Best Directorial Debuts Of 2021, Ranked

One of the more exciting developments from last year’s movies was the number of new and exciting directors that made their debut. Some first-timers helped revitalize a genre or give it a breath of fresh air, like Adam McKay, did with the inclusion of animation in his sports dramedy, The Big Short after directing mostly comedies in the past, and some artists are returning to cinema after a prolonged hiatus, including Steven Soderbergh whose movie Logan Lucky continued where his famous indie project Sex, Lies, and Videotape left off.

With that being said, here’s a list of the best directional debuts of 2021, ranked in ascending order –

Pig

Pig (2021)
Pig (2021)

One of the biggest surprises of the past year definitely has to be Michael Sarnoski’s Pig, starring Nicolas Cage. Based on a Korean film from 2008 called A Dirty Carnival, Cage plays the role of Howard Timberlake, a truffle hunter who hides away in his house after his pet pig is kidnapped. Also living reclusively and only venturing out once in a while to get supplies or food for himself, Howard becomes distraught after noticing the disappearance of his beloved pet and sets off into the city to track it down any way he can. The premise seems comical at first, but Pig has been regarded as a surprisingly powerful story with heart-wrenching moments and strong performances by both Cage and co-star Ellen Burstyn. It is a movie not just worth its price tag but also many multiple viewings.

History Of The Occult

History of the Occult (2021)
History of the Occult (2021)

The Argentinian movie presented audiences with one of the most promising new horror movies in 2021. The movie, written and directed by Cristian Ponce, follows a TV journalist as he watches his show’s final broadcast. He seeks to expose a massive conspiracy involving a satanic cult. There have been numerous films involving witches and warlocks that have left their mark on our culture. But none have been handled in quite the same way as this one. Its grounded approach has intrigued many fans who had longed for another scary tale along the lines of Rosemary’s Baby or The Exorcist.

Prayers For The Stolen

Prayers for the Stolen (2021)
Prayers for the Stolen (2021)

This movie has been making waves since its release in early December 2021. The much-anticipated Mexican film, based on a novel of the same name, centers around girls trying to survive in a godforsaken town stuck with the problems of drug trafficking and human trafficking. This coming-of-age story from Huezo is both fascinating and powerful stuff – you’re sure to love it.

My First Summer

My First Summer (2021)
My First Summer (2021)

This movie took audience members on an emotional ride as it follows two young women who fall in love with each other in a therapeutic context. The movie is about a young woman named Jane who has lived her whole life in the woods away from civilization. After becoming lost in the forest, she learns how to mature and survive on her own. In the eerie wilderness, Jane eventually meets a woman named Sarah and a pivotal friendship ensues.

The Cleaner

The Cleaner (2021)
The Cleaner (2021)

This latest debut from first-time filmmaker Glenn Barit is a unique comedy/drama. It has transcended language as well as cultural barriers to tell its stories. The story follows a group of teens in a school cleaning program who all have their own unique struggles with feeling misunderstood by their peers. Working in their favor is a gang of misfit friends who are always there for one another. Barit filmed the movie using an unorthodox approach in many ways. But it helped make his main characters feel special by making them look more vulnerable and real onscreen.

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