film The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked List  

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List Rules The best directors currently living.

List of the best living filmmakers (though not necessarily still actively making films.) When discussing the finest directors of all time, a few names immediately pop to mind. John Ford. John Huston. Frank Capra. But adding in the condition that they must still be living adds a level of difficulty.

Sure, you still have a few luminaries who are with us and clearly are contenders for the title - Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, Steven Spielberg. These guys are no slouches. But it starts to make the list a bit more challenging to compile, particularly when you consider the vast array of genres and styles in which these directors are working. Can John Lasseter's work in animation be directly compared to Sofia Coppola's atmospheric character studies? Can John Carpenter's '80s horror classics comfortably sit side-by-side with Wes Anderson's twee indie adventures? These are the kinds of tough calls Ranker listers are just going to have to make.

One final element to consider would be consistency. Terrence Malick has made far fewer films than most of the entrants on this list, but most (if not all) have been of a remarkably high level of quality. Does that earn him a spot above, say, Clint Eastwood, who has worked a lot but with a somewhat more spotty record? Tough choices... but isn't that what ranking is all about?
list ordered by

1
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Martin Scorsese Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, The Departed

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2
+ - 979 435
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Steven Spielberg E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Jaws, Schindler's List

3
+ - 751 306
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Francis Ford Coppola The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Apocalypse Now

4
+ - 1,011 435
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Quentin Tarantino Django Unchained, Reservoir Dogs, Inglourious Basterds

5
+ - 706 313
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Joel Coen Fargo, No Country for Old Men, The Big Lebowski

6
+ - 659 269
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David Fincher Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

7
+ - 723 380
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Clint Eastwood Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino

8
+ - 603 256
Ridley Scott is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked List
Ridley Scott Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator

9
+ - 854 335
Christopher Nolan is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked List
Christopher Nolan The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Batman Begins

10
+ - 540 286
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David Lynch Mullholland Drive, Elephant Man, Blue Velvet

11
+ - 481 253
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Paul Thomas Anderson The Master, Boogie Nights, Magnolia

12
+ - 515 382
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James Cameron Titanic, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Avatar Avatar 2

13
+ - 460 296
Ron Howard is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked List
Ron Howard Splash, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind

14
+ - 486 353
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Tim Burton Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns

15
+ - 563 409
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Woody Allen Annie Hall, Midnight in Paris, To Rome

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16
+ - 468 230
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Wes Anderson Moonrise Kingdom, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums

17
+ - 413 288
Peter Jackson is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked List
Peter Jackson The Hobbit: There and Back Again, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

18
+ - 375 253
Roman Polański is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked List
Roman Polański Chinatown, Rosemary's Baby, The Pianist

19
+ - 347 213
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Robert Zemeckis Forrest Gump, Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit

20
+ - 258 102
Ethan Coen is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked List
Ethan Coen The Big Lebowski, No Country for Old Men, Fargo

21
+ - 355 254
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Mel Brooks Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs

22
+ - 320 219
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Brian De Palma Scarface, Carrie, The Untouchables

23
+ - 302 210
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John Carpenter Halloween, The Thing, Escape from New York

24
+ - 317 239
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Steven Soderbergh Ocean's Eleven, Erin Brockovich, Traffic

25
+ - 306 208
Ang Lee is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked List
Ang Lee Brokeback Mountain, Hulk, Crouching Tiger

26
+ - 315 254
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Oliver Stone Platoon, Scarface, JFK

27
+ - 307 283
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George Lucas Star Wars, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark

28
+ - 252 148
Miloš Forman is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked List
Miloš Forman One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Amadeus, Hair

29
+ - 206 75
Terry Gilliam is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked List
Terry Gilliam Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Life of Brian, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

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30
+ - 200 119
Danny Boyle is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked List
Danny Boyle Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Slumdog Millionaire

31
+ - 257 191
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Terrence Malick The Thin Red Line, The Tree of Life, Badlands

32
+ - 176 75
Guillermo del Toro is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked List
Guillermo del Toro Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy, Pacific Rim

33
+ - 324 278
J.J. Abrams is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked List
J.J. Abrams Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, Armageddon

34
+ - 186 110
Peter Weir is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked List
Peter Weir Dead Poets Society, The Truman Show, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

35
+ - 215 62
Stanley Kubrick is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked List
Stanley Kubrick The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey

36
+ - 251 202
Rob Reiner is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked List
Rob Reiner The Princess Bride, This Is Spinal Tap, Stand by Me

37
+ - 183 134
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Mike Nichols The Graduate, The Birdcage, Working Girl

38
+ - 227 180
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Michael Mann Heat, The Last of the Mohicans, The Aviator

39
+ - 198 158
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Richard Linklater Dazed and Confused, School of Rock, Beavis and Butt-head Do America

40
+ - 176 129
David Cronenberg is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked List
David Cronenberg The Fly, The Dead Zone, Videodrome

41
+ - 209 203
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Sam Raimi Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3

42
+ - 158 135
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William Friedkin The Exorcist, The French Connection, To Live and Die in L.A.

43
+ - 137 81
Frank Darabont is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked List
Frank Darabont The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, King Kong

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44
+ - 186 152
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Gus Van Sant Good Will Hunting, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Milk

45
+ - 152 100
Mel Gibson is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked List
Mel Gibson Braveheart, Lethal Weapon, Pocahontas

46
+ - 138 82
Spike Jonze is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked List
Spike Jonze The Wolf of Wall Street, Being John Malkovich, Moneyball

47
+ - 180 153
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George A. Romero The Silence of the Lambs, Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead

48
+ - 124 37
Alfonso Cuarón is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked List
Alfonso Cuarón Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Pan's Labyrinth, Gravity

49
+ - 167 157
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Joss Whedon The Avengers, Toy Story, The Cabin in the Woods

50
+ - 114 65
Jean-Luc Godard is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked List
Jean-Luc Godard Breathless, Pierrot le Fou, Band of Outsiders