This could be considered the "populist" or "mainstream" bracket, it occurs to me. With an exception. Or two. Never mind.
20: Skyfall, Sam Mendes, reviewed here.
19: Beasts of the Southern Wild, Benh Zeitlin, reviewed here.
18: Not Fade Away, David Chase, reviewed here.
17: Bernie, Richard Linklater.
For several years I've nursed a bit of a grudge against Linklater, even though I've admired most of his films and thought more than a couple were out-and-out brilliant. The grudge was entirely personal and pointless. It originated at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, where it so happened that he met my boss at the publication for which I worked and was, I thought, unduly brusque with him over a profile that had appeared in said publication. In said profile he was depicted eating a cheeseburger. Now the film Linklater had at Cannes that year was Fast Food Nation. So I could see how this could present a problem. And while there is a buck-stops-here doctrine in publishing, my boss, who was and remains a dear friend, was not the person who had made the reportorial error. So I was irked. And here's how I got my payback, as it were. In my apartment, the DVD shelves are arranged in different ways. There's one shelf that houses movies in alphabetical order. And there are three other shelves that are arranged by director, as in Akerman, Aldrich, Allen up to Wyler, Yang, Zetterling, Zulawski. These are referred to as the "Auteur shelves." And Linklater was DENIED a place on these shelves. Until Bernie. It's THAT GOOD, people.
16: Flight, Robert Zemeckis, reviewed here. Also: Glug glug glug.