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On The Rise: 12 Directors To Watch In 2013

Features
by The Playlist Staff
March 28, 2013 4:20 PM
20 Comments
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Amy Seimetz
While she's been directing films since 2005 (including one short co-directed with “Smashed” filmmaker James Ponsoldt), a confluence of projects are making Seimetz crystallize in the industry even though she’s already a recognizable force in the indie film community. You may not know her yet, but she’s ubiquitous, with Joe Swanberg’s “Alexander The Last”  perhaps the most notable amongst her early acting performances, and she's also worked with Barry Jenkins, Lena Dunham and Adam Wingard. She's a talented quadruple-threat -- an actor, writer, director and producer -- and she's had a solid one-two punch in the last eight months, the first being her most recent directorial effort, her narrative feature debut "Sun Don't Shine" which won accolades at the L.A. Film Festival last summer, and the second being her co-starring role in Shane Carruth's upcoming mindbender "Upstream Color." Seimetz is also a series regular on TV shows like "The Killing" and HBO’s forthcoming "Family Tree" and has another short, “When We Lived in Miami,” already in the can starring starring herself and her ‘Sunshine’ co-star AJ Bowen. While her directing career in many ways is just getting started, she's a distinctive voice both in front and behind the camera, and it seems only a matter of time until she's recognized outside of her solid acting and producing exploits.

Morten Tyldum
While it was somewhat underseen in the U.S, taking only $1 million, thriller "Headhunters" proved to be a major hit elsewhere in the world, going toe-to-toe with Hollywood blockbusters across Europe. It's partly a symptom of the increasingly inexhaustible international appetite for Scandinavian crime, but it's also a testament to the skills of director Morten Tyldum, who looks set to follow in the footsteps of Niels Arden Oplev, Tomas Alfredson and Nicolas Winding Refn. Hailing from Norway, Tyldum trained at the School of Visual Arts in New York, and afters shorts "Lorenzo" and "Fast Forward" (which starred his "Headhunters" lead Askel Hennie), and some work in commercials and music videos, he broke through with the 2003 local comedy hit "Buddy." Five years later (with his promo work seeing his profile increasing abroad), he had another hit with the crime flick "Fallen Angels," and stayed in darker territory for "Headhunters." Based on a novel by Jo Nesbo (whose "The Snowman" is being developed by Martin Scorsese), the film is a fast-paced, wryly funny tale about a recruitment consultant who doubles as an art thief, and winds up pursued by a psychopathic ex-special forces op who he's ripped off. Slick, ultraviolent, and hugely enjoyable, with excellent performances from Hennie and "Game Of Thrones" actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, the film was a big hit, and while Mark Wahlberg is circling a possible Hollywood remake, Tyldum's landed some big projects of his own. He's teaming up with Wahlberg for hot spec script "The Disciple Program" at Universal, and more recently, took over from J. Blakeson on "The Imitation Game," the biopic of Alan Turing, which topped the Black List in 2011. Set to star Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing, it'll shoot later in the year, and should make Tyldum an even hotter prospect than he is right now.

Jordan Vogt-Roberts
We're practically this guy's PR person. It started in 2010 when one of us accidentally caught the short "Successful Alcoholics" and were bowled over by how it effortlessly captured the humor and melancholy of relationships in a wickedly fresh, yet moving manner. In fact, most of Hollywood's run-of-the-mill romcoms had nothing on this short and it had about 80 minutes less time to work with (you can watch it here). For his next trick, Vogt-Roberts followed up the short with his first feature, "Toy's House" (later retitled "The Kings Of Summer") and it became a big hit at Sundance. Having already scored TJ Miller and Lizzy Caplan for 'Alcoholics,' the director got Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally and Alison Brie in supporting roles for 'Kings' while opting for three unknowns to take the teenage leads in his film. And the results speak for themselves. Our review from Sundance called the film, "idiosyncratic, hilarious... and heralding the arrival of a fresh new comic voice"(we also named it one of 2013 Sundance’s 5 Best Films). CBS Films jumped on distribution and will release the film this summer (naturally). This just seems like the beginning of a long career with original distinctive and quirky stories that we're more than ready to watch unfold. 

Honorable Mentions: We only have so much time and space, and as such, there's a few that we thought about including that didn't quite make the cut. From the class of 2012: Robbie Pickering, who's going from "Natural Selection" to studio picture "The Kitchen Sink"; Sally El Hosaani, whose "My Brother The Devil' is terrific; Mike Birbiglia, who showed a real facility for film with "Sleepwalk With Me" and Lenny Abrahamson, the rising Irish director who's following the excellent "What Richard Did" with the Michael Fassbender-starring "Frank." And let’s not forget "Arbitrage" helmer Nicholas Jarecki, "Gimme The Loot" director Adam Leon, "War Witch" director Kim Nguyen and "Smashed" and "The Spectacular Now" filmmaker James Ponsoldt.

Grabbing our attention so far this year have been Alexandre Moors, director of Sundance film "Blue Caprice," Sebastian Lelio, whose "Gloria" was the talk of Berlin; Joshua Oppenheimer, who's behind "The Act Of Killing" and Destin Cretton, whose film "Short Term 12" was the runaway hit at SXSW. And as far as blockbusters go, we'd need to see how The Russo Brothers and cinematographer-turned-director Wally Pfister do with "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" and "Transcendence" respectively, but they're certainly hot prospects. So is Ned Benson, whose two-part feature debut "Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby" stars Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy and Isabelle Huppert. While New Director/New Films is wrapping up soon, it's very possible members of that list (some included in the honorable mention section here) will make the full-blown list next year. - Oliver Lyttelton, Rodrigo Perez

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20 Comments

  • Barbara Ann O'Leary | May 8, 2013 11:14 AMReply

    Inviting greater balance when you generate next year's list. 3 women filmmakers. 9 men filmmakers. I feel a little lopsided just reading the list. I'm eager to experience a balance in my film viewing diet. This would be one simply place to start.

  • Torontonian | April 1, 2013 12:53 PMReply

    I would recommend keeping an eye out for Canada's Matt Johnson.

  • Jack B. Kahuna | April 1, 2013 12:13 AMReply

    You missed actor-turned-director Matthew Lillard, whose directing debut FAT KID RULES THE WORLD won the Narrative Spotlight Audience Award at SXSW last year...

  • Jack B. Kahuna | April 1, 2013 12:12 AMReply

    You missed actor-turned-director Matthew Lillard, whose directing debut FAT KID RULES THE WORLD won the Narrative Spotlight Audience Award at SXSW last year...

  • Jack B. Kahuna | April 1, 2013 12:12 AMReply

    You missed actor-turned-director Matthew Lillard, whose directing debut FAT KID RULES THE WORLD won the Narrative Spotlight Audience Award at SXSW last year...

  • Jack B. Kahuna | April 1, 2013 12:12 AMReply

    You missed actor-turned-director Matthew Lillard, whose directing debut FAT KID RULES THE WORLD won the Narrative Spotlight Audience Award at SXSW last year...

  • Hm | March 31, 2013 6:19 PMReply

    James Ponsoldt seems like a more deserving choice than Amy Seimetz - his directorial efforts being much more well known and established on the indie circuit so far than hers...

  • shelly | March 29, 2013 2:10 PMReply

    Not one gay filmmaker. Yikes

  • SWAGDADDY | April 5, 2013 5:19 AM

    You mean "not one filmmaker who is known for making LQBT themed films."

  • Carter | March 29, 2013 2:43 PM

    How do you know?

  • Demond Washington | March 29, 2013 12:23 AMReply

    Is there really such a thing as a "Directorial Star"? When was the last time you heard of fan mobbing a filmmaker for an autograph or picture every time they step out in public? When was the last time you heard about the personal life of a filmmaker in the media? Most general movigoers have no idea or even care who Directed a movie because anything that's not on camera is irrelevant to them.

  • Alan B | March 28, 2013 8:27 PMReply

    Only three women? Where's Sasha Stone to bring down the WORD OF GOD onto you people? Don't you understand that you need to verify every choice you make via Sasha Stone? She also represents every strand of feminism and stands FOR ALL WOMEN when she writes. SASHA POWER!

  • Ed | March 28, 2013 7:15 PMReply

    Do you really need to split all of your articles into multiple pages? I understand the impulse, but 4 for this is so dumb. It really makes me think twice about coming here.

  • Ed | March 28, 2013 7:15 PMReply

    Do you really need to split all of your articles into multiple pages? I understand the impulse, but 4 for this is so dumb. It really makes me think twice about coming here.

  • Tim | March 29, 2013 9:42 AM

    "listicle"

  • Seriously? | March 28, 2013 4:41 PMReply

    You need to post the same things nine times?

    Oooh they didn't pick the most flattering picture of a human being

    what a god damn tragedy!

  • JAMIE | March 28, 2013 4:31 PMReply

    Seriously? You couldn't use a better photo of Ava DuVernay? Did you even try? Googling her name produces at least five more flattering options. Get it together Playlist.

  • JAMIE | March 28, 2013 4:31 PMReply

    Seriously? You couldn't use a better photo of Ava DuVernay? Did you even try? Googling her name produces at least five more flattering options. Get it together Playlist.

  • JAMIE | March 28, 2013 4:31 PMReply

    Seriously? You couldn't use a better photo of Ava DuVernay? Did you even try? Googling her name produces at least five more flattering options. Get it together Playlist.

  • Zeejam | March 28, 2013 4:31 PMReply

    Good list.

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