Entertainment The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked  

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
74.7k votes 5.8k voters 156.8k 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?
Ranker may collect a commission from links on this page. Prices & inventory are accurate as of publish date.
list ordered by

1,831 628
Ranker Video
Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, The Departed

1,736 822
Ranker Video
E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Jaws, Schindler's List

1,759 823
Ranker Video
Django Unchained, Reservoir Dogs, Inglourious Basterds

1,224 607
Ranker Video
The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Apocalypse Now

1,137 569
Ranker Video
Fargo, No Country for Old Men, The Big Lebowski

1,827 643
Christopher Nolan is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Batman Begins

1,176 503
Ranker Video
Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

1,156 672
Ranker Video
Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino

1,019 499
Ridley Scott is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator

883 520
Ranker Video
Mullholland Drive, Elephant Man, Blue Velvet

839 442
Ranker Video
The Master, Boogie Nights, Magnolia

922 675
Ranker Video
Titanic, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Avatar Avatar 2

798 621
Ranker Video
Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns

706 539
Ron Howard is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Splash, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind

788 414
Ranker Video
Moonrise Kingdom, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums

567 214
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

737 501
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

654 182
Stanley Kubrick is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey

595 358
Ranker Video
Forrest Gump, Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit

787 696
Ranker Video
Annie Hall, Midnight in Paris, To Rome

462 184
Guillermo del Toro is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy, Pacific Rim

507 350
Ranker Video
Scarface, Carrie, The Untouchables

527 376
Ranker Video
Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs

560 452
Roman Polanski is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Chinatown, Rosemary's Baby, The Pianist

498 326
Ranker Video
Halloween, The Thing, Escape from New York