film The Greatest Directors in Movie History

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List Rules Most important, culturally significant filmmakers of all time who deserve award recognition.

List of the greatest directors in movie history, who are most deserving of Academy Awards and critical recognition. The list includes directors who have already won major awards, those who continue to have the potential to win Oscars and filmmakers who were overlooked by the Academy during their lifetimes. The skill set of a high-level director is massive - everything from working with and managing large teams to a strong aesthetic and artistic sensibility to the ability to sell ideas to studio executives and potential collaborators. Though many have mastered the actual work of getting films made, only a rare few have managed to create truly memorable, important motion pictures that will stand the test of time.

Often, the greatest of these filmmakers will go unrecognized by the Motion Picture Academy, particularly during the most active, vital period of their careers. Alfred Hitchcock famously never took home a statue for Best Director, despite being perhaps the MOST iconic of all film directors, and certainly one of the most significant contributors to contemporary film language and genre. Martin Scorsese eventually did take home Best Director for his work on "The Departed," but this film came long after the movies for which Scorsese will likely be best remembered - "Mean Streets," "Taxi Driver," "Raging Bull" and so on.

This list disregards the quibbles over who has won in the past or will win in the future, and instead focuses purely on the quality of the filmmaking and the importance of the films themselves. Vote for your favorite directors, and if some of your choices haven't yet made the list, make your own version of the list and add them on there!

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Stanley Kubrick is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Stanley Kubrick Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, Spartacus 2001: A Space Odyssey

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+ - 1,866 418
Alfred Hitchcock is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Alfred Hitchcock Psycho, The Birds The Man Who Knew Too Much

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Martin Scorsese is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Martin Scorsese The Wolf of Wall Street, Hugo Goodfellas

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Steven Spielberg is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Steven Spielberg Munich, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom War of the Worlds

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Francis Ford Coppola is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Francis Ford Coppola The Cotton Club, Bram Stoker's Dracula Apocalypse Now

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Quentin Tarantino is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Quentin Tarantino Django Unchained, Reservoir Dogs Grindhouse

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Akira Kurosawa is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Akira Kurosawa Rashomon, Hakuchi The Bad Sleep Well

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Orson Welles is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Orson Welles Citizen Kane, Don Quixote Macbeth

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Ingmar Bergman is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Ingmar Bergman Persona, Cries & Whispers A Lesson of Love

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Joel Coen is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Joel & Ethan Coen Burn After Reading, True Grit Inside Llewyn Davis

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Charlie Chaplin is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Charlie Chaplin Modern Times, City Lights The Great Dictator

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Sergio Leone is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Sergio Leone Once Upon A Time In America, Duck You Sucker

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Christopher Nolan is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Christopher Nolan Batman Begins, Memento The Dark Knight

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Ridley Scott is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Ridley Scott The Counselor, American Gangster Blade Runner

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Billy Wilder is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Billy Wilder Some Like it Hot, Sunset Blvd The Apartment

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Clint Eastwood is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Clint Eastwood Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby Gran Torino

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David Fincher is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
David Fincher Fight Club, Se7en The Social Network

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John Ford is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
John Ford The Searchers, The Quiet Man The Grapes of Wrath

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David Lynch is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
David Lynch Mulholland Drive, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me The Elephant Man

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Federico Fellini is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Federico Fellini 8 1/2, La Dolce Vita Roma

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Roman Polanski is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Roman Polanski The Pianist, Chinatown Rosemary's Baby

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Fritz Lang is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Fritz Lang Metropolis, Scarlet Street Clash by Night

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Frank Capra is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Frank Capra It's A Wonderful Life, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington It Happened One Night

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Woody Allen is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Woody Allen Annie Hall, Anything Else To Rome With Love

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Sidney Lumet is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Sidney Lumet 12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon Network

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Miloš Forman is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Miloš Forman One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Amadeus Loves of a Blonde

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Paul Thomas Anderson is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Paul Thomas Anderson There Will Be Blood, Magnolia Boogie Nights

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David Lean is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
David Lean Lawrence of Arabia, The Bridge on the River Kwai A Passage to India

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Andrei Tarkovsky is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Andrei Tarkovsky Solaris, Andrei Rublev The Sacrifice

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Robert Zemeckis is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Robert Zemeckis Back To The Future Trilogy, Forrest Gump Cast Away

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Brian De Palma is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Brian De Palma Scarface, Mission: Impossible The Untouchables

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John Huston is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
John Huston The Asphalt Jungle, Wise Blood The Red Badge of Courage

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Tim Burton is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Tim Burton Edward Scissorhands, Big Fish Beetlejuice

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Wes Anderson is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Wes Anderson The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Moonrise Kingdom The Darjeeling Limited

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François Truffaut is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
François Truffaut The 400 Blows, The Last Metro Jules and Jim

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James Cameron is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
James Cameron Titanic, Terminator 2: Judgment Day Alien Quadrilogy

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Elia Kazan is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Elia Kazan On The Waterfront, A Streetcar Named Desire East of Eden

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Howard Hawks is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Howard Hawks The Big Sleep, His Girl Friday Rio Bravo

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+ - 531 411
Peter Jackson is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Peter Jackson The Hobbit: There and Back Again, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy Hot Fuzz

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Terry Gilliam is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Terry Gilliam Monty Python and The Holy Grail, Monty Python: The Life of Brian Twelve Monkeys

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+ - 315 177
Buster Keaton is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Buster Keaton The General, Mixed Magic Excuse My Dust

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+ - 244 127
Luis Buñuel is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Luis Buñuel The Milky Way, Death in the Garden The River and Death

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Werner Herzog is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Werner Herzog Grizzly Man, Rescue Dawn Encounters At The End of The World

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Robert Altman is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Robert Altman MASH, The Company Bonanza

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+ - 309 183
Hayao Miyazaki is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Hayao Miyazaki Howl's Moving Castle, Princess Mononoki The Castle of Cagliostro

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Mel Brooks is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Mel Brooks Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Blazing Saddles Life Stinks

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+ - 244 142
Jean Renoir is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Jean Renoir Le Grande Illusion, The Rules of The Game The Lower Depths

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+ - 286 193
Terrence Malick is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Terrence Malick The Tree of Life, The Thin Red Line Days of Heaven

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+ - 245 172
Sergei Eisenstein is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Sergei Eisenstein Battleship Potemkin, Alexander Nevsky Ivan The Terrible

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+ - 307 246
David Cronenberg is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
David Cronenberg The Fly, Crash The Dead Zone