Top 10 Movies Directed by People in Their 20s

It takes years for some filmmakers to make a successful, acclaimed film. That's not the case for these guys.
The Top Ten
1 Reservoir Dogs - Quentin Tarantino (28)

From working at his local video store to becoming one of the most popular directors of the last 30 years, Quentin Tarantino's rise to stardom is one of the more interesting rags-to-riches stories in the movie industry. That all started with this masterfully executed crime thriller in the early 90s.

Reservoir Dogs is a unique film in its genre because you never get to see the big event that shapes the film's entire plot. This easily could have made the movie difficult to follow, but Tarantino is such a good writer that you're hooked as soon as the film opens up. This film set the precedent for all of Tarantino's subsequent films: non-linear storytelling, an abundant amount of profanity, a dark sense of humor, and violence. Lots and lots of violence.

2 Jaws - Steven Spielberg (28)

Steven Spielberg was still a relatively young filmmaker at the time Jaws hit theaters. He had only directed a couple of films and was waiting for his chance to reach stardom. Jaws was the movie that launched the career of one of the most successful filmmakers to ever live.

Largely considered the movie that introduced people's fear of sharks, Jaws also basically invented the summer blockbuster. Its script is top notch, the performances from all the actors are riveting, and it creates an atmosphere of uneasiness and fear that few movies have ever managed to pull off.

3 Citizen Kane - Orson Welles (26)

I know that this site is pretty much run by people under the age of 20, so many of you guys have not gotten the chance to watch Orson Welles' masterpiece. The only thing you probably know about it is that it's considered to be one of the greatest films ever made. And trust me, everything critics say about this movie is 100% justified.

At the ripe young age of 26, Orson Welles directed, wrote, produced, and starred as newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane throughout every stage of his life. This movie employed filmmaking techniques that are still being used to this day, has some of the greatest writing and performances in history, and has stood the test of time after existing for over 75 years.

4 The Usual Suspects - Bryan Singer (29)

Before going on to direct the majority of the X-Men films in the 21st century, Bryan Singer burst onto the scene with this crime mystery classic in 1995. Five criminals are brought together in a police round-up by a legendary crime boss named Keyser Soze. The five men stage robberies, assassinations, and heists with one another without seeing the boss of legend.

It's only after a botched heist on a boating dock when the disturbing truth about Soze is revealed. This movie keeps you on the edge of your seat with well-shot action, punchy dialogue, and a compelling mystery element.

5 Creed - Ryan Coogler (29)

Many people were skeptical about continuing the saga of Rocky Balboa after 2006's film seemed to end the legendary boxer's story perfectly. Ryan Coogler stepped up to the plate and delivered a film that pays homage to the movies of the past while maintaining its own identity.

I am not lying when I say that this is one of the most well-directed movies I've ever seen. The cinematography in this movie is something to behold with masterfully crafted long takes, well-choreographed boxing scenes, and phenomenal performances from Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone.

As a Philadelphian, Rocky obviously means a lot to me, and Coogler made a fantastic film that had me clapping from beginning to end.

6 Boogie Nights - Paul Thomas Anderson (27)

Out of all the subjects to tackle as a young director, I would say the porn industry is among the most challenging and controversial. Anderson delivered a star-making film not only for him but for his lead actor Mark Wahlberg as well.

It's a grounded movie about a sensitive subject matter that puts many unstable characters at the forefront. However, it never loses track of its bold themes of loneliness and isolation in such a fragile time as the Golden Age of the industry.

7 American Graffiti - George Lucas (29)

Anybody who mentions the name George Lucas will immediately think of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Darth Vader. But it's interesting to look back at one of Lucas' earliest works, which was a simple yet effective coming-of-age story with no sci-fi elements whatsoever.

A movie that celebrates the joys of being a teenager but also the inevitability of becoming an adult, Lucas writes and directs a film that people of all ages can relate to. At times funny, at times sad, and at times very deep and thought-provoking, American Graffiti is the movie that was able to launch Lucas into a galaxy far, far away.

8 Boyz N The Hood - John Singleton (24)

I've learned over the years that a director's first film is often the film that they're the most passionate about. In many cases, it encapsulates who they are as a filmmaker, and you can tell which issues led to its creation.

John Singleton is a native of South Los Angeles and grew up at a time when race issues and violence were at an all-time high in the late 80s and early 90s. He, along with Cuba Gooding Jr. and Ice Cube in his film debut, was able to craft a fantastic story that encapsulated that point in the city's history. For his talents, he became the first African American and youngest filmmaker to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director.

9 Whiplash - Damien Chazelle (29)

Damien Chazelle's La La Land has become a polarizing film on this website, to say the least. There are those, like myself, who adore it, and there are those who can't stand it. Regardless of how you feel about Chazelle's third movie, we can all agree that his second is a grand accomplishment.

Chronicling the relationship between a young jazz student and his abusive instructor, Whiplash is a movie filled with intensity and passion. That is shown no clearer than in the performance of J.K. Simmons, who delivers one of the most compelling and intimidating acting performances I've seen during this century.

10 Paths of Glory - Stanley Kubrick (29)

Stanley Kubrick is revered as one of, if not the greatest filmmaker to ever have lived. It's no surprise that he was able to hone his craft in the earliest stages of his legendary career. A poignant and compelling anti-war film, Kubrick showed his mastery behind the camera at a young age that people have not seen since Orson Welles 16 years prior.

It portrays both the horrors and humanity of war in equal measure, and it remains one of the greatest war movies ever made. That Kubrick kid has the chance to be something special.

The Contenders
11 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - James Gunn
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