10 Young Directors With The Best Chance To Win An Oscar This Decade

The film industry is as exciting as ever, with new and great filmmaking talent seemingly popping up everywhere. The youngest ever Oscar nominee for directing was John Singleton in 1994, who was just 24 years old, and since then young directors have continued to be in contention for the award.

The recently expanded and more diverse voting body of the Academy has also lead to an increase in women and people of color being nominated for and winning Best Director, producing a more exciting and talented field in recent years. The next decade should bring a host of interesting candidates, with many great filmmakers under 45 primed to take home Best Director.


10 Benh Zielin

Quvenzhane Wallis as Hushpuppy in Beasts of the Southern Wild

Benh Zielin’s first feature film was Beasts of the Southern Wild, which was a surprise hit when it came out in 2012 and was met with critical acclaim. Zielin was nominated for Best Director at only 29 years old and remains one of the most exciting young talents in American filmmaking.

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Zeitlin has only released one film since Beasts of the Southern Wild came out, though his follow up movie Wendy was released just before the pandemic and did poorly at the box office. Wendy had mixed reviews from critics but was praised for Zielin’s incredible visual effects.

9 David Lowery

The green knight Gawain's race change updates and improves the story

David Lowery has one of the most exciting filmographies of any young director not to be nominated for an Oscar already. An eventual Oscar nomination seems almost inevitable for the talented filmmaker, and his 2021 film The Green Knight was filled with memorable characters and was one of the biggest snubs of the 2022 Oscars.

Lowery has shown an ability to work well in a variety of completely different genres, with success in animation, romance, crime dramas, and fantasy epics. His versatility, aided by great screenwriting and a penchant for incredible visual spectacle, should have him in Oscars contention for years to come.

8 Lulu Wang

Two people speak at a party in Posthumous

Lulu Wang has only made two films, with posthumous in 2014 and The Farewell in 2019, but the latter served as a springboard to stardom for the young filmmaker. The semi-autobiographical comedy-drama received acclaim for Wang’s screenplay, and secured nominations at the Golden Globes.

Wang’s next project will be a shift to TV, where she will be the showrunner of the upcoming series Expats starring Nicole Kidman. Whenever Wang decides to return to film she will surely be a competitor for the Best Screenplay and Best Director Oscars, and she has one of the most exciting careers in Hollywood right now.

7 Sarah Polley

Sarah Polley’s career started in acting, as she started as a child actress with her breakout on the show Ramona as the title character. She has starred in a number of feature films since then, and made her feature film directorial debut in 2006 with the critically acclaimed Away From Her.

Polley has not directed a feature film since 2011, but her upcoming movie Women Talking is an early contender amongst prognosticators for the 2023 Oscars. She is one of the most exciting multi-hyphenates working in the industry right now, and should continue to make acclaimed films this decade.

6 Robert Eggers

A split image of Ethan Hawke looking serious in The Northman

Robert Eggers’ unique and eclectic tastes have been unearthed in his three feature films that have ranged from horror to action epics. All of his films have been critically acclaimed, and he has shown his knack for creating incredible visual spectacles out of his mid-sized budgets.

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Eggers has a Kubrick like obsessiveness about his productions, going to extreme efforts across his films to ensure historical accuracy of the production designs and dialogues. His most recent movie The Northman was released in early 2022 and has been one of the best of the year so far.

5 Ryan Coogler

Creed Michael B. Jordan Sylvester Stallone image

Ryan Coogler had success at an incredibly young age, even compared to the other directors on this list, as he made his acclaimed debut Fruitvale Station when he was just 27 years old. He later went on to direct Black Panther (2018), the only Marvel film to receive a Best Picture Nomination.

After his foray into franchise filmmaking with Creed, Black Panther, and the upcoming black panther 2, it will be exciting to see what direction Coogler’s career goes in. With his success so far both critically and commercially, Coogler should continue to be a frequent contender at award shows.

4 Celine Sciamma

Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Though Sciamma has long been acclaimed amongst international audiences and cinephiles, she broke onto the scene with American audiences in 2019 with Portrait of a Lady on Fire. Sciamma has become a sensation since, and should catch the attention of the Academy in the coming decade.

The past few years have seen an increase in foreign language directors being nominated, with filmmakers like Ryusuke Hamaguchi and Thomas Vinterberg receiving acclaim. This trend should continue, opening the door for incredible directors like Sciamma to further their appreciation in the United States.

3 Damien Chazelle

Damien Chazelle is the only director on this list with a Best Director Oscar trophy already to his name, as he became the youngest winner in history in 2017 for LaLaLand. The brilliant filmmaker is still just 37 years old and will likely continued to make great films that pique the interest of the Academy.

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Chazelle’s upcoming movie Babylon, starring Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie, is one of the early frontrunners to be in contention for the 2023 Oscars. Chazelle is one of the hottest directors in Hollywood and has one of the most exciting careers to watch over the next decade.

2 Jordan Peele

Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out

Jordan Peele is another name on this list who already has an Oscar win for Best Original Screenplay, though the Best Director trophy has eluded him. Peele won the award for his feature debut get out, which has already helped launch the director’s career as a modern horror master.

Peele’s upcoming movie nope will be another contender at the Oscars this year, with a stacked cast that includes Steven Yeun and Daniel Kaluuya. Peele’s inventive mix of horror and comedy that has continued a long history of social commentary in the horror genre should keep all of his upcoming films in the running for awards.

1 Greta Gerwig

Greta Gerwig’s first two feature films mark one of the most impressive starts to a career in film history, and she has already received three Oscar nominations. Little Women and Lady Bird were both sensations amongst movie fans and continue to have a lasting legacy.

Gerwig’s next movie Barbie will release in the summer of 2023, and has already been making waves across social media with the colorful set photos. The film will star Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, and should put Gerwig in another great position to contend for an Oscar in 2024.

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