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The director Denis Villeneuve called "one of the most exciting filmmakers working today"


When a filmmaker like Denis Villeneuve speaks up about the finest films and directors of contemporary cinema, it’s wise to heed his call and seek out such modern classics, after all, Villeneuve speaks from good authority.

Responsible for some of the finest films of recent memory, the Canadian filmmaker has brought his unique approach to epic, spectacular cinema with the likes of Arrival, Enemy and Blade Runner 2049, with each film introducing something new to their respective genre. 

His latest masterpiece is the Oscar-nominated adaptation of Frank Herbert’s fantasy novel Dune, succeeding where the likes of David Lynch and Alejandro Jodorowsky have failed, by releasing a vast science fiction adventure that captures the essence of the classic story. Starring a bulging Hollywood cast including the likes of Zendaya, Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Jason Momoa and Javier Bardem, Dune became a critical and commercial sensation when it was released in 2021. 

Constantly inspired by classic cinema, Villeneuve always keeps the masters of the artform in the back of his mind whenever he’s creating a new movie, pointing to the likes of Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick and Paul Thomas Anderson as some of his past favourites. Whilst films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Vertigo and There Will Be Blood often find their way onto favourite film lists, it is the director’s fixation with modern masters of the art form that draws a little more interest.

Denis Villeneuve once named his 20 favourite films of all time

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One of the most contemporary films on his list of favourites is Dogtooth, a 2009 drama by director Yorgos Lanthimos, a film Villeneuve describes as “the most refreshing thing I’ve seen in a long time,” in conversation with The New York Times. The intricate, twisted family drama follows a manipulative father who keeps his three adult children housebound and restricted to a very rudimentary understanding of the world around them. 

“I’m still laughing at the crazy adults running to catch aeroplanes falling into their garden, because their father convinced them that they were fruit dropping from the sky,” Villeneuve exclaims, making reference to one particular moment in the film that well balances comedy and tragedy. Having since excelled in independent cinema following the success of Dogtooth, the Dune director notes, “Yorgos Lanthimos may be one of the most exciting filmmakers working today”.

Having emerged as one of the great European directors in recent years, Yorgos Lanthimos has achieved considerable success with The Lobster, The Killing of a Sacred Deer and The Favourite since the release of Dogtooth in 2009. He now stands shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the most experimental filmmakers working in the 21st century, joining the likes of Ruben Östlund, Ari Aster and Robert Eggers.