Darren Aronofsky

From his emergence with the breakout indie feature "Pi" (1998) - a sci-fi meditation on life, death and the cruelty of fate - writer-director Darren Aronofsky became something of an indie wunderkind who made the leap to directing big-budget Hollywood features. Although detractors would claim that some of his films -- particularly time travel fable "The Fountain" (2006) and philosophical meditation "Mother!" (2017) -- fell prey to artistic hubris and creative excess, the writer/director consistently managed to turn grim subject matter into exciting cinema. By drawing upon his hip-hop influences, Aronofsky created a hyperkinetic filmmaking style that encompassed high-speed editing and rapid-fire images. But beyond the surface of his filmmaking technique was an obsessive drive to artistically answer the Big Questions of why we are here and what comes after death. In the process, Aronofsky created a legion of adherents who flocked to every movie, while receiving a fair share of criticism for what were seen as overreaching pretensions. Nonetheless, Aronofsky remained a dedicated artist, steadfastly refusing to succumb to studio pressures on his way to making visually flamboyant, metaphysically probing and emotionally engaging films like "The Wrestler" (2008) and "Black Swan" (2010).