Nicolas Winding Refn

Best movies: Pusher (1996), Pusher II: With Blood On My Hands (2004), Pusher III: I Am The Angel Of Death (2005), Bronson (1008), Valhalla Rising (2009), Drive (2011)

Prior to September 2011, Nicolas Winding Refn was only known amongst hardcore cinephiles and art-house frequenters. That all changed once Drive, the Danish filmmaker’s first mainstream-recognized production, bumrushed unsuspecting action fans with its ’80s-inspired soundtrack, stylish ultra-violence, and movie star turn from the year’s it-man Ryan Gosling. Now, Winding Refn is a hot topic throughout film blogs and closed-minded critics’ circles.

If fans of Drive (our pick for 2011’s best movie) would start catching up with his previous gems as a result, we’d be more than happy. First, start off with the Pusher trilogy, a ferociously paced and meticulously crafted crime saga that’s infinitely better than any major studio’s recent gangster flicks. Then, check out Bronson, Winding Refn’s incredibly bizarre and nutty biopic about infamous English prisoner Michael Gordon Peterson, a.k.a. Charles Bronson (played by a then-unknown Tom Hardy, who’s now your next Dark Knight villain, Bane). The Winding Refn movie marathon should then conclude with Valhalla Rising, a mostly dialogue-free excursion into Viking hell that at times feels like a silent horror film.