Our Best Directors category returns for the first time since 2018; what a great year for it to do so as well, with so many cinematic visions from some of the best working directors in cinema today — whether it’s the scale of Dune, the concept of The Matrix Resurrections or the ability to get such phenomenal performances in tight spaces in The Father

Here are our picks for the Best Movie Directors in 2021. 

5.) Denis Villeneuve (Dune)

Dune has long been thought of as a book that could not be adapted properly, with both the 1984 film and 2000 miniseries failing to fulfil fans hopes for the beloved sci-fi novel. But in 2021 visionary director Denis Villeneuve has managed to accomplish that feat, bringing the world of Arrakis and epic scale to the film with largely practical effects. An outstanding accomplishment that has us eagerly anticipating Part 2.

– Ashley Hobley

4.) Thomas Vinterberg (Another Round)

The ability of Thomas Vinterberg to combine darkly comedic elements alongside a serious story about mental health and alcoholism is what makes Another Round such a profound film. There are many ways you could view his film, and if you’re daft, see it as a promotion of alcoholism, but Vinterberg, as a fantastic director, never beats the audience over the head with what he wants to say with the film. At times it feels like a weird experiment, and how it affects you and the discussions you leave with will be valid. But Vinterberg crafts a timely film, with love for his country, its drinking habits, while pointing out how it can affect some or how they’ll use it to mask the pain they’re in.

– Dylan Blight

Make it stand out

3.) Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog)

The Power of the Dog is a film that can float in and out. There’s a sense of something bigger approaching at all times, a character about to snap. But for a lot of the runtime, you wouldn’t be wrong to assume there isn’t a true protagonist. The lead here is the farm and the mountains behind it in which Benedict Cumberbatch’s character stares about daily, seeing something no one else can. This is similar to what Jane Campion does with the source material of The Power of the Dog. She pulls from it the frail and insecure characters, those hiding in plain sight, just like what’s up on that mountain and insists on letting the audience slowly see it themselves. 

– Dylan Blight

2.) Florian Zeller (The Father)

By bringing his play The Father to the big screen, acclaimed playwright and theatre director Florian Zeller made himself someone to watch in the future for film fans. It probably isn’t difficult to get amazing performances out of Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman, but being able to weave this tale that features seamless shifts between time periods in a way that the audience can follow along was masterful. An amazing and scary interpretation of going through dementia, Zeller has created a piece that will create more empathy for those struggling with this disorder.

– Ashley Hobley

1.) Lana Wachowski (The Matrix Resurrections)

It is incredibly rare that a director comes into a big blockbuster sequel with something they intend to say. Lana Wachowski definitely has something to say with The Matrix Resurrections, both subtly and outright blatantly. Returning to the franchise that skyrocketed the Wachowskis careers, Lana looks to refocus the property to the central relationship between Neo and Trinity while doubling down on the more progressive ideology that has been misinterpreted in the years since. It is bold and brave to move The Matrix away from being an action movie but that is what Lana is in one of the most divisive films of the year.

– Ashley Hobley

The Matrix Resurrections Review

“Lana Wachowski is able to revisit the Matrix with the latest technology to tell a meta-story that could not be being released at a more perfect time.”

Dylan Blight and Ashley Hobley compiled this Top 5 list. The movies nominated must have had a theatrical release in a cinema, VOD or on a streaming platform within December 27th 2020 – December 27th 2021.