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?
list ordered by

1
1,564 515
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Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, The Departed

2
1,461 698
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E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Jaws, Schindler's List

3
1,486 693
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Django Unchained, Reservoir Dogs, Inglourious Basterds

4
1,039 529
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The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Apocalypse Now

5
1,528 540
Christopher Nolan is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Batman Begins

6
979 500
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Fargo, No Country for Old Men, The Big Lebowski

7
975 431
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Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

8
984 587
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Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino

9
853 431
Ridley Scott is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator

10
755 446
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Mullholland Drive, Elephant Man, Blue Velvet

11
716 378
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The Master, Boogie Nights, Magnolia

12
768 569
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Titanic, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Avatar Avatar 2

13
677 511
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Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns

14
454 130
Stanley Kubrick is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey

15
618 454
Ron Howard is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Splash, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind

16
673 342
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Moonrise Kingdom, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums

17
617 416
Peter Jackson is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
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
508 299
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Forrest Gump, Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit

19
709 608
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Annie Hall, Midnight in Paris, To Rome

20
438 168
Ethan Coen is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
StacyWolfe added The Big Lebowski, No Country for Old Men, Fargo

21
329 134
Guillermo del Toro is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy, Pacific Rim

22
495 378
Roman Polanski is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Chinatown, Rosemary's Baby, The Pianist

23
429 311
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Scarface, Carrie, The Untouchables

24
464 338
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Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs

25
457 401
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Star Wars, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark

26
422 315
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Ocean's Eleven, Erin Brockovich, Traffic

27
414 291
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Halloween, The Thing, Escape from New York

28
468 393
J.J. Abrams is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, Armageddon

29
400 290
Ang Lee is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Brokeback Mountain, Hulk, Crouching Tiger

30
394 339
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Platoon, Scarface, JFK

31
292 131
Terry Gilliam is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
beernbugs added Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Life of Brian, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

32
288 183
Danny Boyle is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Slumdog Millionaire

33
326 208
Miloš Forman is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Amadeus, Hair

34
333 264
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The Thin Red Line, The Tree of Life, Badlands

35
293 230
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Heat, The Last of the Mohicans, The Aviator

36
286 215
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Dazed and Confused, School of Rock, Beavis and Butt-head Do America

37
316 263
Rob Reiner is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
The Princess Bride, This Is Spinal Tap, Stand by Me

38
204 27
Denis Villeneuve is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Arianne added Prisoners, Incendies, Polytechnique - Prisoners, Enemy, Sicario, Arrival, Blade runner 2049

39
244 166
Peter Weir is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Dead Poets Society, The Truman Show, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

40
246 179
David Cronenberg is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
PeteBoyle added The Fly, The Dead Zone, Videodrome

41
239 197
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The Silence of the Lambs, Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead

42
266 261
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Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3

43
222 189
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The Graduate, The Birdcage, Working Girl

44
228 77
Alfonso Cuarón is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
AlanSmithee added Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Pan's Labyrinth, Gravity

45
239 180
Mel Gibson is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
looksharp added Braveheart, Lethal Weapon, Pocahontas

46
197 182
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The Exorcist, The French Connection, To Live and Die in L.A.

47
211 123
Spike Jonze is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
AlanSmithee added The Wolf of Wall Street, Being John Malkovich, Moneyball

48
199 127
Frank Darabont is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
laaaarrge added The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, King Kong

49
200 117
Alejandro González Iñárritu is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Babel, Amores perros

50
234 202
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Good Will Hunting, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Milk