Watchworthy

The Best Movies Directed by the Star 

Ranker Film
Originally by
Updated November 1, 2019 33.8k votes 2.6k voters 100.3k views 102 items

List Rules Movies must have been directed by the person starring in it.

The best movies directed by the star include some of the greatest films ever made. Many of the films listed here are considered some of the best movies of all time. From Orson Welles' eternal classic 'Citizen Kane' to Billy Bob Thornton's 'Sling Blade,' this list represents some of the finest examples of movies directed by the actor, or actress, who also starred in the film. Vote for the movies you think deserve the highest ranking, vote down any you don't like and be sure to rerank this list anyway you like - your reranks will affect the final tally.

Have any actors also won Academy Awards for directing a best picture they starred in? Yes, a handful have, and they are undoubtedly among some of the greatest directors in movie history: Clint Eastwood won for 'Unforgiven' and 'Million Dollar Baby,' Woody Allen won for 'Annie Hall' and was nominated for several other movies he also starred in ('Hannah and Her Sisters' and 'Broadway Danny Rose' come to mind immediately), and Warren Beatty won for 'Reds' in 1982. It can be done, but it's rare that it actually happens. Ask Ben Affleck. His film, 'Argo,' won Best Picture at the Oscars in 2013, but he failed to garner a Best Director nomination -- a truly egregious snub.

Several Academy Award winners for Best Picture are listed here, so hats off to the actor/directors who prove without a doubt that they are equally as talented behind, or in front of, the cameras.
Data-driven recommendations based on voting from over 40 million monthly visits to Ranker. Try the free app
list ordered by
1
Braveheart is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Movies Directed by the Star
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
2
Unforgiven is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Movies Directed by the Star
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
3
Dances with Wolves is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Movies Directed by the Star
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
4
Gran Torino is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Movies Directed by the Star
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
5
The Outlaw Josey Wales ... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Movies Directed by the Star
Clint Eastwood

Actors: Clint Eastwood, Sondra Locke, John Vernon, Royal Dano, Sam Bottoms, + more

Released: 1976

The Outlaw Josey Wales is a 1976 American revisionist Western film. It was directed by and starred Clint Eastwood, with Chief Dan George, Sondra Locke, Sam Bottoms, and Geraldine Keams. The film ...more
6
Million Dollar Baby is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Movies Directed by the Star
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
7
Sling Blade is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Movies Directed by the Star
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
8
Citizen Kane is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Movies Directed by the Star
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
9
Reservoir Dogs is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Movies Directed by the Star
PeteBoyle added Quentin Tarantino

Actors: Quentin Tarantino, Steve Buscemi, Tim Roth, Harvey Keitel, Michael Madsen, + more

Released: 1992

Reservoir Dogs is a 1992 American ensemble crime film that depicts the events before and after a botched diamond heist. The film was the debut of director and writer Quentin Tarantino, and stars ...more
10
Pale Rider is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Movies Directed by the Star
Clint Eastwood

Actors: Clint Eastwood, Chris Penn, Michael Moriarty, Richard Kiel, Billy Drago, + more

Released: 1985

Pale Rider is a 1985 American western film produced and directed by Clint Eastwood, who also stars in the lead role. This movie bears a striking similarity to the classic Western Shane, as well ...more
11
Rambo is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Movies Directed by the Star
Sylvester Stallone

Actors: Sylvester Stallone, Julie Benz, Graham McTavish, Ken Howard, Tim Kang, + more

Released: 2008

Rambo is a 2008 American-German independent action film directed, co-written by and starring Sylvester Stallone reprising his famous role as veteran John Rambo. It is the fourth installment in ...more
12
Rocky II is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Movies Directed by the Star
Sylvester Stallone

Actors: Sylvester Stallone, Burgess Meredith, Roberto DurĂ¡n, Carl Weathers, Talia Shire, + more

Released: 1979

Rocky II is a 1979 American sports drama film directed by Sylvester Stallone, and the second film in the series. Rocky (Stallone) struggles in family life after his bout with Apollo Creed (Carl ...more
13
Rocky Balboa is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Movies Directed by the Star
Bootsdad added Sylvester Stallone

Actors: Sylvester Stallone, Milo Ventimiglia, Talia Shire, Antonio Tarver, Burt Young, + more

Released: 2006

Rocky Balboa is the sixth installment in the Rocky franchise, written, directed by, and starring Sylvester Stallone who reprises his role as the title character. The sixth film in the Rocky ...more
14
Argo is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Movies Directed by the Star
Ben Affleck

Actors: Ben Affleck, John Goodman, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, Taylor Schilling, + more

Released: 2012

Argo is a 2012 American political thriller film directed by Ben Affleck. The film is adapted from U.S. Central Intelligence Agency operative Tony Mendez's book The Master of Disguise and Joshuah ...more
15
Easy Rider: The Ride Bac... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Movies Directed by the Star
Dennis Hopper, Dustin Rikert

Actors: Jack Nicholson, Dennis Hopper, Bridget Fonda, Peter Fonda, Phil Spector, + more

Released: 2012

Easy Rider is a 1969 American road movie written by Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Terry Southern, produced by Fonda and directed by Hopper. It tells the story of two bikers who travel through ...more
16
Of Mice and Men is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Movies Directed by the Star
wiabux added 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
17
The Great Dictator is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Movies Directed by the Star
Charlie Chaplin

Actors: Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Billy Gilbert, Jack Oakie, Chester Conklin, + more

Released: 1940

The Great Dictator is a 1940 American satirical political comedy-drama film starring, written, produced, scored, and directed by Charlie Chaplin, following the tradition of many of his other ...more
18
A Bronx Tale is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Movies Directed by the Star
Robert De Niro

Actors: Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Chazz Palminteri, Domenick Lombardozzi, Lillo Brancato, + more

Released: 1993

A Bronx Tale is a 1993 American drama film set in the Bronx during the turbulent era of the 1960s. It was the directorial debut of Robert De Niro that follows a young Italian-American teenager ...more
19
The Town is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Movies Directed by the Star
Ben Affleck

Actors: Blake Lively, Ben Affleck, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Hall, + more

Released: 2010

The Town is a 2010 American drama film starring, co-written and directed by Ben Affleck. The film opened in theaters in the United States on September 17, 2010, at number one with more than $23 ...more
20
Star Trek IV: The Voyage... is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Movies Directed by the Star
Leonard Nimoy

Actors: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, George Takei, Catherine Hicks, DeForest Kelley, + more

Released: 1986

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home is a 1986 American science fiction film released by Paramount Pictures. It is the fourth feature film based on Star Trek, and is a sequel to Star Trek III: The ...more
21
That Thing You Do! is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Movies Directed by the Star
Tom Hanks

Actors: Charlize Theron, Tom Hanks, Liv Tyler, Bryan Cranston, Clint Howard, + more

Released: 1996

That Thing You Do! is a 1996 American musical comedy drama film written, directed by, and co-starring Tom Hanks. Set in the summer of 1964, the movie tells the story of the quick rise and fall ...more
22
Sudden Impact is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Movies Directed by the Star
Bootsdad added Clint Eastwood

Actors: Clint Eastwood, Mara Corday, Sondra Locke, Camryn Manheim, Pat Hingle, + more

Released: 1983

Sudden Impact is a 1983 American action film and the fourth film in the Dirty Harry series, directed by Clint Eastwood, and starring Eastwood and Sondra Locke. The film is notable for the ...more
23
Tropic Thunder is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Movies Directed by the Star
Ben Stiller

Actors: Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr., Steve Coogan, Jay Baruchel, + more

Released: 2008

Tropic Thunder is a 2008 American action satire comedy film directed by Ben Stiller. Through a series of freak occurrences, a group of actors shooting a big-budget war movie are forced to become ...more
24
Rocky III is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Movies Directed by the Star
WarrenMitchell added Sylvester Stallone

Actors: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers, Burgess Meredith, + more

Released: 1982

Rocky III is a 1982 American sports drama film directed by Sylvester Stallone, and the third film in the series. After winning the ultimate title and being the world champion, Rocky (Stallone) ...more
25
Spaceballs is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Movies Directed by the Star
WarrenMitchell added Mel Brooks

Actors: Joan Rivers, John Hurt, Mel Brooks, John Candy, Rick Moranis, + more

Released: 1987

Spaceballs is a 1987 American parody film co-written and directed by Mel Brooks and starring Brooks, Bill Pullman, John Candy and Rick Moranis. It also features Daphne Zuniga, Dick Van Patten, ...more