The Greatest Auteurs in Film History

Over 1.9K Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Greatest Auteurs in Film History
Voting Rules
Vote up your favorite filmmakers whose individual style gives their films a unique stamp.
Latest additions: Ryan Coogler, Ari Aster, Emerald Fennell
Most divisive: Charlie Kaufman

An auteur is a filmmaker or director whose personal, individual production style and creative flare gives his or her films a distinctive, unique feel. A director who falls in this category usually has complete control over the creative elements of producing a film. Since their influence on their films is so great, they are considered the author of the film, regardless of whether or not they actually wrote the script. If you’ve ever asked the question, “Who are the greatest auteurs in film history?” before, then you’ve definitely landed on the right page!

If you’re a movie buff, you’ve probably been a fan of at least a few of history’s greatest auteurs, such as Alfred Hitchcock or Federico Fellini. There are also modern auteurs, like David Lynch and Wes Anderson. Some of film’s famous auteur directors have produced history’s greatest movies, such as Fight Club, Pulp Fiction, Lost in Translation, and Moonrise Kingdom.

This list features history’s best auteurs, including Wes Craven, Peter Jackson, Quentin Tarantino, and Charlie Kaufman. Vote for your favorite auteur film directors below, and then check back to see if they topped the list! 

Ranked by
  • Stanley Kubrick
    New York City, Manhattan, USA
    746 votes
    • Credits (Film): The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Full Metal Jacket, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

    Visionary director Stanley Kubrick is best known for his masterful storytelling and unique visual style. His career spanned various genres, from the satirical Dr. Strangelove to the science fiction classic 2001: A Space Odyssey. Kubrick's attention to detail and innovative techniques have firmly established him as one of the greatest auteurs in film history.

  • Akira Kurosawa
    Shinagawa, Japan
    427 votes
    • Credits (Film): The Magnificent Seven, A Fistful of Dollars, Seven Samurai, Ran, Rashomon

    Hailing from Japan, Akira Kurosawa's innovative filmmaking techniques and expert storytelling have left indelible marks on the world of cinema. Renowned for classics such as Seven Samurai, Rashomon, and Yojimbo, Kurosawa masterfully blended Eastern and Western storytelling traditions. With a career spanning over five decades, he remains a titan in both Japanese and international cinema.

  • Alfred Hitchcock
    Leytonstone, London, England
    679 votes
    • Credits (Film): Psycho, The Birds, Vertigo, North by Northwest, Rear Window

    With a penchant for suspense and psychological thrills, Alfred Hitchcock skillfully crafted influential films such as Vertigo, Psycho, and Rear Window. Often referred to as the "Master of Suspense," Hitchcock's exceptional talent for narrative pacing and strong visual storytelling earned him widespread acclaim. His unmistakable style and iconic imagery continue to inspire generations of filmmakers.

  • Orson Welles
    Kenosha, USA, Wisconsin
    439 votes
    • Credits (Film): Citizen Kane, The Muppet Movie, The Third Man, Touch of Evil, A Man for All Seasons

    A powerhouse in the realm of theater, radio, and film, Orson Welles' magnum opus, Citizen Kane, is often considered one of the best movies ever made. Welles' deep understanding of storytelling and innovative use of camera angles set him apart from his contemporaries. Though his career was marked by adversity, Welles' undeniable talent cemented his status as an influential auteur.

  • Billy Wilder
    Sucha Beskidzka, Poland
    255 votes
    • Credits (Film): Some Like It Hot, The Apartment, Sunset Boulevard, Double Indemnity, Stalag 17

    Billy Wilder's incomparable wit and keen observational skills set him apart within Hollywood's Golden Age. As the director and co-writer of classics like Sunset Boulevard, Some Like It Hot, and The Apartment, Wilder was no stranger to acclaim. With his distinct blend of sharp dialogue, multifaceted characters, and biting satire, Wilder achieved a rare balance between commercial success and artistic integrity.

  • Federico Fellini
    Rimini, Italy
    379 votes
    • Credits (Film): La Dolce Vita, 8½, La Strada, Amarcord, Fellini Satyricon

    A true master of Italian cinema, Federico Fellini's surreal visions and deeply personal stories brought forth unique and captivating films. La Dolce Vita, 8½, and Amarcord are just a few of his celebrated works that showcase Fellini's life-affirming approach to storytelling. His bold visual style and ability to explore complex themes earn Fellini a prominent place in cinematic history.