Everyone involved in a film is a hard worker, especially the director. Ideally, the writer is the person who's in charge of the film throughout all stages of production, and the editor is there mostly for post-production. They're all important roles, but they can more or less be attributed to one stage of the film's production.
If a director is there for all three, it probably means they've spent the most time on the film, which might be why they get to have their name first in the credits or on the poster of a film. Yet then there are directors who have managed to release two films in the same year.
'Last Night in Soho' and 'The Sparks Brothers' by Edgar Wright (2021)
Edgar Wright's psychological horror film, Last Night in Soho, was filmed in 2019 and was scheduled to be released in 2021 due to COVID. During this time, Edgar Wright was able to produce a comedic music documentary about one of his favorite bands, The Sparks Brothers. However, Sparks is not their real name (it's Mael).
Each demonstrates Wright's expanding skill as a filmmaker, with Last Night in Soho demonstrating his ability to execute a solid horror film, and The Sparks Brothers showing his ability to construct a compelling music documentary. It was also a great year for the Mael brothers, who wrote their first screenplay for another 2021 release, Annette (starring Adam Driver).
'Throne of Blood' and 'The Lower Depths,' by Akira Kurosawa (1957)
Akira Kurosawa is perhaps the most well-known Japanese filmmaker of all time, known for both the quality of his films and the quantity of his screenplays. 1957 ended up being one of his most memorable years, with two films that also starred his most frequent collaborator, Toshiro Mifune, who is one of the most well-known Japanese actors of all time.
The fact that Mifune is included in the cast while The Lower Depths is based on a Maksim Gorky play of the same name are the biggest differences. Throne of Blood is the more well-known of the two, but they each represent Kurosawa's most prolific work and demonstrate how efficiently he could translate it to the big screen.
Martin Scorsese: 'The Irishman' and 'Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story' (2019)
Martin Scorsese showed no signs of sabotaging himself even in his late 70s. He produced some of his finest work in the 2010s, and capped off the decade with a fantastic 2019 that saw him release two films for Netflix: The Irishman, a 3.5-hour crime drama, and the strange documentary/concert film, Rolling Thunder Revue, which adds to legendary musician Bob Dylan's melancholy through its bizarre, sometimes frustrating presentation.
The Irishman isn't Scorsese's first crime film, nor is Rolling Thunder Revue his first musical documentary, although he's directed documentaries about George Harrison and The Rolling Stones, demonstrating his apparent unwillingness to allow himself to be slowed down by age.
'Da 5 Bloods' and 'American Utopia' by Spike Lee (2020)
2020 was a difficult year for a number of reasons, but if there's a silver lining to it, the year saw Spike Lee release two of his finest films. Perhaps the most popular (and strangely divisive) of the two was Da 5 Bloods, a powerful and brilliantly acted film that put a uniquely compelling - and often disturbing - spin on the war genre.
Then came American Utopia, which was almost completely different, given that Byrne was the lead actor for Talking Heads, who have one of the most iconic concert films of all time - Stop Making Sense - so it makes sense that American Utopia is a worthy "sequel," especially with Spike Lee behind the camera.
Francis Ford Coppola: 'The Godfather: Part II' and 'The Conversation' (1974)
Francis Ford Coppola isn't really a director, although he was the filmmaker behind The Godfather trilogy and the filmmaker of Apocalypse Now, where he directed one of the most notoriously chaotic and troubled film productions of all time, only to finish the film with one of the most critically-acclaimed war films.
The first two Godfather films, Apocalypse Now and The Conversation, were released in the 1970s, and all were critically successful, and they continue to be successful today. The Godfather: Part II won the Academy Award for its merits in 1974. The Conversation won the Palme d'Or for its merits in 1974.
'The Last Duel' and 'House of Gucci' by Ridley Scott (2021)
COVID might have a bearing on Ridley Scott's release of two films in 2021. Both were quite large-scale films with runtimes over two hours and big casts, as Ridley Scott is a filmmaker who appears adept at filming very quickly, so even if COVID had delayed anything, The Last Duel and House of Gucci might still have been released close together.
House of Gucci may have slipped a bit, but it nonetheless provided some good campy entertainment and pleasant over-the-top performances. The Last Duel, on the other hand, was one of Scott's finest films in years, but unfortunately it ended up being overlooked by audiences and end-of-year award shows. It's a difficult but powerful film, blending spectacle with hard-hitting themes that remain relevant today, even though the film took place hundreds of years ago.
'Drive My Car,' and 'Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy,' by Ryusuke Hamaguchi, (2021)
Ryusuke Hamaguchi, a Japanese filmmaker, received significant international attention with his 2021 films. Drive My Car was the most popular of his two 2021 films, winning several Oscar nominations and winning Best Foreign Film at the Oscars, while Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy were a solid companion piece, although they weren't quite as powerful.
The good news is that if a viewer likes one, they'll likely enjoy the other. Each film is quiet and understated, but deeply emotional once you spend enough time with them. They each deal with relationships, loneliness, and grief (particularly Drive My Car), and condense multiple short stories into one film; Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy are just three short films in a row.
'The Matrix Reloaded' and 'The Matrix Revolutions' by Lana and Lilly Wachowski
Given that The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions were filmed together but released separately, it's possible that this entry is attempting to cheat a bit. However, to release both films so close together is unusual, considering how something like The Lord of the Rings trilogy only released one film per year after filming all three simultaneously.
The Wachowskis' two sequels to their classic 1999 film, The Matrix, are ultimately more divisive. Each builds on the world established by that first film in ways that are enjoyable for some viewers but confusing for others. Still, you can't fault the Wachowskis' ambition, and at the very least, The Matrix Reloaded contains some of the greatest Matrix scenes.