Who could direct the next James Bond film?

Over the last week or so, word spread throughout the industry that Sam Mendes would not be returning to the James Bond franchise for a third go around as director. I can’t say that this is in any way a surprise, considering he only came back for Spectre after Skyfall because star Daniel Craig twisted his arm, but still…we’re hitting a new era for Bond. Especially if Craig hangs up the PP7 and a new 007 is needed, someone else will be putting their stamp on the spy franchise. In that regard, I wanted to put forward a list of potential candidates to direct the next outing, regardless of who winds up starring. I’ll do a separate piece in a week or two on potential actors to take over the Bond mantle, but today is just about possible options for the director’s chair, so keep that in mind.

Mendes brought a real filmmaker’s sensibility to a franchise that mostly up until then had been a producer’s and star’s medium. Only once in a while has a director been able to really showcase their abilities, as opposed to mostly making the trains run on time, as it were. Mendes definitely did it, while Martin Campbell was one other (specifically on Casino Royale). For that reason, Mendes has left his mark in a big way on Bond. His formal perfectionism brought 007 into the 21st century while also echoing some of the classic moments from the franchise. He’s almost unquestionably the best director to ever get his hands on the spy and make him their own.

What you’ll see below is a collection of 25 names that I think should be considered for the now open job. At least half of them are unlikely at best, though at least one or two really do make a ton of sense. So, while Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Christopher Nolan, Steven Spielberg, and Quentin Tarantino are A-list long shots (though Nolan, Spielberg, and Tarantino have spoken about wanting the gig at different points in their career), you can look at folks like Danny Boyle, Tom Hooper, Denis Villeneuve, and Joe Wright as rather realistic options, along with a bunch of X factors that you’ll see shortly. Anyway, take a look now…

Tomas Alfredson
David Ayer
Kenneth Branagh
Danny Boyle
Gareth Edwards
Gareth Huw Evans
Stephen Frears
Paul Greengrass
Tom Hooper
Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Duncan Jones
Steve McQueen
Christopher Nolan
Matt Reeves
Nicholas Winding Refn
Guy Ritchie
Jeremy Saulnier
Ridley Scott
Steven Spielberg
Quentin Tarantino
Morten Tyldum
Denis Villeneuve
Taika Waititi
Ben Wheatley
Joe Wright

As you can see, many on the list above are just wishful thinking. That being said, I do think that a handful could really work. Specifically, the aforementioned Boyle, Hooper, and Wright seem to make a ton of sense. Also, I will give the Nolan related caveat that if Craig leaves and the keys to the kingdom are handed over, he could actually be a slightly more realistic candidate. He’s a reach for the stars kind of play, but stranger things have happened, I concede that. Don’t expect Nolan to get the gig, but it’s also probably his if he decides that he really wants it. My hunch/shot in the dark is that Boyle winds up with it, or at least is met with/offered the job, but at this point, who knows for sure?

Here’s a quick bonus list for you all, specifically the five best 007 directorial outings to date:

1. Sam Mendes for Skyfall
2. Martin Campbell for Casino Royale
3. Guy Hamilton for Goldfinger
4. Peter R. Hunt for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
5. Lewis Gilbert for The Spy Who Loved Me

Stay tuned to see who ultimately winds up getting the coveted director’s chair for the next Bond film!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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