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?

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Martin Scorsese Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, The Departed

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

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Francis Ford Coppola The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Apocalypse Now

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Quentin Tarantino Django Unchained, Reservoir Dogs, Inglourious Basterds

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Joel Coen Fargo, No Country for Old Men, The Big Lebowski

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David Fincher Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

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Clint Eastwood Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino

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

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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

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David Lynch Mullholland Drive, Elephant Man, Blue Velvet

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Paul Thomas Anderson The Master, Boogie Nights, Magnolia

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James Cameron Titanic, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Avatar Avatar 2

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

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Woody Allen Annie Hall, Midnight in Paris, To Rome

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Tim Burton Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns

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Wes Anderson Moonrise Kingdom, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums

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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

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

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

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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

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Mel Brooks Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs

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Brian De Palma Scarface, Carrie, The Untouchables

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John Carpenter Halloween, The Thing, Escape from New York

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Steven Soderbergh Ocean's Eleven, Erin Brockovich, Traffic

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

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Oliver Stone Platoon, Scarface, JFK

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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

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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

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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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J.J. Abrams is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked List
J.J. Abrams Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, Armageddon

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Danny Boyle is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked List
Danny Boyle Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Slumdog Millionaire

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Terrence Malick The Thin Red Line, The Tree of Life, Badlands

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Guillermo del Toro is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked List
Guillermo del Toro Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy, Pacific Rim

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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

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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

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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

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Michael Mann Heat, The Last of the Mohicans, The Aviator

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Mike Nichols The Graduate, The Birdcage, Working Girl

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

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

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Sam Raimi Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3

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

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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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Gus Van Sant Good Will Hunting, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Milk

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Spike Jonze is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked List
Spike Jonze The Wolf of Wall Street, Being John Malkovich, Moneyball

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Mel Gibson is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked List
Mel Gibson Braveheart, Lethal Weapon, Pocahontas

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Alfonso Cuarón is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked List
Alfonso Cuarón Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Pan's Labyrinth, Gravity

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George A. Romero The Silence of the Lambs, Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead

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Joss Whedon The Avengers, Toy Story, The Cabin in the Woods

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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