As a follow up to my first article, here are five more visionary filmmakers that are saving us from boring movies.
I love monsters. If I go to a church, I’m more interested in the gargoyles than the saints. I really don’t care much about the idea of normal–that’s very abstract to me. I think that perfection is practically unattainable but imperfection is right at hand. So that’s why I love monsters: because they represent a side of us we should actually embrace and celebrate.—Guillermo Del Toro
Guillermo Del Toro made cinema history this year by winning Oscars for Best Director and Best Picture for The Shape of Water. Even Del Toro’s less successful films have creative ideas that you don’t see in other movies. Del Toro’s commitment to delivering intelligent movies in maligned genres is best expressed in his own words.
To create something daring you must go too far in the darkness, the violence, and the raunchiness then slowly pull back. If you start in the middle, you’re going to end up with something really watered down by the end of it.—Jorge Gutierrez
In a world of homogenous CGI animated films, Jorge Gutierrez’s The Book Of Life delivers a world that is rich both visually and tonally. The plot is just as intricate and complex as Gutierrez’s character designs. There are so many easter-eggs and double-meanings that one viewing isn’t enough to fully appreciate his vision. Gutierrez has said jokingly that he wants to work in video games. I can think of no better medium to fully explore all the creative concepts wrestling in this man’s head.
Art in its finest form elicits empathy, it gets us to see the world through someone else’s eyes, it gets us to experience someone else’s story as if it were ours. In this world that’s so chaotic, having some degree of empathy so that we can all try to see other people’s perspectives is a beautiful thing, and that’s one of the rare things film can do.—Travis Knight
Laika has been making solid films for years and that is in no small part due to the man behind the scenes. Travis Knight has been working at the stop-motion studio since Coraline. Knight’s directorial debut with Kubo and the Two Strings delivered an epic animated adventure film the likes of which we haven’t seen since Atlantis: The Lost Empire. I would encourage any fan of Kubo to watch the film with Knight’s director’s commentary. Knight delivers the most eloquent and humorous director’s commentary track I have ever heard.
I have a way of filming things and staging them and designing sets. There were times when I thought I should change my approach, but in fact, this is what I like to do. It’s sort of like my handwriting as a movie director. And somewhere along the way, I think I’ve made the decision: I’m going to write in my own handwriting.—Wes Anderson
Wes Anderson is an incredibly selective director and chooses to work with limited color palettes and fixed camera angles. His films are immediately recognizable by his unique visual fingerprint. In a cinematic landscape that rewards being contemporary and realistic, Anderson takes the opposite route. He deliberately sets his films in an idealized alternate history where the rules of emotion surpass the rules of logic, even if the characters appear emotionally subdued. I envy Anderson for his ability to create a genre of his own. It’s something fantastic yet grounded and nostalgic yet timeless.
I believed that styles should change to match the material, and I was taught that the mark of a skilled animator is the ability to change their style on the fly. When I was younger, I wanted to experiment with as many modes as I could.—Masaaki Yuasa
Of all the visionaries on this list, none has messed with my head as much as Masaaki Yuasa. This anime director is at the top of his game. From his psychedelic debut with Mindgame to guest directing the “Food Chain” episode of Adventure Time, Yuasa delivers stylized works that defy description. Anime is a medium that even at its weirdest sticks to the routine of giant robots and cute girls. Yuasa isn’t concerned with what’s in vogue. He does his own projects that are often decades ahead of their time. Yuasa is also not a one-trick-pony. He can deliver a charming fairy tale with Lu Over The Wall and a satanic superhero deconstruction with Devilman Crybaby.