Even the best actors will occasionally take a paycheck from a film they know is a stinker, but a great director is the closest Hollywood has to a sure thing. Some of these films may not live up to Raging Bull, The Squid and the Whale or The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but we’ll be giving all 15 directors a chance to wow us once again. Here are 15 films from 15 great directors to look forward to in 2010:
1. Martin Scorsese
Film: Shutter Island
Release Date: February 19
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley
The scoop: Fresh off his first Oscar win for The Departed, Scorsese re-teams with his 21st-century muse, Leonardo DiCaprio, who plays a U.S. Marshall investigating the escape of a murderer from a hospital for the criminally insane.
2. Tim Burton
Film: Alice in Wonderland
Release Date: March 5
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter
The scoop: The trailer and early stills make this match between Lewis Carroll’s classic tale and Burton—the creator of countless wonderlands himself—a perfect fit.
3. Noah Baumbach
Release Date: March 12
Starring: Ben Stiller, Greta Gerwig, Dave Franco, Jennifer Jason Leigh
The scoop: The master of family dysfunction directs his sixth film, starring Stiller as Roger Greenberg, who moves from New York to L.A. to house-sit for his brother and falls for his brother’s housekeeper.
4. Paul Greengrass
Film: Green Zone
Release Date: March 12
Starring: Matt Damon, Jason Isaacs, Greg Kinnear, Brendan Gleeson, Amy Ryan
The scoop: After Greengrass’ gritty portrayal of one of Ireland’s darkest hours in Bloody Sunday, he was handed the Bourne series, and made two of the most compelling action movies we’ve seen. He again teams with Matt Damon, who plays an American investigated the missing weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and stumbles on a cover-up instead.
5. Atom Egoyan
Release Date: March 19
Starring: Julianne Moore, Amanda Seyfried, Liam Neeson, Max Thierot
The scoop: The director of The Sweet Hereafter, Exotica and Ararat explores jealousy and infidelity when a doctor hires a young escort to test her husbands faithfulness.
6. Roman Polanski
Film: The Ghost
Release Date: Spring 2010
Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Kim Cattrall, Ewan McGregor, Tom Wilkinson
The scoop: It’s hard for us not to consider the heinous crime for which Polanski is currently under house arrest, but there’s no denying his talent as a filmmaker. His latest follows a former British Prime Minister writing his memoirs with the help of a ghostwriter, who uncovers secrets that put him at risk.
7 .Christopher Nolan
Release Date: July 16
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard
The scoop: Everything Nolan has done has been fun to watch, and his latest looks to be another mind-blowing affair.
8. Anton Corbijn
Film: The American
Release Date: September 1
Starring: George Clooney, Violante Placido, Thekla Reuten, Paolo Bonacelli
The scoop: He’s only got one feature film under his belt—the Joy Division biopic Control—but we’ve been a fan on Corbijn from his days as music video director, documentarian and photographer. Clooney plays an international assassin ready to retire on his final assignment, and while that sounds like a familiar trope, Clooney isn’t known for picking unoriginal scripts.
9. Darren Aronofsky
Film: Black Swan
Release Date: Fall 2010
Starring: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Winona Ryder
The scoop: Aranofsky’s last film, The Wrestler, made hulking gladiators seem vulnerable. In Black Swan he does the opposite, taking the elegant world of ballet and exposing a vicious underbelly.
10. Anna Boden/Ryan Fleck
Film: It’s Kind of a Funny Story
Release Date: November 2010
Starring: Keir Gilchrist, Zach Galifianakis, Emma Roberts, Viola Davis, Lauren Graham
The scoop: The filmmaking pair of Boden and Fleck have delivered two films (Half Nelson and Sugar) which both managed to be simultaneously sweet and unflinching. Their third is a teenage romance set in a mental health clinic.
11. Michel Gondry
Film: The Green Hornet
Release Date: December 22
Starring: Seth Rogen, Cameron Diaz, Jay Chou, Edward James Olmos, Christoph Waltz
The scoop: A comic-book movie from the director of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotted Mind and a half-dozen Björk videos? Count us in.
12. Clint Eastwood
Release Date: December
Starring: Matt Damon, Bryce Dallas Howard, Cecile de France
The scoop: Eastwood’s transformation from one of the most accomplished actors of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s into one of the most accomplished directors of the ’90s and ’00s has been a pleasure to witness. His latest is a supernatural thriller about a blue-collar American, a French journalist and a London school boy.
13. Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Film: Micmacs (à tire-larigot)
Release Date: 2010
Starring: Dany Boon, Andre Dussollier, Nicolas Marie, Jean-Pierre Marielle, Yolande Moreau
The scoop: Jeunet’s Amélie was our pick for the second best movie of the decade. Micmacs is a carnivalesque revenge tale about a man who was struck by a stray bullet in a drive-by shooting. It comes out in March in the U.K., but no U.S. date has been set.
14. Kevin Macdonald
Film: The Eagle of the Ninth
Release Date: 2010
Starring: Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell, Donald Sutherland, Mark Strong, Tahar Rahim
The scoop: Macdonald was a documentary filmmaker before directing Forest Whitaker as Idi Amin in the Last King of Scotland_. His new film reaches much further back into the past, following a Roman centurion in ancient Britain.
15. Wong Kar-Wai
Film: The Grand Master
Release Date: 2010
Starring: Tony Leung, Zhang Ziyi, Chen Chang, Zhao Benshan, Brigitte Lin
Summary: Wong Kar Wai was scheduled to begin shooting this month on a Bruce Lee biopic, meaning that he’ll be following a Norah Jones road-trip movie with a kung-fu flick. Chang (Crouching Tiger, 2046, Red Cliff) will have his work cut out for him portraying the martial arts legend.