Steven Soderbergh

Despite being anointed a wunderkind after winning the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival for his debut film, "Sex, Lies and Videotape" (1989), director Steven Soderbergh spent the better part of the ensuing decade struggling to find his creative and commercial footing. After following up his Cannes triumph with the baffling "Kafka" (1991), Soderbergh all but disappeared from Hollywood's radar, thanks to commercial failures like "King of the Hill" (1993) and "The Underneath" (1995). He cleansed his palate with the truly bizarre "Schizopolis" (1997), which helped pave the way for a revitalized career with "Out of Sight" (1998), a stylish adaptation of Elmore Leonard's romantic crime thriller that finally put Soderbergh on the map. The director soon entered into a fertile period that saw him make creatively satisfying films that also made money; most notably "Erin Brockovich" (2000) and "Traffic" (2000), the latter of which earned him an Oscar for Best Director. After directing the highly-commercial "Ocean's Eleven" (2001), Soderbergh again felt the need to cleanse his soul with "Full Frontal" (2002) and "Solaris" (2002), both of which earned him considerable scorn. Always willing to experiment, as he did with the low-budget "Bubble" (2006) and the sprawling four-hour epic "Che" (2008), Soderbergh was able to keep alive his independent spirit while his feet remained firmly planted in the commercial world, even at the risk of earning detractors and disappointing fans - the mark of a truly independent filmmaker.