Many fans breathed a collective sigh of relief when after much speculation The Russo Brothers were announced as directors of the next instalment of the Captain America franchise, Captain America: Civil War (2016) Infinity War Part I (2018) and II (2019).
The reason for this is their feat of giving Captain America, previously seen as the Avengers ‘weakest link’, a goody-two-shoes American hero with one amusing but not particularly thrilling film to his name, a much needed kick, directing the greatly entertaining Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014).
This all-around success, both with fans and film studios with their eyes on the big prize lead to this rather big show of faith, seeing as The Avengers is still Marvel’s most popular asset.
Anthony and Joe Russo were previously not particularly well-known, having directed and produced several episodes of the NBC comedy Community and the rather forgettable romantic comedy You, Me and Dupree from 2006, starring Owen Wilson, Kate Hudson and Matt Dillon.
Their success with The Winter Soldier is only one instant in which Marvel did not judge their director by his previous work: Guardians Of the Galaxy director James Gunn, formerly known mainly for trashy horror flicks such as Slither, will also director the sequel of Marvel’s adventures in space.
There are however many more famous duos out there, both related to each other and not, so let’s take the time to remember or discover some of them.
Joel and Ethan Coen
With a career spanning 30 years and 15 films, the Coens are arguably the most well-known brothers behind the camera, producing, writing and directing a diverse body of work that has won them 4 Oscars – so far.
The Coen Brother’s trademark is their slightly goofy sense of humour, combining the macabre with the downright absurd. With a hand for kooky characters, they have produced endlessly quotable films such as Fargo and The Big Lebowski, one of Jeff Bridges’ most memorable roles.
After 2013’s Inside Llewyn Davis, in which Oscar Isaac delivered a career-making starring role, the Coen Brothers’ next film is titled Hail, Caesar!, starring Ralph Fiennes, Channing Tatum and Scarlett Johansson, slated for next year.
Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris
This husband and wife duo was responsible for music videos for nearly all of our 90s favourites such as R.E.M. , The Offspring, The Smashing Pumpkins and Red Hot Chilli Peppers, before delivering the surprise hit and two-time Oscar winner Little Miss Sunshine.
Six years later they created Ruby Sparks, a film about an author creating himself the perfect girlfriend.Dayton and Faris seem comfortable with taking their time to produce cheerful independent films rather mass-producing easily forgettable fare.
2014 saw the announcement of I’m Proud Of You, a biopic of Fred Rogers, better known to American children as television show host Mr. Rogers. The film is yet without a release date.
Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
The Belgian brothers are the kings of the Cannes Film Festival, their total award wins higher than any other directors’, currently standing at 7 wins and 11 nominations.
Their latest, Two Days, One Night, lead to a surprise Oscar nomination for actress Marion Cotillard. It’s a perfect showcase for the Dardenne’s speciality, tender dramas about normal people.
Quintessentially European, the Dardenne’s body of work focus on their characters instead of flashy cinematography, which is not to say their work is plain, rather there is more to it than you might assume at first.
Phil Lord and Chris Miller
Lord and Miller met in their first year of university and started out writing and directing for television before directing their first film, the animated Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, in 2009.
This film may well be synonymous with their career because, while by now lacking in meatballs, the duo seems to have a hand at making us enjoy films we didn’t think would work.
21 Jump Street, which was very, very loosely based on the 1987 television series of the same name starring Johnny Depp (loosely in that it basically took a single element from the series, the cops passing for high school students), was a massive hit, only to be overtaken by its sequel, 22 Jump Street.
Their biggest hit to date, last year’s The Lego Movie, lets one hope Lord and Miller get better with each film they direct, even when they have made it a habit to produce their sequels and focus on directing other material.
Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor
Their first film Crank, starring Jason Statham, wasn’t titled that way for nothing.
It was so exciting, brutal and ridiculous at the same time it attracted somewhat of a cult following similar of that of films like Sharknado, but unfortunately it might also be Neveldine and Taylor’s best film. After the sequel to Crank, their action credentials firmly established, the duo directed Gamer, starring Gerard Butler, only for it to become obvious padding a film out with… a plot wasn’t their strong suit.
A year later Neveldine and Taylor wrote the script for the comic adaptation Jonah Hex which did not do well, to put it mildly, before seemingly putting the last nail in the coffin with their adaptation of another comic hero, Ghost Rider: Vengeance.
Currently they are separate ways. Neveldine directed Vatican Tapes, a horror film about the exorcism of a young woman which hits theatres this summer, while Taylor is mostly credited with camera work.
Andy and Lana Wachowski
You were already waiting for the Wachowski siblings on this list, weren’t you?
Almost everyone knows The Matrix, a film many now see as a milestone of modern cinema, combining sci-fi and action with heavily philosophical themes.
The Matrix inspired many films that came after it, especially in the early 2000s, and its two sequels, while still well-loved by many, are a prime example for why well enough is sometimes best alone.
The Wachowskis landed a big coup next, not behind the camera, but as scriptwriters for V for Vendetta, which thematically seemed similar to what they had achieved with The Matrix.
Therefore it probably came as a surprise their next project was 2008’s Speed Racer, a candy-coloured family based on the cartoon of the same name. This is such a departure for the siblings that Speed Racer is still either one of the worst or the best films, depending on who you ask. The same is definitely true for Cloud Atlas, the adaptation of a novel by author David Mitchell. Visually masterful, many viewers found the film too complicated, especially in America.
The Wachowski’s very latest, Jupiter Ascending, is once again a visual feast, but has, amongst other failings, astoundingly bad dialogue.
Still audiences continue to look forward to their sci-fi offerings, to be continued this summer with the TV series Sense8.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro
These two may go under the header ‘good together, better apart’. Jeunet, a self-taught director, met Caro, a designer, during his early days shooting adverts and music videos.
Their first collaboration Delicatessen, a slightly morbid black comedy is a staple on any film student’s watching list, while their following and last film together, City Of Lost Children, is no less surreal.
Jeunet and Caro went their separate ways however, and Jeunet continued directing films, still surreal, but much cuter and definitely more family-friendly.
His biggest feat to date is 2001’s Amelie, effectively thrusting Audrey Tatou into the limelight.
His latest, last year’s The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet starring Helena Bonham Carter, seems to be much in the same vein.
This year, Jeunet began production on a TV film about the famous charmer Casanova for US television.
Peter and Bobby Farelly
Anyone around during the 90s should remember The Farellys, as they are responsible for all the films of that time we watched and now pretend we didn’t, including Dumb & Dumber, Kingpin, Stuck on You and There’s Something About Mary.
Recent offerings show the Farelly brothers chronically unwilling or unable to make something different – after last year’s attempt to revive Dumb & Dumber with Dumb and Dumber To, which this time people honestly did not care for, their next film, slanted for 2016, holds the er, promising title One Night Stan.No points for guessing the name of the protagonist.
Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
Their film Focus starring Will Smith and Margot Robbie is still in theatres, and their 2016 release Fun House, chronicling no less than a journalist’s coverage of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq could be a big thing if it is done right, even more so because it has a great cast once again starring Robbie, Game of Thrones’ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Martin Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton and Tina Fey.
This could well be Ficarra and Requa slowly upping their game, as they from writing credits for the garishly animated Cats & Dogs and many a viewer’s personal Christmas favourite Bad Santa to the not great, not completely bad I love you, Phillip Morris.
This was then followed by Crazy, Stupid Love, which takes much of its charm from being near-perfectly cast with the likes of Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling, who was on a career high in 2011.
The directing duo may surprise us yet, and if not they seem to keep delivering perfectly amusing popcorn fare.
Michael and Peter Spierig
Surprise, they’re German!
It seems these brothers with a background in visual effects love three things: Sci-fi, visual effects and Ethan Hawke.
Their first feature Nightbreakers – The Undead, is your standard zombie apocalypse B-Movie, but Daybreakers, their first work starring the aforementioned Ethan Hawke, is a stylish if not fantastically original actioner about vampires taking over mankind in the future.
With two genres down, Predestination, which recently featured on our site, now moves onto time travel.
As now is certainly a good time to be making sci-fi movies, given a bit of fine-tuning in the writing department we might see The Spierig Brothers move onto bigger audiences next.
There are of course many more directing duos out there.
Who is your favourite? Was anyone unjustly snubbed? Let us know!