Film Directors The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked  

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
73.9k votes 5.7k voters 156.2k 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

1,805 624
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Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, The Departed

1,716 810
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E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Jaws, Schindler's List

1,737 815
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Django Unchained, Reservoir Dogs, Inglourious Basterds

1,211 599
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The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Apocalypse Now

1,123 562
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Fargo, No Country for Old Men, The Big Lebowski

1,802 639
Christopher Nolan is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Batman Begins

1,165 498
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Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

1,137 666
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Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino

1,007 490
Ridley Scott is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator

872 516
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Mullholland Drive, Elephant Man, Blue Velvet

827 439
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The Master, Boogie Nights, Magnolia

914 665
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Titanic, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Avatar Avatar 2

787 615
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Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns

702 532
Ron Howard is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Splash, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind

779 409
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Moonrise Kingdom, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums

557 210
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

726 497
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

642 176
Stanley Kubrick is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey

588 356
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Forrest Gump, Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit

778 691
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Annie Hall, Midnight in Paris, To Rome

453 180
Guillermo del Toro is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy, Pacific Rim

502 347
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Scarface, Carrie, The Untouchables

523 373
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Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs

556 448
Roman Polanski is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Chinatown, Rosemary's Baby, The Pianist

491 323
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Halloween, The Thing, Escape from New York