The Greatest Living Directors People In Film

The Greatest Living Directors

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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?


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  1. 1
    + 969
    - 231
    Martin Scorsese

    the people's #1 & most listed
    Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, The Departed

    ;
  2. 2
    + 839
    - 342
    Steven Spielberg


    E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Jaws, Schindler's List

    ;
  3. 3
    + 631
    - 259
    Francis Ford Coppola


    The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Apocalypse Now

    ;
  4. 4
    + 844
    - 344
    Quentin Tarantino


    Django Unchained, Reservoir Dogs, Inglourious Basterds

    ;
  5. 5
    + 585
    - 247
    Joel Coen


    Fargo, No Country for Old Men, The Big Lebowski

    ;
  6. 6
    + 549
    - 224
    David Fincher


    Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

    ;
  7. 7
    + 618
    - 314
    Clint Eastwood


    Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino

    ;
  8. 8
    + 687
    - 284


    The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Batman Begins

    ;
  9. 9
    + 489
    - 217


    Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator

    ;
  10. 10
    + 448
    - 245
    David Lynch


    Mullholland Drive, Elephant Man, Blue Velvet

    ;
  11. 11
    + 396
    - 237


    Splash, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind

    ;
  12. 12
    + 441
    - 313
    James Cameron


    Titanic, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Avatar Avatar 2

    ;
  13. 13
    + 401
    - 221
    Paul Thomas Anderson


    The Master, Boogie Nights, Magnolia

    ;
  14. 14
    + 412
    - 294
    Tim Burton


    Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns

    ;
  15. 15
    + 474
    - 347
    Woody Allen


    Annie Hall, Midnight in Paris, To Rome

    ;
  16. 16
    + 388
    - 197
    Wes Anderson

    ranked low on reranks
    Moonrise Kingdom, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums

    ;
  17. 17
    + 298
    - 171
    Robert Zemeckis


    Forrest Gump, Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit

    ;
  18. 18
    + 343
    - 244


    The Hobbit: There and Back Again, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the ...

    ;
  19. 19
    + 311
    - 208


    Chinatown, Rosemary's Baby, The Pianist

    ;
  20. 20
    + 279
    - 190
    Brian De Palma


    Scarface, Carrie, The Untouchables

    ;
  21. 21
    + 303
    - 216
    Mel Brooks


    Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs

    ;
  22. 22
    + 271
    - 164


    Brokeback Mountain, Hulk, Crouching Tiger

    ;
  23. 23
    + 288
    - 201
    Steven Soderbergh


    Ocean's Eleven, Erin Brockovich, Traffic

    ;
  24. 24
    + 257
    - 182
    John Carpenter


    Halloween, The Thing, Escape from New York

    ;
  25. 25
    + 176
    - 70

    ranked low on reranks & added by StacyWolfe
    The Big Lebowski, No Country for Old Men, Fargo

    ;
  26. 26
    + 273
    - 216
    Oliver Stone


    Platoon, Scarface, JFK

    ;
  27. 27
    + 265
    - 238
    George Lucas


    Star Wars, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Indiana Jones and ...

    ;
  28. 28
    + 273
    - 224


    Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, Armageddon

    ;
  29. 29
    + 204
    - 119


    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Amadeus, Hair

    ;
  30. 30
    + 161
    - 95


    Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Slumdog Millionaire

    ;
  31. 31
    + 218
    - 168
    Terrence Malick


    The Thin Red Line, The Tree of Life, Badlands

    ;
  32. 32
    + 151
    - 59

    ranked low on reranks & added by beernbugs
    Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Life of Brian, Fear and Loathing in Las ...

    ;
  33. 33
    + 220
    - 165

    often listed & Ranked High on Reranks
    The Princess Bride, This Is Spinal Tap, Stand by Me

    ;
  34. 34
    + 153
    - 94


    Dead Poets Society, The Truman Show, Master and Commander: The Far Side of ...

    ;
  35. 35
    + 200
    - 158
    Michael Mann


    Heat, The Last of the Mohicans, The Aviator

    ;
  36. 36
    + 129
    - 55


    Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy, Pacific Rim

    ;
  37. 37
    + 136
    - 33

    ranked low on reranks
    The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey

    ;
  38. 38
    + 157
    - 120
    Mike Nichols


    The Graduate, The Birdcage, Working Girl

    ;
  39. 39
    + 149
    - 110

    added by PeteBoyle
    The Fly, The Dead Zone, Videodrome

    ;
  40. 40
    + 182
    - 177
    Sam Raimi


    Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3

    ;
  41. 41
    + 162
    - 139
    Richard Linklater


    Dazed and Confused, School of Rock, Beavis and Butt-head Do America

    ;
  42. 42
    + 141
    - 121
    William Friedkin


    The Exorcist, The French Connection, To Live and Die in L.A.

    ;
  43. 43
    + 114
    - 66

    added by laaaarrge
    The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, King Kong

    ;
  44. 44
    + 104
    - 58

    added by AlanSmithee
    The Wolf of Wall Street, Being John Malkovich, Moneyball

    ;
  45. 45
    + 157
    - 133
    Gus Van Sant


    Good Will Hunting, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Milk

    ;
  46. 46
    + 162
    - 139
    George A. Romero


    The Silence of the Lambs, Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead

    ;
  47. 47
    + 143
    - 137
    Joss Whedon


    The Avengers, Toy Story, The Cabin in the Woods

    ;
  48. 48
    + 99
    - 69

    added by looksharp
    Braveheart, Lethal Weapon, Pocahontas

    ;
  49. 49
    + 127
    - 133
    John Landis


    Spider-Man 2, The Blues Brothers, National Lampoon's Animal House

    ;
  50. 50
    + 153
    - 143
    Sofia Coppola


    The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom ...

    ;
217 +

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