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
1,606 539
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Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, The Departed

2
1,511 719
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E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Jaws, Schindler's List

3
1,537 713
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Django Unchained, Reservoir Dogs, Inglourious Basterds

4
1,069 543
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The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Apocalypse Now

5
1,573 557
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
1,009 506
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Fargo, No Country for Old Men, The Big Lebowski

7
1,014 437
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Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

8
1,013 594
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Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino

9
879 439
Ridley Scott is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator

10
781 453
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Mullholland Drive, Elephant Man, Blue Velvet

11
737 387
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The Master, Boogie Nights, Magnolia

12
800 582
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Titanic, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Avatar Avatar 2

13
693 529
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Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns

14
490 136
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
633 462
Ron Howard is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Splash, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind

16
691 350
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Moonrise Kingdom, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums

17
635 425
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
519 303
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Forrest Gump, Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit

19
453 171
Ethan Coen is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
StacyWolfe added The Big Lebowski, No Country for Old Men, Fargo

20
348 137
Guillermo del Toro is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy, Pacific Rim

21
718 625
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Annie Hall, Midnight in Paris, To Rome

22
503 389
Roman Polanski is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Chinatown, Rosemary's Baby, The Pianist

23
439 312
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Scarface, Carrie, The Untouchables

24
474 343
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Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs

25
465 409
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Star Wars, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark

26
431 294
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Halloween, The Thing, Escape from New York

27
429 323
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Ocean's Eleven, Erin Brockovich, Traffic

28
479 404
J.J. Abrams is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, Armageddon

29
409 299
Ang Lee is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Brokeback Mountain, Hulk, Crouching Tiger

30
401 347
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Platoon, Scarface, JFK

31
299 140
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
300 194
Danny Boyle is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Slumdog Millionaire

33
333 219
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
340 277
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The Thin Red Line, The Tree of Life, Badlands

35
229 30
Denis Villeneuve is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Arianne added Prisoners, Incendies, Polytechnique -

Prisoners, Enemy, Sicario, Arrival, Blade runner 2049

36
300 236
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Heat, The Last of the Mohicans, The Aviator

37
293 221
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Dazed and Confused, School of Rock, Beavis and Butt-head Do America

38
322 270
Rob Reiner is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
The Princess Bride, This Is Spinal Tap, Stand by Me

39
249 171
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
255 182
David Cronenberg is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
PeteBoyle added The Fly, The Dead Zone, Videodrome

41
246 201
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The Silence of the Lambs, Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead

42
252 184
Mel Gibson is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
looksharp added Braveheart, Lethal Weapon, Pocahontas

43
238 80
Alfonso Cuarón is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
AlanSmithee added Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Pan's Labyrinth, Gravity

44
271 266
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Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3

45
202 184
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The Exorcist, The French Connection, To Live and Die in L.A.

46
207 128
Frank Darabont is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
laaaarrge added The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, King Kong

47
225 194
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The Graduate, The Birdcage, Working Girl

48
216 127
Spike Jonze is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
AlanSmithee added The Wolf of Wall Street, Being John Malkovich, Moneyball

49
208 120
Alejandro González Iñárritu is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Babel, Amores perros

50
241 205
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Good Will Hunting, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Milk