Age: 34
Notable films: The Maid (2009), Crystal Fairy (2013), Magic Magic (2013)

The Chilean writer/director Sebastián Silva is having a great year. In a bold move, Michael Cera lighted out for South America to make a film with Silva, and ended up spending months in Chile with the director and his family (Silva has six brothers). This period produced two movies: the thriller Magic Magic and the drug-fueled road comedy Crystal Fairy. Outside of his comfort zone, Cera's work in these movies seem like attacks on his image here in the States, and the attention he's received for this has helped bring attention to Silva. That the child star Gabby Hoffmann returned to the screen with one of 2013's best performances in Crystal Fairy has helped, too.

Openly gay, Silva has spoken about the prejudice he experienced growing up, and it's no great leap to connect this to the deep empathy found in his films. Crystal Fairy asks you to spend time with two of the most insufferable Americans traveling abroad that you've ever had to stomach, and The Maid takes a deep dive into the life of a woman who has spent most of her life looking after a family that isn't her own. By turning his attention on characters you'd either choose to ignore, or who can easily fade into the background, Silva makes his mark. Here's to a great 2014. —RS