Entertainment

The Greatest Directors In Movie History  

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Originally by Ranker Community
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List Rules Most important, culturally significant filmmakers of all time who deserve award recognition.

List of the greatest directors in movie history, who are most deserving of Academy Awards and critical recognition. The list includes directors who have already won major awards, those who continue to have the potential to win Oscars and filmmakers who were overlooked by the Academy during their lifetimes. The skill set of a high-level director is massive - everything from working with and managing large teams to a strong aesthetic and artistic sensibility to the ability to sell ideas to studio executives and potential collaborators. Though many have mastered the actual work of getting films made, only a rare few have managed to create truly memorable, important motion pictures that will stand the test of time.

Often, the greatest of these filmmakers will go unrecognized by the Motion Picture Academy, particularly during the most active, vital period of their careers. Alfred Hitchcock famously never took home a statue for Best Director, despite being perhaps the MOST iconic of all film directors, and certainly one of the most significant contributors to contemporary film language and genre. Martin Scorsese eventually did take home Best Director for his work on "The Departed," but this film came long after the movies for which Scorsese will likely be best remembered - "Mean Streets," "Taxi Driver," "Raging Bull" and so on.

This list disregards the quibbles over who has won in the past or will win in the future, and instead focuses purely on the quality of the filmmaking and the importance of the films themselves. Vote for your favorite directors, and if some of your choices haven't yet made the list, make your own version of the list and add them on there!
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list ordered by
1
Alfred Hitchcock is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Directors In Movie History
Psycho, The Birds, The Man Who Knew Too Much
2
Orson Welles is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Directors In Movie History
Citizen Kane, Don Quixote, Macbeth
3
John Ford is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Directors In Movie History
The Searchers, The Quiet Man, The Grapes of Wrath
4
Steven Spielberg is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Directors In Movie History
Munich, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, War of the Worlds
5
Charlie Chaplin is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Directors In Movie History
Modern Times, City Lights, The Great Dictator
6
Ingmar Bergman is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Directors In Movie History
Persona, Cries & Whispers, A Lesson of Love
7
Akira Kurosawa is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Directors In Movie History
Rashomon, Hakuchi, The Bad Sleep Well
8
Federico Fellini is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Directors In Movie History
8 1/2, La Dolce Vita, Roma
9
David Lean is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Directors In Movie History
Lawrence of Arabia, The Bridge on the River Kwai, A Passage to India
10
Stanley Kubrick is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Directors In Movie History
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, Spartacus, 2001: A Space Odyssey
11
Frank Capra is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Directors In Movie History
It's A Wonderful Life, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, It Happened One Night
12
Martin Scorsese is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Directors In Movie History
The Wolf of Wall Street, Hugo, Goodfellas
13
Billy Wilder is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Directors In Movie History
Some Like it Hot, Sunset Blvd, The Apartment
14
Howard Hawks is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Directors In Movie History
The Big Sleep, His Girl Friday, Rio Bravo
15
Sergio Leone is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Directors In Movie History
Once Upon A Time In America, Duck, You Sucker
16
Francis Ford Coppola is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Directors In Movie History
The Cotton Club, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Apocalypse Now
17
John Huston is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Directors In Movie History
The Asphalt Jungle, Wise Blood, The Red Badge of Courage
18
D. W. Griffith is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Directors In Movie History
The Birth Of A Nation, Intolerance: Love's Struggle Throughout The Ages, Broken Blossoms Or The Yellow Man And The Girl
19
F. W. Murnau is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Directors In Movie History
Nosferatu, Sunrise, Faust
20
William Wyler is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Directors In Movie History
Ben Hur, Roman Holiday, The Best Years Of Our Lives
21
Andrei Tarkovsky is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Directors In Movie History
Solaris, Andrei Rublev, The Sacrifice
22
Fritz Lang is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Directors In Movie History
Metropolis, Scarlet Street, Clash by Night
23
Sergei Eisenstein is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Directors In Movie History
Battleship Potemkin, Alexander Nevsky, Ivan The Terrible
24
David Lynch is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Directors In Movie History
Mulholland Drive, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, The Elephant Man
25
Roman Polanski is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Directors In Movie History
The Pianist, Chinatown, Rosemary's Baby