My 20 Favorite Directors

by cinemafilm | created - 24 Mar 2012 | updated - 01 Apr 2012 | Public

After 32 years of watching, these currently stand out.

1. Yasujirô Ozu

Director | Tôkyô monogatari

Tokyo-born Yasujiro Ozu was a movie buff from childhood, often playing hooky from school in order to see Hollywood movies in his local theatre. In 1923 he landed a job as a camera assistant at Shochiku Studios in Tokyo. Three years later, he was made an assistant director and directed his first ...

2. Ross McElwee

Director | Sherman's March

Ross McElwee was born on July 21, 1947 in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA as Ross Simonton McElwee III. He is a director and producer, known for Sherman's March (1985), Bright Leaves (2003) and Photographic Memory (2011). He has been married to Marilyn Levine since October 10, 1987. They have one ...

3. Jean-Luc Godard

Director | Pierrot le fou

Jean-Luc Godard was born in Paris on December 3, 1930, the second of four children in a bourgeois Franco-Swiss family. His father was a doctor who owned a private clinic, and his mother came from a preeminent family of Swiss bankers. During World War II Godard became a naturalized citizen of ...

4. Gus Van Sant

Director | Elephant

Gus Van Sant was born on July 24, 1952 in Louisville, Kentucky, USA as Gus Greene Van Sant Junior. He is a director and producer, known for Elephant (2003), My Own Private Idaho (1991) and Drugstore Cowboy (1989).

5. Errol Morris

Director | The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara

His documentaries helped spur a rebirth of non-fiction film in the 80s & garnered wide critical success. But until 2003's "The Fog of War," Morris was shunned by the Academy Awards.

Morris' first two films won much acclaim (Gates of Heaven (1978) and Vernon, Florida (1981)). In the second movie, ...

6. Chantal Akerman

Director | Je, tu, il, elle

Chantal Akerman was born on June 6, 1950 in Brussels, Belgium as Chantal Anne Akerman. She was a director and writer, known for Je Tu Il Elle (1974), A Couch in New York (1996) and The Meetings of Anna (1978). She was married to Sonia Wieder-Atherton. She died on October 5, 2015 in Paris, France.

7. Kelly Reichardt

Director | Wendy and Lucy

Kelly Reichardt was born and raised in Miami-Dade Country, Florida, to a family of police officers. She had an interest in photography from a very young age. She started by using her father's camera, which he used for photographing crime scenes. She went to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in ...

8. Charles Chaplin

Writer | The Great Dictator

Considered to be one of the most pivotal stars of the early days of Hollywood, Charlie Chaplin lived an interesting life both in his films and behind the camera. He is most recognized as an icon of the silent film era, often associated with his popular character, the Little Tramp; the man with the ...

9. Hayao Miyazaki

Director | Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi

Hayao Miyazaki is one of Japan's greatest animation directors. The entertaining plots, compelling characters, and breathtaking animation in his films have earned him international renown from critics as well as public recognition within Japan. The Walt Disney Company's commitment to introduce the ...

10. Michael Cimino

Writer | The Deer Hunter

Michael Cimino studied architecture and dramatic arts; later he filmed advertisements and documentaries and also wrote scripts until the actor, producer and director Clint Eastwood gave him the opportunity to direct the thriller Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974). But his biggest success was The Deer...

11. Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Writer | Faustrecht der Freiheit

Above all, Rainer Werner Fassbinder was a rebel whose life and art was marked by gross contradiction. Openly homosexual, he married twice; one of his wives acted in his films and the other served as his editor. Accused variously by detractors of being anticommunist, male chauvinist, antiSemitic and...

12. Werner Herzog

Director | Fitzcarraldo

Director. Writer. Producer. Actor. Poet. He studied history, literature and theatre for some time, but didn't finish it and founded instead his own film production company in 1963. Later in his life, Herzog also staged several operas in Bayreuth, Germany, and at the Milan Scala in Italy. Herzog has...

13. Richard Linklater

Director | Waking Life

Self-taught writer-director Richard Stuart Linklater was born in Houston, Texas, to Diane Margaret (Krieger), who taught at a university, and Charles W. Linklater III. Richard was among the first and most successful talents to emerge during the American independent film renaissance of the 1990s. ...

14. Pedro Costa

Director | Vitalina Varela

Pedro Costa was born on December 30, 1958 in Lisbon, Portugal. He is a director and writer, known for Vitalina Varela (2019), Horse Money (2014) and Colossal Youth (2006).

15. Aki Kaurismäki

Producer | Le Havre

Aki Kaurismäki did a wide variety of jobs including postman, dish-washer and film critic, before forming a production and distribution company, Villealfa (in homage to Jean-Luc Godard's Alphaville (1965)) with his older brother Mika Kaurismäki, also a film-maker. Both Aki and Mika are prolific ...

16. Bob Rafelson

Producer | Five Easy Pieces

Bob Rafelson is an American film director, writer and producer. He is regarded as one of the founders of the New Hollywood movement in the 1970s. Among his best-known films are Five Easy Pieces (1970), The King of Marvin Gardens (1972), and The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981).

He was also one of ...

17. Jacques Tati

Writer | Les vacances de Monsieur Hulot

The comic genius Jacques Tati was born Taticheff, descended from a noble Russian family. His grandfather, Count Dimitri, had been a general in the Imperial Army and had served as military attaché to the Russian Embassy in Paris. His father, Emmanuel Taticheff, was a well-to-do picture framer who ...

18. Pedro Almodóvar

Writer | Hable con ella

The most internationally acclaimed Spanish filmmaker since Luis Buñuel was born in a small town (Calzada de Calatrava) in the impoverished Spanish region of La Mancha. He arrived in Madrid in 1968, and survived by selling used items in the flea-market called El Rastro. Almodóvar couldn't study ...

19. Vittorio De Sica

Director | Ladri di biciclette

Vittorio De Sica grew up in Naples, and started out as an office clerk in order to raise money to support his poor family. He was increasingly drawn towards acting, and made his screen debut while still in his teens, joining a stage company in 1923. By the late 1920s he was a successful matinee ...

20. Dusan Makavejev

Director | W.R. - Misterije organizma

Dusan Makavejev is the premier figure in Yugoslavian film history; his films are deeply rooted in his nation's painful postwar experiences and draw on important Yugoslavian cinematic and cultural models. Makavejev's work has violated many political and sexual taboos and invited censorship in dozens...



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