Five who made buzzed-about first features
Neill Blomkamp, “District 9”Handpicked by Peter Jackson to helm “Halo,” vfx whiz Blomkamp instead shot the feature version of his short “Alive in Joburg.” Made indie-style, “District 9” wowed critics and grossed some $200 million worldwide. Scott Cooper, “Crazy Heart” Thesp-turned-helmer Cooper’s first film was rushed into release to qualify for kudos. A composite of Merle Haggard and other country singers, the helmer’s “Crazy Heart” gives Jeff Bridges one of the meatiest roles of his life. Tom Ford, “A Single Man” Ford jumped into filmmaking with the same assured eye he showed for fashion design. His perfectionism and persistence also ensured he got his perfect lead, Colin Firth, for this tale of a man mourning his longtime love. Cary Fukunaga, “Sin nombre” After making shorts and a doc, Fukunaga took on the complex and ambitious Spanish-language thriller “Sin nombre,” shot in Mexico on a tight budget. It bowed at Sundance, where the California native won the director prize. Marc Webb, “500 Days of Summer” For his first pic, video helmer Webb chose a script that turns the boy-meets-girl story on its head. Making use of rarely showcased Los Angeles locations, he enchanted auds and scored $32 million at the box office.