The Greatest Living Directors People In Film
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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?

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  1. 1
    + 669
    - 159

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

    ) open
  2. 2
    + 576
    - 228

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

    ) open
  3. 3
    + 434
    - 174

    The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Apocalypse Now

    ) open
  4. 4
    + 581
    - 226

    Django Unchained, Reservoir Dogs, Inglourious Basterds

    ) open
  5. 5
    + 409
    - 173

    Fargo, No Country for Old Men, The Big Lebowski

    ) open
  6. 6
    + 451
    - 217

    Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino

    ) open
  7. 7
    + 471
    - 181

    The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight

    ) open
  8. 8
    + 372
    - 163

    Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

    ) open
  9. 9
    + 315
    - 147

    Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator

    ) open
  10. 10
    + 323
    - 166

    Mullholland Drive, Elephant Man, Blue Velvet

    ) open
  11. 11
    + 278
    - 156

    The Master, Boogie Nights, Magnolia

    ) open
  12. 12
    + 302
    - 214

    Titanic, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Avatar Avatar 2

    ) open
  13. 13
    + 343
    - 244

    Annie Hall, Midnight in Paris, To Rome

    ) open
  14. 14
    + 245
    - 156

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

    ) open
  15. 15
    + 264
    - 166

    Splash, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind

    ) open
  16. 16
    + 298
    - 221

    Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns

    ) open
  17. 17
    + 266
    - 134

    ranked low on reranks
    Rushmore, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums

    ) open
  18. 18
    + 205
    - 138

    Chinatown, Chinatown, Chinatown

    ) open
  19. 19
    + 193
    - 142

    Scarface, Carrie, Carrie

    ) open
  20. 20
    + 184
    - 123

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

    ) open
  21. 21
    + 212
    - 152

    Blazing Saddles, Blazing Saddles, Blazing Saddles

    ) open
  22. 22
    + 207
    - 141

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

    ) open
  23. 23
    + 179
    - 129

    The Thing, The Thing, The Thing

    ) open
  24. 24
    + 194
    - 151

    Platoon, Platoon, Platoon

    ) open
  25. 25
    + 159
    - 125

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

    ) open
  26. 26
    + 191
    - 104

    ranked low on reranks
    Brokeback Mountain, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

    ) open
  27. 27
    + 181
    - 148

    Star Trek, Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness

    ) open
  28. 28
    + 142
    - 117

    Heat, Heat, Heat

    ) open
  29. 29
    + 152
    - 115

    The Princess Bride, The Princess Bride, Stand by Me

    ) open
  30. 30
    + 170
    - 164

    Star Wars, Star Wars, Star Wars

    ) open
  31. 31
    + 126
    - 71

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

    ) open
  32. 32
    + 128
    - 130

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

    ) open
  33. 33
    + 92
    - 77

    added by PeteBoyle
    The Fly, The Fly, The Fly

    ) open
  34. 34
    + 106
    - 105

    Dazed and Confused, Dazed and Confused, Dazed and Confused

    ) open
  35. 35
    + 82
    - 45

    ranked low on reranks
    Black Swan, Noah, The Wrestler

    ) open
  36. 36
    + 97
    - 98

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

    ) open
  37. 37
    + 111
    - 102

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

    ) open
  38. 38
    + 78
    - 28

    ranked low on reranks & added by StacyWolfe
    The Big Lebowski, The Big Lebowski, The Big Lebowski

    ) open
  39. 39
    + 121
    - 103

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

    ) open
  40. 40
    + 92
    - 57

    Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Slumdog Millionaire

    ) open
  41. 41
    + 60
    - 38

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

    ) open
  42. 42
    + 98
    - 102

    Sling Blade, Dead Man, Dead Man

    ) open
  43. 43
    + 98
    - 97

    The Avengers, The Avengers, The Avengers

    ) open
  44. 44
    + 111
    - 98

    The Graduate, Charlie Wilson's War, The Birdcage

    ) open
  45. 45
    + 90
    - 106

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    The Blues Brothers, The Blues Brothers, The Blues Brothers

    ) open
  46. 46
    + 89
    - 63

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

    ) open
  47. 47
    + 72
    - 32

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

    ) open
  48. 48
    + 97
    - 80

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Adaptation, The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook

    ) open
  49. 49
    + 70
    - 82

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Jurassic Park III, Election, Election

    ) open
  50. 50
    + 59
    - 23

    ranked low on reranks
    Pan's Labyrinth, Pan's Labyrinth, Pan's Labyrinth

    ) open
173 +

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