The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked 

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
Updated April 14, 2020 90k votes 7k voters 165.9k views 215 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
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Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, Raging Bull
Christopher Nolan is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Interstellar, The Dark Knight, Dunkirk
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Django Unchained, Reservoir Dogs, Inglourious Basterds
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E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Jaws, Schindler's List
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The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Apocalypse Now
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Fight Club, The Social Network, Se7en
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Fargo, No Country for Old Men, The Big Lebowski
Ridley Scott is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator
Ethan Coen is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
StacyWolfe added Ethan Coen The Big Lebowski, No Country for Old Men, Fargo
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The Master, Boogie Nights, Magnolia
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Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino
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Mullholland Drive, Elephant Man, Blue Velvet
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Moonrise Kingdom, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums
Denis Villeneuve is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Arianne added Arrival, Enemy, Blade Runner 2049

Prisoners, Enemy, Sicario, Arrival, Blade runner 2049

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Titanic, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Aliens
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Forrest Gump, Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit
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Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns, Ed Wood
Alfonso Cuarón is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
AlanSmithee added Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Children of Men, Y Tu Mamá También
Peter Jackson is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Dead Alive, Heavenly Creatures
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Scarface, Carrie, The Untouchables
Guillermo del Toro is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy, Pacific Rim
Ron Howard is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Splash, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind
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Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs
Roman Polanski is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Chinatown, Rosemary's Baby, The Pianist
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Annie Hall, Bullets Over Broadway, Midnight in Paris