watchworthy presents

The Best Directorial Debuts Since 2010, Ranked 

Ranker Film
Updated October 13, 2018 438 votes 52 voters 51 items

List Rules Only feature film directorial debuts.

While it may be surprising, some of the best films released since 2010 were directorial debuts. Sure, every famous director has their first film, but how many of these first films turn out to be some of the best movies of their time? Well, there are actually quite a few recent directorial debuts that stand up to top films from seasoned directors. In fact, you may not even realize some of the movies here were the directors' first crack at directing. 

From hit action flicks to hilarious comedies, these first-time directors have brought us some great movies since 2010. Moreover, you may notice a number of these debuts come from established actors like Joseph Gordon-Levitt with Don Jon, as well as Jordan Peele with his hit horror film, Get Out. Even the ever-popular Deadpool was a directorial debut. Of all these great films, which do you think are the best directorial debut movies since 2010? 

Take a look at the list below and vote up your favorites from these first-time directors. You may even find one of your favorites!

Data-driven recommendations based on voting from over 40 million monthly visits to Ranker. Try the free app
list ordered by
1
Ex Machina is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Since 2010, Ranked
Alex Garland

Actors: Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, Oscar Isaac

Released: 2015

Ex Machina is a 2015 independent science fiction psychological thriller film directed by Alex Garland. A young programmer (Domhnall Gleeson) is selected to participate in a ground-breaking ...more

More Ex Machina 

#152 of 387 The Best Movies to Watch While Stoned #60 of 161 The Best Dystopian And Near Future Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

2
Get Out is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Since 2010, Ranked
Jordan Peele

Actors: Daniel Kaluuya, Catherine Keener, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Caleb Landry Jones, + more

Get Out is a 2017 American horror film directed by Jordan Peele. A young African-American (Daniel Kaluuya) visits his white girlfriend's parents for the weekend, where his simmering uneasiness ...more

More Get Out 

#257 of 816 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time Things You Didn't Know About The Making Of Jordan Peele's 'Get Out'listed on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

3
Lady Bird is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Since 2010, Ranked
Greta Gerwig

Actors: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet, + more

Released: 2017

Lady Bird is a 2017 American comedy-drama film directed by Greta Gerwig. The adventures of a young woman (Saoirse Ronan) living in Northern California for a year.

More Lady Bird 

#12 of 21 The Most Memorable Prom Dresses In Movies #29 of 102 The Best Movies of 2017, Ranked #25 of 46 Every Single Movie On Rotten Tomatoes With 100% Approval, Ranked

4
Deadpool is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Since 2010, Ranked
Tim MIller

Actors: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T.J. Miller, Gina Carano, + more

Released: 2016

Deadpool is a 2016 American superhero film directed by Tim Miller, based on the Marvel Comics character. After being given mutant abilities with a scarred physical appearance, Wade Wilson (Ryan ...more

More Deadpool 

#18 of 174 The Greatest Comic Book Movies of All Time #317 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made

5
This Is the End is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Since 2010, Ranked
Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen

Actors: James Franco, Jonah Hill, Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, + more

Released: 2013

This Is the End is a 2013 American disaster comedy film directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, and an adaptation of their 2007 short film Jay and Seth versus the Apocalypse. After a series of ...more

More This Is the End 

#559 of 1,017 The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films #316 of 1,199 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time #235 of 460 The Most Quotable Movies of All Time

6
Eighth Grade is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Since 2010, Ranked
Bo Burnham

Actors: Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton, Emily Robinson, Daniel Zolghadri, Greg Crowe

Released: 2018

Eighth Grade is a 2018 American comedy film directed by Bo Burnham. An eighth grader (Elsie Fisher) struggles to finish her last week of classes before embarking for high school.

More Eighth Grade 

#1,550 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #33 of 38 The Best Movies With A Little Girl Protagonist

7
10 Cloverfield Lane is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Since 2010, Ranked
Dan Trachtenberg

Actors: John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher, Jr.

10 Cloverfield Lane is a 2016 American science fiction psychological thriller film directed by Dan Trachtenberg. The film was developed from a script titled The Cellar, but under production by ...more

More 10 Cloverfield Lane 

#468 of 816 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time #10 of 177 The Very Best Movies of 2016, Ranked 'Cloverfield' Theories To Read Up On Before Streaming 'The Cloverfield Paradox'

8
Don Jon is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Since 2010, Ranked
Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Actors: Scarlett Johansson, Anne Hathaway, Emily Blunt, Julianne Moore, Channing Tatum, + more

Released: 2013

Don Jon is a 2013 American romantic comedy-drama film written and directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Produced by Ram Bergman and Nicolas Chartier, the film stars Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett ...more
9
John Wick is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Since 2010, Ranked
Chad Stahelski, David Leitch

Actors: Keanu Reeves, Willem Dafoe, Adrianne Palicki, Bridget Moynahan, Ian McShane, + more

Released: 2014

John Wick is a 2014 American action thriller film directed by Chad Stahelski and David Leitch. Starring Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Adrianne Palicki, Bridget Moynahan, Dean ...more

More John Wick 

#276 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made #337 of 395 The Greatest Movie Themes The Best 'John Wick' Fight Scenes

10
Coco is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Since 2010, Ranked
Lee Unkrich

Actors: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Renee Victor, Ana Ofelia Murguia, + more

Coco is a 2017 American 3D computer-animated musical fantasy adventure film directed by Lee Unkrich. Aspiring musician Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) teams up with charming trickster Hector (Gael ...more

More Coco 

#58 of 110 The Best Disney Animated Movies of All Time 10 Facinating Facts Most People Don't Know About The Dog Breed From Disney's 'Coco'listed on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

11
Nightcrawler is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Since 2010, Ranked
Dan Gilroy

Actors: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Bill Paxton, Riz Ahmed, Bird York, + more

Released: 2014

Nightcrawler is a 2014 American neo-noir thriller film written and directed by Dan Gilroy in his directorial debut. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal who starts shooting footage in Los Angeles and ...more
12
The Babadook is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Since 2010, Ranked
Jennifer Kent

Actors: Essie Davis, Daniel Henshall, Adam Morgan, Hayley McElhinney, Craig Behenna, + more

Released: 2014

The Babadook is a 2014 Australian psychological horror film, written and directed by Jennifer Kent, in which a woman and her son are tormented by a "boogie-man" type monster. The film ...more

More The Babadook 

#86 of 250 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #118 of 816 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time #46 of 114 The Best Intelligent Horror Movies

13
Hereditary is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Since 2010, Ranked
Ari Aster

Actors: Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff, Ann Dowd, Milly Shapiro

Released: 2018

Hereditary is a 2018 American horror film directed by Ari Aster. As an overwhelming terror takes over their household, the Graham family's peaceful existence is ripped apart, forcing their ...more

More Hereditary 

#107 of 250 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #7 of 22 Horror Movies You Can't Even Finish Watching Ari Aster's Gutting Horror Film 'Hereditary' May Have Been Just As Scary Behind The Scenes

14
A Girl Walks Home Alone ... is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Since 2010, Ranked
Ana Lily Amirpour

Actors: Marshall Manesh, Mozhan Marnò, Dominic Rains, Rome Shadanloo, Reza Sixo Safai, + more

Released: 2014

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is a 2014 American vampire western film directed by Ana Lily Amirpour. Arash (Arash Marandi) is caring for his addict father and being harrassed by a drug dealer ...more

More A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night 

#103 of 114 The Best Intelligent Horror Movies #8 of 100 The Best Movies On Shudder #61 of 82 Great Movies About Furious Women Out for Revenge

15
The Cabin in the Woods ... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Since 2010, Ranked
Drew Goddard

Actors: Chris Hemsworth, Sigourney Weaver, Amy Acker, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins, + more

Released: 2012

The Cabin in the Woods is a 2012 American horror comedy film directed by Drew Goddard in his directorial debut, produced by Joss Whedon, and written by Whedon and Goddard. The film stars Kristen ...more

More The Cabin in the Woods 

#751 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #52 of 816 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time

16
Night Comes On is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Since 2010, Ranked
Night Comes On Jordana Spiro

Actors: Dominique Fishback, Tatum Marilyn Hall, Journee Brown, Cymbal Byrd, Max Casella

Released: 2018

Night Comes On is a 2018 drama film directed by Jordana Spiro. Released from juvenile detention on the eve of her 18th birthday, Angel LaMere (Dominique Fishback) embarks on a journey with her ...more
17
The Lego Batman Movie is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Since 2010, Ranked
The Lego Batman Movie Chris McKay

Actors: Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes, + more

Released: 2017

The Lego Batman Movie is a 2017 3D computer-animated superhero comedy film directed by Chris McKay. A cooler-than-ever Bruce Wayne (Will Arnett) must deal with the usual suspects as they plan to ...more

More The Lego Batman Movie 

#18 of 102 The Best Movies of 2017, Ranked #84 of 108 The Greatest Directorial Debuts Of All Time

18
Despicable Me is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Since 2010, Ranked
Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud

Actors: Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Kristen Wiig, Miranda Cosgrove, + more

Released: 2010

Despicable Me is a 2010 American 3D computer-animated comedy film directed by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud. When a mastermind (Steve Carell) uses a trio of orphan girls as pawns for a grand ...more

More Despicable Me 

#10 of 598 The Best Animated Films Ever #43 of 410 The Best Rainy Day Movies 20 Fun Facts About the Minions

19
Molly's Game is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Since 2010, Ranked
Molly's Game Aaron Sorkin

Actors: Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera, Brian d'Arcy James, + more

Molly's Game is a 2017 American drama film written and directed by Aaron Sorkin. Based on the memoir by Molly Bloom, the film tells the true story of an Olympic-class skier (Jessica Chastain) ...more
20
Fruitvale Station is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Since 2010, Ranked
Ryan Coogler

Actors: Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz, Octavia Spencer, Ahna O'Reilly, Kevin Durand, + more

Released: 2013

Fruitvale Station is a 2013 American biographical drama film directed by Ryan Coogler, based on true events. The story of Oscar Grant III (Michael B. Jordan), a 22-year-old Bay Area resident, ...more

More Fruitvale Station 

#37 of 108 The Greatest Directorial Debuts Of All Time #11 of 51 The Most Woke Movies of All Time #16 of 31 31 Movie Trailers That Made You Weep

21
The Gift is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Since 2010, Ranked
The Gift Joel Edgerton

Actors: Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall, Joel Edgerton

The Gift is a 2015 American-Australian psychological horror-thriller film written, co-produced, and directed by Joel Edgerton in his directorial debut. The film stars Jason Bateman and Rebecca ...more

More The Gift 

#137 of 250 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #16 of 75 The Best Blumhouse Productions Movies

22
Kung Fu Panda 2 is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Since 2010, Ranked
Jennifer Yuh Nelson

Actors: Angelina Jolie, Lucy Liu, Dustin Hoffman, Gary Oldman, Jack Black, + more

Released: 2011

Kung Fu Panda 2 is a 2011 3D American computer-animated action comedy-drama martial arts film, directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson, produced by DreamWorks Animation, and distributed by Paramount ...more

More Kung Fu Panda 2 

#92 of 598 The Best Animated Films Ever #491 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #78 of 88 Animated Movies That Make You Cry the Most

23
Pitch Perfect is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Since 2010, Ranked
Jason Moore

Actors: Anna Kendrick, Elizabeth Banks, Brittany Snow, Rebel Wilson, Alexis Knapp, + more

Released: 2012

Pitch Perfect is a 2012 American musical comedy film directed by Jason Moore. Featuring an ensemble cast, including Anna Kendrick, Skylar Astin, Rebel Wilson, Anna Camp, Brittany Snow, Ester ...more

More Pitch Perfect 

#314 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #35 of 302 The Greatest Soundtracks of All Time The Best Songs in Pitch Perfect and Pitch Perfect 2

24
Martha Marcy May Marlene... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Since 2010, Ranked
Sean Durkin

Actors: Elizabeth Olsen, Sarah Paulson, Hugh Dancy, John Hawkes, Brady Corbet, + more

Released: 2011

Martha Marcy May Marlene is a 2011 American drama thriller film written and directed by Sean Durkin, and starring Elizabeth Olsen, John Hawkes, Sarah Paulson, and Hugh Dancy. The plot focuses on ...more

More Martha Marcy May Marlene 

#27 of 52 The Best Horror Movies About Cults and Conspiracies #12 of 16 Movies That Make You Say 'What?' When They Suddenly Cut To End Credits #17 of 53 The Best Movies About Cults

25
Attack the Block is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Directorial Debuts Since 2010, Ranked
Joe Cornish

Actors: Nick Frost, John Boyega, Luke Treadaway, Jodie Whittaker, Chris Wilson, + more

Released: 2011

Attack the Block is a 2011 British science fiction comedy film. The film was written and directed by Joe Cornish and stars Jodie Whittaker, John Boyega, Nick Frost and Luke Treadaway. Attack the ...more

More Attack the Block 

#610 of 1,017 The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films #66 of 135 The Scariest Animal Movies Ever Made