The 25 Best Directorial Debuts of All Time

by malthetuxen | created - 26 Jan 2019 | updated - 3 days ago | Public

My 25 personal favorite directorial debuts of all time.

Honorable Mentions:

Take The Money And Run (1969) - Woody Allen Eraserhead (1977) - David Lynch Airplane! (1980) - Jim Abrahams, Jerry Zucker & David Zucker Fast Times At Ridgemont High (1982) - Amy Heckerling Say Anything (1989) - Cameron Crowe Boyz N The Hood (1991) - John Singleton A Bronx Tale (1993) - Robert De Niro Pusher (1996) - Nicolas Winding Refn Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels (1998) - Guy Ritchie Following (1998) - Christopher Nolan Being John Malkovich (1999) - Spike Jonze Donnie Darko (2001) - Richard Kelly Chicago (2002) - Rob Marshall Thank You For Smoking (2005) - Jason Reitman The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005) - Judd Apatow Hunger (2008) - Steve Mcqueen A Single Man (2009) - Tom Ford Crazy Heart (2009) - Scott Cooper Ex Machina (2014) - Alex Garland Nightcrawler (2014) - Dan Gilroy Ladybird (2017) - Greta Gerwig

 Refine See titles to watch instantly, titles you haven't rated, etc
  • Instant Watch Options
  • Genres
  • Movies or TV
  • IMDb Rating
  • In Theaters
  • On TV
  • Release Year
  • Keywords




IMDb user rating (average) to
Number of votes to »




Reset



Reset
Release year or range to »




































































































1. 12 Angry Men (1957)

Not Rated | 96 min | Drama

96 Metascore

A jury holdout attempts to prevent a miscarriage of justice by forcing his colleagues to reconsider the evidence.

Director: Sidney Lumet | Stars: Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Martin Balsam, John Fiedler

Votes: 639,254 | Gross: $4.36M

2. Citizen Kane (1941)

PG | 119 min | Drama, Mystery

100 Metascore

Following the death of publishing tycoon Charles Foster Kane, reporters scramble to uncover the meaning of his final utterance; 'Rosebud'.

Director: Orson Welles | Stars: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Dorothy Comingore, Agnes Moorehead

Votes: 376,745 | Gross: $1.59M

3. The Maltese Falcon (1941)

Not Rated | 100 min | Film-Noir, Mystery

96 Metascore

A private detective takes on a case that involves him with three eccentric criminals, a gorgeous liar, and their quest for a priceless statuette.

Director: John Huston | Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Gladys George, Peter Lorre

Votes: 143,802 | Gross: $2.11M

4. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

R | 142 min | Drama

80 Metascore

Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency.

Director: Frank Darabont | Stars: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, William Sadler

Votes: 2,191,776 | Gross: $28.34M

5. Reservoir Dogs (1992)

R | 99 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

79 Metascore

When a simple jewelry heist goes horribly wrong, the surviving criminals begin to suspect that one of them is a police informant.

Director: Quentin Tarantino | Stars: Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Chris Penn

Votes: 867,422 | Gross: $2.83M

6. The Lives of Others (2006)

R | 137 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller

89 Metascore

In 1984 East Berlin, an agent of the secret police, conducting surveillance on a writer and his lover, finds himself becoming increasingly absorbed by their lives.

Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck | Stars: Ulrich Mühe, Martina Gedeck, Sebastian Koch, Ulrich Tukur

Votes: 337,049 | Gross: $11.29M

7. The Night of the Hunter (1955)

Not Rated | 92 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

99 Metascore

A religious fanatic marries a gullible widow whose young children are reluctant to tell him where their real daddy hid $10,000 he'd stolen in a robbery.

Director: Charles Laughton | Stars: Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish, James Gleason

Votes: 77,502 | Gross: $0.65M

8. American Beauty (1999)

R | 122 min | Drama

84 Metascore

A sexually frustrated suburban father has a mid-life crisis after becoming infatuated with his daughter's best friend.

Director: Sam Mendes | Stars: Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora Birch, Wes Bentley

Votes: 1,021,935 | Gross: $130.10M

9. Amores Perros (2000)

R | 154 min | Drama, Thriller

83 Metascore

A horrific car accident connects three stories, each involving characters dealing with loss, regret, and life's harsh realities, all in the name of love.

Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu | Stars: Emilio Echevarría, Gael García Bernal, Goya Toledo, Álvaro Guerrero

Votes: 212,880 | Gross: $5.38M

10. District 9 (2009)

R | 112 min | Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller

81 Metascore

Violence ensues after an extraterrestrial race forced to live in slum-like conditions on Earth finds a kindred spirit in a government agent exposed to their biotechnology.

Director: Neill Blomkamp | Stars: Sharlto Copley, David James, Jason Cope, Nathalie Boltt

Votes: 618,730 | Gross: $115.65M

11. Easy Rider (1969)

R | 95 min | Adventure, Drama

86 Metascore

Through the open country and desert lands, two bikers head from L.A to New Orleans, and along the way, meet a man who bridges a counter-culture gap they are unaware of.

Director: Dennis Hopper | Stars: Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Jack Nicholson, Antonio Mendoza

Votes: 94,023 | Gross: $41.73M

12. Lion (2016)

PG-13 | 118 min | Biography, Drama

69 Metascore

A five-year-old Indian boy is adopted by an Australian couple after getting lost hundreds of kilometers from home. 25 years later, he sets out to find his lost family.

Director: Garth Davis | Stars: Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara, Sunny Pawar

Votes: 193,439 | Gross: $51.74M

13. Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Not Rated | 96 min | Horror

89 Metascore

A ragtag group of Pennsylvanians barricade themselves in an old farmhouse to remain safe from a bloodthirsty, flesh-eating breed of monsters who are ravaging the East Coast of the United States.

Director: George A. Romero | Stars: Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea, Karl Hardman, Marilyn Eastman

Votes: 109,555 | Gross: $0.09M

14. American History X (1998)

R | 119 min | Drama

62 Metascore

A former neo-nazi skinhead tries to prevent his younger brother from going down the same wrong path that he did.

Director: Tony Kaye | Stars: Edward Norton, Edward Furlong, Beverly D'Angelo, Jennifer Lien

Votes: 986,481 | Gross: $6.72M

15. This Is Spinal Tap (1984)

R | 82 min | Comedy, Music

92 Metascore

Spinal Tap, one of England's loudest bands, is chronicled by film director Marty DiBergi on what proves to be a fateful tour.

Director: Rob Reiner | Stars: Rob Reiner, Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, Kimberly Stringer

Votes: 123,497 | Gross: $0.19M

16. Fruitvale Station (2013)

R | 85 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

85 Metascore

The story of Oscar Grant III, a 22-year-old Bay Area resident, who crosses paths with friends, enemies, family, and strangers on the last day of 2008.

Director: Ryan Coogler | Stars: Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz, Octavia Spencer, Kevin Durand

Votes: 70,635 | Gross: $16.10M

17. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)

Not Rated | 131 min | Drama

75 Metascore

A bitter, aging couple, with the help of alcohol, use their young houseguests to fuel anguish and emotional pain towards each other over the course of a distressing night.

Director: Mike Nichols | Stars: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal, Sandy Dennis

Votes: 66,078

18. Ivan's Childhood (1962)

Not Rated | 84 min | Drama, War

In WW2, twelve year old Soviet orphan Ivan Bondarev works for the Soviet army as a scout behind the German lines and strikes a friendship with three sympathetic Soviet officers.

Directors: Andrei Tarkovsky, Eduard Abalov | Stars: Nikolay Burlyaev, Valentin Zubkov, Evgeniy Zharikov, Stepan Krylov

Votes: 28,091

19. The 400 Blows (1959)

Not Rated | 99 min | Crime, Drama

A young boy, left without attention, delves into a life of petty crime.

Director: François Truffaut | Stars: Jean-Pierre Léaud, Albert Rémy, Claire Maurier, Guy Decomble

Votes: 96,726

20. In Bruges (2008)

R | 107 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

67 Metascore

Guilt-stricken after a job gone wrong, hitman Ray and his partner await orders from their ruthless boss in Bruges, Belgium, the last place in the world Ray wants to be.

Director: Martin McDonagh | Stars: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Ciarán Hinds, Elizabeth Berrington

Votes: 374,162 | Gross: $7.76M

21. Shaun of the Dead (2004)

R | 99 min | Comedy, Horror

76 Metascore

A man's uneventful life is disrupted by the zombie apocalypse.

Director: Edgar Wright | Stars: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kate Ashfield, Lucy Davis

Votes: 487,493 | Gross: $13.54M

22. Get Out (I) (2017)

R | 104 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

84 Metascore

A young African-American visits his white girlfriend's parents for the weekend, where his simmering uneasiness about their reception of him eventually reaches a boiling point.

Director: Jordan Peele | Stars: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener

Votes: 444,056 | Gross: $176.04M

23. Pi (1998)

R | 84 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

72 Metascore

A paranoid mathematician searches for a key number that will unlock the universal patterns found in nature.

Director: Darren Aronofsky | Stars: Sean Gullette, Mark Margolis, Ben Shenkman, Pamela Hart

Votes: 163,942 | Gross: $3.22M

24. Breathless (1960)

Not Rated | 90 min | Crime, Drama

A small-time thief steals a car and impulsively murders a motorcycle policeman. Wanted by the authorities, he reunites with a hip American journalism student and attempts to persuade her to run away with him to Italy.

Director: Jean-Luc Godard | Stars: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Seberg, Daniel Boulanger, Henri-Jacques Huet

Votes: 67,636 | Gross: $0.34M

25. Badlands (1973)

PG | 94 min | Crime, Drama

93 Metascore

An impressionable teenage girl from a dead-end town and her older greaser boyfriend embark on a killing spree in the South Dakota badlands.

Director: Terrence Malick | Stars: Martin Sheen, Sissy Spacek, Warren Oates, Ramon Bieri

Votes: 61,062



Recently Viewed