Greatest Directors

by FK_in_the_coffee | created - 04 May 2014 | updated - 05 Jun 2016 | Public

(in no particular order)

1. David Twohy

Writer | The Fugitive

As both writer and director, David Twohy has contributed much to the film world, helping to elevate movies in such a way that Entertainment Weekly was prompted to name him "one of the 100 most creative people in Hollywood." In his career, Twohy has worked with on-screen notables like Harrison Ford,...

2. 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 ...

3. 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...

4. 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. ...

5. John Carpenter

Writer | The Fog

John Howard Carpenter was born in Carthage, New York, to mother Milton Jean (Carter) and father Howard Ralph Carpenter. His family moved to Bowling Green, Kentucky, where his father, a professor, was head of the music department at Western Kentucky University. He attended Western Kentucky ...

6. Walter Hill

Writer | 48 Hrs.

Hill was born in Long Beach, California and educated at Mexico City College and Michigan State University. He worked in oil drilling and construction in the 60s before becoming a 2nd assistant director in 1967. He has written and co-written screenplays, including several uncredited works. He has ...

7. Francis Ford Coppola

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 ...

8. Brian De Palma

Director | Dressed to Kill

Brian De Palma is the son of a surgeon. He studied physics but at the same time felt his dedication for the movies and made some short films. After seven independent productions he had his first success with Sisters (1972) and his voyeuristic style. Restlessly he worked on big projects with the ...

9. Roman Polanski

Actor | Chinatown

Roman Polanski is a Polish film director, producer, writer and actor. Having made films in Poland, Britain, France and the USA, he is considered one of the few truly international filmmakers. Roman Polanski was born in Paris in 1933.

His parents returned to Poland from France in 1936, three years ...

10. Stanley Kubrick

Director | 2001: A Space Odyssey

Stanley Kubrick was born in Manhattan, New York City, to Sadie Gertrude (Perveler) and Jacob Leonard Kubrick, a physician. His family were Jewish immigrants (from Austria, Romania, and Russia). Stanley was considered intelligent, despite poor grades at school. Hoping that a change of scenery would ...

11. David Lynch

Writer | Twin Peaks

Born in precisely the kind of small-town American setting so familiar from his films, David Lynch spent his childhood being shunted from one state to another as his research scientist father kept getting relocated. He attended various art schools, married Peggy Lynch and then fathered future ...

12. Steven Spielberg

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, ...

13. Paul Thomas Anderson

Director | Punch-Drunk Love

Anderson was born in 1970. He was one of the first of the "video store" generation of film-makers. His father was the first man on his block to own a V.C.R., and from a very early age Anderson had an infinite number of titles available to him. While film-makers like Spielberg cut their teeth making...

14. 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 ...

15. Christopher Nolan

Writer | Interstellar

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.

...

16. Oliver Stone

Producer | JFK

Oliver Stone has become known as a master of controversial subjects and a legendary film maker. His films are filled with a variety of film angles and styles, he pushes his actors to give Oscar-worthy performances, and despite his failures, has always returned to success.

William Oliver Stone was ...

17. Guillermo del Toro

Writer | El laberinto del fauno

Guillermo del Toro was born October 9, 1964 in Guadalajara Jalisco, Mexico. Raised by his Catholic grandmother, del Toro developed an interest in filmmaking in his early teens. Later, he learned about makeup and effects from the legendary Dick Smith (The Exorcist (1973)) and worked on making his ...

18. Quentin Tarantino

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...

19. Darren Aronofsky

Director | Pi

Darren Aronofsky was born February 12, 1969, in Brooklyn, New York. Growing up, Darren was always artistic: he loved classic movies and, as a teenager, he even spent time doing graffiti art. After high school, Darren went to Harvard University to study film (both live-action and animation). He won ...

20. Martin Scorsese

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 ...

21. Frank Darabont

Writer | The Green Mile

Three-time Oscar nominee Frank Darabont was born in a refugee camp in 1959 in Montbeliard, France, the son of Hungarian parents who had fled Budapest during the failed 1956 Hungarian revolution. Brought to America as an infant, he settled with his family in Los Angeles and attended Hollywood High ...

22. Katsuhiro Ôtomo

Writer | Akira

Katsuhiro Ôtomo is a Japanese manga artist, screenwriter and film director. He is best known as the creator of the manga Akira and its animated film adaptation.

In 1979, after writing multiple short-stories for the magazine Action, Otomo created his first science-fiction work, titled Fireball. ...

23. Makoto Shinkai

Writer | Kimi no na wa.

Makoto Shinkai is a Japanese director, writer, producer, animator, editor, cinematographer, voice actor, manga artist and former graphic designer.

Shinkai studied Japanese literature at Chuo University where he was a member of juvenile literature club where he drew picture books. In 1999, Shinkai ...

24. Peter Jackson

Producer | The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

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,...

25. Paul Verhoeven

Director | Zwartboek

Paul Verhoeven graduated from the University of Leiden, with a degree in math and physics. He entered the Royal Netherlands Navy, where he began his film career by making documentaries for the Navy and later for TV. In 1969, he directed the popular Dutch TV series, Floris (1969), about a medieval ...

26. Robert Zemeckis

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 ...

27. Edgar Wright

Director | Shaun of the Dead

Edgar Howard Wright (born 18 April 1974) is an English director, screenwriter, producer, and actor. He is best known for his comedic Three Flavours Cornetto film trilogy consisting of Shaun of the Dead (2004), Hot Fuzz (2007), and The World's End (2013), made with recurrent collaborators Simon Pegg...

28. Satoshi Kon

Writer | Tôkyô goddofâzâzu

Satoshi Kon was born in 1963. He studied at the Musashino College of the Arts. He began his career as a Manga artist. He then moved to animation and worked as a background artist on many films (including Roujin Z (1991) by 'Katsuhiro Otomo'). Then, in 1995, he wrote an episode of the anthology film ...

29. Mamoru Oshii

Director | Inosensu: Innocence

Mamoru Oshii is a Japanese filmmaker, television director and screenwriter. Famous for his philosophy-oriented storytelling, Oshii has directed a number of popular anime, including Urusei Yatsura (1981-1984), Angel's Egg (1985), Patlabor: The Movie (1989), Ghost in the Shell (1995), and Ghost in ...

30. Clint Eastwood

Actor | Million Dollar Baby

Clint Eastwood was born May 31, 1930 in San Francisco, the son of Clinton Eastwood Sr., a manufacturing executive for Georgia-Pacific Corporation, and Ruth Wood, a housewife turned IBM operator. He had a comfortable, middle-class upbringing in nearby Piedmont. At school Clint took interest in music...

31. Alfred Hitchcock

Director | Psycho

Alfred Joseph Hitchcock was born in Leytonstone, Essex, England. He was the son of Emma Jane (Whelan; 1863 - 1942) and East End greengrocer William Hitchcock (1862 - 1914). His parents were both of half English and half Irish ancestry. He had two older siblings, William Hitchcock (born 1890) and ...

32. M. Night Shyamalan

Producer | Lady in the Water

Born in Puducherry, India, and raised in the posh suburban Penn Valley area of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, M. Night Shyamalan is a film director, screenwriter, producer, and occasional actor, known for making movies with contemporary supernatural plots.

He is the son of Jayalakshmi, a Tamil ...

33. Wes Craven

Writer | A Nightmare on Elm Street

Wes Craven has become synonymous with genre bending and innovative horror, challenging audiences with his bold vision.

Wesley Earl Craven was born in Cleveland, Ohio, to Caroline (Miller) and Paul Eugene Craven. He had a midwestern suburban upbringing. His first feature film was The Last House on ...

34. Duncan Jones

Director | Moon

Duncan Jones was born on May 30, 1971 in Bromley, Kent, England as Duncan Zowie Haywood Jones. He is a director and writer, known for Moon (2009), Source Code (2011) and Mute (2018). He has been married to Rodene Ronquillo since November 6, 2012. They have two children.

35. David Cronenberg

Director | The Fly

David Cronenberg, also known as the King of Venereal Horror or the Baron of Blood, was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in 1943. His father, Milton Cronenberg, was a journalist and editor, and his mother, Esther (Sumberg), was a piano player. After showing an inclination for literature at an early...

36. Kathryn Bigelow

Director | The Hurt Locker

A very talented painter, Kathryn spent two years at the San Francisco Art Institute. At 20, she won a scholarship to the Whitney Museum's Independent Study Program. She was given a studio in a former Offtrack Betting building, literally in an old bank vault, where she made art and waited to be ...

37. 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 ...

38. Robert Rodriguez

Producer | El mariachi

Robert Anthony Rodriguez was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, USA, to Rebecca (Villegas), a nurse, and Cecilio G. Rodríguez, a salesman. His family is of Mexican descent.

Of all the people to be amazed by the images of John Carpenter's 1981 sci-fi parable, Escape from New York (1981), none ...

39. Mel Brooks

Actor | Spaceballs

Mel Brooks was born Melvin Kaminsky on June 28, 1926 in Brooklyn, New York. He served in WWII, and afterwards got a job playing the drums at nightclubs in the Catskills. Brooks eventually started a comedy act and also worked in radio and as Master Entertainer at Grossinger's Resort before going to ...

40. Steven Knight

Writer | Locke

Steven Knight is a British screenwriter and film director. He is best known for screenplays he wrote for the films Dirty Pretty Things (2002) and Eastern Promises (2007), and also directed as well as written the film Locke (2013).

Knight is also one of three creators of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire...

41. Joel Schumacher

Director | The Phantom of the Opera

Joel Schumacher was born on August 29, 1939 in New York City, New York, USA as Joel T. Schumacher. He is a director and writer, known for The Phantom of the Opera (2004), Batman & Robin (1997) and 8MM (1999).

42. Fede Alvarez

Director | Don't Breathe

Fede Alvarez was born on February 9, 1978 in Montevideo, Uruguay. He is a director and writer, known for Don't Breathe (2016), Evil Dead (2013) and The Girl in the Spider's Web (2018).

43. Ingmar Bergman

Writer | Smultronstället

Ernst Ingmar Bergman was born July 14, 1918, the son of a priest. The film and T.V. series, The Best Intentions (1992) is biographical and shows the early marriage of his parents. The film 'Söndagsbarn' depicts a bicycle journey with his father. In the miniseries Private Confessions (1996) is the ...

44. Michele Soavi

Director | Dellamorte Dellamore

Born in Milan, Italy in 1957, Michele Soavi's parents separated when he was little and he lived with his mother who remarried a painter. Interested in his stepfather's interest in painting, Soavi began an interest in creative arts in his school. During his teenage years, he decided that the cinema ...

45. 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 ...

46. Ben Stiller

Producer | Tropic Thunder

Benjamin Edward Meara Stiller was born on November 30, 1965, in New York City, New York, to legendary comedians Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara. His father is of Austrian Jewish and Polish Jewish descent, and his mother was of Irish Catholic descent (she converted to Judaism).

His parents made no real ...

47. Alejandro Jodorowsky

Writer | La montaña sagrada

Alejandro Jodorowsky was born in Iquique, Chile on February 17, 1929. In 1942 he moved to Santiago where he attended university, was a circus clown and a puppeteer. In 1955 he went to Paris and studied mime with Marcel Marceau. He worked with Maurice Chevalier there and made a short film, La cravate...

48. Kevin Costner

Actor | The Postman

Kevin Michael Costner was born on January 18, 1955 in Lynwood, California, the third child of Bill Costner, a ditch digger and ultimately an electric line servicer for Southern California Edison, and Sharon Costner (née Tedrick), a welfare worker. His older brother, Dan, was born in 1950. A middle ...

49. Terry Gilliam

Writer | Brazil

Terry Gilliam was born near Medicine Lake, Minnesota. When he was 12 his family moved to Los Angeles where he became a fan of MAD magazine. In his early twenties he was often stopped by the police who suspected him of being a drug addict and Gilliam had to explain that he worked in advertising. In ...

50. Luc Besson

Writer | The Fifth Element

Luc Besson spent the first years of his life following his parents, scuba diving instructors, around the world. His early life was entirely aquatic. He already showed amazing creativity as a youth, writing early drafts of The Big Blue (1988) and The Fifth Element (1997), as an adolescent bored in ...

51. Rian Johnson

Director | Knives Out

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 ...

52. 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 ...

53. Vincenzo Natali

Director | Cube

Vincenzo Natali was born on January 6, 1969 in Detroit, Michigan, USA. He is known for his work on Cube (1997), Cypher (2002) and Splice (2009).

54. Kevin Smith

Producer | Clerks

Kevin Patrick Smith was born in Red Bank but grew up in Highlands, New Jersey, the son of Grace (Schultz) and Donald E. Smith, a postal worker. He is very proud of his native state; this fact can be seen in all of his movies. Kevin is of mostly German, with some Irish and English, ancestry.

His ...

55. Gonzalo López-Gallego

Editor | Open Grave

Gonzalo López-Gallego was born in Madrid, Madrid, Spain. He is an editor and director, known for Open Grave (2013), El rey de la montaña (2007) and Nómadas (2001).

56. Rob Zombie

Director | The Devil's Rejects

Robert Bartleh Cummings, more famously known as Rob Zombie, was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts on January 12, 1965. He is the oldest son of Louise and Robert Cummings, and has a younger brother, Michael David (aka Spider One; b. 1968), who is the lead singer of Powerman 5000. Growing up, Zombie ...

57. Franck Khalfoun

Director | Maniac

Franck Khalfoun is a director and actor, known for Maniac (2012), P2 (2007) and Piranha 3D (2010).

59. Peter Chung

Animation_department | Æon Flux

Peter Chung was born on April 19, 1961 in Seoul, South Korea as Geun-sig Jeong. He is known for his work on Æon Flux (1991), The Animatrix (2003) and Æon Flux (2005).

60. Michael Mann

Producer | The Insider

A student of London's International Film School, Michael Mann began his career in the late 70s, writing for TV shows like Starsky and Hutch (1975). He directed his first film, the award-winning prison drama The Jericho Mile (1979), in 1979. He followed that in 1981 with his first theatrical release,...

61. Joel Coen

Producer | The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Joel Coen was born on November 29, 1954 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA as Joel Daniel Coen. He is a producer and writer, known for The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018), Fargo (1996) and A Serious Man (2009). He has been married to Frances McDormand since April 1, 1984. They have one child.

62. Brad Anderson

Director | Session 9

Brad Anderson was born in 1964 in Madison, Connecticut, USA. He is a director and producer, known for Session 9 (2001), The Machinist (2004) and Transsiberian (2008).

63. James Cameron

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 ...

64. Antoine Fuqua

Producer | The Magnificent Seven

Antoine Fuqua is an American film director, known for his work in the film Training Day as well as The Replacement Killers, Tears of the Sun, King Arthur, Shooter, Brooklyn's Finest, Olympus Has Fallen and The Equalizer.

He has directed music videos for such artists as Arrested Development, Prince, ...

65. Tobe Hooper

Director | The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

Honored with many awards for his films and achievement in the horror genre, Tobe Hooper is truly one of the Masters of Horror (2005).

Tobe Hooper was born in Austin, Texas, to Lois Belle (Crosby) and Norman William Ray Hooper, who owned a theater in San Angelo. He spent the 1960s as a college ...

66. Danny Boyle

Director | 127 Hours

Danny Boyle was born on October 20, 1956 in Manchester, England as Daniel Boyle. He is a director and producer, known for 127 Hours (2010), 28 Days Later... (2002) and Slumdog Millionaire (2008).

67. Sam Mendes

Producer | 1917

Samuel Alexander Mendes was born on August 1, 1965 in Reading, England, UK to parents James Peter Mendes, a retired university lecturer, and Valerie Helene Mendes, an author who writes children's books. Their marriage didn't last long, James divorced Sam's mother in 1970 when Sam was just 5-...

68. 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 ...

69. 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 ...

70. Nicolas Winding Refn

Writer | The Neon Demon

Writer, director, and producer Nicolas Winding Refn was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1970, to Anders Refn, a film director and editor, and Vibeke Winding (née Tuxen), a cinematographer. Just before he turned 11, in 1981, he moved to New York with his parents, where he lived out his teen years. ...

71. Gaspar Noé

Director | Climax

Gaspar Noé was born on December 27, 1963 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is a director and producer, known for Climax (2018), Irreversible (2002) and Enter the Void (2009).

72. Orson Welles

Actor | Citizen Kane

His father was a well-to-do inventor, his mother a beautiful concert pianist; Orson Welles was gifted in many arts (magic, piano, painting) as a child. When his mother died (he was six) he traveled the world with his father. He was orphaned at 15 after his father's death and became the ward of Dr. ...

73. Dario Argento

Writer | Profondo rosso

Dario Argento was born on September 7, 1940, in Rome, Italy, the first-born son of famed Italian producer Salvatore Argento and Brazilian fashion model Elda Luxardo. Argento recalls getting his ideas for filmmaking from his close-knit family from Italian folk tales told by his parents and other ...

74. Akira Kurosawa

Writer | Ran

After training as a painter (he storyboards his films as full-scale paintings), Kurosawa entered the film industry in 1936 as an assistant director, eventually making his directorial debut with Sanshiro Sugata (1943). Within a few years, Kurosawa had achieved sufficient stature to allow him greater...

75. Sidney Lumet

Director | 12 Angry Men

Sidney Lumet was a master of cinema, best known for his technical knowledge and his skill at getting first-rate performances from his actors -- and for shooting most of his films in his beloved New York. He made over 40 movies, often complex and emotional, but seldom overly sentimental. Although ...

76. Sergio Leone

Writer | Once Upon a Time in America

Sergio Leone was virtually born into the cinema - he was the son of Roberto Roberti (A.K.A. Vincenzo Leone), one of Italy's cinema pioneers, and actress Bice Valerian. Leone entered films in his late teens, working as an assistant director to both Italian directors and U.S. directors working in ...

77. Wes Anderson

Writer | Fantastic Mr. Fox

Wesley Wales Anderson was born in Houston, Texas. His mother, Texas Ann (Burroughs), is an archaeologist turned real estate agent, and his father, Melver Leonard Anderson, worked in advertising and PR. He has two brothers, Eric and Mel. Anderson's parents divorced when he was a young child, an ...

78. Jee-woon Kim

Director | Joheunnom nabbeunnom isanghannom

Jee-woon Kim was born on May 27, 1964 in Seoul, South Korea. He is a director and writer, known for The Good the Bad the Weird (2008), A Tale of Two Sisters (2003) and I Saw the Devil (2010).

79. Lars von Trier

Writer | Dancer in the Dark

Probably the most ambitious and visually distinctive filmmaker to emerge from Denmark since Carl Theodor Dreyer over 60 years earlier, Lars von Trier studied film at the Danish Film School and attracted international attention with his very first feature, The Element of Crime (1984). A highly ...



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