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The Greatest Auteurs in Film History

Updated March 26, 2021 14.0k votes 1.6k voters 42.8k views139 items

List RulesVote up your favorite filmmakers whose individual style gives their films a unique stamp.

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! 

  • 1

    Alfred Hitchcock

    Leytonstone, London

    Credits (Film)Psycho, The Birds, Vertigo, North by Northwest, Rear Window

    Nominated for Best Director Oscar for Rebecca (1941), Lifeboat (1945), Spellbound (1946), Rear Window (1955), and Psycho (1961)

    Nominated for Best Director Golden Globe for Frenzy (1973)

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  • 2

    Ingmar Bergman

    Uppsala, Sweden

    Credits (Film)The Seventh Seal, Persona, Fanny and Alexander, Wild Strawberries, Cries and Whispers

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  • 3

    Orson Welles

    Kenosha, Wisconsin

    Credits (Film)Citizen Kane, The Muppet Movie, The Third Man, Touch of Evil, A Man for All Seasons

    Nominated for Best Director Oscar for Citizen Kane (1942)

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  • 4

    David Lynch

    Missoula, Montana

    Credits (Film)Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive, Eraserhead, The Elephant Man, Dune

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  • 5

    Federico Fellini

    Rimini, Italy

    Credits (Film)La Dolce Vita, 8½, La Strada, Amarcord, Fellini Satyricon

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  • 6

    Stanley Kubrick

    New York City, New York

    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

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  • 7

    Andrei Tarkovsky

    Yuryevetsky District

    Credits (Film)Solaris, Stalker, Andrei Rublev, Ivan's Childhood, The Mirror

  • 8

    Charlie Chaplin

    Walworth, United Kingdom

    Credits (Film)City Lights, The Gold Rush, Modern Times, The Great Dictator, Cinema Paradiso

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  • 9

    Akira Kurosawa

    Shinagawa, Japan

    Credits (Film)The Magnificent Seven, A Fistful of Dollars, Seven Samurai, Ran, Rashomon

  • 10

    Billy Wilder

    Sucha Beskidzka, Poland

    Credits (Film)Some Like It Hot, The Apartment, Sunset Boulevard, Double Indemnity, Stalag 17

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  • 11

    David Lean

    Croydon, London

    Credits (Film)Lawrence of Arabia, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Doctor Zhivago, The Greatest Story Ever Told, Great Expectations

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  • 12

    Sergio Leone

    Rome, Italy

    Credits (Film)Good, Once Upon a Time in the West, Once Upon a Time in America, A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More

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  • 13

    Luis Buñuel

    Calanda, Spain

    Credits (Film)The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, Beauty of the Day, An Andalusian Dog, The Exterminating Angel, Robinson Crusoe

  • 14

    Jean-Luc Godard

    Paris, France

    Credits (Film)Breathless, Pierrot le Fou, Band of Outsiders, Weekend, Vivre Sa Vie

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  • 15

    John Ford

    Cape Elizabeth, Maine

    Credits (Film)The Searchers, The Grapes of Wrath, Stagecoach, How the West Was Won, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

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  • 16

    Jean Renoir

    Montmartre, Paris

    Credits (Film)The Grand Illusion, The Rules of the Game, The Crime of Monsieur Lange, Partie de campagne, French Cancan

  • 17

    François Truffaut

    Paris, France

    Credits (Film)Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Breathless, Fahrenheit 451, The 400 Blows, Jules and Jim

  • 18

    Francis Ford Coppola

    Detroit, Michigan

    Credits (Film)The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Apocalypse Now, Patton, American Graffiti

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  • 19

    Martin Scorsese

    New York City, New York

    Credits (Film)Goodfellas, The Departed, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Gangs of New York

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  • 20

    John Huston

    Nevada, Missouri

    Credits (Film)Chinatown, The Maltese Falcon, The Black Cauldron, The African Queen, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

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  • 21

    Vittorio De Sica

    Sora, Italy

    Credits (Film)Cinema Paradiso, Bicycle Thieves, Blood for Dracula, Umberto D, Two Women

  • 22

    Quentin Tarantino

    Knoxville, Tennessee

    Credits (Film)Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill Volume 1, Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained

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  • 23

    Yasujirō Ozu

    Fukagawa, Tokyo

    Credits (Film)Tokyo Story, Late Spring, Floating Weeds, Equinox Flower, I Was Born But...

  • 24

    Paul Thomas Anderson

    Studio City, California

    Credits (Film)Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood, Minority Report, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love

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  • 25

    Credits (Film)Blowup, L'Avventura, The Passenger, Zabriskie Point, L'Eclisse