Film Directors The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked  

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
73.6k 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?
Ranker may collect a commission from links on this page. Prices & inventory are accurate as of publish date.
list ordered by

1,801 621
Ranker Video
Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, The Departed

1,712 807
Ranker Video
E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Jaws, Schindler's List

1,732 812
Ranker Video
Django Unchained, Reservoir Dogs, Inglourious Basterds

1,208 598
Ranker Video
The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Apocalypse Now

1,121 560
Ranker Video
Fargo, No Country for Old Men, The Big Lebowski

1,797 635
Christopher Nolan is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Batman Begins

1,163 494
Ranker Video
Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

1,134 662
Ranker Video
Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino

1,005 486
Ridley Scott is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator

870 513
Ranker Video
Mullholland Drive, Elephant Man, Blue Velvet

824 437
Ranker Video
The Master, Boogie Nights, Magnolia

910 662
Ranker Video
Titanic, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Avatar Avatar 2

785 614
Ranker Video
Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns

700 528
Ron Howard is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Splash, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind

776 408
Ranker Video
Moonrise Kingdom, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums

554 209
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

724 495
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

639 174
Stanley Kubrick is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey

587 354
Ranker Video
Forrest Gump, Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit

776 689
Ranker Video
Annie Hall, Midnight in Paris, To Rome

449 179
Guillermo del Toro is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy, Pacific Rim

500 346
Ranker Video
Scarface, Carrie, The Untouchables

521 373
Ranker Video
Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs

554 447
Roman Polanski is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Chinatown, Rosemary's Baby, The Pianist

539 467
Ranker Video
Star Wars, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark