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!
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  1. 1
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    the people's #1 & most listed Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, ...

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  2. 2
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    Psycho, The Birds, The Man Who Knew Too Much

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  3. 3
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    The Wolf of Wall Street, Hugo, Goodfellas

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  4. 4
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    often listed Munich, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, War of the Worlds

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  5. 5
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    The Cotton Club, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Apocalypse Now

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  6. 6
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    Django Unchained, Reservoir Dogs, Grindhouse

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  7. 7
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    Citizen Kane, Don Quixote, Macbeth

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  8. 8
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    Rashomon, Hakuchi, The Bad Sleep Well

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  9. 9
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    Batman Begins, Memento, The Dark Knight

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  10. 10
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    The Searchers, The Quiet Man, The Grapes of Wrath

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  11. 11
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    Modern Times, City Lights, The Great Dictator

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  12. 12
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    Once Upon A Time In America, Duck, You Sucker

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  13. 13
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    Burn After Reading, True Grit, Inside Llewyn Davis

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  14. 14
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    The Counselor, American Gangster, Blade Runner

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  15. 15
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    Some Like it Hot, Sunset Blvd, The Apartment

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  16. 16
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    Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino

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  17. 17
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    Persona, Cries & Whispers, A Lesson of Love

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  18. 18
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks Annie Hall, Anything Else, To Rome With Love

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  19. 19
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks The Pianist, Chinatown, Rosemary's Baby

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  20. 20
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks Mulholland Drive, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, The Elephant Man

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  21. 21
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    ranked low on reranks Metropolis, Scarlet Street, Clash by Night

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  22. 22
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    8 1/2, La Dolce Vita, Roma

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  23. 23
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    It's A Wonderful Life, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, It Happened One Night ...

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  24. 24
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    Fight Club, Se7en, The Social Network

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  25. 25
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    The Asphalt Jungle, Wise Blood, The Red Badge of Courage

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  26. 26
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    The Hobbit: There and Back Again, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Hot Fuzz ...

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  27. 27
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    Edward Scissorhands, Big Fish, Beetlejuice

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  28. 28
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    12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon, Network

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  29. 29
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    The 400 Blows, The Last Metro, Jules and Jim

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  30. 30
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    The Big Sleep, His Girl Friday, Rio Bravo

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  31. 31
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    There Will Be Blood, Magnolia, Boogie Nights

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  32. 32
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    Scarface, Mission: Impossible, The Untouchables

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  33. 33
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    Lawrence of Arabia, The Bridge on the River Kwai, A Passage to India

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  34. 34
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    Monty Python and The Holy Grail, Monty Python: The Life of Brian, Twelve ...

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  35. 35
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    The Fly, Crash, The Dead Zone

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  36. 36
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    The General, Mixed Magic, Excuse My Dust

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  37. 37
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    Life of Pi, Lust, Caution

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  38. 38
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    Back To The Future Trilogy, Forrest Gump, Cast Away

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  39. 39
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    One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Amadeus, Loves of a Blonde

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  40. 40
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    Battleship Potemkin, Alexander Nevsky, Ivan The Terrible

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  41. 41
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks Titanic, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Alien Quadrilogy

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  42. 42
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    Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Blazing Saddles, Life Stinks

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  43. 43
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    The Wild Bunch, Straw Dogs, Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia

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  44. 44
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    On The Waterfront, A Streetcar Named Desire, East of Eden

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  45. 45
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    Le Grande Illusion, The Rules of The Game, The Lower Depths

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  46. 46
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    Solaris, Andrei Rublev, The Sacrifice

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  47. 47
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    The Tree of Life, The Thin Red Line, Days of Heaven

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  48. 48
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    MASH, The Company, Bonanza

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  49. 49
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    Grizzly Man, Rescue Dawn, Encounters At The End of The World

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  50. 50
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    The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Moonrise Kingdom, The Darjeeling ...

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