These are the movies from the best and most iconic directors of the past 30 years.
SBS Guide

13 Feb 2019 - 2:09 PM  UPDATED 15 Feb 2019 - 3:12 PM

We all know the difference in seeing a good movie from a bad movie. Seasoned film lovers know to follow the careers of the directors who have created magical cinema for them - it's easy to avoid the bad movies when you know the movie you are watching has been crafted by a director of considerable talent.

The SBS On Demand movie library is filled with works from those believed to be the world's greatest directors. We've put together this collection of films you can stream right now that have been helmed by the modern masters of cinema: 

Gangs of New York 

Director: Martin Scorsese
As waves of immigrants swell the population of 1860s New York, lawlessness and corruption thrive in Manhattan's Five Points section. After years of incarceration, young Irish immigrant Amsterdam Vallon (Leonardo DiCaprio) returns, seeking revenge against the rival gang leader who killed his father, William Cutting aka 'Bill the Butcher' (Daniel Day-Lewis). Amsterdam falls in love with the fiercely independent Jenny Everdeane (Cameron Diaz), an enigmatic pickpocket with past links to Bill the Butcher. But Amsterdam's personal vendetta is subsumed in the gang warfare that erupts as he and his fellow Irishmen fight to carve a place for themselves in their newly adopted homeland.


No Country For Old Men

Directors: Joel and Ethan Coen
Violence and mayhem ensue after a hunter stumbles upon some dead bodies, a stash of heroin and more than $2 million in cash near the Rio Grande. Winner of four Oscars, including Best Film.


12 Years a Slave

Director: Steve McQueen
Based on the true story of one man's fight for freedom. Solomon Northup, a free Black man from upstate New York, is abducted & sold into slavery. 
Screens on SBS Australia: Friday 15 February at 8.30pm 
Available at SBS On Demand from 16 February


Toni Erdmann

Director: Maren Ade
This bittersweet drama, a surprise hit at the 2016 Cannes Festival, sees a prank-loving father, Winfried, trying to reconnect with his hard-working daughter Ines. When he decides to surprise her with a visit in Bucharest, where she pursues a stressful career as a corporate strategist, he is promptly sent back home to Germany. But Toni is not easily defeated and barges again into his daughter's life, this time as his alter-ego Toni Erdmann, a life coach sporting a weird wig and fake teeth. As Toni, Winfried doesn't hold back, but Ines rises up to the challenge, and madness soon ensues.


The Player

Director: Robert Altman
This Oscar-nominated provocative look at the movie industry starring Tim Robbins and Whoopi Goldberg, is considered one of the all-time great Hollywood satires. A studio script screener gets on the bad side of a writer by not accepting his script. The writer is sending him threatening postcards. The screener tries to identify the writer in order to pay him off so he'll be left alone, and then in a case of mistaken identity gone awry, he accidentally gives the writer solid ammunition for blackmail. This plot is written on a backdrop of sleazy Hollywood deals and several subplots involving the politics of the industry.


Before the Devil Knows You're Dead 

Director: Sidney Lumet
When two brothers organise the robbery of their parents' jewelry store, the job goes horribly wrong, triggering a series of events that send them and their family hurtling towards a shattering climax.


What's Eating Gilbert Grape

Director: Lasse Hallström
Johnny Depp stars as Gilbert Grape, a young man trapped in an eccentric family in a small town. He works hard to care for a developmentally disabled teenage brother, Arnie (Leonardo DiCaprio, who was nominated for an Oscar for his memorable performance), an incredibly overweight mother, and to maintain a house falling down around their ears. Can the nice new girl in town (Juliette Lewis) rescue Gilbert, now at his wits end with Arnie's stubborn antics? Through it all, the centre of Gilbert's life remains his selfless, fatherly bond with his younger brother.


We Need To Talk About Kevin

Director: Lynne Ramsay
Tilda Swinton delivers one of her best performances as a travel writer/publisher, Eva Khatchadourian, who gives up her beloved freedom and bohemian lifestyle to have a child with her husband, Franklin. Pregnancy does not seem to agree with Eva, but what's worse, when she does give birth to a baby boy named Kevin, she can't seem to bond with him. When Kevin grows from a fussy, demanding toddler into a sociopathic teen, Eva is forced to deal with the aftermath of her son's horrific act.


Paranoid Park

Director: Gus Van Sant
With this murder mystery meets skateboarding film, acclaimed director Gus Van Sant explores the confusion of youth and the dangers of growing up. An unsolved murder at Portland's infamous Paranoid Park brings detectives to a local high school, propelling a young skater into a moral odyssey where he must not only deal with the pain and disconnect of adolescence but the consequences of his own actions.


Le Week-End

Director: Roger Michell 
Le Week-End is a beautifully observed, funny and poignant story about the nature of love and commitment where husband and wife yearn to recapture their youthful fearlessness, lack of responsibility and idealism. A married couple, Meg and Nick (Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan), revisit Paris to revitalise their marriage, and run into an old friend (Jeff Goldblum) who gives them a new vision on life and love.