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Best Second Films: 25 Working Directors Who Beat the Sophomore Slump

From Tarantino to Nolan, these are 25 directors who proved they were the real deal with their second features.

Best Second Films

“Moonlight,” “Pulp Fiction,” and “Lost in Translation”

A24/Miramax/Focus

A great first feature is instrumental in putting a director on the map, but a second film is more important in determining whether or not said director is the real deal or just a one-hit wonder. Perfecting the art of the second feature is a challenge, and not every great director has succeeded (see Guillermo del Toro’s “Mimic,” Steven Soderbergh’s “Kafka,” and even Martin Scorsese’s “Boxcar Bertha” for examples).

The filmmakers who have achieved the one-two punch of a knockout debut and a worthy follow-up have often jumped to the front of the list of the most exciting directors working today. This year has proved to be a banner one for second features, from Jordan Peele’s “Us” to Ari Aster’s “Midsommar.” Both films are included on IndieWire’s list below, which highlights 25 great auteurs working today who succeeded in shattering the sophomore slump. Any list of the best second films ever made should definitely consider the titles below (listed alphabetically by director).

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