There's no shortage of praise for Ridley Scott, Peter Jackson, Steven Spielberg and the rest of Hollywood's science fiction and fantasy titans. But who are the next generation of myth-makers? Who should you be keeping an eye on? Who will make the genre-defining movies that everyone else will feverishly race to copy?
Here's our list of Hollywood's up-and-coming science fiction and fantasy movie-makers.
Up and Comers
Indie filmmakers on the tipping point, who just need a few more movies under their belts.
Who knew a brat pack of Brits pummeling a furry collection of beastly aliens would win over critics across the globe? Joe Cornish's first feature film Attack The Block won the hearts (but not the wallets) of Americans. Sadly, Attack The Block isn't doing as well financially in the States as we'd all hoped, but that doesn't rob the movie of its brilliance. Cornish has an eye for editing, streamlining a good script, action, and (most importantly) comedy. He knows how film (and write) a tight script. We're very excited to see what his mind tackles next after he's finally done penning the next Ant-Man script with his writing partner, Edgar Wright. Hopefully Cornish can keep his slick style and teach Hollywood a thing or two about proper pacing. Is there another genre movie in his future? We don't know for sure, but we'd would welcome a Cornish spin on any and every science fiction trope.
We could have easily lumped Carl Rinsch into the list of short directors breaking big (below), but Rinsch didn't just strike it rich with this viral hit "The Gift." The director has been creating beautiful commercials for years and years (our favorite is Evolution of Technology, which we embedded here). He's established himself fairly well with those in the know, and almost directed the Alien prequel Prometheus, until Ridley Scott was encouraged to take over. His penchant for CG/animatronic creatures has burrowed its way into our hearts. Presently the director is at work on the adapting the Japanese story, 47 Ronin, into a 3D fantasy epic starring Keanu Reeves. Which is a lot of responsibility for a first time feature director. Fingers crossed his full-length movie shows the same brilliance as all his shorts.
Hot off his Mexican alien movie Monsters, Edwards has been selected to helm the biggest monster of them all, Godzilla. Which is mighty impressive, seeing as the indie film that sparked this move was a lot more drama and a lot less kaiju action. But perhaps that's exactly what the big beast needs, after getting violated by Roland Emmerich in the 1998 Godzilla reboot: a script with characters, and heart. Edwards has demonstrated that he knows how to put the emotion in a chase scene in Monsters, let's hope this translates (and isn't watered down by the studio) in his Godzilla film. But that's not the only bit of scifi we're going to see from Edwards in the upcoming years. We still have his "robot Star Wars" movie to get excited about, even if the director says it's actually nothing like Star Wars at all. Instead this movie will follow "a young human child (probably around 5 years old) and a robot who travel across the galaxy in search of mankind's origin in a world void of humanity and filled with robots." That's two massive undertakings from one previously indie director.
Once attached to the Akira movie, Ruairi Robinson has created some of the most gorgeous shorts we've ever had the pleasure of viewing. From his Oscar nominated Fifty Percent Grey, Imaginary Forces, to BlinkyTM (embedded here) we're mesmerized by Robinson's demented spin on the seemingly innocuous. He plants a touch of paranoia and evil in everything he creates, and it just works. Back in May, it was announced that Robinson would be attached to The Fallen, about an alien space ship that crash lands in Russia and "creates a 400-mile electronic dead-zone, [until] international special ops teams are sent in to neutralize it." And we can't wait to see what darkness awaits the special-ops team, from the twisted mind of Robinson. We have no doubt it will be horrific.
We liked Eisner's pitchfork-in-the-gut remake of George Romero's The Crazies so much, we're willing to pretend that Breck Eisner's Sahara doesn't exist. It was a simple A-to-B monster movie. The only tricks were suspense and a few jump cuts. He knows how to update camp for the modern audiences, without losing the horror and fun that attracts people to these B flicks. Which is why we were sad when we heard his Escape From New York reboot had been terminated. Hopefully, Eisner can continue to bring a level of integrity to retro cheese, in his forever in development purgatory Flash Gordon picture.
People you may already know, who could change the scifi genre for the better.
Nicolas Winding Refn
We couldn't possibly put Nicolas Winding Refn in a category of "up and comers," since he's been making critical hits for many years now. Key word being critical hits — he still hasn't had that slam dunk picture that rockets him into the limelight (and that might be just the way he likes it). Still, his latest film Drive starring Ryan Gosling is quickly becoming everyone's "it" pick for an Oscar blowout. And when Drive does start getting mainstream attention, that means more money for Refn's next projects such as Logan's Run (also starring Gosling). Why should we be excited about a Refn Logan's Run? The director's vision is pretty interesting — he has no desire to mimic the campy wonderland from the '76 classic, instead he's revisiting themes of the book about sex and drugs and a condoned life of excess. Plus Refn is quite the collaborative director, he even invited the cast into his home to talk about their opinions on the script in Drive (something rarely done, which clearly worked in this picture). At the end of the day, we need a director who isn't willing to sacrifice for the studio, listens to his crew, and pays attention to every little detail in this genre. We want Refn!
Not a new name, we know. But we're fired up for Johnson's time-travel movie Looper, set to come out in September of 2012. Johnson's Brick changed the way audiences viewed film noir forever, and ushered in the cinematic domination of Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who is also starring in Looper). We cannot wait to see how Johnson will energize the science fiction genre, in his time traveling bloodbath of a flick about "a killer who works for the mob of the future recognizes one of his targets as his future self."
Short Directors Getting Their Big Break
Viral success stories who demand our attention.
You heard the story — one $300.00 short netted Fede Alvarez a 30 million dollar Hollywood deal. The short, titled Panic Attack, inspired Sam Raimi (who has a fairly excellent track record, Spider-Man 3 be damned) and his production company to give Fede the funds for a feature length movie set in Uruguay and Argentina. There aren't a ton of details out there about the film itself, so we're not 100% sure if the film is going to be an expanded version of the short, but we do know that he's staying in the world of scifi.
After wowing the world with his hyper-stylized short Cup Of Tears, Shore has now netted a deal with Universal to remake Phasma Ex Machina (a film loosely about the space in between the living and the dead). Also inked in his deal was the chance to make a feature film out of Cup Of Tears, once he proves himself first.
If you haven't seen Patrick Jean's Pixels short stop whatever it is you are doing and watch it right the heck now. This delightful Pixel attack on New York city got so much press that Adam Sandler's production company has decided to develop the short into feature film. Hopefully this will not include Sandler in drag pretending to be his own sister.
The directors that all the new kids want to be.
Even though he's only had one feature out, there's a reason so many people are falling over themselves to find the next District 9 among this crop of indie films. Blomkamp's break-out feature was a smash hit, and was even nominated for Best Picture in the Oscars. Now Blomkamp is busying himself shooting his next scifi Elysium starring Matt Damon. All we know is the movie is set in the future, and possibly on another planet. Not much else to go on but these latest set pics off Damon, which alone gave us a shudder. Looks like another bloody good time from Blomkamp where we'll all learn a valuable lesson about something in the end, we're sure.
While Source Code was no Moon, it did demonstrate that Jones has range when it comes from stretching from space drama to action adventure. Next up, an untitled science fiction epic, created with the help of Weta Digital. It's somehow connected to his graphic novel (and possible movie script) called Mute, but it sounds like a separate story. Jones recently said, "It's sci-fi set, and it's a little bit future set, connected to the universe that is described in Moon but a completely independent story. And in the same way, it's also connected to this script I've been working on for a long time - Mute - independently and parallel as a graphic novel."
Top Image via Joel Johnson and Shutterstock.