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
1,653 561
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Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, The Departed

2
1,556 740
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E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Jaws, Schindler's List

3
1,580 733
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Django Unchained, Reservoir Dogs, Inglourious Basterds

4
1,102 555
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The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Apocalypse Now

5
1,616 577
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
1,049 446
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Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

7
1,034 512
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Fargo, No Country for Old Men, The Big Lebowski

8
1,038 609
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Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino

9
904 451
Ridley Scott is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator

10
804 464
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Mullholland Drive, Elephant Man, Blue Velvet

11
758 394
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The Master, Boogie Nights, Magnolia

12
824 607
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Titanic, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Avatar Avatar 2

13
714 547
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Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns

14
522 144
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
645 472
Ron Howard is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Splash, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind

16
709 356
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Moonrise Kingdom, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums

17
655 438
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
533 315
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Forrest Gump, Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit

19
472 176
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
366 149
Guillermo del Toro is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy, Pacific Rim

21
732 639
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Annie Hall, Midnight in Paris, To Rome

22
513 402
Roman Polański is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Chinatown, Rosemary's Baby, The Pianist

23
456 318
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Scarface, Carrie, The Untouchables

24
484 349
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Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs

25
446 299
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Halloween, The Thing, Escape from New York

26
480 424
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Star Wars, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark

27
436 332
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Ocean's Eleven, Erin Brockovich, Traffic

28
489 424
J.J. Abrams is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, Armageddon

29
419 312
Ang Lee is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Brokeback Mountain, Hulk, Crouching Tiger

30
411 360
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Platoon, Scarface, JFK

31
310 154
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
259 36
Denis Villeneuve is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Arianne added Prisoners, Incendies, Polytechnique -

Prisoners, Enemy, Sicario, Arrival, Blade runner 2049

33
308 205
Danny Boyle is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Slumdog Millionaire

34
338 225
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
347 284
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The Thin Red Line, The Tree of Life, Badlands

36
308 240
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Heat, The Last of the Mohicans, The Aviator

37
300 226
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Dazed and Confused, School of Rock, Beavis and Butt-head Do America

38
257 175
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
325 277
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
259 188
David Cronenberg is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
PeteBoyle added The Fly, The Dead Zone, Videodrome

41
254 206
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The Silence of the Lambs, Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead

42
247 86
Alfonso Cuarón is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
AlanSmithee added Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Pan's Labyrinth, Gravity

43
260 191
Mel Gibson is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
looksharp added Braveheart, Lethal Weapon, Pocahontas

44
214 130
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
275 272
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Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3

46
231 195
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The Graduate, The Birdcage, Working Girl

47
224 129
Spike Jonze is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
AlanSmithee added The Wolf of Wall Street, Being John Malkovich, Moneyball

48
207 187
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The Exorcist, The French Connection, To Live and Die in L.A.

49
214 123
Alejandro González Iñárritu is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Babel, Amores perros

50
247 207
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Good Will Hunting, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Milk