Billy Wilder's acidic noir damned the industry he worked in through high drama and star presence in equal measure, holding up a particularly harsh mirror to the fickleness of life in Tinseltown
Sidney Lumet's modest drama concealed stunning power within, serving as an indictment of the American judicial system and structural racism as it existed in society back then.
Steven Spielberg practically created the modern blockbuster with his first major success, inviting audiences in to experience fear like they never had before, and enjoy it too.
There likely exists no greater pop culture sensation than George Lucas' film, which reignited an interest in sci-fi and fantasy films, and also reimagined how they could be made, aside from spawning a multi-billion dollar enterprise.
Frank Darabont tapped into a space of the American psyche that had not really been explored this way before, probing the concept of imprisonment and the illusion freedom can often represent.
Paul Thomas Anderson explored the oil boom with Daniel Day-Lewis in this searing drama of a man who will stop at nothing till he has it all, leaving all and sundry, including his son, by the wayside.
Christopher Nolan's sequel to Batman Begins (2005) is likely the best example of a simple story told so well, with such ambition and clarity, that it is in a perpetual state of being dissected, with the machinations of the Joker, the motivations of Harvey Dent, and the relentlessness of the eponymous protagonist all coming under the scanner.