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
1,656 561
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Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, The Departed

2
1,558 742
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E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Jaws, Schindler's List

3
1,583 735
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Django Unchained, Reservoir Dogs, Inglourious Basterds

4
1,103 556
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The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Apocalypse Now

5
1,619 579
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
1,050 448
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Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

7
1,034 514
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Fargo, No Country for Old Men, The Big Lebowski

8
1,040 610
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Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino

9
905 452
Ridley Scott is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator

10
806 464
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Mullholland Drive, Elephant Man, Blue Velvet

11
760 394
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The Master, Boogie Nights, Magnolia

12
824 609
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Titanic, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Avatar Avatar 2

13
525 144
Stanley Kubrick is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey

14
716 548
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Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns

15
645 474
Ron Howard is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Splash, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind

16
711 357
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Moonrise Kingdom, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums

17
657 440
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
533 317
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Forrest Gump, Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit

19
473 177
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
366 150
Guillermo del Toro is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy, Pacific Rim

21
733 639
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Annie Hall, Midnight in Paris, To Rome

22
513 403
Roman Polański is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Chinatown, Rosemary's Baby, The Pianist

23
456 319
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Scarface, Carrie, The Untouchables

24
485 349
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Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs

25
446 300
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Halloween, The Thing, Escape from New York

26
480 425
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Star Wars, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark

27
436 334
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Ocean's Eleven, Erin Brockovich, Traffic

28
489 425
J.J. Abrams is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, Armageddon

29
419 314
Ang Lee is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Brokeback Mountain, Hulk, Crouching Tiger

30
411 362
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Platoon, Scarface, JFK

31
260 37
Denis Villeneuve is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Arianne added Prisoners, Incendies, Polytechnique -

Prisoners, Enemy, Sicario, Arrival, Blade runner 2049

32
310 156
Terry Gilliam is listed (or ranked) 32 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

33
308 206
Danny Boyle is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Slumdog Millionaire

34
339 225
Miloš Forman is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Amadeus, Hair

35
347 285
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The Thin Red Line, The Tree of Life, Badlands

36
309 240
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Heat, The Last of the Mohicans, The Aviator

37
301 227
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Dazed and Confused, School of Rock, Beavis and Butt-head Do America

38
258 175
Peter Weir is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Dead Poets Society, The Truman Show, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

39
326 278
Rob Reiner is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
The Princess Bride, This Is Spinal Tap, Stand by Me

40
259 189
David Cronenberg is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
PeteBoyle added The Fly, The Dead Zone, Videodrome

41
254 207
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The Silence of the Lambs, Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead

42
261 191
Mel Gibson is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
looksharp added Braveheart, Lethal Weapon, Pocahontas

43
247 87
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
216 130
Frank Darabont is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
laaaarrge added The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, King Kong

45
277 272
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Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3

46
231 196
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The Graduate, The Birdcage, Working Girl

47
208 187
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The Exorcist, The French Connection, To Live and Die in L.A.

48
224 130
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
214 124
Alejandro González Iñárritu is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Babel, Amores perros

50
247 208
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Good Will Hunting, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Milk