Top 20 Directors of the Modern Era

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1.
Steven Spielberg
Undoubtedly one of the most influential film personalities in the history of film, Steven Spielberg is perhaps Hollywood's best known director and one of the wealthiest filmmakers in the world. Spielberg has countless big-grossing, critically acclaimed credits to his name, as producer, director and writer...
“ If he had only ever made Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List he would have made it in the top 25. The shear number of great films that he has made far outweigh the few blockbuster duds.

Best Movie: Saving Private Ryan ” - awkrzf
 
2.
Martin Scorsese
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 provided the inspiration for several of his films...
“ When it comes to gangster movies, Scorcese is a master. He has also shown great longevity, making great films from the early 70's up to today.

Best Movie: Goodfellas ” - awkrzf
 
3.
Stanley Kubrick
Director, The Shining
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 produce better academic performance...
“ His movies will bend your mind to the point of breaking. Unlike some on this list he didn't make a huge number of films. Although he didn't make that many, a great percentage have gone down as classics.

Best Movie: The Shining ” - awkrzf
 
4.
Francis Ford Coppola
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 with a degree in drama from Hofstra University...
“ The Godfather is one of the greatest masterpieces in modern cinema. Couple that with his work on the Godfather II and Apocalypse Now, and the guy has a brilliant filmography.

Best Movie: The Godfather ” - awkrzf
 
5.
Quentin Tarantino
Writer, Pulp Fiction
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 1992...
“ His unique style of film making has been really refreshing since he jumped on the scene in the early 90's. He does a great job of mixing action, suspense, and comedy.

Best Movie: Pulp Fiction ” - awkrzf
 
6.
Christopher Nolan
After The Dark Knight's success, Warner Bros. signed Nolan to direct Inception. Nolan also wrote and co-produced the film, described as "a contemporary set within the architecture of the mind". Before being released in theaters, critics like Peter Travers and Lou Lumenick wondered if Nolan's faith in moviegoers' intelligence would cost him at the box office...
“ He made his name with the blockbuster success of his updated vision of Batman. Though his career is still in the growth stage, his short list of films are all top notch.

Best Movie: Memento ” - awkrzf
 
7.
Frank Darabont
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 School...
“ If a Stephen King book is being adapted, he is the man for the job. Both of, The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption were brilliant. As of now he has made the jump to TV, but we hope to see his work on the big screen in the future.

Best Movie: The Shawshank Redemption ” - awkrzf
 
8.
Peter Jackson
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, which he made with his friends...
“ Four words, Lord of the Rings. Anyone of the three films in the trilogy could be argued as the best film of the last decade. His limited number of films directed is the only thing keeping him from being higher on the list.

Best Movie: Lord of the Rings ” - awkrzf
 
9.
Clint Eastwood
Perhaps the icon of macho movie stars, and a living legend, Clint Eastwood has become a standard in international cinema. Born May 31, 1930 in San Francisco, the elder of two children in a middle-class family, Eastwood finished high school at the comparatively late age of 19 and worked odd jobs for several years before enrolling at Los Angeles City College...
“ Since jumping behind the camera Eastwood has become a staple at the Oscars. He has shown us that great film makers can make a nice transition from in front of to behind the camera.

Best Movie: Letters from Iwo Jima ” - awkrzf
 
10.
David Fincher
Director, Fight Club
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 and music videos after signing with N...
“ We saw his brilliance during the 90's when teaming up with Brad Pitt for Seven and Fight Club. Up until recently he had been unheard from, but his work on The Social Network and The Curious Case of Benjamin Bunton have us singing his praises.

Best Movie: Seven ” - awkrzf
 
11.
James Cameron
Writer, Aliens
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 but, after graduating, drove a truck to support his screenwriting ambition. He landed his first professional film job as art director...
“ Many like to trash him, saying he is a product of over produced blockbusters. With a resume that includes Aliens, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and Titanic (yes, Titanic was good) the guy deserves his due justice.

Best Movie: Terminator 2: Judgment Day ” - awkrzf
 
12.
Ridley Scott
Producer, Blade Runner
Ridley Scott is an English film director and producer. Following his commercial breakthrough with the science-fiction horror film Alien (1979), his best known works are the noir science fiction film Blade Runner (1982), crime drama Thelma & Louise (1991), historical drama and Best Picture Oscar winner Gladiator (2000)...
“ Yeah, he's had his fair share of duds, but when you've been making movies since the 60's that's bound to happen. Alien and Bladerunner are sci-fi masterpieces, and he has expanded his range with great films like Gladiator and Black Hawk Down.

Best Movie: Alien ” - awkrzf
 
13.
Robert Zemeckis
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, 1941) and special effect vehicles (Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Back to the Future)...
“ The Back to the Future trilogy alone puts him squarely on this list. Add in his great work with Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump and Cast Away and he has solidified his career.

Best Movie: Forrest Gump ” - awkrzf
 
14.
George Lucas
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 Downey High School and was very much interested in drag racing. He planned to become a professional race-car driver...
“ Although he didn't direct all six of the Star Wars movies, he gets much of the credit. His creative vision and directing changed the movie industry for all of time. His influence alone gets him a spot on this list.

Best Movie: Star Wars ” - awkrzf
 
15.
“ I'm gonna let the Coen brother's take up two spots on this countdown because I got to give each their due justice. Like Tarantino above, they do a great job of combining gritty visuals with good comedy.

Best Movie: No Country for Old Men ” - awkrzf
 
16.
“ See Above ” - awkrzf
 
17.
Oliver Stone
Director, Platoon
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 born in New York City...
“ He made what I consider to be the pinnacle of Vietnam war movies, with Platoon. Good movies like Any Given Sunday and Wall Street out weigh duds like Alexander.

Best Movie: Platoon ” - awkrzf
 
18.
Darren Aronofsky
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 several film awards after completing his senior thesis film...
“ With the recent success of Black Swan, Aronofsky has jumped hard on the scene. With cult classics like Requiem for A Dream, he has built a good following. Look for his name gracing movie posters in the future.

Best Movie: The Wrestler ” - awkrzf
 
19.
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 of mostly Irish descent...
“ In his short list of films from behind the camera he has made some classics. Braveheart will go down as one of the all time classics and movies like Apocalypto show he wasn't a one hit wonder.

Best Movie: Braveheart ” - awkrzf
 
20.
Edward Zwick
Edward Zwick is well-known for his heroic movies that include Glory, and the breathtaking works of art that include Legends of the Fall. 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. Born in 1952...
“ He has a great track record working with big time actors. Great films like Blood Diamond, Glory, and Legends of the Fall round out a great career.

Best Movie: Blood Diamond ” - awkrzf
 
21.
Ben Affleck
Producer, Argo
Ben Affleck is an American actor and filmmaker. He began his career as a child actor, starring in the PBS educational series The Voyage of the Mimi (1984, 1988). He later appeared in Dazed and Confused (1993) and various Kevin Smith films including Chasing Amy (1997) and Dogma (1999). Affleck gained...
“ Affleck is a rising star in the directorial game. Both of his films, Gone Baby Gone and The Town, have been excellent. His third directorial effort, Argo, will come out later this year. He has been good so far, and it will be interesting to see what kind of staying power he has. ” - awkrzf