Entertainment

The Best Films Directed by Famous Actors 

Ranker Film
Originally by
Updated November 1, 2019 104.2k votes 5.8k voters 2M views 144 items

List Rules Only movies directed by famous ACTORS (or at least people who are known for their acting as much as for directing)

Several great films were directed by actors. Many of these films went on to win Academy Awards and others became summer blockbusters. When actors step behind the camera, great things can happen. Some actors have directed and starred as well. This list of the best movies directed by famous actors is loosely ranked by fame and popularity. 

Kevin Costner's fantastic directorial debut Dances with Wolves took home seven Oscars in 1990. Costner personally received statues for Best Director and Best Picture. Swingers actor Jon Favreau went on to direct the summer blockbusters Iron Man and Iron Man 2. He also directed the Christmas classic Elf.

Other great films directed by actors include Citizen Kane (Orson Welles), A Beautiful Mind (Ron Howard) and Unforgiven (Clint Eastwood).

Are you surprised that so many great films are directed by actors? Vote up the films you think are the best below or add the movie you think is the greatest, that was directed by a famous actor or actress.

Want to vote on more films like these? Check out this list of The Best Directorial Debuts of Famous Actors.

list ordered by
1
A Quiet Place is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Films Directed by Famous Actors
John Krasinski

Actors: John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Noah Jupe, Millicent Simmonds

Released: 2018

A Quiet Place is a 2018 American supernatural horror film directed by John Krasinski. A family living on a farm hides from a supernatural evil attracted to sound by avoiding making sound and ...more

More A Quiet Place 

#413 of 799 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time #299 of 410 The Best Rainy Day Movies

2
Ranker Video
Clint Eastwood

Actors: Clint Eastwood, Dreama Walker, Scott Eastwood, John Carroll Lynch, Ahney Her, + more

Released: 2008

Gran Torino is a 2008 American drama film directed and produced by Clint Eastwood, who also starred in the film. The film co-stars Christopher Carley, Bee Vang and Ahney Her. This was Eastwood's ...more

More Gran Torino 

#38 of 292 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry #40 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guys

3
Ranker Video
Clint Eastwood

Actors: Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Gene Hackman, Richard Harris, Frances Fisher, + more

Released: 1992

Unforgiven is a 1992 American Western film produced and directed by Clint Eastwood with a screenplay written by David Webb Peoples. The film portrays William Munny, an aging outlaw who takes on ...more

More Unforgiven 

#7 of 396 The Best Western Movies Ever Made #174 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

4
Ranker Video
Jon Favreau filmography

Actors: Robert Downey Jr., Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, Shaun Toub, Gwyneth Paltrow, + more

Released: 2008

Iron Man is a 2008 American superhero film directed by Jon Favreau, based on the Marvel Comics character. After being held captive in an Afghan cave, billionaire engineer Tony Stark (Robert ...more

More Iron Man 

#43 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #2 of 184 The Best Superhero Movies Ever Made

5
Ranker Video
Rob Reiner

Actors: Kiefer Sutherland, Corey Feldman, John Cusack, Richard Dreyfuss, River Phoenix, + more

Released: 1986

Stand by Me is a 1986 American coming of age comedy-drama adventure film directed by Rob Reiner and starring Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman and Jerry O'Connell. Based on the novella ...more

More Stand by Me 

#19 of 351 The Best Movies Based On Books #234 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies Behind-The-Scenes Stories From 'Stand By Me' That Prove The Film Shaped The Child Actors

6
Ranker Video
Kevin Costner

Actors: Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, Charles Rocket, Graham Greene, Maury Chaykin, + more

Released: 1990

Dances with Wolves is a 1990 American epic western film directed, produced by, and starring Kevin Costner. It is a film adaptation of the 1988 book of the same name by Michael Blake and tells ...more

More Dances with Wolves 

#247 of 351 The Best Movies Based On Books #18 of 396 The Best Western Movies Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

7
Ranker Video
Penny Marshall

Actors: Madonna, Tom Hanks, Rosie O'Donnell, Geena Davis, Téa Leoni, + more

Released: 1992

A League of Their Own is a 1992 American comedy-drama film that tells a fictionalized account of the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Directed by Penny Marshall, the ...more

More A League of Their Own 

#58 of 803 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made #696 of 1,196 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time

8
Ranker Video
Ron Howard

Actors: Tom Hanks, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ed Harris, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise, + more

Released: 1995

Apollo 13 is a 1995 American historical docudrama film directed by Ron Howard. The film stars Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise, and Ed Harris. The screenplay by William Broyles, ...more

More Apollo 13 

#53 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made #115 of 460 The Most Quotable Movies of All Timelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

9
Ranker Video
Penny Marshall

Actors: Tom Hanks, Jon Lovitz, Elizabeth Perkins, Mercedes Ruehl, Robert Loggia, + more

Released: 1988

Big is a 1988 American fantasy comedy film directed by Penny Marshall, and stars Tom Hanks as Josh Baskin, a young boy who makes a wish "to be big" and is then aged to adulthood ...more

More Big 

#75 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #49 of 1,196 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time 'Big' Is Actually An Existential Nightmare

10
Ranker Video
Harold Ramis

Actors: Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Michael Shannon, Harold Ramis, Chris Elliott, + more

Released: 1993

Groundhog Day is a 1993 American fantasy comedy film directed by Harold Ramis, starring Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, and Chris Elliott. It was written by Ramis and Danny Rubin, based on a story ...more

More Groundhog Day 

#18 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #304 of 803 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made

11
Ranker Video
Mel Gibson

Actors: Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Brendan Gleeson, Brian Cox, Catherine McCormack, + more

Released: 1995

Braveheart is a 1995 epic historical medieval war drama film directed by and starring Mel Gibson. Gibson portrays William Wallace, a 13th-century Scottish warrior who led the Scots in the First ...more

More Braveheart 

#20 of 292 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry #12 of 379 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Rankedlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

12
Ranker Video
Harold Ramis

Actors: Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, Brian Doyle-Murray, Ted Knight, + more

Released: 1980

Caddyshack is a 1980 American sports comedy film directed by Harold Ramis and written by Brian Doyle-Murray, Ramis and Douglas Kenney. It stars Michael O'Keefe, Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, ...more

More Caddyshack 

#22 of 624 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies #12 of 1,009 The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films

13
Ranker Video
Ron Howard

Actors: Jennifer Connelly, Russell Crowe, Ron Howard, Ed Harris, Christopher Plummer, + more

Released: 2001

A Beautiful Mind is a 2001 American biographical drama film based on the life of John Nash, a Nobel Laureate in Economics. The film was directed by Ron Howard, from a screenplay written by Akiva ...more

More A Beautiful Mind 

#42 of 351 The Best Movies Based On Books #1,015 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Movies That Won Best Picture at the Oscars and Golden Globes

14
Ranker Video
Rob Reiner

Actors: Billy Crystal, Robin Wright, André the Giant, Fred Savage, Mark Knopfler, + more

Released: 1987

The Princess Bride is a 1987 American romantic comedy fantasy adventure film directed and co-produced by Rob Reiner. It was adapted by William Goldman from his 1973 novel of the same name. The ...more

More The Princess Bride 

#9 of 803 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made #44 of 1,009 The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films Inconceivable Yet Believable 'Princess Bride' Fan Theories

15
Ranker Video
Clint Eastwood

Actors: Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Hilary Swank, Jay Baruchel, Anthony Mackie, + more

Released: 2004

Million Dollar Baby is a 2004 American sports drama film directed, co-produced and scored by Clint Eastwood, and starring Eastwood, Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman. This film is about an ...more

More Million Dollar Baby 

#1,086 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #435 of 803 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

16
Ranker Video
looksharp added Mel Gibson

Actors: Monica Bellucci, Jim Caviezel, Claudia Gerini, Rosalinda Celentano, Francesco Cabras, + more

Released: 2004

The Passion of the Christ is a 2004 American epic biblical drama film directed by Mel Gibson and starring Jim Caviezel as Jesus Christ. It depicts the Passion of Jesus largely according to the ...more

More The Passion of the Christ 

#259 of 351 The Best Movies Based On Books #670 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies

17
Ranker Video
Terry Gilliam

Actors: John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Graham Chapman, + more

Released: 1975

Monty Python and the Holy Grail is a 1975 British comedy film written and performed by the comedy group of Monty Python, and directed by Gilliam and Jones. It was conceived during the hiatus ...more

More Monty Python and the Holy Grail 

#155 of 376 The Best Musical Movies of All Time #130 of 508 The Best Duos of All Time The Surprisingly Astute Lessons We Can Learn From 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail'

18
Ranker Video
looksharp added Ron Howard

Actors: Robert De Niro, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Donald Sutherland, Rebecca De Mornay, + more

Released: 1991

Backdraft is a 1991 action thriller film directed by Ron Howard and written by Gregory Widen. The film stars Kurt Russell, William Baldwin, Scott Glenn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Rebecca De Mornay, ...more

More Backdraft 

#122 of 624 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies #47 of 568 The Greatest Disaster Movies of All Time

19
Ranker Video
Orson Welles

Actors: Orson Welles, Alan Ladd, Agnes Moorehead, Joseph Cotten, Arthur O'Connell, + more

Released: 1941

Citizen Kane is a 1941 American drama film produced by, co-written by, directed by and starring Orson Welles. The picture was Welles's first feature film. The film was nominated for Academy ...more

More Citizen Kane 

#351 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #188 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

20
Ranker Video
Robert Redford

Actors: Brad Pitt, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Robert Redford, Brenda Blethyn, Tom Skerritt, + more

Released: 1992

A River Runs Through It is a 1992 American film directed by Robert Redford and starring Craig Sheffer, Brad Pitt, Tom Skerritt, Brenda Blethyn, and Emily Lloyd. It is a period drama based on the ...more

More A River Runs Through It 

#316 of 803 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made #20 of 48 The Best Father-Son Movies Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

21
Ranker Video
Billy Bob Thornton

Actors: Robert Duvall, Billy Bob Thornton, John Ritter, Dwight Yoakam, J. T. Walsh, + more

Released: 1996

Sling Blade is a 1996 American drama film set in rural Arkansas, written and directed by Billy Bob Thornton, who also stars in the lead role. It tells the story of a man named Karl Childers with ...more

More Sling Blade 

#487 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made #177 of 292 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Crylisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

22
Ranker Video
Clint Eastwood

Actors: Emmy Rossum, Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon, Tim Robbins, Laurence Fishburne, + more

Released: 2003

Mystic River is a 2003 American mystery drama film directed and scored by Clint Eastwood. It stars Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden, and Laura Linney. ...more

More Mystic River 

#25 of 254 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #144 of 243 Critically Acclaimed Movies That Kinda Sucklisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

23
Ranker Video
Jon Favreau filmography

Actors: Zooey Deschanel, Will Ferrell, Peter Dinklage, James Caan, Mary Steenburgen, + more

Released: 2003

Elf is a 2003 American Christmas comedy film directed by Jon Favreau and written by David Berenbaum. It stars Will Ferrell, James Caan, Bob Newhart, Ed Asner, and Zooey Deschanel. It was ...more

More Elf 

#88 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #41 of 1,196 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time

24
Ranker Video
RussellHinsley added Rob Reiner

Actors: Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, Jack Nicholson, Kevin Bacon, Kiefer Sutherland, + more

Released: 1992

A Few Good Men is a 1992 American legal drama film directed by Rob Reiner, based on the play by Aaron Sorkin. Military lawyer Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise) defends Marines accused of ...more

More A Few Good Men 

#183 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #41 of 460 The Most Quotable Movies of All Timelisted on The Highest Grossing 90s Movies

25
Ranker Video
Gary Sinise

Actors: John Malkovich, Gary Sinise, Sherilyn Fenn, Joe Morton, Alexis Arquette, + more

Released: 1992

Of Mice and Men is a 1992 film based on John Steinbeck's novella of the same name. Directed and produced by Gary Sinise, the film features Sinise as George Milton alongside John Malkovich as ...more

More Of Mice and Men 

#64 of 292 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry #232 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guys #94 of 199 The Biggest Tearjerker Movies of All Time