Top 10 Amazing Movies Directors Made Before They Were 25

Top 10 Amazing Movies Directors Made Before They Were 25

VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Garrett Alden
These film prodigies started their careers with a bang! For this list, we'll be going over some of the best films made by directors before they turned 25. Our countdown includes “George Washington”, “El Mariachi”, “The Evil Dead”, and more!

top 10 amazing movies directors made before they were 25

Welcome to WatchMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 amazing movies directors made before they were 25.

For this list, we’ll be going over some of the best films made by directors before they turned 25. To be clear, that means if they were 25-year-old or older during production, then they won’t be considered – not even a movie as great as Orson Wells’ “Citizen Kane.”

If there’s a fantastic movie made by a director before they could rent a car that somehow missed our list, let us know in the comments!

#10: “Nights and Weekends” (2008)

This micro budget indie film was written and directed by its two stars, Greta Gerwig and Joe Swanberg. However, of the two, only Gerwig was under 25 at the time of the film’s debut, being 24 years old. The film’s titular “Nights and Weekends” refers to its two leads’ availability for each other, as their relationship is long distance. The film is divided into two, with the second half taking place a year after the first and detailing how their relationship falls apart. Indie films commonly feature directors who write and star in their productions, and Gerwig proves adept in all aspects of the production despite her young age.

#9: “George Washington” (2000)

Another film made and first released when its director, David Gordon Green, was still 24, “George Washington” centers on a story of people even more youthful than its creator. The movie follows a group of preteens in rural North Carolina during a summer in which a tragic accident brings them together, and makes an unlikely hero out of one of them. The performances from the young actors are excellent, and the cinematography is gorgeous as well. Green has gone on to direct everything from comedies to horror, and “George Washington” proved he had potential right from the beginning of his career.

#8: “Tiny Furniture” (2010)

One of the first features by writer/director/star Lena Dunham, who was only 23 during production, “Tiny Furniture” was also made on a tiny budget. The film depicts Dunham as Aura, a film school graduate who finds herself in the weird middle ground between school and real life. Returning to live with her mother and sister, who are played by Dunham’s real mother and real sister, Aura struggles with finding a job and a direction in life. The whole film plays like a demo for Dunham’s most notable work, the TV series “Girls,” even featuring some of the same cast members, as well as similar themes.

#7: “Mommy” (2014)

Xavier Dolan has directed a surprising number of films at a young age, several of them dealing with mother-son relationships. Our pick goes to 2014’s “Mommy,” which the Canadian director produced while he was 24. Set in Quebec, Canada, the film details the difficult relationship between a mother and her son who is prone to violent outbursts. Shot using an unusual aspect ratio and featuring several notable uses of music, “Mommy” is a raw look at familial dynamics and the way society treats mental illness. Although it may run a bit long, “Mommy” is still one of Dolan’s best.

#6: “Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles” (1975)

Belgian director Chantal Akerman was 24 years old when this arthouse film was released in the ‘70s. Feminist filmmaking was just being brought about during this time, and while Akerman may have been reluctant to associate her work with essential feminism, there’s no arguing how much “Jean Dielman” helped push it forward. The motion picture follows the titular character over the course of several days. A single mother, Dielman makes ends meet as a sex worker. The flick revels in the minutiae of Dielman’s life and it was one of the few pieces of cinema at the time that didn’t sugarcoat or exaggerate the life of a mother.

#5: “Duel” (1971)

Steven Spielberg is one of the biggest names in Hollywood in the last 50 years. His feature directorial debut at the age of 24 was “Duel,” a made for TV film about a traveling salesman who is menaced by an unseen driver. Fraught with tension throughout, “Duel” is an early example of Spielberg’s skill with suspense as well as his ability to engross the audience in a character’s mindset. David Mann’s one-man battle of wills against an inscrutable foe is thrilling from start to finish, and like the vehicles it focuses on, it moves fast.

#4: “El Mariachi” (1992)

Robert Rodriguez made “El Mariachi” on a wing and a prayer. Also, an around 7 thousand dollar production budget. This neo-western film follows a case of mistaken identity. A drug lord puts out a hit on a criminal carrying a guitar case full of guns, only for the titular Mariachi to be mistaken for the drug lord’s target. Featuring a simple, yet engaging plot, with some nicely executed action, “El Mariachi” jumpstarted Rodriguez’s career and did surprisingly well at the box office, grossing over 2 million dollars and leading to several sequels. Not bad for a 23-year-old!

#3: “Clerks” (1994)

Kevin Smith’s seminal work, “Clerks” follows a day in the life of two clerks at a convenience and video store, as well as the customers and acquaintances they contend with throughout the day. Shot in black and white and made on a shoestring budget, “Clerks” proved to be quite the successful indie film. Smith’s trademark natural, yet hilarious dialogue is cemented here. It’s not hard to see why he went on to further success, given how real and entertaining his characters feel – even if the one he plays has a nickname as absurd as “Silent Bob.” And to think: he was only 23 during the film’s production!

#2: “The Evil Dead” (1981)

You know that old cliché – bunch of kids go to a cabin in the woods and face some kind of supernatural evil? Well, “The Evil Dead” basically codified that trope. Directed by Sam Raimi, who had just turned 20 when filming began, “The Evil Dead” is a fantastic horror movie that sees a group of friends picked off one by one until only one remains to face the undead menace alone. While Raimi would later improve upon “The Evil Dead” with its sequels, the original is still a fantastic film, and an important one for both independent cinema and the horror genre - released just short of the director’s 22nd birthday!

#1: “Boyz n the Hood” (1991)

Featuring an all-star cast of then up-and-coming actors, this crime drama follows a group of young Black men who wrestle with their future because of the violence in their neighborhood and the uphill battle they face in trying to escape it. An important film for its nuanced characters and touching story, “Boyz n the Hood” is made even more remarkable for how young its writer/director, John Singleton was at the time, being aged 22 during filming and 23 when it came out in the theaters. Then, at 24, Singleton became the youngest director to ever be nominated for an Oscar. “Boyz n the Hood” is certainly deserving of this and other honors.