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Musings of a Moving Image Enthusiast

The Five Most Underrated Directors in Cinema

Whenever a film achieves the status of a box-office smash or a cult hit, the first person to get the credit for its creation is the director. However, there are always a few anomalies in cases like these, with several directors who have helmed some of the greatest films but for some reason have failed to garner the public attention their peers have. So here’s my pick of the most underrated movie directors who have failed to receive the recognition they deserve despite giving the world some fine films.

5. Peter Weir

5 Peter Weir

From the land down under, Peter Weir played a pivotal role in the new wave of Australian cinema in the 1970s with movies like The Last Wave, Gallipoli and The Year of Living Dangerously. After The Year of Living Dangerously caught the eye of movie buffs from around the world, Weir was approached by several Hollywood studios to direct their big-budget films which included the Academy award nominated Witness.

Over the years, Weir has directed some of the most impactful dramas that have created left a memorable mark on its viewers, such as Dead Poets Society and The Truman Show. But despite such a stunning repertoire you would hard-pressed to find someone who knows him and the great work he has done.

4. Rian Johnson

4 Rian Johnson

Winner of the Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival for his debut film, Rian Johnson is a USC School of Cinematic Arts graduate. Made for under $500,000, his first film Brick introduced an entire generation to the neo-noir style of narration. Johnson then directed the delightful con film The Brothers Bloom that garnered a positive critical reception.

But it was his third film, the dark science fiction flick Looper, that grabbed everyone’s attention and turned out to be 2012’s surprise hit. He has also directed two of Breaking Bad’s best episodes, Fly and Ozymandias. With his future work including the role of the writer and director of Star Wars Episode VIII, Johnson is on his way to finding a place among the Hollywood elite.

3. Ben Stiller

3 Ben Stiller


Now here’s a name that everyone is familiar with. But that’s because of his illustrious career as an actor. But sadly he never gets the credit he deserves for the work he does behind the camera. With previous experience as the writer and director of The Ben Stiller Show, Stiller made his debut as a Hollywood director with the coming of age drama Reality Bites.

With the director’s credit for movies like The Cable Guy, Zoolander, Tropic Thunder and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Stiller has time and again proven that he is as accomplished behind the camera as he is in front of it.

2. Rob Reiner

2 Rob ReinerAfter winning two Emmy Awards for his role on All in the Family during the 70s, one would have guessed that the next logical step for Rob Reiner would be to head to the big screen as an actor. But Reiner chose to take a role behind the camera as a director and ended up giving the world some of the greatest movies without getting adequate credit for his work. After directing the legendary rock mockumentary, This is Spinal Tap, Reiner worked on various films without ever sticking to a specific genre.

A member of the Directors Guild of America, Reiner has chalked up several nominations and awards by directing films like Stand By Me, When Harry Met Sally, The Princess Bride, Misery and A Few Good Men.

  1. Edgar Wright

A proponent of big laughs and memorable visuals, Edgar Wright arrived on the scene with his zombie comedy Shaun of the Dead. The surprise success of that film gave Wright the opportunity to take his vision ahead and create what we know as the Three Flavors Cornetto Trilogy, with Hot Fuzz and The World’s End making up the other two films. Wright is also the co-writer, producer and director of the visually groundbreaking Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

Besides being an ace director, Wright is also an accomplished writer who co-wrote Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tin Tin: The Secret of the Unicorn and the screenplay for Marvel’s Ant Man.

Did I miss out on a name that you think should have been on the list? Let me know in the comments section and I will try to come up with another list with names I might have missed.


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