film directors 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
1,382 435
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Martin Scorsese Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, The Departed

2
1,241 612
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Steven Spielberg E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Jaws, Schindler's List

3
918 463
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Francis Ford Coppola The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Apocalypse Now

4
1,274 613
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Quentin Tarantino Django Unchained, Reservoir Dogs, Inglourious Basterds

5
869 436
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Joel Coen Fargo, No Country for Old Men, The Big Lebowski

6
1,324 465
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
853 380
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David Fincher Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

8
863 525
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Clint Eastwood Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino

9
745 379
Ridley Scott is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Ridley Scott Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator

10
677 390
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David Lynch Mullholland Drive, Elephant Man, Blue Velvet

11
627 331
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Paul Thomas Anderson The Master, Boogie Nights, Magnolia

12
656 505
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James Cameron Titanic, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Avatar Avatar 2

13
601 445
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Tim Burton Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns

14
557 398
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
586 302
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Wes Anderson Moonrise Kingdom, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums

16
534 370
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
646 543
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Woody Allen Annie Hall, Midnight in Paris, To Rome

18
434 270
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Robert Zemeckis Forrest Gump, Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit

19
365 139
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
452 329
Roman Polanski is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Roman Polanski Chinatown, Rosemary's Baby, The Pianist

21
386 271
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Brian De Palma Scarface, Carrie, The Untouchables

The Best Baby Shoe Brands

22
413 304
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Mel Brooks Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs

23
352 98
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
384 281
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Steven Soderbergh Ocean's Eleven, Erin Brockovich, Traffic

25
367 261
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John Carpenter Halloween, The Thing, Escape from New York

26
389 365
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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
264 110
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
411 352
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
364 253
Ang Lee is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Ang Lee Brokeback Mountain, Hulk, Crouching Tiger

30
254 107
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
363 307
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Oliver Stone Platoon, Scarface, JFK

32
257 157
Danny Boyle is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Danny Boyle Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Slumdog Millionaire

33
308 231
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Terrence Malick The Thin Red Line, The Tree of Life, Badlands

34
291 181
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
262 204
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Michael Mann Heat, The Last of the Mohicans, The Aviator

These Disney Princess Were Absolutely Terrible Role Models

36
249 185
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Richard Linklater Dazed and Confused, School of Rock, Beavis and Butt-head Do America

37
217 140
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
277 237
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
218 154
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
208 163
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Mike Nichols The Graduate, The Birdcage, Working Girl

41
183 159
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William Friedkin The Exorcist, The French Connection, To Live and Die in L.A.

42
188 56
Alfonso Cuarón is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
AlanSmithee added Alfonso Cuarón Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Pan's Labyrinth, Gravity

The Very Best Black Directors, Ranked

43
241 237
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Sam Raimi Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3

44
181 104
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
197 151
Mel Gibson is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
looksharp added Mel Gibson Braveheart, Lethal Weapon, Pocahontas

46
210 177
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George A. Romero The Silence of the Lambs, Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead

47
170 109
Frank Darabont is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
laaaarrge added Frank Darabont The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, King Kong

48
169 92
Alejandro González Iñárritu is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Alejandro González Iñárritu Babel, Amores perros

49
214 179
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Gus Van Sant Good Will Hunting, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Milk

50
156 64
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