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
+ - 1,143 299
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Martin Scorsese Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, The Departed

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2
+ - 989 441
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Steven Spielberg E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Jaws, Schindler's List

3
+ - 754 316
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Francis Ford Coppola The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Apocalypse Now

4
+ - 1,019 447
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Quentin Tarantino Django Unchained, Reservoir Dogs, Inglourious Basterds

5
+ - 714 319
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Joel Coen Fargo, No Country for Old Men, The Big Lebowski

6
+ - 669 275
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David Fincher Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

7
+ - 730 387
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Clint Eastwood Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino

8
+ - 613 262
Ridley Scott is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked List
Ridley Scott Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator

9
+ - 880 340
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
+ - 549 290
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David Lynch Mullholland Drive, Elephant Man, Blue Velvet

11
+ - 491 255
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Paul Thomas Anderson The Master, Boogie Nights, Magnolia

12
+ - 521 383
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James Cameron Titanic, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Avatar Avatar 2

13
+ - 461 301
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
+ - 571 411
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Woody Allen Annie Hall, Midnight in Paris, To Rome

15
+ - 490 357
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Tim Burton Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns

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16
+ - 473 232
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Wes Anderson Moonrise Kingdom, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums

17
+ - 418 289
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
+ - 351 214
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Robert Zemeckis Forrest Gump, Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit

19
+ - 380 255
Roman Polański is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked List
Roman Polański Chinatown, Rosemary's Baby, The Pianist

20
+ - 262 103
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
+ - 321 221
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Brian De Palma Scarface, Carrie, The Untouchables

22
+ - 358 257
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Mel Brooks Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs

23
+ - 303 213
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John Carpenter Halloween, The Thing, Escape from New York

24
+ - 318 242
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Steven Soderbergh Ocean's Eleven, Erin Brockovich, Traffic

25
+ - 310 210
Ang Lee is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked List
Ang Lee Brokeback Mountain, Hulk, Crouching Tiger

26
+ - 316 258
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Oliver Stone Platoon, Scarface, JFK

27
+ - 308 287
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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
+ - 327 279
J.J. Abrams is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked List
J.J. Abrams Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, Armageddon

29
+ - 254 150
Miloš Forman is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked List
Miloš Forman One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Amadeus, Hair

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30
+ - 204 121
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
+ - 260 193
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Terrence Malick The Thin Red Line, The Tree of Life, Badlands

32
+ - 208 78
Terry Gilliam is listed (or ranked) 32 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

33
+ - 178 77
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

34
+ - 219 63
Stanley Kubrick is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked List
Stanley Kubrick The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey

35
+ - 186 112
Peter Weir is listed (or ranked) 35 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

36
+ - 185 135
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Mike Nichols The Graduate, The Birdcage, Working Girl

37
+ - 251 204
Rob Reiner is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked List
Rob Reiner The Princess Bride, This Is Spinal Tap, Stand by Me

38
+ - 227 182
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Michael Mann Heat, The Last of the Mohicans, The Aviator

39
+ - 199 159
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Richard Linklater Dazed and Confused, School of Rock, Beavis and Butt-head Do America

40
+ - 154 102
Mel Gibson is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked List
Mel Gibson Braveheart, Lethal Weapon, Pocahontas

41
+ - 177 131
David Cronenberg is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked List
David Cronenberg The Fly, The Dead Zone, Videodrome

42
+ - 211 205
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Sam Raimi Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3

43
+ - 158 137
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William Friedkin The Exorcist, The French Connection, To Live and Die in L.A.

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44
+ - 138 83
Frank Darabont is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked List
Frank Darabont The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, King Kong

45
+ - 187 154
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Gus Van Sant Good Will Hunting, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Milk

46
+ - 140 84
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
+ - 125 38
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

48
+ - 180 155
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George A. Romero The Silence of the Lambs, Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead

49
+ - 168 160
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Joss Whedon The Avengers, Toy Story, The Cabin in the Woods

50
+ - 115 67
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