film The Greatest Directors in Movie History

86k votes 5.9k voters 93k views 803 items Embed

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

Ranker Video v
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!

1
+ - 2,224 670
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

The Worst Movie Directors of All Time The Best Hot Mustard Brands

2
+ - 1,949 449
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

3
+ - 1,908 503
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

4
+ - 1,610 850
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

5
+ - 1,187 519
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

6
+ - 1,768 836
Quentin Tarantino is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Quentin Tarantino Django Unchained, Reservoir Dogs, Grindhouse

7
+ - 1,077 401
Akira Kurosawa is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Akira Kurosawa Rashomon, Hakuchi, The Bad Sleep Well

8
+ - 1,054 385
Orson Welles is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Orson Welles Citizen Kane, Don Quixote, Macbeth

9
+ - 762 314
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

10
+ - 916 361
Charlie Chaplin is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Charlie Chaplin Modern Times, City Lights, The Great Dictator

11
+ - 1,013 422
Joel Coen is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Joel & Ethan Coen Burn After Reading, True Grit, Inside Llewyn Davis

12
+ - 850 420
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

13
+ - 1,494 717
Christopher Nolan is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Christopher Nolan Batman Begins, Memento, The Dark Knight

14
+ - 878 465
Ridley Scott is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Ridley Scott The Counselor, American Gangster, Blade Runner

15
+ - 658 287
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

The Best Female Directors 95+ Amazing Behind the Scenes Photos from Iconic Movies

16
+ - 955 450
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

17
+ - 894 350
David Fincher is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
David Fincher Fight Club, Se7en, The Social Network

18
+ - 728 351
David Lynch is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
David Lynch Mulholland Drive, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, The Elephant Man

19
+ - 641 284
John Ford is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
John Ford The Searchers, The Quiet Man, The Grapes of Wrath

20
+ - 655 252
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

21
+ - 646 367
Roman Polanski is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Roman Polanski The Pianist, Chinatown, Rosemary's Baby

22
+ - 521 228
Fritz Lang is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Fritz Lang Metropolis, Scarlet Street, Clash by Night

23
+ - 487 214
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

24
+ - 705 541
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

25
+ - 453 234
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

26
+ - 514 260
Paul Thomas Anderson is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Paul Thomas Anderson There Will Be Blood, Magnolia, Boogie Nights

27
+ - 439 205
David Lean is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
David Lean Lawrence of Arabia, The Bridge on the River Kwai, A Passage to India

28
+ - 412 215
Miloš Forman is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Miloš Forman One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Amadeus, Loves of a Blonde

29
+ - 383 154
Andrei Tarkovsky is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Andrei Tarkovsky Solaris, Andrei Rublev, The Sacrifice

The Best Horror Directors in Film History 30 Realizations That Will Change Your Life in Some Small Way

30
+ - 442 255
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

31
+ - 415 249
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

32
+ - 382 228
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

33
+ - 521 403
Tim Burton is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Tim Burton Edward Scissorhands, Big Fish, Beetlejuice

34
+ - 328 166
Elia Kazan is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Elia Kazan On The Waterfront, A Streetcar Named Desire, East of Eden

35
+ - 448 298
Wes Anderson is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Wes Anderson The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Moonrise Kingdom, The Darjeeling Limited

36
+ - 598 444
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

37
+ - 358 199
François Truffaut is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
François Truffaut The 400 Blows, The Last Metro, Jules and Jim

38
+ - 317 192
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

39
+ - 398 232
Terry Gilliam is listed (or ranked) 39 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

40
+ - 556 427
Peter Jackson is listed (or ranked) 40 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

41
+ - 323 185
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

42
+ - 253 135
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

43
+ - 302 177
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

The Greatest Indian Music Directors of All Time The Best Scottish Actresses Working Today

44
+ - 324 192
Hayao Miyazaki is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Hayao Miyazaki Howl's Moving Castle, Princess Mononoki, The Castle of Cagliostro

45
+ - 293 186
Robert Altman is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Robert Altman MASH, The Company, Bonanza

46
+ - 254 148
Jean Renoir is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Jean Renoir Le Grande Illusion, The Rules of The Game, The Lower Depths

47
+ - 363 235
Mel Brooks is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Mel Brooks Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Blazing Saddles, Life Stinks

48
+ - 322 253
David Cronenberg is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
David Cronenberg The Fly, Crash, The Dead Zone

49
+ - 234 123
William Wyler is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
William Wyler Ben Hur, Roman Holiday, The Best Years Of Our Lives

50
+ - 299 207
Terrence Malick is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Directors in Movie History
Terrence Malick The Tree of Life, The Thin Red Line, Days of Heaven