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, ...

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

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

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

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

  6. 6
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    Django Unchained, Reservoir Dogs, Grindhouse

  7. 7
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    Citizen Kane, Don Quixote, Macbeth

  8. 8
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    Rashomon, Hakuchi, The Bad Sleep Well

  9. 9
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    Batman Begins, Memento, The Dark Knight

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

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

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

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

  14. 14
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    The Counselor, American Gangster, Blade Runner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  24. 24
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    Fight Club, Se7en, The Social Network

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

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

  27. 27
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    Edward Scissorhands, Big Fish, Beetlejuice

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

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

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

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

  32. 32
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    Scarface, Mission: Impossible, The Untouchables

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

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

  35. 35
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    The Fly, Crash, The Dead Zone

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

  37. 37
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    Life of Pi, Lust, Caution

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  46. 46
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    Solaris, Andrei Rublev, The Sacrifice

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

  48. 48
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    MASH, The Company, Bonanza

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

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

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