The Greatest Directors in Movie History People In Film
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The Greatest Directors in Movie History

List Criteria: 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 really did win 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!
List is ranked by a combination of each item's votes & positioning in reranks
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Score
  1. 1
    Up 386
    Down 54
    Psycho, The Birds, The Man Who Knew Too Much More
    100
  2. 2
    Up 423
    Down 91

    the people's #1 &most listed
    Stanley Kubrick

    Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, ... More
    100
  3. 3
    Up 354
    Down 73
    The Wolf of Wall Street, Hugo, Goodfellas More
    96
  4. 4
    Up 285
    Down 116
    Munich, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, War of the Worlds More
    86
  5. 5
    Up 242
    Down 80
    The Cotton Club, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Apocalypse Now More
    85
  6. 6
    Up 295
    Down 132
    Django Unchained, Reservoir Dogs, Grindhouse More
    82
  7. 7
    Up 228
    Down 52
    Citizen Kane, Don Quixote, Macbeth More
    81
  8. 8
    Up 209
    Down 62
    Rashomon, Hakuchi, The Bad Sleep Well More
    79
  9. 9
    Up 212
    Down 78
    The Counselor, American Gangster, Blade Runner More
    78
  10. 10
    Up 168
    Down 45
    The Searchers, The Quiet Man, The Grapes of Wrath More
    77
  11. 11
    Up 262
    Down 102
    Batman Begins, Memento, The Dark Knight More
    77
  12. 12
    Up 192
    Down 69
    Once Upon A Time In America, Duck, You Sucker More
    77
  13. 13
    Up 188
    Down 67
    Burn After Reading, True Grit, Inside Llewyn Davis More
    76
  14. 14
    Up 197
    Down 53
    Modern Times, City Lights, The Great Dictator More
    75
  15. 15
    Up 141
    Down 50
    Some Like it Hot, Sunset Blvd, The Apartment More
    75
  16. 16
    Up 171
    Down 63
    Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino More
    73
  17. 17
    Up 150
    Down 77
    The Pianist, Chinatown, Rosemary's Baby More
    71
  18. 18
    Up 186
    Down 103
    Annie Hall, Anything Else, To Rome With Love More
    71
  19. 19
    Up 147
    Down 73
    Mulholland Drive, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, The Elephant Man More
    70
  20. 20
    Up 132
    Down 41

    ranked low on reranks
    Fritz Lang

    Metropolis, Scarlet Street, Clash by Night More
    70
  21. 21
    Up 133
    Down 50
    Persona, Cries & Whispers, A Lesson of Love More
    70
  22. 22
    Up 112
    Down 29
    It's A Wonderful Life, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, It Happened One Night ... More
    69
  23. 23
    Up 149
    Down 64
    Fight Club, Se7en, The Social Network More
    68
  24. 24
    Up 110
    Down 30
    The Asphalt Jungle, Wise Blood, The Red Badge of Courage More
    68
  25. 25
    Up 141
    Down 56
    8 1/2, La Dolce Vita, Roma More
    68
  26. 26
    Up 158
    Down 84
    The Hobbit: There and Back Again, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Hot Fuzz ... More
    66
  27. 27
    Up 106
    Down 56
    Edward Scissorhands, Big Fish, Beetlejuice More
    64
  28. 28
    Up 93
    Down 32
    12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon, Network More
    62
  29. 29
    Up 104
    Down 51
    Monty Python and The Holy Grail, Monty Python: The Life of Brian, Twelve ... More
    61
  30. 30
    Up 106
    Down 61
    The Fly, Crash, The Dead Zone More
    61
  31. 31
    Up 94
    Down 42
    The 400 Blows, The Last Metro, Jules and Jim More
    61
  32. 32
    Up 72
    Down 37
    The Big Sleep, His Girl Friday, Rio Bravo More
    61
  33. 33
    Up 102
    Down 59
    There Will Be Blood, Magnolia, Boogie Nights More
    61
  34. 34
    Up 88
    Down 51
    Scarface, Mission: Impossible, The Untouchables More
    60
  35. 35
    Up 82
    Down 34
    Lawrence of Arabia, The Bridge on the River Kwai, A Passage to India More
    60
  36. 36
    Up 113
    Down 91

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    James Cameron

    Titanic, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Alien Quadrilogy More
    60
  37. 37
    Up 83
    Down 43
    The General, Mixed Magic, Excuse My Dust More
    59
  38. 38
    Up 82
    Down 39
    Life of Pi, Lust, Caution More
    59
  39. 39
    Up 67
    Down 29
    Battleship Potemkin, Alexander Nevsky, Ivan The Terrible More
    59
  40. 40
    Up 91
    Down 43
    Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Blazing Saddles, Life Stinks More
    58
  41. 41
    Up 68
    Down 36
    The Wild Bunch, Straw Dogs, Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia More
    58
  42. 42
    Up 66
    Down 42
    Back To The Future Trilogy, Forrest Gump, Cast Away More
    58
  43. 43
    Up 64
    Down 30
    One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Amadeus, Loves of a Blonde More
    58
  44. 44
    Up 78
    Down 49
    The Tree of Life, The Thin Red Line, Days of Heaven More
    57
  45. 45
    Up 91
    Down 65
    Ocean's Eleven, Erin Brockovich, Life Interrupted More
    56
  46. 46
    Up 71
    Down 41
    MASH, The Company, Bonanza More
    56
  47. 47
    Up 78
    Down 61
    Slumdog Millionaire, Trainspotting, 127 Hours More
    56
  48. 48
    Up 64
    Down 30
    Le Grande Illusion, The Rules of The Game, The Lower Depths More
    56
  49. 49
    Up 80
    Down 61
    The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Moonrise Kingdom, The Darjeeling ... More
    56
  50. 50
    Up 50
    Down 25
    On The Waterfront, A Streetcar Named Desire, East of Eden More
    55
  51. 260 +

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