Film Directors The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked  

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
58.9k votes 4.3k voters 148.4k views 245 items

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
1,496 484
Ranker Video
Martin Scorsese Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, The Departed

2
1,375 665
Ranker Video
Steven Spielberg E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Jaws, Schindler's List

3
1,414 660
Ranker Video
Quentin Tarantino Django Unchained, Reservoir Dogs, Inglourious Basterds

4
988 511
Ranker Video
Francis Ford Coppola The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Apocalypse Now

5
944 475
Ranker Video
Joel Coen Fargo, No Country for Old Men, The Big Lebowski

6
1,451 513
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
928 411
Ranker Video
David Fincher Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

8
942 562
Ranker Video
Clint Eastwood Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino

9
820 411
Ridley Scott is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Ridley Scott Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator

10
724 426
Ranker Video
David Lynch Mullholland Drive, Elephant Man, Blue Velvet

11
679 361
Ranker Video
Paul Thomas Anderson The Master, Boogie Nights, Magnolia

12
732 546
Ranker Video
James Cameron Titanic, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Avatar Avatar 2

13
650 487
Ranker Video
Tim Burton Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns

14
597 431
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
640 326
Ranker Video
Wes Anderson Moonrise Kingdom, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums

16
594 397
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
483 286
Ranker Video
Robert Zemeckis Forrest Gump, Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit

18
685 582
Ranker Video
Woody Allen Annie Hall, Midnight in Paris, To Rome

19
411 157
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
480 357
Roman Polanski is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Roman Polanski Chinatown, Rosemary's Baby, The Pianist

21
414 292
Ranker Video
Brian De Palma Scarface, Carrie, The Untouchables

The Best Dogs for Allergies

22
447 324
Ranker Video
Mel Brooks Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs

23
419 115
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
434 385
Ranker Video
George Lucas Star Wars, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark

25
409 301
Ranker Video
Steven Soderbergh Ocean's Eleven, Erin Brockovich, Traffic

26
397 279
Ranker Video
John Carpenter Halloween, The Thing, Escape from New York

27
306 124
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
447 376
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
386 275
Ang Lee is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Ang Lee Brokeback Mountain, Hulk, Crouching Tiger

30
277 121
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
381 329
Ranker Video
Oliver Stone Platoon, Scarface, JFK

32
273 174
Danny Boyle is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Danny Boyle Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Slumdog Millionaire

33
314 195
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
323 250
Ranker Video
Terrence Malick The Thin Red Line, The Tree of Life, Badlands

35
274 199
Ranker Video
Richard Linklater Dazed and Confused, School of Rock, Beavis and Butt-head Do America

The Worst Movies That Have Grossed Over $1 Billion

36
280 217
Ranker Video
Michael Mann Heat, The Last of the Mohicans, The Aviator

37
235 151
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
306 248
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
236 169
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
218 178
Ranker Video
Mike Nichols The Graduate, The Birdcage, Working Girl

41
257 249
Ranker Video
Sam Raimi Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3

42
195 172
Ranker Video
William Friedkin The Exorcist, The French Connection, To Live and Die in L.A.

The Best Living American Actors

43
214 68
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
223 169
Mel Gibson is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
looksharp added Mel Gibson Braveheart, Lethal Weapon, Pocahontas

45
201 115
Spike Jonze is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
AlanSmithee added Spike Jonze The Wolf of Wall Street, Being John Malkovich, Moneyball

46
191 118
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
230 188
Ranker Video
George A. Romero The Silence of the Lambs, Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead

48
228 193
Ranker Video
Gus Van Sant Good Will Hunting, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Milk

49
184 77
Hayao Miyazaki is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
AlanSmithee added Hayao Miyazaki Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, Princess Mononoke

50
186 108
Alejandro González Iñárritu is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Alejandro González Iñárritu Babel, Amores perros