Most of the directors on this list have only a single credit to their name, and most are barely out of their twenties, if that. Alan Taylor is very much the outlier: Taylor has credits going back nearly twenty years, and three feature films under his belt. And yet, he's virtually unknown among movie fans, something that's going to change very soon when he takes charge of one of 2013's biggest movies. The 46-year-old Taylor (who like Zal Batmanglij, has a rock-star sibling -- his sister is cult 80s artist Anna Domino) got his start with "Palookaville," the underrated, sweet-natured 1995 indie crime comedy which despite a strong cast including William Forsythe, Vincent Gallo and Frances McDormand was overshadowed by the somewhat similar "Bottle Rocket." Two decent but little-seen features would follow over the next few years: 2001's Napoleon biopic "The Emperor's New Clothes" and 2003's Joel Rose adaptation "Kill The Poor," but it was on the small screen that Taylor has had the most success, and particularly with HBO. His first credit was on a 1993 episode of "Homicide: Life on the Street," and Taylor would go on to helm six further episodes of that show, as well as 2 on "Oz." Over the decade in which HBO came to dominate TV drama, Taylor has worked on virtually every one of their key shows, with credits on "Sex and the City," "Six Feet Under," "Deadwood," "Carnivale," "In Treatment," "Big Love," "Boardwalk Empire" and "The Sopranos," winning an Emmy for his helming of a final-season episode of the latter, "Kennedy and Heidi" (*spoiler* the one where Tony suffocates Christopher after their car accident). He's also racked up credits on most of the other key drama shows around, including directing the pilot for "Mad Men." Despite all of that, it's the last couple of years that have really seen him gain attention, thanks to his work on "Game of Thrones." Taylor directed the final two episodes of the first season of HBO's smash-hit fantasy series, and has been an executive producer on the second season, as well as helming four episodes (1, 2, 8 and 10, as it happens). And it's his excellent work on the series that landed him the job directing "Thor 2" for Marvel, which will go before cameras later in the year. It's a very smart hire, and given that Taylor's worked on some of the best TV shows of all time and displayed a consistently steady hand, it gives us hope that he'll deliver something with real drama and substance when it hits theaters in 2013.
Few films connected with an audience at Sundance this year in the way that Colin Trevorrow's "Safety Not Guaranteed" did. Based on a real life classifed ad, it follows a group of journalists (including Jake Johnson and Aubrey Plaza) investigating a man (Mark Duplass) who claims to have means to travel back in time, and is looking for a companion. The film became a bona-fide crowd-pleaser at the festival, and everywhere its played since, and could be something of a sleeper hit when it hits later in the summer. And while the film has its flaws, it marks a real calling card for Trevorrow, and should launch him into bigger and better things. Trevorrow is an NYU grad who met co-writer Derek Connolly while interning at "Saturday Night Live," and the duo soon formed a screenwriting partnership, selling a number of projects, including "Blood Brothers," "Cocked & Loaded" and "World War X" to major studios. But their feature debut was a smaller, quirkier beast, written by Connolly (solo), and put together on a relatively meager budget, and finished by the skin of its teeth in time for Sundance (indeed, the film had a different ending when originally submitted). While it falters a little towards the finish, Trevorrow for the most part does a terrific job at balancing a tricky meld of tones, all while extracting career-best performances from his cast and displaying a nifty visual sense that, unlike many first-time filmmakers, doesn't feel like he's showing off. It's unclear what Trevorrow has planned, but a recent Sundance London Q&A suggested that he's not planning on jumping on the first studio rom-com that comes calling: "I've been a screenwriter in the Hollywood studio system for a while now, and I'm very familiar with how long it takes to put a larger studio picture together. So I'm certainly motivated to find ways to make my next film outside of that system, even if it does have a larger budget. Even if some day, I'm lucky enough to be given tens or hundreds of millions of dollars, I think the number one goal is to keep these movies honest and good."