Entertainment
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The Best Movies Directed by the Star

Updated November 1, 2019 23.5k votes 2.7k voters 102.3k views92 items

List RulesMovies 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.
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  • 1
    918
    251

    Braveheart

    Mel Gibson

    ActorsMel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Brendan Gleeson, Brian Cox, Catherine McCormack

    Released1995

    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 War...  more
  • 2
    643
    162

    Unforgiven

    Clint Eastwood

    ActorsClint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Gene Hackman, Richard Harris, Frances Fisher

    Released1992

    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 one...  more
  • 3
    626
    190

    Dances with Wolves

    Kevin Costner

    ActorsKevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, Charles Rocket, Graham Greene, Maury Chaykin

    Released1990

    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 the...  more
  • 4
    705
    200

    Gran Torino

    Clint Eastwood

    ActorsClint Eastwood, Dreama Walker, Scott Eastwood, John Carroll Lynch, Ahney Her

    Released2008

    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
    420
    170

    ActorsClint Eastwood, Sondra Locke, John Vernon, Royal Dano, Sam Bottoms

    Released1976

    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 was...  more
  • 6
    484
    203

    Million Dollar Baby

    Clint Eastwood

    ActorsClint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Hilary Swank, Jay Baruchel, Anthony Mackie

    Released2004

    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
    411
    188

    Sling Blade

    Billy Bob Thornton

    ActorsRobert Duvall, Billy Bob Thornton, John Ritter, Dwight Yoakam, J. T. Walsh

    Released1996

    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 a...  more
  • 8
    462
    249

    Citizen Kane

    Orson Welles

    ActorsOrson Welles, Alan Ladd, Agnes Moorehead, Joseph Cotten, Arthur O'Connell

    Released1941

    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 Awards in...  more
  • 9
    306
    128

    Pale Rider

    Clint Eastwood

    ActorsClint Eastwood, Chris Penn, Michael Moriarty, Richard Kiel, Billy Drago

    Released1985

    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 as...  more
  • 10
    423
    236

    Reservoir Dogs

    Quentin Tarantino

    ActorsQuentin Tarantino, Steve Buscemi, Tim Roth, Harvey Keitel, Michael Madsen

    Released1992

    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
  • 11
    325
    156

    Rocky II

    Sylvester Stallone

    ActorsSylvester Stallone, Burgess Meredith, Roberto Durán, Carl Weathers, Talia Shire

    Released1979

    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
  • 12
    415
    222

    Rambo

    Sylvester Stallone

    ActorsSylvester Stallone, Julie Benz, Graham McTavish, Ken Howard, Tim Kang

    Released2008

    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 the...  more
  • 13
    285
    148

    Rocky Balboa

    Sylvester Stallone

    ActorsSylvester Stallone, Milo Ventimiglia, Talia Shire, Antonio Tarver, Burt Young

    Released2006

    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 series...  more
  • 14
    560
    370

    Easy Rider

    Dennis Hopper

    ActorsPeter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Jack Nicholson

    Released1969

    Easy Rider is a 1969 American independent road drama film directed by Dennis Hopper. Wyatt (Peter Fonda) and Billy (Dennis Hopper) are freewheeling motorcyclists that sell cocaine smuggled from...  more
  • 15
    322
    231

    Argo

    Ben Affleck

    ActorsBen Affleck, John Goodman, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, Taylor Schilling

    Released2012

    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
  • 16
    167
    84

    Rocky III

    Sylvester Stallone

    ActorsSylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers, Burgess Meredith

    Released1982

    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) falls...  more
  • 17
    220
    126

    Of Mice and Men

    Gary Sinise

    ActorsJohn Malkovich, Gary Sinise, Sherilyn Fenn, Joe Morton, Alexis Arquette

    Released1992

    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 Lennie...  more
  • 18
    251
    179

    A Bronx Tale

    Robert De Niro

    ActorsRobert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Chazz Palminteri, Domenick Lombardozzi, Lillo Brancato

    Released1993

    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 in The...  more
  • 19
    136
    68

    Heartbreak Ridge

    Clint Eastwood

    ActorsClint Eastwood, Mario Van Peebles, Marsha Mason, Bo Svenson, Moses Gunn

    Released1986

    Heartbreak Ridge is a 1986 American film directed and produced by Clint Eastwood, who also starred in the film. The film also co-stars Mario Van Peebles, Marsha Mason, and Everett McGill. The film...  more
  • 20
    223
    162

    The Great Dictator

    Charlie Chaplin

    ActorsCharlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Billy Gilbert, Jack Oakie, Chester Conklin

    Released1940

    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 films....  more
  • 21
    119
    67

    High Plains Drifter

    Clint Eastwood

    ActorsClint Eastwood, Geoffrey Lewis, John Hillerman, Mitchell Ryan, Billy Curtis

    Released1973

    High Plains Drifter is a 1973 American film directed by and starring Clint Eastwood, written by Ernest Tidyman, and produced by Robert Daley for The Malpaso Company and Universal Studios. Eastwood...  more
  • 22
    174
    116

    Sudden Impact

    Clint Eastwood

    ActorsClint Eastwood, Mara Corday, Sondra Locke, Camryn Manheim, Pat Hingle

    Released1983

    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

    ActorsWilliam Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, George Takei, Catherine Hicks, DeForest Kelley

    Released1986

    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 Search...  more
  • 24
    240
    175

    The Town

    Ben Affleck

    ActorsBlake Lively, Ben Affleck, Jon Hamm

    Released2010

    The Town is a 2010 American crime drama film directed by Ben Affleck. A longtime thief, planning his next job, tries to balance his feelings for a bank manager connected to an earlier heist, and a...  more
  • 25
    168
    113

    Open Range

    Kevin Costner

    ActorsKevin Costner, Robert Duvall, Annette Bening, Michael Gambon, Diego Luna

    Released2003

    Open Range is a 2003 American western film directed and co-produced by Kevin Costner, starring Robert Duvall and Costner, with Annette Bening and Michael Gambon appearing in supporting roles. The...  more