Honorable Mentions: As we've said, Cruise is calling the shots here, and he'll probably meet with all kinds of hot young talent. As we debated this list over the Playlist watercooler names like Cornish, Rian Johnson and Nicolas Winding Refn came up. But the reality is, they're all filmmakers principally interested in their own original ideas. Johnson's the most viable of the three (he had meetings with Cruise about starring in "The Brothers Bloom," and looks to have wet his action whistle with "Looper"), but will probably have his own toys to play with, while Cornish told us he turned down the latest "Die Hard" because he felt it was too big a step up from his debut, and Refn is meant to be doing "Logan's Run" in the near future, if it gets that far.
More realistic choices might include people like Daniel Espinosa (although he could be tied up with Yakuza thriller "The Outsider"), "Lost" director Jack Bender, who recently bailed on the Jack Ryan franchise, Francis Lawrence (now on the list for "Catching Fire"), Justin Lin or Joseph Kosinski, who's currently working with Cruise on "Oblivion." Similarly, Christopher McQuarrie just directed "One Shot" with Cruise (they also teamed on "Valkyrie"), and did an ultimately uncredited rewrite on 'Ghost Protocol' -- if "One Shot"'s a hit, he might end up top of the list. Sam Raimi is still working on "Oz The Great and Powerful," but he could be an option if he doesn't mind diving right back into franchise territory again, while Tony Scott, Louis Leterrier, Timur Bekmambetov, Jon Chu and Bryan Singer all regularly have their names come up for projects like this, these days, to which list you can now add Josh Trank who is increasingly in demand after "Chronicle."
More off-the-wall choices might include "Kung Fu Panda 2" director Jennifer Yuh Nelson, Cary Fukunaga, Oren Moverman, Ben Wheatley, Park Chan-Wook or John Hillcoat, but very few seem realistic (even if darker names like David Fincher and Joe Carnahan were both attached to "Mission: Impossible III" at various points, the fact they didn't work out might make Cruise more gun-shy.) But what about "21 Jump Street" helmers Phil Lord & Chris Miller, who could find time between their work on "Lego," or Morten Tyldum, who pulled off a strong Hollywood audition with "Headhunters." What about you? Who would you like to see fill out the director's chair for the fifth "Mission: Impossible"?