film The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked  

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List Rules The best directors currently living.

List of the best living filmmakers (though not necessarily still actively making films.) When discussing the finest directors of all time, a few names immediately pop to mind. John Ford. John Huston. Frank Capra. But adding in the condition that they must still be living adds a level of difficulty.

Sure, you still have a few luminaries who are with us and clearly are contenders for the title - Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, Steven Spielberg. These guys are no slouches. But it starts to make the list a bit more challenging to compile, particularly when you consider the vast array of genres and styles in which these directors are working. Can John Lasseter's work in animation be directly compared to Sofia Coppola's atmospheric character studies? Can John Carpenter's '80s horror classics comfortably sit side-by-side with Wes Anderson's twee indie adventures? These are the kinds of tough calls Ranker listers are just going to have to make.

One final element to consider would be consistency. Terrence Malick has made far fewer films than most of the entrants on this list, but most (if not all) have been of a remarkably high level of quality. Does that earn him a spot above, say, Clint Eastwood, who has worked a lot but with a somewhat more spotty record? Tough choices... but isn't that what ranking is all about?
list ordered by

1
1,254 368
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Martin Scorsese Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, The Departed

The Greatest Indian Music Directors of All Time The Best Beauty Vloggers

2
1,100 530
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Steven Spielberg E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Jaws, Schindler's List

3
828 394
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Francis Ford Coppola The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Apocalypse Now

4
1,134 527
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Quentin Tarantino Django Unchained, Reservoir Dogs, Inglourious Basterds

5
769 392
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Joel Coen Fargo, No Country for Old Men, The Big Lebowski

6
1,140 409
Christopher Nolan is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Christopher Nolan The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Batman Begins

7
753 341
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David Fincher Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

8
787 459
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Clint Eastwood Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino

9
668 326
Ridley Scott is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Ridley Scott Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator

10
601 343
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David Lynch Mullholland Drive, Elephant Man, Blue Velvet

11
542 299
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Paul Thomas Anderson The Master, Boogie Nights, Magnolia

12
587 443
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James Cameron Titanic, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Avatar Avatar 2

13
506 351
Ron Howard is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Ron Howard Splash, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind

14
539 399
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Tim Burton Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns

15
602 468
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Woody Allen Annie Hall, Midnight in Paris, To Rome

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16
516 271
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Wes Anderson Moonrise Kingdom, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums

17
469 327
Peter Jackson is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Peter Jackson The Hobbit: There and Back Again, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

18
384 236
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Robert Zemeckis Forrest Gump, Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit

19
406 298
Roman Polański is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Roman Polański Chinatown, Rosemary's Baby, The Pianist

20
300 122
Ethan Coen is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
StacyWolfe added Ethan Coen The Big Lebowski, No Country for Old Men, Fargo

21
345 247
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Brian De Palma Scarface, Carrie, The Untouchables

22
386 276
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Mel Brooks Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs

23
373 303
J.J. Abrams is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
J.J. Abrams Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, Armageddon

24
333 231
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John Carpenter Halloween, The Thing, Escape from New York

25
348 264
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Steven Soderbergh Ocean's Eleven, Erin Brockovich, Traffic

26
347 320
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George Lucas Star Wars, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark

27
339 282
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Oliver Stone Platoon, Scarface, JFK

28
331 233
Ang Lee is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Ang Lee Brokeback Mountain, Hulk, Crouching Tiger

29
228 92
Terry Gilliam is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
beernbugs added Terry Gilliam Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Life of Brian, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

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30
234 135
Danny Boyle is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Danny Boyle Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Slumdog Millionaire

31
205 91
Guillermo del Toro is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Guillermo del Toro Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy, Pacific Rim

32
280 213
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Terrence Malick The Thin Red Line, The Tree of Life, Badlands

33
263 169
Miloš Forman is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Miloš Forman One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Amadeus, Hair

34
270 82
Stanley Kubrick is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Stanley Kubrick The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey

35
246 191
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Michael Mann Heat, The Last of the Mohicans, The Aviator

36
266 217
Rob Reiner is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Rob Reiner The Princess Bride, This Is Spinal Tap, Stand by Me

37
192 129
Peter Weir is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Peter Weir Dead Poets Society, The Truman Show, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

38
220 172
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Richard Linklater Dazed and Confused, School of Rock, Beavis and Butt-head Do America

39
195 149
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Mike Nichols The Graduate, The Birdcage, Working Girl

40
227 217
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Sam Raimi Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3

41
193 142
David Cronenberg is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
PeteBoyle added David Cronenberg The Fly, The Dead Zone, Videodrome

42
169 146
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William Friedkin The Exorcist, The French Connection, To Live and Die in L.A.

43
174 121
Mel Gibson is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
looksharp added Mel Gibson Braveheart, Lethal Weapon, Pocahontas

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44
149 92
Frank Darabont is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
laaaarrge added Frank Darabont The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, King Kong

45
198 164
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Gus Van Sant Good Will Hunting, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Milk

46
190 163
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George A. Romero The Silence of the Lambs, Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead

47
155 92
Spike Jonze is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
AlanSmithee added Spike Jonze The Wolf of Wall Street, Being John Malkovich, Moneyball

48
151 48
Alfonso Cuarón is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
AlanSmithee added Alfonso Cuarón Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Pan's Labyrinth, Gravity

49
135 78
Alejandro González Iñárritu is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Alejandro González Iñárritu Babel, Amores perros

50
130 55
Hayao Miyazaki is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
AlanSmithee added Hayao Miyazaki Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, Princess Mononoke