The Greatest Living Directors People In Film
Ultimate List
156  items 14,014 votes 992 voters 97,994 views more info

The Greatest Living Directors

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?
  • 28 ReRanks
    • Women
    • Men
    • Age
    • Region
  • See list ranked by
</> Rerank List
Score
  1. 1
    Up 438
    Down 94

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

    open
  2. 2
    Up 405
    Down 120

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

    open
  3. 3
    Up 327
    Down 115

    Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino

    open
  4. 4
    Up 267
    Down 98

    Fargo, No Country for Old Men, The Big Lebowski

    open
  5. 5
    Up 287
    Down 98

    The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Apocalypse Now

    open
  6. 6
    Up 380
    Down 139

    Django Unchained, Reservoir Dogs, Inglourious Basterds

    open
  7. 7
    Up 271
    Down 95

    The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight

    open
  8. 8
    Up 219
    Down 100

    Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

    open
  9. 9
    Up 193
    Down 71

    Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator

    open
  10. 10
    Up 208
    Down 101

    Mullholland Drive, Elephant Man, Blue Velvet

    open
  11. 11
    Up 188
    Down 94

    Splash, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind

    open
  12. 12
    Up 182
    Down 88

    The Master, Boogie Nights, Magnolia

    open
  13. 13
    Up 243
    Down 160

    Annie Hall, Midnight in Paris, To Rome

    open
  14. 14
    Up 152
    Down 78

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

    open
  15. 15
    Up 199
    Down 135

    Titanic, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Avatar Avatar 2

    open
  16. 16
    Up 211
    Down 151

    Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns

    open
  17. 17
    Up 159
    Down 100

    Blazing Saddles, Blazing Saddles, Blazing Saddles

    open
  18. 18
    Up 146
    Down 93

    Ocean's Eleven, Ocean's Eleven, Erin Brockovich

    open
  19. 19
    Up 133
    Down 84

    Scarface, Carrie, Carrie

    open
  20. 20
    Up 125
    Down 87

    Chinatown, Chinatown, Chinatown

    open
  21. 21
    Up 151
    Down 86

    Rushmore, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums

    open
  22. 22
    Up 126
    Down 83

    The Thing, The Thing, The Thing

    open
  23. 23
    Up 140
    Down 101

    Platoon, Platoon, Platoon

    open
  24. 24
    Up 99
    Down 72

    Heat, Heat, Heat

    open
  25. 25
    Up 127
    Down 90

    Star Trek, Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness

    open
  26. 26
    Up 119
    Down 83

    Forrest Gump, Back to the Future, Back to the Future

    open
  27. 27
    Up 104
    Down 74

    The Princess Bride, The Princess Bride, Stand by Me

    open
  28. 28
    Up 108
    Down 86

    The Thin Red Line, The Thin Red Line, The Tree of Life

    open
  29. 29
    Up 109
    Down 116

    often listed & ranked high on reranks Star Wars, Star Wars, Star Wars

    open
  30. 30
    Up 93
    Down 56

    Brokeback Mountain, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Crouching Tiger, ...

    open
  31. 31
    Up 95
    Down 84

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

    open
  32. 32
    Up 68
    Down 69

    The Blues Brothers, The Blues Brothers, The Blues Brothers

    open
  33. 33
    Up 89
    Down 70

    ranked low on reranks The Silence of the Lambs, Night of the Living Dead, Night of the Living ...

    open
  34. 34
    Up 64
    Down 66

    often listed & ranked high on reranks The Exorcist, The French Connection, To Live and Die in L.A.

    open
  35. 35
    Up 74
    Down 71

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

    open
  36. 36
    Up 52
    Down 19

    ranked low on reranks Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Slumdog Millionaire

    open
  37. 37
    Up 63
    Down 67

    often listed & ranked high on reranks Dazed and Confused, Dazed and Confused, Dazed and Confused

    open
  38. 38
    Up 55
    Down 31

    ranked low on reranks Dead Poets Society, The Truman Show, Master and Commander: The Far Side of ...

    open
  39. 39
    Up 65
    Down 47

    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Amadeus, The People vs. Larry Flynt

    open
  40. 40
    Up 79
    Down 71

    The Graduate, Charlie Wilson's War, The Birdcage

    open
  41. 41
    Up 45
    Down 46

    added by PeteBoyle The Fly, The Fly, The Fly

    open
  42. 42
    Up 47
    Down 52

    Jurassic Park III, Election, Election

    open
  43. 43
    Up 59
    Down 46

    Adaptation, The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook

    open
  44. 44
    Up 68
    Down 65

    The Avengers, The Avengers, The Avengers

    open
  45. 45
    Up 61
    Down 79

    often listed & ranked high on reranks Sling Blade, Dead Man, Dead Man

    open
  46. 46
    Up 26
    Down 11

    ranked low on reranks & added by laaaarrge The Shawshank Redemption, The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile

    open
  47. 47
    Up 82
    Down 87

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

    open
  48. 48
    Up 63
    Down 79

    The Princess Bride, This Is Spinal Tap, This Is Spinal Tap

    open
  49. 49
    Up 20
    Down 11

    ranked low on reranks Black Swan, Noah, The Wrestler

    open
  50. 50
    Up 40
    Down 63

    often listed & ranked high on reranks The Untouchables, Hannibal, Glengarry Glen Ross

    open
  51. 157 +

    Something missing? Add it!

items 1 - 50 of 156

think you can do better?

Rerank This List

got a blog or website?

embed this list

viewers of this list also saw...

more popular lists