screenrant.com Men: 10 Best Movies & TV Shows Written & Directed By Alex Garland

99 09/07/2022

Alex Garland's polarizing new sci-fi horror drama Men opens Friday, May 20, 2022, marking the director's third feature film. Beginning his career as a novelist who had a pair of books adapted into movies in the early 2000s, Garland wrote his first screenplay in 2002 and spent a decade or so writing movie and TV scripts before making his stunning directorial debut with Ex Machina in 2014.

Whether he's exploring the dangers of AI, the future of the solar system, environmental degradation, draconian law enforcement, a viral zombie outbreak, or almost anything else, Garland always pushes the boundaries of what frightening sci-fi cinema and television have to offer.

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The Beach (2000)

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In his first of multiple collaborations with director Danny Boyle, Garland wrote the source material for The Beach and even went so far as to provide the film production with the official map that Richard (Leonardo DiCaprio) uses to navigate the secretive island in the film. Who knew Garland was also a cartographer?

RELATED: Danny Boyle's 10 Best Movies (According To Rotten Tomatoes)

The Beach follows Richard, an adventurous young American who hears of a hidden paradise off the coast of Thailand and goes to great lengths to find the place and join its utopic commune. Themes of self-sufficiency, limited resources, human cohabitation, and survival of the fittest ended up making for a muddled story, tonal imbalance, and unclear message in the end.

Batman: Black And White (2009)

Purchase On Amazon

In addition to writing a handful of video games, fans may not realize that Garland also wrote an episode of Batman: Black and White in 2009. Entitled "Sunrise," the story concerns Batman (Michael Dobson) sustaining an injury and being nursed back to health by an elderly woman named Angelica (Janyse Jaud) who ruminates on the significance of memories.

screenrant.com Men: 10 Best Movies & TV Shows Written & Directed By Alex Garland

The animated episode allows Garland to examine the themes that recur in his work, including the way in which the mind perceives time and how memories play a major part in one's future. Always contemplative and thought-provoking, Garland makes Batman feel more human than usual.

Never Let Me Go (2010)

Stream On Max Go

Adapted from the Kazuo Ishiguro novel, Garland wrote the screenplay for the touching, tender, and unexpectedly heartbreaking sci-fi drama Never Let Me Go. Directed by Mark Romanek, the story traces three childhood friends from their school days through adulthood and the consequences each faces when they learn they are human clones.

With remarkable turns by Keira Knightley, Andrew Garfield, and Carey Mulligan, the profound story of friendship among unwitting clones really calls into question what it means to be human, how friendship and romance can subsist in the unlikeliest of places, and despite being overdrawn and melodramatic in spots, the film proves Garland can write material slightly out of his element.

Dredd (2012)

Stream On Epix

Despite losing money at the box office, Garland wrote a terrific script for the highly-underrated sci-fi action movie Dredd. Stripping away the camp and kitsch of 1995's Judge Dredd, Garland's version is much bleaker, more violent, and a riveting study on the future of law enforcement.

Directed with great style and claustrophobic terror by Pete Travis, Dredd stars Karl Urban as the titular Judge, Jury, and Executioner in charge of Mega-City One - a dystopic metropolis where he is sent to patrol a towering skyscraper where much of the population lives. Aiming to bring down a drug dealer providing the population with a substance called Slo-Mo, Dredd teams with trainee Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) to keep the city safe. Gritty, visceral, and much different than its predecessor, Dredd proves Garland has the chops to take remakes into daring new areas.

Sunshine (2007)

Rent On Apple TV

Marking his second collaboration with Danny Boyle, Garland conceived the story and wrote the screenplay for Sunshine, a truly intense sci-fi experience. Set in the year 2057, the story imagines humanity with an existential crisis when the sun begins dying out. To reignite the star, a team of international astronauts risk their lives and work together to detonate a nuclear fission explosion in outer space.

RELATED: The Midnight Sky - 10 Best Movies About Astronauts & Outer Space

The cerebral story was hailed for its engrossing premise, dramatic stakes, and the way it forces audiences to think about where they came from and where they are destined to end up in the inevitable scenario. Despite a tepid final act, Sunshine proves Garland and Boyle are a match made in cinematic heaven.

Men (2022)

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Already dividing audiences down the line with his surreal tale of toxic masculinity, Garland's third directorial feature Men currently holds an 81% on Rotten Tomatoes. The plot concerns Harper (Jessie Buckley), a woman who retreats to a lavish country home to grieve the death of her husband, only to be terrorized by a series of real and perhaps imaginary males nearby.

While much more menacing, visceral, and sinister than Garland's previous two directorial efforts, the ambiguity of Men's conclusion left many feeling cold and unsatisfied, yet others came away with endless interpretations to discuss. Time will tell if Men climbs the ranks, but for now, it's an above-average Garland movie that retains his authorial voice and directorial style.

Devs (2020)

Stream On Hulu

A rarity for a TV show, Garland wrote and directed all eight episodes of Devs, the superb Hulu original sci-fi series he also created from scratch. StarringSonoya Mizuno, who has appeared in all three of Garland's films as well, the plot follows Lily Chan, a software engineer who searches for answers when her boyfriend mysteriously dies on his first day of work.

Exploring themes of free will, deterministic law, and the moral culture of tech writ large, Devs is another highly imaginative tale from Garland that forces viewers to pay attention, use their brains, and parse what's really going on beneath the surface of the narrative. With excellent acting, gorgeous photography, and Garland's trademark mind-scrambling, Devs is the best show he's worked on to date.

Annihilation (2018)

Stream On Paramount+ & FXNow

Aside from the primacy of an awesome female-dominated cast, Garland's second directorial effort, Annihilation, is one of the trippiest, most challenging, and wonderfully imaginative movie experiences of the past few years. In search of her missing husband, Lena (Natalie Portman) leads an all-female crew of scientific specialists into The Shimmer, an ecological landscape where natural mutations flourish and the laws of physics cease to exist.

RELATED: 10 Great Cosmic Horror Films To Fill You With Dread (Ranked, According To Rotten Tomatoes)

With a deliberate pace and ratcheted tension that gets under the viewers' skin as it goes, Annihilation culminates with a hypnotic, jaw-dropping finale that cuts right to the core of human fragility. Beautiful, eerie, and unpredictable, Annihilation lingers long after experiencing it.

28 Days Later... (2002)

Stream On HBO Max & Max Go

20 years after it was made, 28 Days Later... remains one of the best viral zombie horror movies on record. The film marks the first screenplay Garland wrote (he also did uncredited script work on the sequel 28 Weeks Later), and his first time working with Danny Boyle. The plot chronicles four weeks in the UK after a mysterious outbreak spreads through the country.

Hailed for being far more realistic and scary than most zombie films, Garland deserves a lot of credit for rapidly speeding up the pace of the zombie attacks, giving the zombies a genre-changing, feral animalistic quality that the slow, lumbering zombies in most horror films before it lacked.

Ex Machina (2014)

Stream On Showtime, Hoopla, & Kanopy

Anytime a writer gets to translate their words and ideas onto the screen the way they envisioned it in their mind, it typically makes for a better product. In the case of Garland, his directorial debut Ex Machina remains his crowning achievement, fusing genuine techno-terror with dark humor and a frighteningly prescient premise to create an unforgettable time.

When promising programmer Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) is invited to the smart home of Nathan (Oscar Isaac), an eccentric and secretive CEO of a major tech company, he thinks he's getting the opportunity of a lifetime. But then Ava (Alicia Vikander) shows up, a lifelike android created by Nathan, who questions Caleb's entire existence, leading to one crazy twist and turn after another. Taut, shocking, and thematically ahead of its time, Ex Machina is godly indeed.

NEXT: 10 Scariest Techno-Horror Movies

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