The UK film industry is on a high right now. Free of bawdy sex comedies and gritty urban thrillers, British directors are now able to spread their wings and take on more ambitious projects, such as Danny Boyle’s Trance and Ben Wheatley’s simultaneous release gambler A Field in England. And that’s only in the last few months.
So here’s my list of five British directors who are flying the flag for homegrown filmmaking.
5. Duncan Jones
What’s he done before? Moon, Source Code
What’s he doing next? Warcraft
Duncan Jones burst onto the scene in 2009 with Moon, an ambitious science fiction adventure that won Jones the BAFTA for Outstanding British Debut and, more importantly, a Kermode Award. His follow-up, Source Code, was a masterful time travel romp that took its high concept above and beyond the call of duty.
He is one of the most exciting voices in modern sci-fi and, for his next trick, he wants to break the curse of the video game movie by adapting World of Warcraft.
4. Danny Boyle
What’s he done before? Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire
What’s he doing next? Porno, 28 Months Later
After completely acing the Olympic Opening Ceremony last year, Danny Boyle is almost completely at the summit of British cinema. His latest film, bizarre thriller Trance, was a slight misfire, but it’s difficult to dispute the talent of a man who went from squalid Scotch thriller Trainspotting to Oscar-baiting drama Slumdog Millionaire.
Next up for Boyle will either be Trainspotting sequel Porno or a continuation of the 28 Days Later franchise. Either way, it’ll definitely be a return to form for Boyle.
3. Shane Meadows
What’s he done before? Dead Man’s Shoes, This is England
What’s he doing next? This is England ’90 (TV)
As the king of the kitchen sink drama, Shane Meadows has a position of royalty in the pantheon of British film. With gritty dramas such as the powerful Dead Man’s Shoes, he cemented his position as a dominant voice in terms of social realism and British directors.
Then, his 2006 racism drama This is England won a BAFTA and became one of the most acclaimed British films of the new millennium. It was followed up with two equally hard-hitting television series, with a third on the way as his next project. Meadows is set to stay on top for a long time yet.
2. Ben Wheatley
What’s he done before? Kill List, Sightseers
What’s he doing next? Freakshift
Having revolutionised several genres already and broken new ground on distribution strategies with A Field in England, it doesn’t seem like there’s anywhere for Ben Wheatley to go. He hasn’t conquered the mainstream, but nor does he seem to want to. If he continues to produce indie cinema of his current standard, he could become one of the great British directors.
Next though, he’s crossing the Atlantic to make a monster movie with an American cast. Wheatley with a slightly bigger budget? Yes please.
1. Edgar Wright
What’s he done before? Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim vs the World
What’s he doing next? Ant-Man
From humble beginnings on self-aware sitcom Spaced to his upcoming directorial role on Marvel’s Ant-Man, Edgar Wright has come a long way in a short period of time. Few directors can claim the constant hit rate of Wright, benefiting from his work with Simon Pegg on the Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy, which recently concluded with The World’s End.
Cracking America with Scott Pilgrim vs the World showed that Wright plays well on either side of the ocean and this cross-nation appeal is set to continue. Edgar Wright is a man willing to take creative risks and has a knack for turning unusual material into cinematic gold.
This is why he is one of the most exciting British directors out there.