The 2021 Golden Issue Award for Best Director

After an entertainment landscape marked by delays in both release and production of new films in 2020, movie fans everywhere had a veritable feast of new movies in 2021. Things aren't necessarily back to normal just yet, and quite a few movies have still been pushed back to next year, but 2021 gave us a lot to enjoy and be excited about in the world of film. Some of the films we loved the most this year were made exceptional thanks to the work of the directors at the helm, and, as we do each year, we here at want to honor the best filmmakers of 2021 as part of our annual Golden Issue Awards. Destin Daniel Cretton, James Gunn, Michael Rianda, Denis Villeneuve, and Chloe Zhao were all named nominees for the Best Director award for their work bringing stories to life this year and while each of these directors dazzled us in different ways, only one can walk away with the prize. 

And the winner of the 2021 Golden Issue Award for Best Director is...


James Gunn, director of The Suicide Squad!

The big budget films of 2021 were led by some impeccable direction, but James Gunn's unique style and vision ultimately elevated him to the top spot with our staff and earned him the Best Director title. The Suicide Squad is wholly a Gunn experience, blending twisted action with unexpected needle drops and more than a few touching moments thanks to brilliant characterization. Under Gunn's direction, The Suicide Squad has all the sensibilities of Guardians of the Galaxy and every bit of Slither's gore, but still remains something entirely its own and unlike anything we've seen before. 

It's Gunn's ability to blend genres that makes his work special. The ability to balance well-staged action sequences with both humor and gut-wrenching emotion is one that few directors possess, especially on such a massive scale. He also managed to make The Suicide Squad an excellent and surprising superhero movie while telling perhaps his most personal story to date. His journey to The Suicide Squad was a difficult and extremely emotional one, and Gunn imbued that experience into just about every frame of the film without ever making it about himself. The Suicide Squad is an all-timer when it comes to comic book movies, thanks in large part to the brilliant sensibilities of James Gunn and that's why he's our choice for Best Director.

Congratulations to Gunn on his Golden Issue Awards win!

The nominees for Best Director are:

  • Destin Daniel Cretton, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
  • James Gunn, The Suicide Squad -- WINNER
  • Michael Rianda, The Mitchells vs The Machines
  • Denis Villeneuve, Dune
  • Chloe Zhao, Eternals