First Time Success

by Clangfor

Created 07/05/12

Edit List

Maybe it's beginner's luck, or just the outpour of ideas in what first-time filmmakers may assume is their one and only chance to get their voice out there. Either way, some directors started out their careers very strong, and this is a list comprising of directors whose first movies may be their best.

Some I have not included purely because haven't seen them, and thus can't have an opinion on them. But this is a work always in progress :)

  • Every time Danny Boyle makes a new film, he screens it for his father, and every time his dad says "Good, but not as good as Shallow Grave." And I have to agree with him. Dark and twisted, witty and clever, wonderful cinematography and lighting, this film may not be as successful as the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire, or the cult classic Trainspotting, but all it's layers and elements make it the best.

  • Released in 1960, this film lead the way in New Wave. The beautifully crafted scenes, performances by the legendary Jean-Paul Belmondo and new-to-french Jean Seberg and a feeling that would change french film.

  • Yes he did Princess Bride and When Harry Met Sally, but nothing can beat this rock-mocumentary cranking out the tunes and the comedy all the way up to 11.

  • Truly scary and deep, this is by far Guillermo del Toro's best. The detail in which he put into this movie is unbelievable (those with a Criterion edition know what I'm talking about.) and it shows as this classic tale of innocence, blood and immortality remains in itself immortal.

  • There is really no question here, unbelievable performances all around, especially Malkovich. Quirky, funny, sexy and all-out weird, this one sticks with you.

  • Hard to believe this is Charles Laughton's only film in the director's chair, but I guess that makes it a shoe-in for this list. Truly astonishing and beautiful.

  • Part of a newly emerging youth culture, this movie had a dual role, both being the mouthpiece of the youth and and guiding light. It's influence on culture is immeasurable, not only in film but music as well, among other things.

  • One of only three other directing roles, it is still his best. Funny and full-hearted it is a great look into the early 70's.

  • Visually stunning, if a picture says a thousand words, this film says millions. And when there is dialogue, it is beautifully written and perfectly executed. Michael Fassbender is amazing in this, and it solidified him as one of my favourite modern actors.

  • Just saw this one recently, and though Memento is a close, I believe this is his best. It's raw, noir style, keeps you guessing until the end in classic Nolan fashion.


  • By Daniel W.
    November 15, 2012
    12:24 PM

    You left out Bottle Rocket.
    • By Clangfor
      November 18, 2012
      02:52 PM

      I don't like Bottle Rocket as much as some of Wes's others.
  • By Danw1984
    November 15, 2012
    01:13 PM

    knife in the water????
    • By jbm
      January 19, 2013
      05:15 PM

      Roman Polanski is a hack director...and there was one other thing about him that escapes me...what was it??? I'm having a hard time remembering...oh now I remember...HE ANALLY RAPED A 13-YEAR-OLD GIRL AND THEN FLED THE COUNTRY TO ESCAPE PROSECUTION!!!!!! If Criterion had any balls they would disown his sorry ass.
  • By Celine-Julie
    November 15, 2012
    02:58 PM

    what could you possibly have against when harry met sally? though not as funny as spinal tap, you must admit it has an amazing script
  • By Robotocles
    November 16, 2012
    05:21 PM

    When Harry Met Sally is just a poor man's Annie Hall. The 400 Blows is conspicuously missing from this list, as is Kicking and Screaming.
    • By Eric R.
      November 16, 2012
      09:38 PM

      I think I'm with you on Kicking and Screaming. Though that could just be because, every time I see Chris Eigeman, I start thinking about Whit Stillman.
    • By Theo
      March 01, 2013
      08:18 PM

      The 400 Blows is a wonderful film, but it's not Truffaut's best. I'd say that Jules and Jim is better.
  • By JustinDW
    November 16, 2012
    09:06 PM

  • By Daniel W.
    November 18, 2012
    11:01 AM

    We are not trying to be rude or anything. We are just making suggestions. That's all.
  • By TheDirector
    November 18, 2012
    11:18 AM

    Too bad Citizen Kane isn't in the collection.
    • By Clangfor
      November 18, 2012
      02:53 PM

      I've been meaning to buy it on laserdisc for over a year now, but I can't find a good quality copy. I think they should do a Blu for it, it would look fantastic.
  • By Clangfor
    November 18, 2012
    02:51 PM

    I actually appreciate the comments, thanks guys! The ones you mentioned that I didn't include are purely because I haven't seen them yet so I can't give a fair opinion on them. But now I know to watch them :)
    • By JustinDW
      November 18, 2012
      03:18 PM

      It's a fine list you have here. All great movies from great filmmakers whether it was their first or not.
  • By AMVP
    November 20, 2012
    12:31 AM

    Not to rain on anyone's love of Being John Malkovich, but I'll defend with my whole being the superiority of Adaptation. And if one were to subscribe to the notion of Charlie Kaufman as the truer auteur figure, then inviting Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Synecdoche New York into the mix just puts the issue to rest once and for all.
  • By Clangfor
    November 26, 2012
    03:09 AM

    Thanks! I actually own 13 Tzameti, love it! I'll check that other one out though. Sounds cool!
  • By Daniel Dolgin
    December 02, 2012
    11:23 PM

    I would've included Nolan's following, but good list
  • By Lazlo
    December 15, 2012
    04:19 PM

    400 Blows Ivan's Childhood Knife in the Water Stranger Than Paradise Performance Hunger Element of Crime Ratcatcher George Washington Hiroshima Mon Amour House of Games Nigh of the Hunter Shadows
  • By waltwhite
    December 29, 2012
    02:55 PM

    just saw bought shallow grave on a blind buy and man was that a nifty little flick
  • By Matthew G
    January 01, 2013
    01:15 PM

    People seem to be ignoring the fact that you are saying these are the best movies by their respective directors. I think you'd have to be crazy to say Shadows is Cassavetes's best film, and Knife in the Water is simply not better than Chinatown. If you haven't seen it, you should watch The Last Picture Show. Certainly his best. Ratcatcher is great, too.
  • By Derek
    March 06, 2013
    08:57 PM

    Following by Christopher Nolan is stellar
  • By Friend
    January 01, 2014
    01:26 PM

    Spike Jonze and Steve McQueen might soon invalidate their entries after Her and 12 Years a Slave.