film directors The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked  

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
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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?

1
1,454 459
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Martin Scorsese Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, The Departed

2
1,322 646
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Steven Spielberg E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Jaws, Schindler's List

3
1,347 640
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Quentin Tarantino Django Unchained, Reservoir Dogs, Inglourious Basterds

4
957 492
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Francis Ford Coppola The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Apocalypse Now

5
916 453
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Joel Coen Fargo, No Country for Old Men, The Big Lebowski

6
1,396 495
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
898 398
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David Fincher Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

8
908 547
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Clint Eastwood Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino

9
783 401
Ridley Scott is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Ridley Scott Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator

10
702 411
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David Lynch Mullholland Drive, Elephant Man, Blue Velvet

11
661 348
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Paul Thomas Anderson The Master, Boogie Nights, Magnolia

12
696 533
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James Cameron Titanic, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Avatar Avatar 2

13
627 468
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Tim Burton Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns

14
577 421
Ron Howard is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Ron Howard Splash, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind

The Greatest Indian Music Directors of All Time

15
620 316
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Wes Anderson Moonrise Kingdom, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums

16
568 387
Peter Jackson is listed (or ranked) 16 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

17
670 564
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Woody Allen Annie Hall, Midnight in Paris, To Rome

18
460 279
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Robert Zemeckis Forrest Gump, Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit

19
395 146
Ethan Coen is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
StacyWolfe added Ethan Coen The Big Lebowski, No Country for Old Men, Fargo

20
405 279
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Brian De Palma Scarface, Carrie, The Untouchables

21
468 346
Roman Polanski is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Roman Polanski Chinatown, Rosemary's Baby, The Pianist

The Best Dogs for Allergies

22
430 316
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Mel Brooks Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs

23
393 108
Stanley Kubrick is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Stanley Kubrick The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey

24
396 292
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Steven Soderbergh Ocean's Eleven, Erin Brockovich, Traffic

25
413 375
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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

26
381 270
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John Carpenter Halloween, The Thing, Escape from New York

27
286 118
Guillermo del Toro is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Guillermo del Toro Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy, Pacific Rim

28
426 365
J.J. Abrams is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
J.J. Abrams Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, Armageddon

The Worst Movie Directors of All Time

29
375 265
Ang Lee is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Ang Lee Brokeback Mountain, Hulk, Crouching Tiger

30
265 112
Terry Gilliam is listed (or ranked) 30 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

31
373 317
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Oliver Stone Platoon, Scarface, JFK

32
266 162
Danny Boyle is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Danny Boyle Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Slumdog Millionaire

33
317 240
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Terrence Malick The Thin Red Line, The Tree of Life, Badlands

34
303 187
Miloš Forman is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Miloš Forman One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Amadeus, Hair

35
271 208
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Michael Mann Heat, The Last of the Mohicans, The Aviator

The Worst Movies That Have Grossed Over $1 Billion

36
262 191
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Richard Linklater Dazed and Confused, School of Rock, Beavis and Butt-head Do America

37
227 143
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
290 241
Rob Reiner is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Rob Reiner The Princess Bride, This Is Spinal Tap, Stand by Me

39
229 160
David Cronenberg is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
PeteBoyle added David Cronenberg The Fly, The Dead Zone, Videodrome

40
214 169
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Mike Nichols The Graduate, The Birdcage, Working Girl

41
249 241
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Sam Raimi Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3

42
188 164
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William Friedkin The Exorcist, The French Connection, To Live and Die in L.A.

The Best Living American Actors

43
200 61
Alfonso Cuarón is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
AlanSmithee added Alfonso Cuarón Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Pan's Labyrinth, Gravity

44
191 108
Spike Jonze is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
AlanSmithee added Spike Jonze The Wolf of Wall Street, Being John Malkovich, Moneyball

45
211 159
Mel Gibson is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
looksharp added Mel Gibson Braveheart, Lethal Weapon, Pocahontas

46
178 112
Frank Darabont is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
laaaarrge added Frank Darabont The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, King Kong

47
217 181
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George A. Romero The Silence of the Lambs, Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead

48
220 183
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Gus Van Sant Good Will Hunting, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Milk

49
177 98
Alejandro González Iñárritu is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Alejandro González Iñárritu Babel, Amores perros

50
170 69
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