Entertainment

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
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E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Jaws, Schindler's List
2
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Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, Raging Bull
3
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The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Apocalypse Now
4
Ridley Scott is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator
5
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The Master, Boogie Nights, Magnolia
6
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Fargo, No Country for Old Men, The Big Lebowski
7
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Django Unchained, Reservoir Dogs, Inglourious Basterds
8
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Mullholland Drive, Elephant Man, Blue Velvet
9
Christopher Nolan is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Interstellar, The Dark Knight, Dunkirk
10
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Fight Club, The Social Network, Se7en
11
Ethan Coen is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
StacyWolfe added Ethan Coen The Big Lebowski, No Country for Old Men, Fargo
12
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Titanic, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Aliens
13
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Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino
14
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

15
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Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns, Ed Wood
16
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Forrest Gump, Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit
17
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Annie Hall, Bullets Over Broadway, Midnight in Paris
18
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Dazed and Confused, School of Rock, Boyhood
19
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Scarface, Carrie, The Untouchables
20
Alfonso Cuarón is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
AlanSmithee added Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Children of Men, Y Tu Mamá También
21
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Moonrise Kingdom, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums
22
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Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs
23
Werner Herzog is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
AlanSmithee added Grizzly Man, Aguirre the Wrath of God, Fitzcarraldo
24
Guillermo del Toro is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy, Pacific Rim
25
Roman Polański is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked
Chinatown, Rosemary's Baby, The Pianist