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The Best Movies Directed by the Star

Updated November 1, 2019 25.6k votes 2.6k voters 100.9k 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
    Braveheart
    968
    273

    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... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 2
    Unforgiven
    703
    171

    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... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 3
    Dances with Wolves
    667
    204

    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... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 4
    The Outlaw Josey Wales
    461
    181

    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... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 5
    Gran Torino
    766
    219

    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... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 6
    Million Dollar Baby
    524
    217

    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... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 7
    Sling Blade
    439
    200

    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... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 8
    Citizen Kane
    497
    274

    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... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 9
    Pale Rider
    338
    134

    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... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 10
    Rambo
    450
    240

    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... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 11
    Rocky II
    345
    167

    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... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 12
    Reservoir Dogs
    454
    252

    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... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 13
    Rocky Balboa
    301
    158

    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... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 14
    Spaceballs
    207
    86

    Spaceballs

    Mel Brooks

    ActorsJoan Rivers, John Hurt, Mel Brooks, John Candy, Rick Moranis

    Released1987

    Spaceballs is a 1987 American parody film co-written and directed by Mel Brooks and starring... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 15
    Argo
    338
    250

    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... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 16
    Of Mice and Men
    240
    136

    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... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 17
    Rocky III
    177
    94

    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... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 18
    Easy Rider
    277
    188

    Easy Rider

    Dennis Hopper, Dustin Rikert

    ActorsJack Nicholson, Dennis Hopper, Bridget Fonda, Peter Fonda, Phil Spector

    Released2012

    Easy Rider is a 1969 American road movie written by Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Terry... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 19
    The Great Dictator
    241
    178

    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,... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 20
    Heartbreak Ridge
    144
    75

    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... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 21
    Garden State
    322
    197

    Garden State

    Zach Braff

    ActorsNatalie Portman, Jim Parsons, Ian Holm, Method Man, Zach Braff

    Released2004

    Garden State is a 2004 comedy-drama film written and directed by Zach Braff and starring... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 22
    Sudden Impact
    188
    123

    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,... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 23
    High Plains Drifter
    131
    75

    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... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 24
    The Town
    258
    182

    The Town

    Ben Affleck

    ActorsBlake Lively, Ben Affleck, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Hall

    Released2010

    The Town is a 2010 American drama film starring, co-written and directed by Ben Affleck. The... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 25
    A Bronx Tale
    262
    194

    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... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button