15. Michael Clayton
Sometimes a director’s toughest job is just keeping all of the great elements of a movie from cancelling each other out. Tony Gilroy made a name for himself writing the scripts for the Bourne movies, and then made his directorial debut with “Michael Clayton,” which has a knockout script, more plotlines than most trilogies, a great sense of style, both ruthless and dashing, and incredible supporting performances from Tom Wilkinson, Tilda Swinton, and Sydney Pollack. Gilroy manages to balance it all to produce a taut, intellgent, utterly entertaining corporate corruption thriller, but perhaps the most impressive thing about “Michael Clayton” is George Clooney, who was smart enough to turn down the wattage on his million-dollar smile and charisma in order to make the whole thing work. Up til this point, Clooney, was a movie star; “Clayton” marks his development into a bona fide actor.