Tom Ford and Julianne MooreThe best directorial debuts of the year are all over the map, genre-wise, from serious drama to funny/moving documentary to shocking/sobering documentary to socially conscious sci-fi. Which is as it should be.

That up-and-coming directors (two named Oren!) are making movies about beleaguered heavy metal bands, oppressed South African aliens and broken-down country musicians, among other things, means that film today is -- despite any reports to the contrary -- pretty healthy.

Yes, some of these directors have previously helmed shorts or TV episodes or, in one case, a documentary that was never released in theaters. But this list represents first-time feature-length theatrical releases. In some cases, it was hard to believe these guys (and they are all guys...) had never directed a major movie before, so sure was their directorial hand. In others, inexperience showed, but the movie rocked anyway.