Abbas Kiarostami

Four Iranians among Metacritic best directors

Financial Tribune- Four film directors from Iran are in the list of the best 25 filmmakers of the 21st century (so far) selected by Metacritic website.

Metacritic is a website that aggregates reviews of media products: music albums, video games, films and TV shows. For each product, the score from each review is averaged and are called ‘metascores’.

The 25 directors in the list received the best reviews from professional critics since 2000 through July 7, 2017.

According to, the results were found by averaging the reviews of filmmakers who have released at least four movies since 2000.

Such films have seven or more reviews from professional critics and were first released (in any country) on or after January 1, 2000, and must have been released at some point in the US.

The list includes filmmakers from 12 nationalities. An interesting point is that Iran has the highest number of filmmakers just after the US which has nine directors.

It is no surprise to see more American filmmakers in the list because the US has over 1000 annual productions but in Iran, with 100 productions in the year, it is an honor to have four figures among the best in the world.

England, France and Japan each have two directors in the list and the rest hail from Mexico, Belgium, Portugal, Turkey, South Korea, Taiwan and Canada.

  Best Ranks

Jafar Panahi, 57, is the highest ranked Iranian in the list. With an average metascor of 85.5, he is ranked fifth.

Panahi achieved international recognition with his feature film debut, ‘The White Balloon’ (1995). The film won the Caméra d’Or at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival, the first major award won by an Iranian film at Cannes.

He continued to receive international acclaim from film theorists and critics and won numerous awards, including the Golden Leopard at the Locarno International Film Festival for ‘The Mirror’ (1997), the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival for ‘The Circle’ (2000), the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival for ‘Offside’ (2006) and the Golden Bear at the Berlin Festival for ‘Taxi’ (2015).

His films are known for their humanistic perspective on life in Iran, often focusing on the hardships of children, the impoverished and women. His movies from 2000-2017 include ‘Taxi’ (2015, with a metascore of 91), ‘This Is Not a Film’ (2010, 90), ‘The Circle’ (2000, 85), ‘Offside’ (2006, 85), ‘Crimson Gold’ (2003, 81) and ‘Closed Curtain’ (2013, 81).

  Sole Oscar Winner

Two-time Oscar winner Asghar Farhadi, 45, has 84.2 scores and is the eighth top director in the list.

The talented director has been increasingly recognized in America in recent years, even receiving an Academy Award screenplay nomination for 2011’s ‘A Separation’. (That film, like Farhadi’s most recent effort ‘The Salesman’, won an Oscar in the foreign-language category, and they are the only two Iranian films honored so far.)

Farhadi’s 2003 directorial debut ‘Dancing in the Dust’ was not released in the US and thus does not have enough reviews available for consideration, but his other six films are: ‘A Separation’ (2011, with a metascore of 95), ‘About Elly’ (2009, 87), ‘The Past’ (2013, 85), ‘The Salesman’ (2016, 85), ‘Fireworks Wednesday’ (2006, 84) and ‘The Beautiful City’ (2004, 69).

  Late Auteur

With an average metascore of 79.3, the 20th rank belongs to the late auteur Abbas Kiarostami (1940-2016).

Before his death last July at the age of 76, Kiarostami was perhaps Iran’s most acclaimed film director. He was a staple at Cannes Film Festival (winning the Palme d’Or in 1997 for ‘Taste of Cherry’), and his most recent works found him working in Europe and Asia for the first time.

The director’s final film, ‘24 Frames’, has yet to reach American shores, but it received strong reviews in its Cannes debut in May and will likely raise Kiarostami’s average score when it comes out. (Also omitted is his experimental 2008 feature ‘Shirin’, which did not get a US release.)

His four films directed between 2000 and 2017 include ‘Ten’ (2002, with a metascore of 86), ‘Certified Copy’ (2010, 82), ‘Like Someone in Love’ (2012, 76) and ‘ABC Africa’ (2001, 73).

  Life of Kurds

Bahman Ghobadi, 48, is the last Iranian and also the last director on the list. Ranked 25th, he has an average score of 78.4.

He has spent much of his career (which kicked off with his debut feature, ‘A Time for Drunken Horses’ in 2000) depicting the lives of modern-day Kurds in Iran and Iraq.

The films he has directed from 2000-2017 include ‘Marooned in Iraq’ (2002, with a metascore of 86), ‘Turtles Can Fly’    (2004, 85), ‘A Time for Drunken Horses’ (2000, 78), ‘Half Moon’ (2006, 72) and ‘No One Knows About Persian Cats’ (2009, 71).

His most recent films, ‘Flag Without a Country’ and ‘Rhino Season’, were not considered because they were neither released nor reviewed in the US.

The ranging of metascores for films, television series and music albums is as follows: A score between 81 and 100 indicates universal acclaim of the film, 61–80  means it has generally favorable reviews, 40–60 shows it has mixed or average reviews, 20–39 suggests it has generally unfavorable reviews, and a low score of 0–19 reveals that the critics overwhelmingly dislike the work.

  Other Directors

Topping the Metacritic best 25 directors list is Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron, whose average score of 87.5 comes from four highly acclaimed movies: ‘Gravity’ (96), ‘Y Tu Mama También’ (88), ‘Children of Men’ (84) and ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’ (82).

Other well-known directors in the list include Jeff Nichols, Richard Linklater and Paul Thomas Anderson from the US; Nuri Bilge Ceylan from Turkey; Mike Leigh from England and brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne from Belgium.

Three female filmmakers have found their way into the list including American director Ava Marie DuVernay.

The list also includes two directors of animated movies namely Hayao Miyazaki from Japan and Brad Bird from the US.

It is interesting to note that big names such as Quentin Tarantino, Terrence Malick, Sofia Coppola and Wes Anderson are not on the list.