These cinematic rebels cannot be counted out
WOODY ALLENThis wily, prolific veteran and previous winner (for “Annie Hall”) has been revitalizing his career from Europe of late and earned warm praise with the hot and sweetly comic, Spanish-set love triangle, “Vicki Christina Barcelona.” JONATHAN DEMME After a couple of unremarkable remakes (“The Truth About Charlie,” “The Manchurian Candidate”), this 1991 director winner for “The Silence of the Lambs” returns to his indie roots with fleet, arty and intimate sibling drama “Rachel Getting Married.” LANCE HAMMER From its introductory one-two punch at the Sundance and Berlin fests, Hammer’s debut feature “Ballast” — a tough yet humane pic about lives in the midst of death and reinvention on the Mississippi Delta — has earned the newcomer acclaim and awards. CHARLIE KAUFMAN Hollywood’s favorite mind-bending screenwriter (“Being John Malkovich”) got behind the camera for his bittersweet tale of a tormented playwright with “Synecdoche, New York,” infuriating some while amazing others with his surrealistic, mordant wit and heart. MIKE LEIGH Britain’s high priest of socially aware character pics (“Vera Drake,” “Secrets & Lies”) left his usual class-based pessimism behind for the well-received “Happy-Go-Lucky,” in which Leigh showcases a galvanizing lead perf in Sally Hawkins’ perpetually cheery schoolteacher. TOM McCARTHY Known primarily as an actor, McCarthy has now made a second feature as a director, immigration drama “The Visitor,” has picked up a head of steam as an indie favorite for successfully mixing well-thought-out characters, culturally diverse charm and a newsworthy issue. STEVE McQUEEN This prominent British artist’s debut feature, “Hunger,” about imprisoned IRA militants in 1981, won the Discovery Award at Toronto and could astonish specialty film audiences — and Academy voters — with its raw, stylized depiction of aural and physical extremes. JOHN PATRICK SHANLEY An Oscar winner as a screenwriter (“Moonstruck”), Shanley took the reins of his own Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Doubt” for its film adaptation and has earned plaudits for maintaining theatrical intensity without feeling stagy. STEVEN SODERBERGH His four-hour, two-part “Che,” about the legendary Argentine revolutionary, had a controversial debut at Cannes, but this Oscar winner (for “Traffic”) has a rep for turning artistic integrity into kudos glory.