Though it has been practically obligatory for South African filmmakers to make movies about corruption, disease or apartheid, writer-director Gavin Hood managed to steer clear of such expectations; instead turning his sharp focus on character and genre to tell more universal stories. Despite his start as a supporting actor in cut-rate "Delta Force" rip-offs and middling martial arts flicks, Hood's true ambition was to direct. So after gaining a foothold as an actor, he shifted his attention behind the camera and helmed the Academy Award-winning drama, "Tsotsi" (2005). An unforgiving, but redemptive tale about a street thug who cares for a newborn after a carjacking, "Tsotsi" helped propel Hood's career, landing him in Los Angeles where he sought to expand his filmmaking resume. His career took off when he helmed the taut political thriller "Rendition" (2007) and the smash summer hit, "X-Men: Origins" (2009), which - despite mixed reviews - became one of the top-grossing movies of that year. In a short span of time, Hood established himself as a talented director capable of making both intense character-driven drama and big budget studio blockbusters.