Film Directors The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked  

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
73.4k votes 5.7k voters 156k views 259 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?
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list ordered by

1
1,798 620
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Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, The Departed

2
1,710 805
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E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Jaws, Schindler's List

3
1,728 811
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Django Unchained, Reservoir Dogs, Inglourious Basterds

4
1,205 598
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The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Apocalypse Now

5
1,120 560
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Fargo, No Country for Old Men, The Big Lebowski

6
1,796 633
Christopher Nolan is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Batman Begins

7
1,162 493
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Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

8
1,131 661
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Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino

9
1,003 485
Ridley Scott is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator

10
869 513
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Mullholland Drive, Elephant Man, Blue Velvet

11
821 437
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The Master, Boogie Nights, Magnolia

12
909 659
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Titanic, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Avatar Avatar 2

13
785 612
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Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns

14
699 527
Ron Howard is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Splash, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind

15
774 407
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Moonrise Kingdom, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums

16
552 209
Ethan Coen is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
StacyWolfe added The Big Lebowski, No Country for Old Men, Fargo

17
724 493
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
638 174
Stanley Kubrick is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey

19
587 352
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Forrest Gump, Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit

20
774 689
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Annie Hall, Midnight in Paris, To Rome

21
448 178
Guillermo del Toro is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy, Pacific Rim

22
499 345
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Scarface, Carrie, The Untouchables

23
520 373
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Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs

24
552 447
Roman Polanski is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Chinatown, Rosemary's Baby, The Pianist

25
539 465
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Star Wars, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark