The Indie Auteur
From his first film to his latest, Her, Spike Jonze has made Hollywood bend to his vision, not the other way around.

"I love movies, but music is something that was my friend growing up," Spike Jonze says. "It's always the building block of whatever I'm doing. The feeling of a song is so pure and strong and hard to put into words." Jonze could be talking about his films as well, from Being John Malkovich to the latest, Her, a kind-of-sci-fi flick (and the first film he's written on his own), which is garnering raves not only for its quixotic story—a tender exploration of love and loneliness in a virtual world—but also for Jonze's singular and soulful vision. In 14 years, he has made just four features, a small but assiduously tended crop, as indelible and of-a-piece as the oeuvre of a veteran visionary like Terrence Malick. Jonze is the perfect filmmaker in a DIY Zeitgeist; his films—at once mature and childlike, trepidatious and joyful—feel as close to handmade as a modern movie can be, with all the integrity and ownership that implies. As Jonze says of his own inspirations, Malkovich screenwriter Charlie Kaufman and the late Maurice Sendak, author of Where the Wild Things Are, "They have a fierce honesty that boils down into every detail."

Spike Jonze, 44
Credit Check: Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Where the Wild Things Are, Her
The Unbearable Lightness of Being a Director: "Filmmaking can be incredibly painful. But when it's working—when you're getting that buzz, sharing ideas with friends, connecting with an actor or your writing—it can all be incredibly exciting."

• • •

The 2013 Hollywood Mavericks

The Transformer

The New Kings of Doc

The Antiestablishment Exec

The Dynamic Duos

The Soundtrack Wizard

The Netflix Natives

The Cutting-Edge Comedians

The Character Actresses

The Crowdsourcer

The Creative Capitalists

The Prestige Producer

The Rookie Filmmakers

The Indie Auteur