Best Directorial Debuts

1.  TWELVE ANGRY MEN (1957).

A dissenting juror (Henry Fonda) in a murder trial gradually manages to convince his fellow jurors that the case is not as crystal-clear as originally thought. From highly acclaimed director Sidney Lumet comes proof that films do not always require a big budget. (Sometimes all you need is a simple yet decent storyline and terrific actors.)

A Bout De Souffle 2. A BOUT DE SOUFFLE (BREATHLESS) (1960).

A young, meddlesome car thief kills a policeman and attempts to persuade a woman to flee to Italy with him. With its quick, witty dialogue and beautiful Paris landscape, Jean-Luc Godard’s magnum opus is, without a doubt, one of the most influential works of the French New Wave era.

Maltese Falcon 3. THE MALTESE FALCON (1941).

A private eye, Sam Spade, takes on a case which sees him get involved with three criminals, a beautiful liar, and their quest searching for a priceless jewel-encrusted statuette. If you are new to the film-noir genre, you will not go far wrong starting with this all-time classic from John Huston.

American Beauty 4. AMERICAN BEAUTY (1999).

A depressed father (Lester Burnham) going through a mid-life crisis in the suburbs decides to turn his miserable life around after developing a serious crush on his daughter’s beautiful friend — he sees her performing a cheerleader routine. This cool yet heartwarming tale of suburban life is a must-see for fans of Kevin Spacey and Sam Mendes.

 Delicatessen Film 5. DELICATESSEN (1991).

Surreal, post-apocalyptic dark comedy about the landlord of an apartment building who occasionally prepares a delicacy for his bizarre, eccentric tenants. For fans of Jean-Pierre Jeunet and his idiosyncratic, character-based film style, this will not disappoint.

Night of the Hunter 6. THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (1955).

A religious, fanatical ex-con (Robert Mitchum) marries a rather gullible widow, the young children of whom are reluctant to tell him where their real father hid $10,000 that he had stolen in a robbery. Mitchum is supreme yet truly frightening in this Hitchcockian, suspenseful thriller.

District 9 7. DISTRICT 9 (2009).

An alien race made to live in slum-like conditions in South Africa suddenly discovers a kindred spirit in a government worker exposed to their extraterrestrial biotechnology. Adapted from the director’s short film Alive in Joburgwhich was made on a shoestring budget, the storyline (despite its impressive SFX) is nothing short of being culturally and racially relevant to the world in which we live.

Synecdoche, New York 8. SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK (2008).

A theatre director struggles with his work and life (as well as all of the women in his life). He tries to create an elaborate life-size replica of New York inside a factory as part of his new production — bold indeed. Being my favourite screenwriter, I don’t have a bad word to say about Charlie Kaufman or his ever-complex, truly awe-inspiring mind — a genius.

Reservoir Dogs 9. RESERVOIR DOGS (1992).

Criminals of a diamond heist gone wrong attempt to work out why the robbery failed. They start to suspect that a cop is amongst them. With a cast that rivals the best ensemble in the history of cinema, not to mention Tarantino’s typically slick dialogue, it is nothing short of brilliant.

Play Misty For Me 10. PLAY MISTY FOR ME (1971).

A casual fling between a male radio DJ and an obsessed female listener takes a fearsome turn when another woman enters the fray. This intense thriller is proof that Clint Eastwood was always cut out for an established, highly successful career behind the camera.