The 50 Best Directorial Debuts in Movie History

The Toronto Film Festival, which came to a close recently, wasn’t just the starter pistol for We’re-Not-Saying-It-Yet Season; the long-term value of the festival may well be its place as a launching pad for first-time filmmakers. Twenty-eight films screened in its “Discovery” section, and while we won’t know for some time how many soon-to-be-immortal filmmakers were among its ranks, it’s a good excuse to peruse the history of film and pluck out the debut feature efforts of great directors who knocked us out from their first frame.

50. Body Heat

Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark writer Lawrence Kasdan made the leap to directing with this steamy 1981 neo-noir, which dutifully pays homage to the conventions of the genre (Double Indemnity, most explicitly) while taking advantage of its own era’s far more lax standards for onscreen eroticism. A moody, sexy kick, and still the best work of Kathleen Turner’s career.