Entertainment

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?
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list ordered by
1
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E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Jaws, Schindler's List
2
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Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, Raging Bull
3
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The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Apocalypse Now
4
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Fargo, No Country for Old Men, The Big Lebowski
5
Ridley Scott is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator
6
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Django Unchained, Reservoir Dogs, Inglourious Basterds
7
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The Master, Boogie Nights, Magnolia
8
Christopher Nolan is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Interstellar, The Dark Knight, Dunkirk
9
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Fight Club, The Social Network, Se7en
10
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Mullholland Drive, Elephant Man, Blue Velvet
11
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Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino
12
Ethan Coen is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
StacyWolfe added The Big Lebowski, No Country for Old Men, Fargo
13
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Titanic, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Aliens
14
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Forrest Gump, Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit
15
Denis Villeneuve is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Arianne added Arrival, Enemy, Blade Runner 2049

Prisoners, Enemy, Sicario, Arrival, Blade runner 2049

16
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Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns, Ed Wood
17
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Annie Hall, Bullets Over Broadway, Midnight in Paris
18
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Scarface, Carrie, The Untouchables
19
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Dazed and Confused, School of Rock, Boyhood
20
Alfonso Cuarón is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
AlanSmithee added Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Children of Men, Y Tu Mamá También
21
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Moonrise Kingdom, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums
22
Guillermo del Toro is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy, Pacific Rim
23
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Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs
24
Werner Herzog is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
AlanSmithee added Grizzly Man, Aguirre the Wrath of God, Fitzcarraldo
25
Roman Polanski is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Chinatown, Rosemary's Baby, The Pianist