Manoj Nelliyattu Shyamalan
One of the most successful and controversial filmmakers of the late 1990s and into the next millennium, M. Night Shyamalan was the writer and director of such supernaturally themed dramas as "The Sixth Sense" (1999), "Signs" (2002) and "The Village" (2004). Like his idol, Steven Spielberg, Shyamalan's films concerned ordinary people who must draw on faith, family and friendship to help them contend with overwhelming and often unnatural forces. He was also known for ending his pictures with an ironic "sting" that, for better or worse, left audiences reeling at the final fade-out. Though "The Sixth Sense" and "Signs" were blockbuster hits, his other efforts received mixed or even hostile reviews from critics and audiences, and a much-publicized clash with Disney over the production of 2006's "Lady in the Water" diminished his profile by the time he released his first R-rated film, "The Happening," in 2008. Although given more shots at helming big-budget fare with "The Last Airbender" (2010) and "After Earth" (2013), both films fell considerably short of expectations, leaving Shyamalan's next career move uncertain. However, the success of the limited television series "Wayward Pines" (Fox 2015) and the horror film "The Visit" (2015) showed that the filmmaker's career was capable of its own unexpected twists.