5 Films That Kicked Off Award-Winning Directors' Careers

SnagFilms / SnagFilms

Everyone has seen the “standards” from major, award-winning directors, but if you want the upper hand at your next trivia night, add these under-the-radar but equally impressive films to your queue and start watching for free on SnagFilms.  Sign up to watch these gems and other great movies in seconds.

1. The Grifters

Stephen Frears achieved mainstream success with High Fidelty and The Queen (not to mention directing Helen Mirren to her Oscar win), but in 1990 he directed his way to his first Academy Award nomination with The Grifters. A neo-noir thriller starring John Cusack and Angelica Huston, The Grifters answers what happens when three con-artists try to outfox each other. You can watch this and other great films in seconds by signing up for SnagFilms…you know you want to.

Fun Fact: Martin Scorsese was originally attached to direct the film, but brought on Frears and subsequently produced the film.

2. The Brother from Another Planet

John Sayles earned Oscar nominations for Lone Star and Passion Fish, but he earned his place in the cult classic hall of fame with The Brother from Another Planet. The story of a three-toed mutant alien who escapes to Harlem, The Brother from Another Planet exemplifies Sayles’ quirky sensibilities. Sign up for SnagFilms now and watch instantly.

Fun Fact: Sayles partially funded the film with earnings from a MacArthur Fellowship.

3. The Cruise

You might never have imagined that the man who directed Capote and Moneyball got his start making documentaries, but Bennett Miller’s directorial debut was the Toronto Film Festival favorite The Cruise. A profile of Timothy “Speed” Levitch, one of New York’s most unconventional tour guides, Miller finessed his ability to capture the inner lives of rich characters that has defined his narrative work. You won’t want to miss this offbeat character, and guess what: he’s on SnagFilms.

Fun Fact: Levitch capitalized off of his film debut and in 2012 landed his own show called “Up to Speed” on Hulu.

4. Il Grido

Michelangelo Antonioni, considered one of the greatest directors ever with a resume boasting Blow Up and L’avventura, began racking in the awards with his 1957 classic Il Grido.  A key transitional film from his neo-realist documentary roots to the elliptical, aimless structure of his later masterpieces, Il Grido follows a man as he drifts from town to town, away from the woman he loved. Come on, we dare you—watch on SnagFilms now.

Fun Fact: Antonioni, who was awarded an honorary Academy Award in 1995, is noted in Oscar lore with the shortest acceptance speech ever: “Grazie.”

5. Benny’s Video

Although American audiences might know Michael Haneke after his most recent, stunning Academy Award winner Amour, his first major directorial work packed just as much of a punch. With Benny’s Video, which is centered on a disturbed young teenager who views his life as distilled video images, Haneke began to develop his signature, static style. Watch the horror-of-personality classic on SnagFilms by signing up now.

Fun Fact: Haneke worked in television for over 20 years before he tried his hand at film. Looks like it worked out for him.
* * *
With SnagFilms, you can watch all of these films and thousands more instantly and for free. Register now and you’ll be one step closer to movie-watching bliss.