Where are the next great American directors?

A really interesting observation. The 80s and 90s saw a slew of brilliant American filmmakers making their debut. Example, in the 80s we saw the likes of Spike Lee, Steven Soderbergh, Jim Jarmusch, Oliver Stone, Jonathan Demme, Michael Mann, John Sayles, Gus Van Sant, Tim Burton, Sam Raimi, Joel and Ethan Coen and Kathryn Bigelow, John Hughes and Barry Levinson.

The 1990's was even better due to the indie film movement blossoming into its peak: Quentin Tarantino, Richard Linklater, Kevin Smith, Darren Aronofsky, Spike Jonze, Todd Solondz, Todd Haynes, Alexander Payne, David O Russell, Paul Thomas Anderson, David Fincher, Kelly Reichardt, Brad Bird among many more made their first films that decade.

Think of an American director who had his film debut at the earliest in 2003, who has built a solid reputation and has had a legitimately important impact on cinema in the same vein as the names I just mentioned? Anyone? I can think of many directors born outside the United States: Dardenne, Glazer, Villeneuve, Joon-Ho, McQueen, Farhadi, Lanthimos, Chan-Wook, Refn, Mungiu, Weerasethakul, Wright, Arnold.

So, what about the 2000s? 2010s? American filmmaking giants emerging from these decades are scant and few. There's Kenneth Lonergan whose "You Can Count on Me," "Margaret" and "Manchester by the Sea" represent a masterful trio of despair. I guess Tom McCarthy should count as well, despite the lack of an actual distinctive voice, he's managed to make some top-notch films ("The Visitor," "The Station Agent," "Spotlight," "Win-Win."), there's Bennett Miller ("Capote," "Moneyball," "Foxcatcher"), whether you like him or not you probably have to include Damien Chazelle ("Whiplash," "La La Land") into the mix. Jeff Nichols as well ("Take Shelter," "Mud," "Loving") Charlie Kaufman? I guess, although he did start as a screenwriter for Spike Jonze in the 90s and then decided to upgrade to the director's chair in the aughts ("Synechdoche NY," "Animolisa"). JC Chandor is building up somewhat of an intriguing oeuvre at the moment ("Margin Call," "All Is Lost," "A Most Violent Year"), Sofia Coppola, although she's never really found a way to match the quality of her first two films ("The Virgin Suicides" "Lost in Translation"). I also feel like Jeremy Saulnier will be included here soon, he's only made two films ("Blue Ruin" and "Green Room) but he's surely made a mark ditto Ryan Coogler ("Fruitvale Station" and "Creed"), Mike Mills ("Thumbsucker," "20th Century Women," and Begginers") and Ava DuVernay ("Middle of Nowhere," "Selma" and "The 13th") Another director I'm not sure about is Judd Apatow whose best work ("The 40-Year-old Virgin," Knocked Up," and "Trainwreck") has been marred by disappointments as well ("Funny People," and "This Is 40")

That's pretty much it. Am I missing anybody? The amount of new talent that has grown from the American studio system since the 2000s is pathetic when compared to the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Of course, I didn't forget Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Christopher Nolan, Paul Greengrass and Denis Villeneuve, Edgar Wright, but they're not American.

So what doe this all mean? It means that the directors that started in the 70s, 80s and 90s have to pick up the slack, and even they are not being given as many opportunities as possible these days, what with Hollywood's current fascination with sequels and comic book movies. Also, they can't live forever, many of them are well into their late 60s and early 70s. It's a very interesting time we're living in at the movies. Who will pick up the slack? It's not unrealistic to think that more foreign filmmakers will be coming in to pick up the slack what with Cuaron, Del Toro, Inarritu, Joon-Ho Bong, James Wan, Martin McDonaugh and Yorgos Lanthimos all having made the plunge to American cinema this decade.

So what's the future of American cinema like? It looks bleak to say the least, but there are still some filmmakers starting to form impressive filmographies, despite the studio system not being interested in giving them any kind of creative freedom or room for original thought.