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
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    Martin Scorsese is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Living Directors

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

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  2. 2
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    Steven Spielberg is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Living Directors


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

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  3. 3
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    Francis Ford Coppola is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Living Directors


    The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Apocalypse Now

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  4. 4
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    Quentin Tarantino is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Living Directors


    Django Unchained, Reservoir Dogs, Inglourious Basterds

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  5. 5
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    Joel Coen is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Living Directors


    Fargo, No Country for Old Men, The Big Lebowski

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  6. 6
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    David Fincher is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Living Directors


    Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

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  7. 7
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    Clint Eastwood is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Living Directors


    Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino

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  8. 8
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    The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Batman Begins

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  9. 9
    + 509
    - 221


    Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator

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  10. 10
    + 459
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    David Lynch is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Living Directors


    Mullholland Drive, Elephant Man, Blue Velvet

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  11. 11
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    James Cameron is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Living Directors


    Titanic, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Avatar Avatar 2

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  12. 12
    + 408
    - 249


    Splash, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind

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  13. 13
    + 413
    - 229
    Paul Thomas Anderson is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Living Directors


    The Master, Boogie Nights, Magnolia

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  14. 14
    + 428
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    Tim Burton is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Living Directors


    Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns

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  15. 15
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    Woody Allen is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Living Directors


    Annie Hall, Midnight in Paris, To Rome

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  16. 16
    + 403
    - 205
    Wes Anderson is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Living Directors

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

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  17. 17
    + 361
    - 253


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

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  18. 18
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    Robert Zemeckis is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Living Directors


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

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  19. 19
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    - 221


    Chinatown, Rosemary's Baby, The Pianist

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  20. 20
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    Brian De Palma is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Living Directors


    Scarface, Carrie, The Untouchables

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  21. 21
    + 319
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    Mel Brooks is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Living Directors


    Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs

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  22. 22
    + 281
    - 176


    Brokeback Mountain, Hulk, Crouching Tiger

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  23. 23
    + 297
    - 212
    Steven Soderbergh is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Living Directors


    Ocean's Eleven, Erin Brockovich, Traffic

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  24. 24
    + 265
    - 192
    John Carpenter is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Living Directors


    Halloween, The Thing, Escape from New York

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  25. 25
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    George Lucas is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Living Directors


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

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  26. 26
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    - 83

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

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  27. 27
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    Oliver Stone is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Living Directors


    Platoon, Scarface, JFK

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  28. 28
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    - 240


    Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, Armageddon

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  29. 29
    + 215
    - 133


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

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  30. 30
    + 172
    - 103


    Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Slumdog Millionaire

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  31. 31
    + 166
    - 97


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

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  32. 32
    + 224
    - 176
    Terrence Malick is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Living Directors


    The Thin Red Line, The Tree of Life, Badlands

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  33. 33
    + 162
    - 66

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

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  34. 34
    + 230
    - 181

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    The Princess Bride, This Is Spinal Tap, Stand by Me

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  35. 35
    + 168
    - 123
    Mike Nichols is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Living Directors


    The Graduate, The Birdcage, Working Girl

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  36. 36
    + 208
    - 164
    Michael Mann is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Living Directors


    Heat, The Last of the Mohicans, The Aviator

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  37. 37
    + 136
    - 60

    ranked low on reranks
    Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy, Pacific Rim

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  38. 38
    + 150
    - 43

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

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  39. 39
    + 188
    - 183
    Sam Raimi is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Living Directors


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

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  40. 40
    + 148
    - 124
    William Friedkin is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Living Directors


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

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  41. 41
    + 168
    - 145
    Richard Linklater is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Living Directors


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

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  42. 42
    + 154
    - 117

    added by PeteBoyle
    The Fly, The Dead Zone, Videodrome

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  43. 43
    + 121
    - 71

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

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  44. 44
    + 168
    - 142
    George A. Romero is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Living Directors


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

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  45. 45
    + 164
    - 141
    Gus Van Sant is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Living Directors


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

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  46. 46
    + 112
    - 75

    added by looksharp
    Braveheart, Lethal Weapon, Pocahontas

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  47. 47
    + 109
    - 67

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

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  48. 48
    + 148
    - 144
    Joss Whedon is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Living Directors


    The Avengers, Toy Story, The Cabin in the Woods

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  49. 49
    + 129
    - 140
    John Landis is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Living Directors


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

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  50. 50
    + 156
    - 152
    Sofia Coppola is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Living Directors


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

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