10 Best Directors at Getting Great Actor Performances, According to Reddit

With the new David Fincher movie on Netflix The killer completing filming earlier this year, many fans are already excited to see what one of the greatest acting directors will produce on his newest project. With Paul Thomas Anderson also working on an intriguing new film and Denis Villeneuve creating the second part of Dune, now is a great time to be a movie fan.

That’s because what all these directors have in common is that they’ve produced career-best performances from sometimes relatively unknown or underrated actors. With so many great acting directors working now, Reddit has been spoiled for choice when it came to suggesting the best in the business.

Though best known for the striking visuals that often dominate the conversation around his films, especially his recent adaptation of the sci-fi epic Dune, Denis Villeneuve has also been producing incredible performances by unexpected actors for years. This didn’t go unnoticed by Redditors like Alex45784 who only needed to say “Denis Villeneuve” to get a lot of support.

Inside Blade Runner 2049, the director has managed to reinvigorate a tired looking Harrison Ford on many of his recent projects and has also probably convinced a lot of people just how good an actor former wrestler Dave Bautista can be. Although he now works with some of the best actors in the world, it’s never something the director needed.

While it’s easy to see how great contemporary directors pull off great acting performances, it can be harder when the director in question produced his best work in the 1950s. Fortunately, Redditors like AemiGrant ensure legendary director Elia Kazan isn’t forgotten, saying: “You are sleeping in Elia Kazan. He can get a great performance out of you in your sleep.”

Kazan’s short career as an actor has given him the perfect vision to understand what other actors need to improve their performance, even if this has sometimes led to unconventional practices. His success in this matter is self-evident though, creating memorable screen debuts for Marlon Brando and Andy Griffith.

While raw gems might not be considered a classic yet, there’s no doubting the talents of Josh and Benny Safdie, the brothers who helmed the critically acclaimed crime thriller. Previously, the brothers drove Good time, which starred Robert Pattinson in one of his best performances before The Batman this year.

Nonetheless, raw gems is definitely the reason Redditor Quandale-dingle received so much agreement simply by saying “The safdie brothers” as a suggestion. With a multiple-time Golden Raspberry nominated actor in Adam Sandler as the star, many were surprised to see him slaying a dramatic performance and thought the brothers deserve some credit for that.

Many directors guarantee incredible performances by working only with established actors and using the same actors in different films. That’s why Sean Baker stands out as one of the few to rise to the challenge of doing the exact opposite. Crazy__high redditor explains why this works in his favor.

They describe how he somehow manages “amazing performances by first-time non-actors/actors in The Florida Project and his other films.” The bakery The Florida Project is definitely his most famous example, as he pulls off memorable performances from amateurs and child actors to tell a dark coming-of-age story.

While Reddit moviegoers often like to show their appreciation for directors with a taste for the weird and the surreal, it’s still amazing how much David Lynch’s name has come up in discussions of great actor directors. Redditor Ice_Star_303 explains why he is rated so highly in this area, saying that “every performance is almost perfect for the story part”.

While it’s no surprise that Lynch can bring his bizarre visions to life in his most-watched movies like Rubber and Mulholland Drivethe amazing thing is how he manages to take his actors along with him, often getting performances that no other director could achieve.

Martin Scorsese has been producing some of the most critically acclaimed films for decades and a big part of that is the incredible performances he gets from his actors. Redditor BigBossPM was spoiled for choice when it came to listing examples of this, saying “Just think of Taxi Driver, the Wolf of Wall Street, King of comedy, etc.”

His reputation for giving them a lot of freedom has allowed him to forge great relationships with amazing actors over the years. These include Robert De Niro, with whom he worked on films such as Cabby and the irishand Leonardo DiCaprio, in films such as New York gangs and the wolf of Wall Street. Few directors can boast of such great collaborators and the director seems to enjoy getting the best out of them.

While many of the directors considered to be the greatest in producing incredible performances by actors are also some of the biggest names in Hollywood, it is possible that fewer people are aware of English indie director Mike Leigh. He has his fair share of devoted fans though, with one user, Vinhadizing, “Mike Leigh is the best director of the actor and there is very little to no contest.”

Anyone who has experienced some of his acclaimed films, which include the black comedy-drama Naked and the drama Secrets and Lies, were quick to agree with that sentiment. Many English actors like Gary Oldman and Timothy Spall may not have found the success they have had it not been for Mike Leigh bringing out the best in them early in their film careers.

Fincher is a director known for being a perfectionist, so it’s no surprise that he applies that same strict eye to his actors’ performances as well. The director produced some of the best performances of Brad Pitt’s career in fight club and Jake Gyllenhaal in Zodiac but while they featured great actors in their element, Redditor danstroyer rates it highly for a different reason.

According to them, the best argument for his ability to get the best out of his cast is the fact that he “was able to give us great performances from Tyler Perry and Justin Timberlake.” By getting actors that aren’t rated highly convincing on screen, Fincher achieves something truly impressive.

Paul Thomas Anderson regularly appears on lists of the greatest directors of all time, thanks to a heavy catalog of films like Boogie NightsLiquorice Pizza, and The master which are all favorites among movie buffs. Reddit particularly reveres the director, and when the botcoob user came up with the name Anderson, he received no lack of agreement.

His pitch was also compelling because, in addition to producing some Oscar-worthy performances from his regular collaborators like Philip Baker Hall and Philip Seymour Hoffman, “he even got mind-blowing performances from Adam Sandler and Tom Cruise.” While neither of them is a bad actor, it’s still incredibly impressive that he always manages to get the best out of his cast.

There’s only one director that Reddit considers the true master at bringing incredible performances from actors and that’s Darren Aronofsky. Redditor Monarch explains why, explaining that “Darren Aronofsky has gotten the best performances of his career from decent actors with better consistency than any other director.”

They then pointed to specific performances by actors in Requiem for a dream, black swanwhich was Natalie Portman’s only Oscar-winning performance, and Mother!, which showcased Jennifer Lawrence at her best as an actress. With that background, many had to agree that Darren Aronofsky is the greatest director when it comes to acting performances.

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