-known film in 2008 named “Medicine for Melancholy,” and then his second film, “Moonlight” (2016), coincidentally won Best Film at the same Oscars where Chazelle received Best Director Award. Leaving all these aside, Barry Jenkins is very meticulous with his craft, and his films possess warm, personal, and detailed character-driven narratives that capture the cinematic essence in a very warm manner. Both “Moonlight” (2016) and “If Beale Street Could Talk” (2018) are in themselves examples of masterclasses in filmmaking and how the filmmakers perfectly carve out their various themes dealing with race, gender, and identity in a very subtle way, heavily depending on detailed and calculated visual storytelling. Even so much so that one of the contemporary greats, filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson was singing praises and told Jenkins in an interview, “I’m very jealous of your close-ups.” 


Interestingly, through this list consisting of the names of various emerging filmmakers, it can be observed that a major portion of the impressive works done in the past 15 years is done in the genre of horror, and these directors have used it in various unique ways to convey ideas and deal with varied themes. Other than the abovementioned names, there are many others you may also want to keep an eye on. The Special Mentions are Martin McDonagh, Ava DuVernay, Greta Gerwig, Alex Garland, Ryan Coogler, Leigh Whannell, Lulu Wang, Trey Edward Shults, and Ti West.

See more: The 10 Best A24 Films Released Until 2021, Ranked

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Riddhadev Bandyopadhyay
Riddhadev Bandyopadhyay
Riddhadev has a major interest in watching various kinds of films, knowing about history, playing varied video games, and having a knack for politics. He is also a football fanatic. He is very opinionated but sometimes finds it difficult to express himself. Moreover, he has a piece of paper that people refer to as a degree in journalism and mass communication. At present, he is pursuing a Master's in Media Science while also trying out different activities to figure out which he does best.

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