Entertainment The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked  

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
75.5k votes 5.9k voters 157.5k views 260 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
1,848 635
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Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, The Departed
1,752 831
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E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Jaws, Schindler's List
1,780 829
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Django Unchained, Reservoir Dogs, Inglourious Basterds
1,233 613
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The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Apocalypse Now
1,146 577
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Fargo, No Country for Old Men, The Big Lebowski
1,856 647
Christopher Nolan is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Batman Begins
1,189 509
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Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
1,167 677
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Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino
1,033 503
Ridley Scott is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator
891 527
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Mullholland Drive, Elephant Man, Blue Velvet
847 447
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The Master, Boogie Nights, Magnolia
937 683
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Titanic, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Avatar Avatar 2
808 628
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Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns
711 548
Ron Howard is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Splash, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind
795 418
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Moonrise Kingdom, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums
575 218
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
747 506
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
668 184
Stanley Kubrick is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey
602 360
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Forrest Gump, Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit
792 704
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Annie Hall, Midnight in Paris, To Rome
467 189
Guillermo del Toro is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy, Pacific Rim
513 353
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Scarface, Carrie, The Untouchables
532 381
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Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs
567 457
Roman Polanski is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Chinatown, Rosemary's Baby, The Pianist
503 331
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Halloween, The Thing, Escape from New York