Raised in a strict Calvinist household, Paul Schrader didn’t see his first movie until he was 17. It certainly had an effect, though, and Schrader went on to become one of the most important figures in American filmmaking: first as a critic, then screenwriter (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Rolling Thunder, and more) and now as a director in his own right.
Fiercely intellectual, his works often deal with guilt-ridden men in the grips of an existential crisis, caught between their desires and their duties—even his script for The Last Temptation of Christ works with these themes. He’s a challenging artist and dipping into his work can be intimidating for the newcomer. Here then, are 10 of Schrader’s directorial efforts to grapple with.