Greatest Film Directorsby cj2703 | created - 11 Mar 2018 | updated - 17 Mar 2018 | Public
Judging directors on the calibre of their best work using a points system, in order to compare them.
An amazing film = High 8/10+, for which 3 points are awarded.
A great film = 8/10+, for which 2 points are awarded.
A very good film =7.5/10+, for which 1 point is awarded.
3 points are required to qualify as well as at least 2 noteworthy movies, so no one-hit wonders are allowed.
Any film that isn't listed either falls short of these scores for me or I've yet to see it.
Greatest TV Shows of the 21st Century Greatest Movies of All Time Best Movies of 2017 Most Anticipated Movies of 2018
Producer | Schindler's List
One of the most influential personalities in the history of cinema, Steven Spielberg is Hollywood's best known director and one of the wealthiest filmmakers in the world. He has an extraordinary number of commercially successful and critically acclaimed credits to his name, either as a director, ...
Amazing: Saving Private Ryan, Schindler's List
Great: Jurassic Park, War Horse, The Terminal
Very Good: Catch Me If You Can, Minority Report, The Last Crusade, Jaws, E.T., Tintin, Duel
Peter Jackson was born as an only child in a small coast-side town in New Zealand in 1961. When a friend of his parents bought him a super 8 movie camera (because she saw how much he enjoyed taking photos), the then eight-year-old Peter instantly grabbed the thing to start recording his own movies,...
Amazing: Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, Return of the King
Great: King Kong
Director | Taxi Driver
Martin Charles Scorsese was born on November 17, 1942 in Queens, New York City, to Catherine Scorsese (née Cappa) and Charles Scorsese, who both worked in Manhattan's garment district, and whose families both came from Palermo, Sicily. He was raised in the neighborhood of Little Italy, which later ...
Amazing: Wolf of Wall Street
Great: Hugo, The Departed, The Aviator, Goodfellas
Writer | Inception
Best known for his cerebral, often nonlinear, storytelling, acclaimed writer-director Christopher Nolan was born on July 30, 1970 in London, England. Over the course of 15 years of filmmaking, Nolan has gone from low-budget independent films to working on some of the biggest blockbusters ever made.
Amazing: The Dark Knight
Great: Inception, The Dark Knight Rises
Very Good: Dunkirk, Batman Begins, The Prestige
Writer | Reservoir Dogs
Quentin Jerome Tarantino was born in Knoxville, Tennessee. His father, Tony Tarantino, is an Italian-American actor and musician from New York, and his mother, Connie (McHugh), is a nurse from Tennessee. Quentin moved with his mother to Torrance, California, when he was four years old.
In January of...
Amazing: Pulp Fiction, Inglourious Basterds
Very Good: The Hateful Eight, Kill Bill Vol 1
Writer | Back to the Future
A whiz-kid with special effects, Robert is from the Spielberg camp of film-making (Steven Spielberg produced many of his films). Usually working with writing partner Bob Gale, Robert's earlier films show he has a talent for zany comedy (Romancing the Stone (1984), 1941 (1979)) and special effect ...
Amazing: Forrest Gump
Great: Back to the Future
Very Good: The Walk, Cast Away, Back to the Future II
7. Edward Zwick
Producer | Thirtysomething
Edward Zwick is well-known for his heroic movies that include Glory (1989), and the breathtaking works of art that include Legends of the Fall (1994). Zwick has also been known for his thoughtfulness as a director, and for his record of working with television series and other films as a producer.
Amazing: Legends of the Fall
Great: The Last Samurai, Blood Diamond
Writer | Avatar
James Francis Cameron was born on August 16, 1954 in Kapuskasing, Ontario, Canada. He moved to the United States in 1971. The son of an engineer, he majored in physics at California State University before switching to English, and eventually dropping out. He then drove a truck to support his ...
Great: Aliens, Titanic
Very Good: Terminator 2, True Lies, Avatar
Producer | Apocalypse Now
Francis Ford Coppola was born in 1939 in Detroit, Michigan, but grew up in a New York suburb in a creative, supportive Italian-American family. His father, Carmine Coppola, was a composer and musician. His mother, Italia Coppola (née Pennino), had been an actress. Francis Ford Coppola graduated ...
Great: Apocalypse Now, The Godfather, The Godfather Part II
10. Lee Unkrich
Editor | Coco
Lee Unkrich is an Academy Award-winning director at Pixar Animation Studios. He most recently directed Disney.Pixar's critically-acclaimed "Coco", which received the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and Best Song.
As the director of Disney.Pixar's "Toy Story 3," Lee was also awarded an ...
Great: Finding Nemo, Toy Story 3
Very Good: Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc.
11. Matthew Vaughn
Producer | Kick-Ass
Matthew Vaughn is an English film producer and director. He is known for producing such films as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) and Snatch (2000) and for directing the crime thriller, Layer Cake (2004), the fantasy epic, Stardust (2007), the superhero comedy, Kick-Ass (2010), and the ...
Great: X-Men First Class, Kick Ass
Very Good: Kingsman, Stardust
12. Shane Black
Writer | Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Considered one of the pioneer screenwriters of the action genre, Black made his mark with his Lethal Weapon (1987) screenplay. He also collaborated on the story of the sequel, Lethal Weapon 2 (1989). Each successive script he turned in had a higher price attached it, from The Last Boy Scout (1991) ...
Amazing: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Great: Iron Man 3
Very Good: The Nice Guys
13. Mel Gibson
Actor | Braveheart
Mel Columcille Gerard Gibson was born January 3, 1956 in Peekskill, New York, USA, as the sixth of eleven children of Hutton Gibson, a railroad brakeman, and Anne Patricia (Reilly) Gibson (who died in December of 1990). His mother was Irish, from County Longford, while his American-born father is ...
Great: Braveheart, Apocalypto
Very Good: Hacksaw Ridge
14. Brad Bird
Writer | The Incredibles
Phillip Bradley "Brad" Bird is an American director, screenwriter, animator, producer and occasional voice actor, known for both animated and live-action films. Bird was born in Kalispell, Montana, the youngest of four children of Marjorie A. (née Cross) and Philip Cullen Bird. His father worked in...
Amazing: The Incredibles
15. John McTiernan
Director | Die Hard
John McTiernan was born on January 8, 1951 in Albany, New York, USA as John Campbell McTiernan Jr. He is a director and producer, known for Die Hard (1988), Predator (1987) and Last Action Hero (1993). He has been married to Gail Sistrunk since 2012. He was previously married to Kate Harrington, ...
Great: Predator, Die Hard
Very Good: Die Hard with a Vengeance
16. Joss Whedon
Writer | Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Joss Whedon is the middle of five brothers - his younger brothers are Jed Whedon and Zack Whedon. Both his father, Tom Whedon and his grandfather, John Whedon were successful television writers. Joss' mother, Lee Stearns, was a history teacher and she also wrote novels as Lee Whedon. Whedon was ...
Amazing: The Avengers
17. Andrew Stanton
Writer | WALL·E
Oscar-winning filmmaker Andrew Stanton was raised in Rockport, Massachusetts. He was educated at The California Institute of the Arts (or "CalArts") in Los Angeles, where he studied character animation. After graduation, Stanton began working as a writer on the TV series Mighty Mouse: The New ...
Great: Finding Nemo, John Carter
Very Good: Wall-E
18. J.J. Abrams
Producer | Lost
Jeffrey Jacob Abrams was born in New York City and raised in Los Angeles, the son of TV producer parents. Abrams planned on going to dental school, but decided to study film at Sarah Lawrence College. At 15, he wrote the music for Don Dohler's Nightbeast (1982). In his senior year, he and Jill ...
Great: Mission Impossible III
Very Good: Star Trek, Stark Trek Into Darkness, Super 8
19. Ridley Scott
Producer | The Martian
Described by film producer Michael Deeley as "the very best eye in the business", director Ridley Scott was born on November 30, 1937 in South Shields, Tyne and Wear (then County Durham). His father was an officer in the Royal Engineers and the family followed him as his career posted him ...
Very Good: Black Hawk Down, Kingdom of Heaven
20. Danny Boyle
Director | 127 Hours
Very Good: Steve Jobs, 127 Hours, Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire
21. David O. Russell
Writer | American Hustle
David Owen Russell is an American film writer, director, and producer, known for a cinema of intense, tragi-comedic characters whose love of life can surpass dark circumstances faced in very specific worlds. His films address such themes as mental illness as stigma or hope; invention of self and ...
Great: The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook
22. Ang Lee
Director | Wo hu cang long
Born in 1954 in Pingtung, Taiwan, Ang Lee has become one of today's greatest contemporary filmmakers. Ang graduated from the National Taiwan College of Arts in 1975 and then came to the U.S. to receive a B.F.A. Degree in Theatre/Theater Direction at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, ...
Great: Life of Pi
Very Good: Brokeback Mountain, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
23. 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 ...
Amazing: Spirited Away
Very Good: Princess Mononoke
24. Lana Wachowski
Writer | The Matrix
Lana Wachowski and her sister Lilly Wachowski, (also known as 'The Wachowskis') are the duo behind ground-breaking movies such as The Matrix (1999) and Cloud Atlas (2012). Born to mother Lynne, a nurse, and father Ron, a businessman of Polish descent, Wachowski grew up in Chicago and formed a tight...
Great: Cloud Atlas, The Matrix
25. Lilly Wachowski
Writer | The Matrix
Director, writer and producer Lilly Wachowski was born in 1967 in Chicago as Andrew Wachowski, the son of Lynne, a nurse and painter and Ron, a businessman. Lilly was educated at Kellogg Elementary School in Chicago, before moving on to Whitney Young High School. After graduating from high school, ...
Great: Cloud Atlas, The Matrix
26. Chris Columbus
Producer | Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Born in Pennsylvania and raised in Ohio, Chris Columbus was first inspired to make movies after seeing "The Godfather" at age 15. After enrolling at NYU film school, he sold his first screenplay (never produced) while a sophomore there. After graduation Columbus tried to sell his fourth script, "...
Very Good: Philosopher's Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Mrs. Doubtfire, Home Alone
27. Sam Raimi
Director | Spider-Man
Highly inventive U.S. film director/producer/writer/actor Sam Raimi first came to the attention of film fans with the savage, yet darkly humorous, low-budget horror film, The Evil Dead (1981). From his childhood, Raimi was a fan of the cinema and, before he was ten-years-old, he was out making ...
Great: Spiderman 2
Very Good: Spiderman
28. Bryan Singer
Director | X-Men
Bryan Singer was born on September 17, 1965 in New York City, New York, USA as Bryan Jay Singer. He is a producer and director, known for X-Men (2000), The Usual Suspects (1995) and X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014).
Great: X-Men 2
Very Good: X-Men
29. David Lean
Director | Lawrence of Arabia
An important British filmmaker, David Lean was born in Croydon on March 25, 1908 and brought up in a strict Quaker family (ironically, as a child he wasn't allowed to go to the movies). During the 1920s, he briefly considered the possibility of becoming an accountant like his father before finding ...
Great: Lawrence of Arabia
Very Good: The Bridge on the River Kwai
30. James Mangold
Producer | Logan
James Mangold is an American film and television director, screenwriter and producer. Films he has directed include Girl, Interrupted (1999), Walk the Line (2005), which he also co-wrote, the 2007 remake 3:10 to Yuma (2007), The Wolverine (2013), and Logan (2017).
Mangold also wrote and directed Cop...
Great: 3:10 to Yuma
Very Good: Logan
31. David Fincher
Director | Se7en
David Fincher was born in 1962 in Denver, Colorado, and was raised in Marin County, California. When he was 18 years old he went to work for John Korty at Korty Films in Mill Valley. He subsequently worked at ILM (Industrial Light and Magic) from 1981-1983. Fincher left ILM to direct TV commercials...
Great: The Social Network
Very Good: Gone Girl
32. Tony Scott
Producer | Domino
Tony Scott was a British-born film director and producer. He was the youngest of three brothers, one of whom is fellow film director Ridley Scott. He was born in North Shields, Northumberland, England to parents Jean and Colonel Francis Percy Scott. As a result of his father's career in the British...
Great: True Romance
Very Good: Enemy of the State
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. ...
Great: Before Sunrise
Very Good: Dazed and Confused
34. Gore Verbinski
Director | Rango
Gore Verbinski, one of American cinema's most inventive directors who was a punk-rock guitarist as a teenager and had to sell his guitar to buy his first camera, is now the director of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006) which made the industry record for highest opening weekend of ...
Great: Dead Man's Chest
Very Good: Curse of the Black Pearl
35. Ron Howard
Actor | Arrested Development
Academy Award-winning filmmaker Ron Howard is one of this generation's most popular directors. From the critically acclaimed dramas A Beautiful Mind (2001) and Apollo 13 (1995) to the hit comedies Parenthood (1989) and Splash (1984), he has created some of Hollywood's most memorable films.
Very Good: Apollo 13
36. George Lucas
Writer | Star Wars
George Walton Lucas, Jr. was raised on a walnut ranch in Modesto, California. His father was a stationery store owner and he had three siblings. During his late teen years, he went to Thomas Downey High School and was very much interested in drag racing. He planned to become a professional racecar ...
Great: A New Hope
Very Good: American Graffiti
37. Paul Greengrass
Director | United 93
Paul Greengrass started his filmmaking career with a super 8 camera he found in his art room in secondary school. Those short movies were animation horror films he made using old dolls, artist dummies, and the general art room clutter.
After studying in Cambridge University he got into Granada ...
Great: The Bourne Ultimateum
Very Good: The Bourne Supremacy
38. Zack Snyder
Producer | Wonder Woman
Zachary Edward "Zack" Snyder (born March 1, 1966) is an American film director, film producer, and screenwriter, best known for action and science fiction films. Snyder made his feature film debut with the 2004 remake Dawn of the Dead and has gone on to be known for his comic book movies and ...
Very Good: Dawn of the Dead
39. Evan Goldberg
Producer | This Is the End
Evan Goldberg is a Canadian director, screenwriter and producer. Goldberg is known for his work on Superbad, Knocked Up, Pineapple Express, Funny People, The Green Hornet, 50/50, Goon, The Watch, This is the End, Neighbors, The Interview and The Night Before. Goldberg works alongside longtime ...
Great: This is the End
Very Good: The Interview
40. Seth Rogen
Actor | This Is the End
An actor, comedian and writer, Seth Rogen has come a long way from doing stand-up comedy as a teen.
Rogen was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, to Sandy (Belogus), a social worker, and Mark Rogen, who worked for non-profits. His father is American-born and his mother is Canadian. He is of Russian...
Great: This is the End
Very Good: The Interview
41. Rian Johnson
Director | Brick
Rian Johnson was born in Maryland and at a young age his family moved to San Clemente, California, where he was raised. After graduating from high school, he went on to attend the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. His first feature film, Brick (2005), was released in 2005 ...
Very Good: The Last Jedi
Writer | The Lego Movie
Christopher Miller was born on September 23, 1975 in Everett, Washington, USA as Christopher Robert Miller. He is a producer and writer, known for The Lego Movie (2014), Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) and Clone High (2002). He is married to Robyn Murgio. They have one child.
Great: 21 Jump Street
Very Good: 22 Jump Street
43. Phil Lord
Producer | Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Phil Lord was born on July 12, 1975 in Miami, Florida, USA as Philip A. Lord. He is a producer and writer, known for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018), The Lego Movie (2014) and Clone High (2002).
Great: 21 Jump Street
Very Good: 22 Jump Street
44. James Gunn
Writer | Guardians of the Galaxy
James Gunn was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, to Leota and James Francis Gunn. He is from a large Catholic family, with Irish and Czech ancestry. His father and his uncles were all lawyers. He has been writing and performing as long as he can remember. He began making 8mm films at the age ...
Great: Guardians of the Galaxy
Very Good: Super
45. Guy Ritchie
Director | Sherlock Holmes
Guy Ritchie was born in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, UK on September 10, 1968. After watching Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) as a child, Guy realized that what he wanted to do was make films. He never attended film school, saying that the work of film school graduates was boring and ...
Very Good: Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, The Man From UNCLE
46. Alfonso Cuarón
Writer | Gravity
Alfonso Cuarón Orozco was born on November 28th in Mexico City, Mexico. From an early age, he yearned to be either a film director or an astronaut. However, he did not want to enter the army, so he settled for directing. He didn't receive his first camera until his twelfth birthday, and then ...
Great: Children of Men
Very Good: Prisoner of Azkaban
47. Peter Weir
Peter Weir was born on August 21, 1944 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia as Peter Lindsay Weir. He is a director and writer, known for Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003), The Way Back (2010) and The Truman Show (1998). He has been married to Wendy Stites since 1966. They ...
Very Good: Master and Commander, Witness, The Truman Show
48. Doug Liman
Producer | Edge of Tomorrow
Very Good: The Bourne Identity, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Edge of Tomorrow
49. John Woo
Director | Ying hung boon sik
Born in southern China, John Woo grew up in Hong Kong, where he began his film career as an assistant director in 1969, working for Shaw Brothers Studios. He directed his first feature in 1973 and has been a prolific director ever since, working in a wide variety of genres before A Better Tomorrow ...
Great: Red Cliff
Very Good: Paycheck