12 Directors Who Have One Awesome Movie in Their Filmography That Annihilates The Rest

Some directors have a track record of excellent work throughout multiple films. In contrast, other directors only need one genuinely great picture to establish their place in cinematic history and in the hearts of moviegoers forever. In this piece, we'll examine the careers of a few filmmakers whose work is dominated by a single masterpiece.

1. M Night Shyamalan

The Last Airbender M. Night Shyamalan
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

An Indian-born writer, Night has 15 films to his directing credit. However, his third directorial movie The Sixth Sense (1999), became his breakthrough movie. This movie litters Night’s list of nominations, winning two for Best Director (Empire Awards, 1999) and Best Screenplay (Bram Stoker Awards, 1999).

2. The Wachowski Sisters

Jupiter Ascending
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Born two and half years apart, Lana and Lilly are a Chicago-bred team of writers and directors who made their directorial debut in 1996. However, their second directorial movie, The Matrix (1999), was ground-breaking, dwarfing their other works. With more than 50 nominations and almost three-dozen awards, what more could they ask for?

3. James McTeigue

Ninja Assassin James McTeigue
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Having honed his skills with The Matrix as assistant director, it's no surprise that McTeigue got nominated for Best Promising Director (Chicago Film Critics Association Awards in 2006) with his directorial debut movie V for Vendetta (2005). Although he has no lime-light film ever since, he has been in collaboration with other film productions.

4. Peter Jackson

The Lovely Bones Peter Jackson
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Jackson's popularity hit the roof after The Lord of the Rings (2001 – 2003). This Trilogy garnered 30 nominations, winning 17 in the Academy Awards alone – both records for any trilogy – including the award for Best Director. Aside from this, it's been a quiet front for him.

5. Frank Darabont

The Walking Dead Frank Darabont
Image Credit: AMC.

Suppose The Shawshank Redemption (1994) has defied time to merit a place in a modern list of adapted screenplays. In that case, its director, Darabont, deserves mention on this list, mainly because it's the one movie of his five movies to date that crowns his directorial effort. This French-born director is also a screenwriter and produces films. A critic shares this sentiment: “Everything else he's directed pales in comparison to Shawshank. It's a masterpiece.”

6. Bryan Singer

Valkyrie Bryan Singer
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Singer was an unusual suspect for the accolades received for his The Usual Suspect (1995) movie that earned him the Empire Award for Best Newcomer in 1996. By the sheer number of nominations, this movie lived up to its hype compared to his other works.

7. Kevin Costner

Yellowstone Kevin Costner
Image Credit: Paramount Network.

Winning 7 of its 12 Academy Awards nominations and ranking fourth-highest in gross in 1990, Dances with Wolves (1990) encapsulates Costner’s debut effort at directing and the Meisterstuck of his directorial list. As one viewer puts it, “Kevin Costner has never had a movie as good as Dances With Wolves.”

8. Richard Kelly

The Box Richard Kelly
Image Credit: The Weinstein Company.

Kelly directed a movie that accumulated 21 nominations and 11 wins. Donnie Darko (2001) even ended up No. 2 on Empire magazine's list of the 50 greatest independent films ever. He has churned out seven other movies ever since, yet they have yet to come close.

9. George Miller

Three Thousand Years of Longing Idris Elba,Tilda Swinton, George Miller
Image Credit: United Artists Releasing.

Twelve of Miller's other movies pale in comparison to Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), which earned 19 nominations (58% of all nominations for films he has directed) and won 10 (71% of all wins for films he has directed).

10. Mark Waters

The Spiderwick Chronicles Mark Waters
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Mean Girls (2005) is the only movie, amongst 12 others, that makes Waters's list of accolades. It won six awards, including MTV Movie Awards for Best On-Screen Team.

11. Michel Gondry

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Michel Gondry, Kate Winslet, Jim Carrey
Image Credit: Focus Features.

Gondry’s best work yet is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004). Like others on this list, it has a list of nominations as long as its name, including Academy Awards for Best Original Screenplay, which it also won.

12. Neill Blomkamp

Elysium Matt Damon, Neill Blomkamp
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing.

Known chiefly for his science fiction District 9 (2009), Blomkamp gave his first shot the best shot as the nominations and awards testify that include IGN Movie Awards for Best Sci-Fi movie.

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