A race-swinging horror movie directed by a guy known for his sketch comedy…and it’s getting rave reviews? Get out! No, really, it’s
, the directorial debut of Jordan Peele, one-half of comedy duo Get Out Key & Peele. It’s no secret many stars harbor dreams of one day directing. Few get to do it, fewer are any good at it. In this week’s gallery, here’s 24 Certified Fresh movies directed by actors on their first try!
Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s (2013, 81%) Don Jon
Critics Consensus: Don Jon proves to be an amiable directing debut for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and a vivacious showcase for his co-star, Scarlett Johansson.
Kevin Costner’s (1990, 82%) Dances With Wolves A grand, sweeping epic with inarguably noble intentions and arresting cinematography, but one whose center, arguably, is not as weighty as it should be.
Lake Bell’s (2013, 92%) In A World… A funny, well-written screwball satire for film buffs, In a World… proves an auspicious beginning for writer, director, and star Lake Bell.
Tom Hanks’ (1996, 93%) That Thing You Do A light, sweet, and thoroughly entertaining debut for director Tom Hanks, That Thing You Do! makes up in charm what it lacks in complexity.
Bil Paxton’s (2002, 73%) Frailty Creepy and disturbing, Frailty is well-crafted, low-key horror.
Rob Reiner’s (1984, 95%) This Is Spinal Tap
Smartly directed, brilliantly acted, and packed with endlessly quotable moments, This Is Spinal Tap is an all-time comedy classic.
Zach Braff’s (2004, 86%) Garden State Delivering a quirky spin on familiar twentysomething tropes — with a cannily-placed soundtrack — Garden State has enough charm to mark a winning debut for first-time director Zach Braff.
Drew Barrymore’s (2009, 84%) Whip It While made from overly familiar ingredients, Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut has enough charm, energy, and good-natured humor to transcend its many cliches.
Ben Affleck’s (2007, 94%) Gone Baby Gone Ben Affleck proves his directing credentials in this gripping dramatic thriller, drawing strong performances from the excellent cast and bringing working-class Boston to the screen.
Vera Farmiga’s (2011, 81%) Higher Ground With Higher Ground, star and debuting director Vera Farmiga takes viewers on a challenging spiritual journey whose missteps are easily overcome by its many rich rewards.
Robert Redford’s (1980, 90%) Ordinary People Though shot through with bitterness and sorrow, Robert Redford’s directorial debut is absorbing and well-acted.
Dennis Hopper’s (1969, 89%) Easy Rider Edgy and seminal, Easy Rider encapsulates the dreams, hopes, and hopelessness of 1960s counterculture.
Julie Delpy’s (2007, 86%) 2 Days in Paris Delpy proves not only to be an adept actress, but makes her mark as a writer and director in this thought-provoking comedy that breaks the romantic comedy mold.
Billy Bob Thornton’s (1996, 96%) Sling Blade You will see what’s coming, but the masterful performances, especially Thornton’s, will leave you riveted.
Denzel Washington’s (2002, 79%) Antwone Fisher Washington’s directing debut is a solidly crafted, emotionally touching work.
Sarah Polley’s (2007, 94%) Away From Her
An accomplished directorial debut by Sarah Polley, Away From Her is a touching exploration of the effects of Alzheimer’s.
George Clooney’s (2003, 79%) Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
Rockwell is spot-on as Barris, and Clooney directs with entertaining style and flair.
Orson Welles’ (1941, 100%) Citizen Kane Orson Welles’s epic tale of a publishing tycoon’s rise and fall is entertaining, poignant, and inventive in its storytelling, earning its reputation as a landmark achievement in film.
Richard Ayoade’s (2011, 86%) Submarine Funny, stylish, and ringing with adolescent truth, Submarine marks Richard Ayoade as a talent to watch.
Charles Laughton’s (1955, 98%) The Night of the Hunter Featuring Robert Mitchum’s formidable performance as a child-hunting preacher, The Night of the Hunter is a disturbing look at good and evil.
Tommy Lee Jones’ (2006, 85%) The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
Tommy Lee Jones’ directorial debut is both a potent western and a powerful morality tale.
Jon Stewart’s (2014, 77%) Rosewater Timely, solidly acted, and unabashedly earnest, Rosewater serves as an impressive calling card for first-time director Jon Stewart.
Dustin Hoffman’s (2013, 79%) Quartet It’s sweet, gentle, and predictable to a fault, but Dustin Hoffman’s affectionate direction and the talented cast’s amiable charm make Quartet too difficult to resist.
Ed Harris’ (2000, 81%) Pollock Though Pollock does not really allow audiences a glimpse of the painter as a person, it does powerfully depict the creative process. Harris throws himself into the role and turns in a compelling performance.