10 Directors Who Should Make A James Bond Movie

skyfall banner 10 Directors Who Should Make A James Bond Movie

This coming Tuesday, February 12th, Sam Mendes’ Skyfall arrives on DVD and Blu-Ray, thus completing its staggeringly successful $1 billion-plus run around the globe. Now that the dust has settled around what many consider to be one of the very best James Bond films, it seems like as good a time as any to start thinking about the future of the franchise – especially when Skyfall itself put so many promising pieces in place for upcoming installments.

Even more importantly, Mendes’ film left Daniel Craig’s Bond in a place where he is ripe for further reinvention and experimentation. While I personally would like to see Mendes make at least one more film with Craig before departing the franchise – creative chemistry that successful is too good to pass up – Skyfall clearly left the door open for other filmmakers to come in and leave their own artistic stamp on the franchise. At the film’s conclusion, I can imagine this version of Bond going in many different directions, each of them as valid as the next, and it excites me to think about what other directors might bring to the series at this particular juncture.

Thus, I have assembled a list of the 10 contemporary directors I would personally be most interested in seeing tackle a James Bond movie. This is only a silly thought-exercise, of course, and I have no doubt most of these ideas will never come to fruition, but it can, after all, be fun to speculate. The list is unranked (so as not to enrage the Christopher Nolan fanboys if I failed to give him the #1 spot), arranged instead in alphabetical order.

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Tomas Alfredson

Tomas Alfredson 0081 10 Directors Who Should Make A James Bond Movie

First on the list is a director who will probably never work on this series – Alfredson does not seem to be the type interested in big-budget blockbusters – but would probably make a pretty spectacular Bond film if he did. Alfredson directed one of the all-time great horror films with Let the Right One In, and while that film showcased a miraculous eye for visuals, tension, and character, it is his most recent effort, the fantastic Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, that showcased his ability to tell a truly great spy yarn. And while Tinker is a classical, slow-burn espionage piece – devoid of the intense action that populates most Bond films – we should remember that James Bond is a spy, not an action hero, at heart, and some of the best Bond films – like Skyfall – are the ones that focus on 007’s ability as a detective. I think it would be fascinating to see Alfredson fuse his precise, highly intellectual style with the world of James Bond; the results would be unlike anything we have ever seen before, and that could be a very good thing.

And who knows? Maybe Alfredson could even get Tinker star Gary Oldman to come on board as a villain…

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Kathryn Bigelow

Kathryn Bigelow 010 10 Directors Who Should Make A James Bond Movie

No woman has ever directed a James Bond film, and Kathryn Bigelow seems like the most obvious choice to remedy that oversight. Her recent, most acclaimed work – The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty – hardly screams 007, but for most of her career, Bigelow was a director of less notable, far more pedestrian action movies, and a fairly solid one at that. Hurt Locker was a major leap forward for her, and I think the filmmaker she has evolved into could easily return to her more action-oriented roots and create an outstanding James Bond film, one with a great handle on plot, suspense, spectacle, and character. She seems like a very natural choice for this era of the series, in fact, given that the Craig films have always attempted to exist in something closely resembling our real world; few modern directors are more skilled at emulating reality than Bigelow, and I imagine she would contribute a strong social conscience to the series as well. 

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Brad Bird

Brad Bird 10 Directors Who Should Make A James Bond Movie

One of my favorite potential directors on this list, Brad Bird has proven time and again that when it comes to stylish, character-based action, few do it better. We have never really seen him do an ‘espionage’ film – Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is more a straight-up action flick, albeit a phenomenal one – but The Incredibles is filled with 007-esque stylistic touches, and every film Bird has ever made, no matter the subject matter, demonstrates his capacity to make top-notch pulp fiction. He would undoubtedly be a terrific Bond director, and I would actually be most interested to see him helm the first installment of a new 007, after Daniel Craig departs the series. I think Bird’s style may be a tad too ‘bright’ for Craig, but when the time eventually comes to recast, Bird might be just the man to set a new tone. 

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David Fincher

David Fincher 10 Directors Who Should Make A James Bond Movie

Another left-field choice that will probably never happen, Fincher would easily be my #1 pick to make a 007 movie were this list ranked. Like Sam Mendes, I feel Fincher could easily put ego aside to make an ultra-stylish, super-smart James Bond film, one that offers a fresh perspective on the series without becoming a ‘Fincher’ film through-and-through. The director proved he can tone down or alter his own style to make something that works within a broader context in Netflix’s House of Cards, while many titles in his excellent filmography contain building blocks for a great James Bond film. Zodiac and its attention to the process of solving a mystery seems particularly relevant to crafting a spy narrative, and Fincher’s clear, insightful understanding of modern technology in The Social Network is essential for a modern Bond film. He has experience working with Daniel Craig on The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and could even, in a perfect world, bring frequent collaborator Kevin Spacey on board to play the bad guy. This is a creative combination I would love to see happen one day. 

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Rian Johnson

rian johnson 10 Directors Who Should Make A James Bond Movie

I have no earthly idea what a Rian Johnson-directed 007 film would look like – and that is exactly what interests me about this idea. Johnson’s three theatrical features – Brick, The Brothers Bloom, and Looper – are each vastly different from one another, yet share clear narrative and thematic interests that define him as a thoughtful, ridiculously stylish artist. These skills would serve him well on a hypothetical James Bond film, where his aptitude for complex, fascinating plots and ability to build compelling, three-dimensional characters would get a healthy workout. He also has some action credentials from Looper, and is respected enough, I would wager, to attract some impressive talent to the project. Behind David Fincher, this is the name on this list that I would be most intrigued by.

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Justin Lin

justin lin1 10 Directors Who Should Make A James Bond Movie

One of the historical trademarks of the James Bond franchise has been major, awe-inspiring stunts, and while the Fast & Furious films are hardly high art, I would argue director Justin Lin – who has helmed everything from Tokyo Drift onward – stages spectacular action stunts as well as any filmmaker working today. Fast Five is a near-perfect action film, to my mind, and if the Bond franchise is looking to go in a more bombastic direction any time soon, Lin would be the perfect man for the job. Just imagine all the hijinks Bond might get up to in his Aston Martin with Lin directing; there is potential there for a bigger, more thrilling Bond film than ever before.

But 007 films are not really action movies, all things considered, and I think Lin’s previous work has hinted at an ability to do quality character material as well. The Fast & Furious films are certainly not ‘character pieces,’ but they do involve large ensembles and decently developed personalities, and Lin has done a better job with the cast and story (such as it is) on each successive installment (and, of course, in his work outside the franchise). With the excellent actors a Bond film would no doubt attract, I suspect Lin could succeed at forging some memorable characters, and would be a solid, well-rounded pick to helm a 007 film.

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Christopher Nolan

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The most obvious name on the list, and also, I think, the one most likely to happen some day. After Skyfall made the franchise more successful than ever before, Eon has both the money and the incentive to go after the biggest names in the industry, and that will undoubtedly lead them around to Christopher Nolan at one point to another.

And why not? The man is one of the most talented filmmakers working today, excels in every area needed to direct a good James Bond movie, and has indicated willingness to do so sometime in the future. If anything, Nolan is a bit overqualified, but that only means he is sure to make something great if ever given the opportunity.

My only reservation is that Nolan is such an immediately recognizable and singular cinematic voice that I wonder if he could truly make a James Bond movie, rather than just a very good, spy-oriented Christopher Nolan movie. It is a fine line, to be sure, but any director interested in tackling Bond must be willing to leave ego at the door, and since Nolan has never before stepped into a pre-existing franchise – Batman does not count, given that he got to do a full continuity reboot – it is difficult to know exactly what he might do with Bond. My recommendation? When Craig is ready to leave, let Nolan direct his final installment, and give the director free reign to do whatever he wants with the character. That would be fascinating.

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Nicolas Winding Refn

Nicolas+Winding+Refn 10 Directors Who Should Make A James Bond Movie

Here’s a bonkers idea for you. I imagine Refn – the director behind Drive, Bronson, and the Pusher trilogy – making an incredibly violent, brutal Bond film, perhaps one where 007 is actually killed in the line of duty (this would, hypothetically, have to be Craig’s last film). Refn is a great, fascinating filmmaker, one whose technical and stylistic prowess knows few equals, and while I am not necessarily confident that his style would be great for Bond – possibly the opposite, actually – it would be a very bold, extremely fascinating decision. If Eon ever wants to push Bond back in a depressingly dark, ruthless direction – and I don’t quite know why they would – Refn would be an excellent pick.

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Steven Spielberg

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Once upon a time, Steven Spielberg so wanted to direct a James Bond movie that he ultimately channeled the necessary creative energy into creating an iconic action hero of his own – Dr. Indiana Jones. Most believe Raiders of the Lost Ark and its sequels satisfied Spielberg’s itch to make a 007 film – he even borrowed several stylistic or structural traits from Bond in the Jones franchise – but on the off chance Spielberg is still up for it, I would love to see him make a James Bond film of his own. Few directors, alive or dead, are better at shooting action, and as Lincoln proved last year, Spielberg’s sense of well-defined, larger-than-life characters remains second to none.

More importantly, there is a warm, infectious romanticism to Spielberg’s work that would serve Bond well post-Skyfall. The director would obviously be mismatched to a super dark and gritty Bond film like Casino Royale, but Skyfall opened doors for Bond to be a little more relaxed in the future, still dynamic and flawed but capable of existing within a less tortured tonal structure. And while I previously noted reservations about someone as stylistically singular as Christopher Nolan directing James Bond, I can more easily see Spielberg adapting to this franchise. The prospect is a long shot, but if it ever happened, I would be extremely excited.

Plus, we might get to hear John Williams write a 007 score. Am I the only one who believes that needs to happen some day?

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Matthew Vaughn

matthew vaughn star wars 10 Directors Who Should Make A James Bond Movie

Before J.J. Abrams was announced as the director of Star Wars: Episode VII, one name that got a lot of traction in the rumor mill was Matthew Vaughn, the man behind Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class. The logic never made a whole lot of sense to me. Vaugh is a very talented director, but little in his filmography hints at an obvious aptitude for Star Wars.

James Bond, though? It seems as if Vaughn would fit the series like a glove, and not just because large swaths of First Class are direct nods to Bond classics of the 1960s. He is the sort of director who could slip into this series effortlessly, and while I do not know if we would make the flashiest, most memorable film in the franchise, one must remember that the best Bond films are not often the ones helmed by major auteurs. Sometimes, it just takes someone with a keen, intuitive understanding of style, story, and character, traits Vaughn possesses in spades.

I think this choice is actually a reasonably likely one, sometime down the line, given Vaughn’s expressed enthusiasm for the franchise and his previous work with Daniel Craig (Layer Cake has been cited by Bond producers as one of the reasons they cast Craig as 007). I think he would be an excellent choice, and I for one would be very interested to see what he might do with the series.

What do you think of these picks? Would you want to see any of these directors make a James Bond film? Which directors can you think of who would make a great 007 movie? Sound off in the comments and let us know!

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  • fan

    excellent chioces hope they all do starting with the oldest director and going back by age for the obvious reason