Three Latinos Make Playlist's 'Breakout Directors Of The Year'


Every year, film buffs get themselves in a lather over the latest from their favorite experienced directors. The calendar is marked for the next Spielberg, I'll be there opening day for Scorsese's latest, I am all about Spike Lee, etc. But the real pleasure in being a film fan is stumbling upon the undiscovered, lifting a rock and uncovering a new talent, a new voice, with a brand new vocabulary for us to learn. The Scorsese films will be there for us to discover and rediscover whenever we want. In 2013, however, there was only one Shaka King picture, there was only one Lake Bell joint.

What's exciting about catching a filmmaker with their debut or breakout movie is seeing the birth of a new cinematic language. Not every filmmaker has all the pieces in place so quickly: Brandon Cronenberg's "Antiviral" was one of the year's clunkier debuts, but it was considerably more polished than the early experimental fare from his father David. Even the more modest debuts could foretell the filmmakers that will be running Hollywood a decade from now. And when the earlier films are as accomplished as the ones featured in the following piece, it paints a rosy picture for the future of the industry, one we just don't get to see very often.

Here are a few fresh and emerging faces in filmmaking who provided 2013 with some of its cinematic highlights. If you haven't seen these films yet, make sure you rectify this soon.

[Three Latinos made the list and are highlighted below. Read the full list online here.]

Sebastian Lelio ("Gloria")
You often see the phrase "celebration of life" as a way of describing a film or book, and it never really makes much sense. Every time we take a breath, it's a celebration of life. Every time we kiss someone, it's a celebration of life. We really don't need to gather together and actually celebrate life because we go around doing it every day of our lives. That being said (caveat time!), Sebastian Lelio's "Gloria" is a celebration of a specific person's life, so it certainly makes sense that one would be so ebullient about the subject matter. The Spanish-language picture, Lelio's fifth, was quickly snapped up for an Oscar-qualifying run by Roadside Attractions, and it's easy to see why. The title character, a middle-aged woman a decade removed from a divorce, remains oblivious that she's consistently the last one at the party, drinking herself to the bottom of a glass each and every night. It's mere happenstance that a chance meeting with an older man gives her the opportunity to be an important part of someone else's life, but of course there are various challenges. From Gloria's perspective, her time is being wasted by a schleppy Romeo who doesn't have his affairs in order. But "Gloria," slyly, is also about the compromises we make when we're with someone else, when love and affection is no match for chance, opportunity and circumstance. Lelio could have made an oppressive, downbeat picture, but "Gloria" is packed with spicy humor and a playful spirit that never lets Gloria (as played by an excellent Paulina Garcia) become a victim.

Honorable Mention:
It can be intimidating making your big screen debut on a studio level, but that didn't stop Fede Alvarez ("The Evil Dead") and Andres Muschietti ("Mama") from making an impression, and while their films slightly falter in the third acts, they've deservedly become in-demand names with the studios.