Best Actors Turned Directors of the Last 20 Years - VRGyani News and Media


Friday, September 10, 2021

Best Actors Turned Directors of the Last 20 Years

Actors and actresses stepping behind the camera has been a concept for a very long time, dating back to silver screen legends such as Charlie Chaplin and Orson Welles. There have even been occasions where these actors turned directors become so successful in their filmmaking career that their directing resume is more prolific than their roles as an actor.

With new directorial debuts on the horizon from stars such as Lin-Manuel Miranda and Maggie Gyllenhaal, among others, the number of movie stars taking a stab at directing is not slowing down. Why would it? There have been more than a few times where these directorial debuts prove to be big wins both financially and critically. We've compiled a list of 7 of the best actor turned director debuts since 2010 that range from comedies to horror to coming-of-age dramas.

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Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born

Over the years Bradley Cooper has gone from handsome comedic sidekick to full-blown movie star landing multiple Academy Award nominations and working with revered directors like Clint Eastwood, David O. Russell, Paul Thomas Anderson, and Guillermo del Toro, but with his 2018 remake of A Star Is Born, Cooper proved that he was more than just an actor.

Despite being the fourth incarnation of the classic story, Cooper made A Star Is Born feel like a cinematic event. Cooper's magic chemistry with the iconic Lady Gaga was undeniable, so much so that fans were speculating if there was a real-life romance blossoming between the two. Cooper employed both classical and modern filmmaking techniques in his debut resulting in a film that felt simultaneously authentic as well as fantastical.

Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird

While Lady Bird technically isn't Greta Gerwig's directorial debut—that would go to the 2008 mumblecore film Nights and Weekends co-directed with Joe Swanberg—this is her solo debut, as well as a much more high-profile film than the little-seen indie. Lady Bird is one of those rare films that is pretty much perfect. Gerwig's debut never feels sensationalized or larger than life, instead capturing the life of a rebellious Catholic school girl (Saoirse Ronan) in the early 2000s with breathtaking accuracy. The fact that Gerwig drew inspiration from her real life while writing and directing the Oscar-nominated hit makes the film's themes of family, teen rebellion, and adolescence feel all the rawer.

Ronan had already proven herself to be an immensely talented actress by the time Lady Bird premiered, but her performance as the titular character was some of her best work yet. Not only is Ronan effortlessly funny but she gives one of the most human performances of the past 10 years. The supporting cast is equally strong, especially Laurie Metcalf's turn as the mother of the young protagonist who bypasses the stereotypes of mothers in coming-of-age films and opts for this intricately written and heartbreaking character.

Jordan Peele, Get Out

When it was announced that one half of the beloved comedy duo Key & Peele would be making his directorial debut with Blumhouse, many suspected Jordan Peele's first outing as a director would be more comedy-based. Peele subverted audience's expectations with Get Out, a horror film that touches on the issues of racism in such a unique fashion it would be hard for anyone to watch the film without taking anything vital away from it. Get Out won Peele his first Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, as well as marking the start of a new phase of Peele's career. Peele quickly rose within the ranks of filmmakers such as Christopher Nolan and M. Night Shyamalan to become one of those directors who could attract a wide audience with his name alone.

Get Out is one of the most brilliant horror films ever written, no matter how many times one has seen the film before, each rewatch will have the audience picking up on new details. There is not a weak link in the film's cast and several of the film's stars found their careers skyrocketing after the film's release. Few people had heard of Daniel Kaluuya and Lil Rel Howery when Get Out first debuted, but both actors have gone on to star and even headline multiple high-profile films. There is no doubt that Peele's film is one of the most significant films of the past 15 years, which is quite the accomplishment for a directorial debut.

Seth Rogen, This Is The End

Once again, in terms of technicality, Seth Rogen is the co-director of This Is The End, alongside Evan Goldberg, but that shouldn't be too shocking as Rogen works with his creative partner on just about everything he does. It is certainly impressive that this apocalyptic comedy is Rogen's first rodeo as a director; the film had a much bigger scale than any of Rogen's previous comedies and required lots of visual effects work.

Rogen and Goldberg gave This Is The End a surprising sense of style, from how they memorably portray the biblical rapture in Hollywood and how the film's deaths are shockingly gruesome. The fact that the film's entire cast is playing themselves, often not in the best light, makes the film all the more memorable. What other filmmaker would have the balls to kill off Rihanna and Paul Rudd, in the same movie?

Regina King, One Night In Miami...

In 2019, Regina King was coming off a Best Supporting Actress Oscar win for her tremendous performance in If Beale Street Could Talk and leading HBO's Emmy-winning Watchmen. Many expected King, who was the height of her career, to attach herself to a new high-profile role. Instead, King opted to make her directorial debut with the equally entertaining and insightful One Night In Miami based on the play by Kemp Powers.

There have been multiple occasions where movies set in one location for the majority of their runtime fall flat and dragged out. That isn't the case with One Night In Miami. King made a film that felt extremely timely but also played like a hang-out movie featuring four of the most significant Black Americans in history: Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Muhammad Ali (Eli Goree), Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.), and Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge).

Bo Burnham, Eighth Grade

Bo Burnham has attracted quite the fanbase among Gen Z and Millenials with his sense of dark humor. It is now almost hard to believe that the comedy star got his start making videos on Youtube, but that also meant he had a firm grasp on some of the themes in his directorial debut, Eighth Grade. There's an argument to be made that Burnham's depiction of modern middle school is the most accurate ever put to film. Burnham's direction accurately recreates the awkward and anxious nature of middle school, where even a minor slip-up can feel like the end of the world.

For a film set in a typical American middle school, Burnham is able to fill Eighth Grade with tension, but that's part of what makes him such a strong filmmaker. Elsie Fisher is absolutely incredible as Kayla and portrays this character with such humanity. This film is a must-watch for anybody currently struggling or ever had a hard time in middle school, as Burnham shows us that we are and were never alone.

Olivia Wilde, Booksmart

On paper, it would be easy to write off Olivia Wilde's directorial debut Booksmart as the unofficial gender-swapped remake of Superbad. If you have ever seen the movie, you know this is simply not the case. Booksmart definitely has plenty of raunchy teen humor throughout, but it also pushes the boundaries of the teen comedy genre with a story not only about letting loose, but also letting go.

The fact Booksmart is Wilde's first film as a director is even more of a surprise after watching the film. From the way Wilde creates the unique world within the film as well as the fact that it has a literal animated stop motion scene in the second act that doesn't feel jarring. Many of these R-rated teen party/sex comedies will solely focus on the boys, but with Booksmart, Wilde lets the girls have their fun and it is so refreshing.

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