Lynne Ramsay

Best movies: Ratcatcher (1999), Morvern Cellar (2002), We Need To Talk About Kevin (2011)

Happiness isn’t a trait that’s easily accessible in a Lynne Ramsay film. Attracted to stories rooted in psychological dread and the darker sides of human nature, the Glasgow, Scotland, native specializes in profound bleakness. Yet somehow, through sheer talent, her movies find deranged beauty in the grim.

Ramsay’s excellent 1999 debut Ratcatcher, about a 12-year-old boy’s harrowing coming of age within a decaying Glasgow slum, ushered in a fresh, distinct new voice, one that just so happened to be that rarest of moviemaking types: a female. At one time, Ramsay was primed for a mainstream crossover when she attached herself to the big-time adaptation of Alice Sebold’s best-selling 2002 novel The Lovely Bones, and we sure as hell wish that would’ve happened—Peter Jackson’s version, the one that eventually hit cinemas in 2010, is the pits.

Kudos to Ramsay for sticking to her do-it-yourself guns, however, and co-writing her third feature, We Need To Talk About Kevin. Ostensibly a horror film, and arguably 2011’s most disturbing one, at that, Ramsay’s take on Lionel Shriver’ 2003 novel about a mother’s grieving over her son’s Columbine-like murder spree is mesmerizing, sickening, and beautifully poignant, aided tremendously by leads Tilda Swinton and Ezra Miller. With Swinton generating tons of Oscar buzz, We Need To Talk About Kevin is Ramsay’s biggest look yet—let’s hope it’s not her last.