The last 10 years have been serenaded by some of the best and highest-grossing films to come out of Nollywood.
While the film industry witnessed a deluge of directors choosing the cinema over television productions, some practitioners concentrated on television series.
Several directors who fell into this top 10 list have achieved groundbreaking feats with films that have gone ahead to become a commercial success, impactful, and critically acclaimed while winning awards.
For the record, because we limited this to only 10, directors Desmond Elliot, Mahmood Ali Balogun, Ikechukwu Onyeka, Genevieve Nnaji, Obi Emenloye, Abdulrasheed Bello, Okiki Afolayan, Uche Jombo, Debbie Odutayo, Muyiwa Ademola and Vincent D Anointed were ineligible. But their accomplishments in 10 years cannot be undersold.
10. Tope Alake
Tope Alake is easily missed in the crowd but definitely, his works aren’t. This bundle of talent is one of the directors that inked their names on the sand of the decade - 2010 - 2019. ‘Picture Perfect’ is one of the many films that had the inputs of Alake this decade. ‘Stormy Hearts’ and the critically acclaimed ‘Nimbe’ that pitches Odunlade Adekola against Toyin Abraham is another work by Alake in the decade. Alake was also actively involved in many television productions by Africa Magic and ROK Studios.
9. Kabat Esosa Egbon
With over 25 movies and television series to his credit in the last 10 years, Esosa Egbon sits comfortably as a veteran on the list of 10 best directors of the decade. His 2017 production, ‘Ebomisi’ was a top winner at 2018 Best Of Nollywood Awards while many of his TV productions are viewers favourite on cable channels, Africa Magic and ROK TV. The huge TV series, ‘Husbands of Lagos’ was directed by the amiable Esosa Egbon.
8. Kunle Afolayan
Since the huge success recorded by Kunle Afolayan’s second film as a director, ‘Figurine,’ the son of a legendary filmmaker and actor has not looked back. He has kept going strong with different themes and issues being treated in his films. Afolayan’s ‘Phone Swap’, ‘October 1’, ‘CEO’, and ‘Mokalik’ have become some of the critically acclaimed successes of the filmmaker, who tries hard not to act in recent time. Not only did Afolayan churn out his self-owned productions in the decade, but he also worked with Africa Magic and other producers on successful projects that include, ‘Omugwo’, ‘Roti’ and ‘The Bridge’.
7. Jade Osiberu
Jade Osiberu horned her directorial skills while working with a popular web-based content provider, Ndani TV. Her first success was ‘Gidi-Up’, a widely accepted web series that went on to get award nominations. Her major directorial debut came in 2017 when she featured Dakore Akande, Joseph Benjamin, and Funke Akindele in the critically-acclaimed film, ‘Isoken’. The film gave Osiberu all she needed to get on this list. The film won her awards at the Africa Movie Academy Awards as well as the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards. Osiberu went on to direct, ‘Nigerian Trade’ as well as other productions.
6. Akin Omotoso
The name Akin Omotoso has become synonymous with big film projects in and outside Africa. In the last 10 years, Omotoso has firmly rooted his feet on the soil of his fatherland shooting some of the best productions of the decade. From his critically acclaimed ‘Man on Ground’ in 2011 to his 2016 hit, ‘Vaya’, Omotoso has inked his name on the sands of time. His work on Ego Boyo’s ‘A Hotel called Memory’ and ‘The Ghost and The House of Truth’ remain two of his best gifts for Nollywood for the decade.
5. Izu Ojukwu
If nothing, Izu Ojukwu blessed the decade with a worthy project that will stand the test of time. ‘76 remains one of the biggest highlights of Nollywood in the decade and it was brilliantly helmed by Izu Ojukwu. The film came a few years after his success with ‘Alero’s Symphony’. He went on to work on a film that dealt with 2face Idibia’s scratch with politicians in ‘Power of 1’.
4. Niyi Akinmolayan
Unarguably the director of Nollywood’s highest-grossing film, Niyi Akinmolayan crept into the industry to become a leading filmmaker in this decade. 2014 was his major entry when he directed Ivie Okujaiye’s ‘Make a move’. He went on to direct two films in 2015, ‘Falling’ and ‘Out of Luck’ but didn’t get the nod of movie buffs until he directed ‘The Arbitration’ in 2016. The critically acclaimed film went to different festivals announcing Akinmolayan’s brillance. The director teamed up with Mo Abudu’s EbonyLife films to direct the 2017 sequel to ‘The Wedding Party’ and this positioned him as a strong contender in the industry. He has since directed ‘Chief Daddy’ and ‘The Set Up’ in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
3. Ishaya Bako
Ishaya Bako is a creative that combines being a screenwriter with a film director. The 32-year-old created a buzz in the industry in the last 10 years with his creativity in the glory of Nollywood. Genevieve Nnaji was the first to bring Bako to prominence when he wrote and directed her first project as a producer, ‘Road to Yesterday’ in 2015. He went on to work with EbonyLife films on its 2018 project, ‘The Royal Hibiscus Hotel’. Bako’s last work for the decade was critically acclaimed film, ‘4th Republic’ that had Kate Henshaw playing the role of the first Nigerian female governor.
2. Tope Oshin
Tope Oshin is an example of persistence, consistency, and professionalism. This decade Oshin distinguished herself by directing up to 750 episodes of some of Africa's biggest drama series like ‘MTV Naija Shuga’, ‘Tinsel’, ‘Hotel Majestic’, and ‘Hush’ amongst others. Named as one of the Okay100 Women of 2017 by OkayAfrica, Tope was trained in filmmaking at the Colorado Film School, Denver and studied Cinematography at MetFilm School. After working on several TV series, she decided to display her brilliance in filmmaking by directing ‘Journey to Self’ in 2013. This is followed by several productions and between 2017 and 2018, she directed three highly recommended films - ‘New Money’, ‘We Don’t Live Here Anymore’, and ‘Up North’.
1. Kemi Adetiba
Kemi Adetiba’s dedication to her craft between 2010 and 2019 is worthy of all the commendation she can get. For this decade, Adetiba unarguably sits on the throne with ‘The Wedding Party 1’ and the critically acclaimed cum highly successful ‘King of Boys’. Between 2010 and 2015, Adetiba shot not less than 10 music videos for top music acts that include Banky W, Waje, Tiwa Savage, Olamide, and Niyola with ‘Toh Bad’ by Niyola, ‘Lagos Party’ by Banky W and ‘Sitting on the Throne’ by Olamide ranking tops with high quality. She returned to acquire more knowledge on filmmaking at the New York Film Academy. Her return to the scene took the industry by storm in 2016 with her direction for ‘The Wedding Party’, which was a brainchild of four studios - Inkblot, EbonyLife Film, Koga Studios and Film One. With few TV productions and shows to her name in the background, she took the industry by surprise when she decided to direct and produce her major film, ‘King Of Boys’. The 2-hours political thriller remained in the cinema for 14 weeks straight before touring the world while grossing N104 million.