Skyfall-James-Bond-wallpaper-daniel-craig-32623673-1920-1200It became official this week that Skyfall director, Sam Mendes, will not return to direct Bond 24.  In an interview with Empire magazine he said:

“It has been a very difficult decision not to accept [producers] Michael [G. Wilson] and Barbara [Broccoli’s] very generous offer to direct the next Bond movie. Directing Skyfall was one of the best experiences of my professional life, but I have theatre and other commitments, including productions of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and King Lear, that need my complete focus over the next year and beyond.”

Skyfall has officially passed one billion dollars at the box office and no doubt the producers will be keen to kick off the next installment of the franchise as soon as possible.  Although the financial woes of the film studio MGM delayed the production and release of Skyfall, starving the world of 007 sort of worked so maybe they will not mind waiting again.  Regardless, the director’s chair on one of the world’s biggest film franchises is open.

Mendes’s film saw the end of the beginning of Daniel Craig’s Bond.  Casino Royale, Quantam of Solace and Skyfall, as a whole, are one long continuous origin story and it was a relief in the closing minutes of Skyfall to know that all the pieces are in place for Craig to finally become Bond.  No more crying over dead girlfriends, psychological evaluations or shaky target practice.  Bond 24 will be a chance for us to see what Craig’s Bond is fully capable of without the baggage of establishing the character.  With that in mind here are my picks for the five directors who should be in the running to direct Bond 24.

Dark Knight Rises

Christopher Nolan

The most obvious choice but undoubtedly the best person for the job.  Nolan is no stranger to working with beloved characters that are big players in the pop culture lexicon like James Bond and he’s kind of like the real life directing equivalent of the character with his smooth British ways.

Nolan successfully delivered a modern take on Batman with the Dark Knight Trilogy that was a hit with critics, the banking department at Warner Brothers (WB) and fans.  Not afraid to take on another pop culture icon, Nolan is acting as a producer on the upcoming Superman reboot Man of Steel.  The Dark Knight trilogy lived in a universe that was very similar in its realism to Casino Royale that has a lot in common with Batman Begins with its stripped back origins tale.  Outside of handling comic book titans Nolan’s best case to direct a Bond film is Inception.  The final siege on the snow base in Inception could essentially be transplanted and molded into the opening of a Bond film.  Nolan knows how to deliver stylish action and big spectacle that’s perfect for 007.

Nolan’s next directing gig is a sci-fi film titled Interstellar, he’s executive producing longtime collaborator/cinematographer Wally Pfister's directorial debut Transcendence as well as a rumour that he’s in charge of shepherding a stable of DC superheroes to the big screen for WB.  Scheduling may rule Nolan out but if the Bond producers are willing to wait or pull some strings (wrapped around a giant sack of cash) it could be a huge coup for the Bond franchise.

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Ben Affleck

Coming off the success of Argo winning best picture at the 2013 Academy Awards, Affleck is the man who can bring the thrills and cred to Bond 24.  Affleck has a great track record with three strong films: Gone Baby Gone, The Town and Argo.  While he hasn’t played in a franchise sandpit as a director yet, Bond could be the perfect opportunity and Affleck knows how to deliver political intrigue, drama and lots of tension (see the final 30 minutes of Argo).  Affleck is currently in post-production for his next film Runner, Runner and apparently was in the running for another gigantic franchise directing gig, Star Wars Episode Seven that eventually went to JJ Abrams.

Having missed out on directing the new Star Wars film, maybe Bond 24 will be the perfect consolation prize.

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Kathryn Bigelow

It’s about time that Bond took some direction from a lady.  Getting Bigelow behind the camera would be a great way to atone for the sexist history of the character and Bigelow makes high octane action films that make most of her male peers look like pansies.  Somewhere between The Hurt Locker, Point Break and Zero Dark Thirty is the potential for Bigelow to do something really special with a character like Bond with her explosive and tension filled approach to filmmaking.

Bigelow hasn’t locked down any major projects since the release of Zero Dark Thirty so her schedule is free to rock Bond’s world.

Danny-Boyle

Danny Boyle

Throwing another British name into the ring because following the work of Mendes on Skyfall the producers will maybe be looking to maintain that English flavour.  Boyle has always challenged himself as a filmmaker always switching genres: horror (28 Days Later), sci-fi (Sunshine), drama (Trainspotting and 127 Hours) and even a bit of Bollywood (Slumdog Millionaire).  A spy thriller with Boyle’s rapid fire direction would be fantastic.  Boyle even has links to the franchise already having worked on the James Bond themed part of the 2012 London Olympic Games opening ceremony with Daniel Craig and the Queen.  Boyle also has the Academy Award pedigree similar to Mendes that puts him firmly in the criteria the producers seem to be aspiring to.

Boyle’s next film is the thriller Trance but he has nothing planned after its release so let the negotiations begin.

Afonso Cuaron

I am guilty of putting Cuaron’s name forward whenever I hear a directing opening for a new project but that’s because he’s an amazing director.  The gritty world of Children of Men shows he can work in the modern bare-bones Bond landscape and his entry into the Harry Potter franchise (the best one in the series) The Prisoner of Azkaban shows he has what it takes to inject energy and bring new ideas to an established franchise.

His new film Gravity has been long in development and finally gets released in 2013 so maybe he’ll want a holiday, but hopefully he’ll be ready to take the call to jet set with Craig and Co.

Cameron Williams - follow Cam on Twitter here: @popcornjunkies