Notable films: Smashed (2012), The Spectacular Now (2013)
James Ponsoldt knows how to sew up the special moments of life to create a comforting blanket of an experience. Both Smashed and The Spectacular Now are intimate looks at peculiar characters—one a recovering alcoholic, and the other a lost and hopeless teenager. His movies bring to the screen a sense of heart and soul that's lacking amidst the chaos of flashy blockbuster movies.
With a gig as the director of the upcoming Hilary Clinton biopic Rodham, Hollywood is taking notice of Ponsoldt's talent. He's got an ability to capture subtlety and ground his stories in a reality—as well as make his actors comfortable enough to exist in that unglamorous reality—that actually looks familiar to an everyman. —TA