I went through a phase of hating Steve Soderbergh, after my tween love of Sex Lies and Videotape, but now I am back to loving him. Did you know that in 24 years he's directed 27 movies, and that isn't even counting his work in TV and his huge role as a producer. That makes him one of the most prolific quality directors around. Most of his last few movies have been some of my recent favorites: The Informant (super underrated), Contagion (70s style super fun disaster movie), and yes, Magic Mike, which I watched this weekend. Any movie with this scene is an instant classic, IMO. This is not SFW. Inside information: the ladies actually ripped off Mcconaghuey's g string and you can see he is holding it on
Soderbergh has veered from big budget, super successful movies, some of which are crap and some of which are good, really good small movies, documentaries (two about Spalding Gray and two about Yes(!), two about Che, among others), and super improvised indie movies. I just watched the Girlfriend Experience and it pretty much sucks, but he went out on a limb and made a movie in two weeks for 2 million dollars, just as an experiment, and what major director is doing stuff like that these days. No one! Magic Mike clearly had a lot of improv in it, which is really fun and also makes it feel like a 70s movie. The female lead is not that skilled in it, but still, it makes her seem like a real person, a quality which is lacking for most female eye-candy roles these days.
The difference between him and some of the last quality directors is that he can finance his small projects with his big projects. The few I can think of are Solondz, P.T. Anderson and Wes Anderson. I think the lastter two guys made some money on their last movies so they are probably in good shape. Solondz career is pretty screwed. What other American directors are any good? I'd count Katherine Bigelow.
In short, he rules.