In no particular order then.
Having cut his teeth as a producer for Guy Ritchie, Matthew Vaughn has made an amazing transition to the Director's chair. His first film was the excellent Layer Cake; very much a crime caper in a similar vein to Lock Stock or Snatch, which oozes cool and has a hell of a cast. From there he hasn't looked back, taking him all the way to the great X-Men reboot and even rumours linking him to the new Star Wars films.
There is no doubting Zack's visual flair, he has made the slow-quick-slow camera work a very distinctive trademark; and I for one love it. He created a very enjoyable remake of Dawn of the Dead, but it was when he brought Frank Miller’s graphic novel 300 to our screens that we took notice. It strikes me that Zack is at his best when interpreting other works, because when he wrote and directed Sucker Punch it looked phenomenal but the story was woeful. So having said that, I'm really looking forward to Zack's Man of Steel which is written by David S Goyer and Chris Nolan.
There is nothing that this man has directed that isn’t superb. From the simple but very very clever Memento through to The Dark Knight Rises, he hasn’t missed a trick; and I haven’t missed a film (apart from Following). Not afraid of making people think, he doesn’t pander to the lowest common denominator. Memento didn't let you lose concentration for a second, The Prestige kept you guessing, Inception is a total mind-bender, and the Batman films have no right to be as clever as they are. He has done a truly remarkable thing, he has actually made intelligent blockbusters, proving that you don't have to leave your brain at the door to enjoy spectacular films.
Born Zowie Bowie, Duncan obviously wanted to distance himself from his famous father. This guy is definitely the new kid on the block in this list having only directed two feature film; the superb Moon, and Source code. He has also made a short film called Whistle which is also well worth a look. Of course he doesn’t have a very long CV, but it's pretty good, and I'm excited as to what he'll do in the future.
Guillermo del Toro
Del Toro is probably the one director on this list that I am least familiar with, however I love the films I have seen and there is no doubting that he has a very distinctive style. Usually a lot of eyes are involved! Whether it's the beast at the end of Hellboy, or The Angel of Death in Hellboy 2, or the Pale Man in Pan's Labyrinth, eyes are important to him. I'd love to have seen his Flies and Spiders if he had directed The Hobbit! Similar to Chris Nolan, the Hellboy films are much cleverer than you would expect, and Blade 2 (though I haven't seen it for a long time) equally so. Hellboy is a great fantasy film, the second one in particular is fantastic and has Del Toro's wonderful style all over it; Pan's Labyrinth even more so. As I say, I'm less familiar with much of Del Toro's work, but I now have Blade 2 to watch again, Cronos is on my LoveFilm list, and I am hoping that he brings his quality to Pacific Rim, because it looks spectacular, but could so easily be rubbish in someone else's hands.
Films to see: Hellboy 2, Pan's Labyrinth, Blade II
Often referred to as a very visual director, Ridley Scott has made some tremendous films. I only really understood what was meant by being a visual director when I watched some of the extras on the Body of Lies DVD. To explain on set how he wanted a scene to look, he would grab a pencil and paper and very quickly draw the storyboard so that the crew instantly knew what he was thinking. Often it seems like he is the only one on set who is calm and knows exactly what he wants. Amid the carnage of filming Black Hawk Down, he was the one unfazed by all the explosions; an oasis of serenity. All this allows him to concentrate on how best to tell his story, and he is excellent at that; and usually his films are visually stunning.
Kubrick was a real artist, everything he did was deliberate and had a reason. He was also a perfectionist, often leading him to do many takes of any particular scene. Of course this sometimes led to clashes of personalities on set, but there is no doubting that the finished product was always tremendous. As an artist he produced works of art, and nowhere is this more evident than 2001:A Space Odyssey. Not a film for everyone, but I think it is a joy to watch; utterly captivating and a sublime piece of film-making. Even the "Ultra - violent" Clockwork Orange has moments of beauty. Widely regarded as one of the best directors of all time, having watched eight of his most celebrated works I can certainly see why.
Generally known for making violent films with a lot of bad language, Tarantino nevertheless has demonstrated over and over that he can write and tell a great story. Perhaps he should be better remembered for his great characters, their development and the irreverent script he usually writes for them. Who can deny we really understand Vincent and Jules when they are discussing "Le Big Mac". Equally, we get a real sense of Kiddo's desire for revenge as we learn about the characters that wronged her. And of course witnessing the superb Christoph Waltz's "Jew Hunter" in Inglorious Basterds, we understand why Shosanna goes to such desperate measures at the end of the film. A brilliant writer and certainly also a great director.