THE EVIDENCE: Mystic River (2003), Million Dollar Baby (2004), Letters from Iwo Jima (2006), Gran Torino (2008)
WHY HIM: At an age when most filmmakers begin slowing down, Eastwood spent the last decade releasing roughly one film per year, all of them marked by a style so unfussy that it looks positively classical in our hyperkinetic movie moment. His directing might be restrained, but he's been able to explore a whole host of genres noir mystery, underdog sports weepie, war film, biopic. Eastwood's no-bull persona belies a willingness to stretch: He directed a film in a foreign language, cast mostly non-actors in Gran Torino, and has been prepping a Beyoncé-headline musical version of A Star Is Born. Eastwood makes some duds, but that's the advantage of a steady work ethic: There's always a new movie on the horizon.
Image Credit: Everett Collection
Oscar season is a time to celebrate cinematic excellence, so what better time to count down our picks for the most talented, in-demand filmmakers behind the camera today?