Jeff Nichols is an American film director best known for his collaborations with Michael Shannon
and his vivid and emotional depictions of life in the American midwest.
After studying filmmaking at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, he made his debut feature, Shotgun Stories
, which debuted to terrific reviews at the Sundance Film Festival but was unable to secure a good theatrical release. It did, however, garner universal acclaim from critics for Nichols' direction and the lead performance by Michael Shannon
. Most notable among the film's supporters was Roger Ebert
, who named it one of the best films of 2008 and chose it as a featured selection for his film festival, Ebertfest. This gave the film (and Nichols) a much-needed Colbert Bump
He followed up Shotgun Stories
with Take Shelter
, which starred Michael Shannon
and Jessica Chastain
in a story about a man who becomes tortured by apocalyptic visions and dreams, and despite fears that they may be a sign of schizophrenia, allows them to consume him until he risks his family's financial security on a high-tech tornado shelter. The film again played to acclaim at the Sundance as well as Cannes film festivals, where the performances from Shannon and Chastain were singled out, as was the mood and atmosphere in Nichols' direction.
His latest film is Mud
, the story about an adolescent boy (Tye Sheridan) who helps a mysterious drifter (Matthew McConaughey
) try to reunite with the woman he once loved (Reese Witherspoon
). Once again, the film has been highly praised as a rural fable in the vein of Stand by Me
, and despite having a limited release, is Nichols' biggest financial success yet.
Jeff is also the brother of Ben Nichols, the frontman for Lucero, who also composed the score for Shotgun Stories
. Not to be confused with Mike Nichols