I picked the 10 directors that I felt directly influenced their films with a unique definable style and expertise.
10) Joon-ho Bong (Snowpiercer)
Clearly a breakthrough in directing. Snowpiercer is definitely memorable. It’s an original work, both in theme and how it was shot. Joon-ho Bong should look forward to having a big career in Hollywood.
9) Rob Marshall (Into The Woods)
A different director might have let Into The Woods feel like a little kids film, but Marshall kept a lot of the darkness that is inherent in the original work.
8) Damien Chanzell (Whiplash)
There was a lot of daring, original work here. The way he chose to shoot the drum scenes like they were a war film, focusing on each hit of the drum, and do it for real (instead of faking it) shows that he’s got the balls to direct some really awesome films later in his career. He’s very much “the” breakthrough director of the year.
7) Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
He always influences his movies directly with his unique style that is often imitated but never directly copied. Anderson is one of the greatest working directors alive. Hands down.
6) Doug Liman (Edge Of Tomorrow)
It’s obvious to me that the reason Edge Of Tomorrow wasn’t another Oblivion had a lot to do with Doug Liman at the helm. He’s an incredible director, not always hitting his mark, but when he does magic happens. I think Edge Of Tomorrow is his best work to date.
5) Ava Duvernay (Selma)
It’s a daunting task to direct a film about Martin Luther King Jr. I think Duvernay did so with a largely unknown cast, and made a memorable film. She also really made me understand the hype of David Oyelowo, who I thought was incredibly overrated in The Butler. I get it now.
4) Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)
While I’m not sure his style is as obvious as Damien Chanzell, I couldn’t leave the director of my favorite film of the year off this list. It just didn’t feel right.
3) David Fincher (Gone Girl)
A lot of what made Gone Girl work was David Fincher. He’s a master director, and honestly might be my favorite working director (thought it’s really a top 3 between him, Scorsese, and Nolan for me). He knows how to craft a great film. I’ve never seen a complete misfire from David Fincher, and was only a little disappointed by The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. He always delivers.
2) Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
You gotta give him props for taking the risk of shooting a film over 12 years. Even if you don’t love Boyhood, you have to realize that what Richard Linklater did with Boyhood became an instant part of film history.
1) Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Birdman)
I think Inarritu also took a risk this year with Birdman, and while it wasn’t as big as Boyhood, it was still a daring risk. And for me, I loved Birdman more than Boyhood. So for me, the best director of 2014 was Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for Birdman.