Nicolas Winding Refn is one of the most exciting directors around because you never know what you are going to get when you sit down to watch one of his films.
He is back in the director's chair this week with his latest film The Neon Demon, which sees him team up with actress Elle Fanning for the first time.
Refn has already enjoyed a directing career that has spanned twenty years and we take a look at the top three movies of his career so far.
- Pusher (1996)
It was back in 1996 when Refn made his feature film directorial debut with Pusher, a Danish crime drama that kicked off his career in fine style. As well as being in the director's chair, Refn teamed up with Jens Dahl to pen the film's screenplay.
Starring Mads Mikkelsen, Kim Bodnia, and Zlatko Buric, Pusher follows a drug pusher grows increasingly desperate after a botched deal leaves him with a large debt to a ruthless drug lord.
Pusher is dark and gritty gangster movie that really proved to be the breakthrough film for Refn. There something incredibly real and raw about the movie that truly has you on the edge of your seat.
It is hard to believe that Refn was a first-time filmmaker when he shot this film as it is a movie that is packed with tension and suspense. Refn has crafted a story that is packed with twists, turns, and interesting characters.
For me, there is something incredibly unsettling about this whole film while Kim Bodnia delivers a fantastic performance in the central role.
The movie was met will critically upon release and Pusher has gone on to gain a cult following over the years. Refn went on to direct two further movies in the Pusher franchise, but, for me, the first remains the best.
Twenty years on, Pusher is still up there as one of Refn's best movie and, if you are new to this filmmaker's work, Pusher is a great place to start.
- Bronson (2009)
When it comes to Refn movies, Bronson is one of my favourite as the director teamed up with British actor Tom Hardy for the first time - I really would like to see them work together again in the future.
In 1974, a misguided 19-year-old named Michael Peterson decided he wanted to make a name for himself and so, with a homemade sawn-off shotgun and a head full of dreams he attempted to rob a post office. Swiftly apprehended and originally sentenced to 7 years in jail, Peterson has subsequently been behind bars for 34 years, 30 of which have been spent in solitary confinement.
Hardy took on the role of Peterson aka Charlie Bronson in what remains one of the most interesting and complex roles of his acting career to date.
From the opening scene to the closing credits, Bronson is an intense movie that explores the life of a man who may or may not be insane. Refn has delivered a black comedy, which is a mix of surrealism and horror. The surrealism gives the audience a break from some of the film's most violent moments.
Hardy gives an electrifying central performance; he is truly mesmerising and will keep you hooked from start to finish. On one hand, Hardy delivers a very violent performance but he does manage to bring a human side to Bronson at the same time.
Refn has never been afraid from delivering films that are more than a little off beat - and Bronson certainly is. However, Bronson is a visceral, dark, violent, and funny exploration of one man's mind and brutal nature. If you are looking for a run of the mill biopic, Bronson is a movie that's not for you.
- Drive (2011)
Drive is one of Refn's most recent films and was a movie that did help to elevate the filmmaker's star even further. Drive was not only one of the best films of Refn's career, but it was one of the best movies to hit the big screen in 2011.
The movie was based on the book by James Sallis and was adapted for the big screen by Hossein Amini. Ryan Gosling took on the central role of Driver, in what was his first collaboration with the filmmaker.
The director brought together a very exciting cast list as Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, Oscar Isaac, Christina Hendricks, and Ron Perlman were all also on board.
Drive follows a Hollywood stunt driver by day (Gosling), a loner by nature, who moonlights as a top-notch getaway driver-for-hire in the criminal underworld. He finds himself a target for some of LA's most dangerous men after agreeing to aid the husband of his beautiful neighbour, Irene (Mulligan).
What I love about this film so much, is Gosling's central performance. To say he doesn't speak all that much is a bit of an understatement, and he still manages to create a powerful character that is full of mystery and intrigue. From start to finish, it is just a captivating performance from the actor: he gives more away with a single look that he could ever do with words.
Drive is the perfect art-house/action movie that was as striking to look at as it was exciting to watch. It really was a movie that was just perfect in every way.
The film competed for the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, before going on to win over critics and audiences upon release. Hard to believe that Drive is already five years old but it remains a truly terrific watch.
Other Refn movies that are not to be missed include Bleeder, Valhalla Rising, and Only God Forgives.
The Neon Demon is released 8th July.