Top 100 Directors

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1.
Woody Allen
Writer, Annie Hall
Woody Allen was born Allan Stewart Konigsberg on December 1, 1935 in Brooklyn, New York, to Nettie (Cherrie), a bookkeeper, and Martin Konigsberg, a waiter and jewellery engraver. His father was of Russian Jewish descent, and his maternal grandparents were Austrian Jewish immigrants. As a young boy...
 
2.
Michelangelo Antonioni
Writer, Blow-Up
Michelangelo Antonioni was born in 1912 into a middle-class family and grew up in bourgeois surroundings of the Italian province. In Bologna he studied economics and commerce while he painted and also wrote criticism for a local newspaper. In 1939 he went to Rome and worked for the journal "Cinema" studying directorship at the School of Cinema...
 
3.
Alexandre Astruc
Born in Paris on July 13th 1923, Alexandre Astruc is the son of a couple of journalists. Very good at school, he attended a preparatory school for Polytechnique but finally became both a law and an arts graduate. First a literary critic, he soon specialized as a film critic and worked for various papers and magazines such as "Combat"...
 
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Frank Capra
One of seven children, Frank Capra was born on May 18, 1897, in Bisacquino, Sicily. On May 10, 1903, his family left for America aboard the ship Germania, arriving in New York on May 23rd. "There's no ventilation, and it stinks like hell. They're all miserable. It's the most degrading place you could ever be," Capra said about his Atlantic passage...
 
10.
Claude Chabrol
Director, La Cérémonie
French film director considered a master in the mystery genre. He is credited with starting the "nouvelle vague" French film movement.
 
12.
René Clément
Director, Forbidden Games
René Clément was one of the leading French directors of the post-World War II era. He directed what are regarded as some of the greatest films of the time, such as The Battle of the Rails, Forbidden Games and The Day and the Hour. He was later almost forgotten as a director. He was back in public attention briefly when his epic Is Paris Burning? (with an all-star cast of famous actors) was released in 1966...
 
13.
Henri-Georges Clouzot
Writer, Diabolique
After a decade as a screenwriter, Clouzot made his directorial debut in 1942. His next film, The Raven had the distinction of being banned both by the Nazis and the victorious French forces for differing reasons. He shot to international fame with The Wages of Fear and consolidated that success with Diabolique...
 
15.
Sofia Coppola
Writer, Somewhere
Sofia Coppola was born on May 14, 1971 in New York City, New York, USA as Sofia Carmina Coppola. She is a director, known for Somewhere, Lost in Translation and Marie Antoinette. She has been married to Thomas Mars since August 27, 2011. They have two children. She was previously married to Spike Jonze.
 
16.
Michael Curtiz
Director, Casablanca
Curtiz began acting in and then directing films in his native Hungary in 1912. After WWI, he continued his filmmaking career in Austria and Germany and into the early 1920s when he directed films in other countries in Europe. Moving to the US in 1926, he started making films in Hollywood for Warner Bros...
 
19.
Brian De Palma
Director, Scarface
Brian De Palma is one of the well-known directors who spear-headed the new movement in Hollywood during the 1970s. He is known for his many films that go from violent pictures, to Hitchcock-like thrillers. Born on the 11th of September in 1940, De Palma was born in New Jersey in an American-Italian family...
 
21.
Basil Dearden
Director, Dead of Night
A former stage director, Basil Dearden entered films as an assistant to director Basil Dean (he changed his name from Dear to avoid being confused with Dean). Dearden worked his way up the ladder and directed (with Will Hay) his first film in 1941; two years later he directed his first film on his own...
 
23.
Jean Delannoy
Jean Delannoy began his film career in the 1920s as an actor. By the 1930s he had switched careers and become an editor, then a short-subjects director. By the mid-'30s he was a full-fledged director, and soon garnered a reputation as a sensitive, understated craftsman with a thorough command of the medium...
 
25.
André Delvaux
After having studied German philology, law, piano and composition Andre Delvaux filmed some TV documenturies. In 1965 he debuted at the movies with a film adapted from a novel of 'Johan Daisne'. His films always played in a set between reality and fantasy. Writing his own scripts he filmed e.g. "Femme...
 
26.
Michel Deville
Director, La lectrice
Michel Deville, a singular talent in French cinema. For, except during a short period where he made two or three standard commercial films (but that was to repay the debts of his own film company, due to the defection of a business partner), Deville made pictures which, without being too elitist, show a distinctive talent and personality...
 
27.
Thorold Dickinson
Director, Secret People
Born in Bristol, England, Thorold Dickinson began his film career during the silent era as a writer. He went to work for Ealing in the 1930s, first as an editor and then as a director. He directed or produced military training films during World War II, and after the war he turned out a string of unique and well-received films...
 
28.
Julien Duvivier
Director, Pépé le Moko
Revered by such legendary fellow directors as Ingmar Bergman and Jean Renoir, Julien Duvivier is one of the greatest figures in the history of French cinema and of world cinema in general. He is perhaps the most neglected of the "Big Five" of classic French cinema (the other four being Jean Renoir, Rene Clair...
 
29.
Robert Enrico
Director, The Old Gun
Robert Enrico studied in Toulon and then in Paris where he graduated from Lycée Voltaire. He later enrolled in the famous film school IDHEC where he specialized in editing and directing. Until 1956 he was an active member of the Sorbonne's mediaeval group "Les Théophiliens". From 1956 to 1959 he did his military service within the Service Cinématographique des Armées...
 
30.
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...
 
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32.
Georges Franju
Georges Franju is a figure of immense importance in the history of French cinema, not primarily for his films (exceptional though many of these are) but for being the co-founder, with Henri Langlois, of the Cinematheque Française in 1937--France's most famous and important film archive. He worked primarily as a film archivist until 1949...
 
33.
Harold French
Director, Trio
London-born Harold French made his name on the stage, both as an actor and director. He crossed over to films, making his acting debut in 1920. He became a director shortly before the beginning of World War II, debuting with The Cavalier of the Streets, and made a well-received adaptation of A.E.W. Mason's thriller...
 
35.
Sidney Gilliat
Sidney Gilliat, the English director, screenwriter, and producer, was born on February 15, 1908 in Edgely, Cheshire, England. He began his screen-writing career in the silent movie era, writing inter-titles, going uncredited for his contributions to Honeymoon Abroad, Champagne, and Week-End Wives...
 
36.
Hideo Gosha
Director, Goyôkin
 
39.
Guy Hamilton
Director, Goldfinger
Typically British stiff-upper-lip war dramas and action adventure laced with moments of sophisticated comedy were Guy Hamilton's trademark. The son of a British diplomat, Hamilton spent most of his youth with his family in France, seemingly destined to be groomed for a career in the diplomatic service...
 
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George Roy Hill
Director, The Sting
Combative director George Roy Hill never hit it off with the critics, despite the fact that two of his films -- Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Sting -- had remained among the top ten box office hits by 1976. His work was frequently derided as 'impersonal' or lacking in stylistic trademarks, Andrew Sarris famously referring to it as 'idiosyncratic odious oiliness'...
 
45.
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 Eileen Hitchcock (born 1892)...
 
46.
Robert Hossein
Actor, Rififi
As he was one of Leading Men in French Cinema he was the screen-partner of the leading French ladies like Brigitte Bardot, Michèle Mercier, Marina Vlady, Stéphane Audran, Claude Jade or the Italian beauty Sophia Loren. Now at the time of playing "Men in the best age" he plays - at the age of 72 - again romantic love-scenes - so with Audrey Tautou in Venus Beauty Institute.
 
47.
John Huston
An eccentric rebel of epic proportions, this Hollywood titan reigned supreme as director, screenwriter and character actor in a career that endured over five decades. The ten-time Oscar-nominated legend was born John Marcellus Huston in Nevada, Missouri, on August 5, 1906. His ancestry included English...
 
48.
James Ivory
The main part of his few movies were filmed in the quarter of a century in which he worked closely together with the Indian producer Ismail Merchant and the German writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. His first films are all set in India and are very much influenced by the style of Satyajit Ray and Jean Renoir...
 
50.
Kar-Wai Wong
Wong Kar-wai (born 17 July 1956) is a Hong Kong Second Wave filmmaker, internationally renowned as an auteur for his visually unique, highly stylised, emotionally resonant work, including Ah fei zing zyun (1990), Dung che sai duk (1994), Chung Hing sam lam (1994), Do lok tin si (1995), Chun gwong cha sit (1997)...
 
51.
Dimitri Kirsanoff
Director, Ménilmontant
In France from 1923. Kirsanoff was at the forefront of Parisian avant-garde filmmaking thanks to works such as Ménilmontant (1926), which combined soviet style montage with hand-held camerawork and lyrically composed static shots. Kirsanoff's early silent films, many starring his first wife Nadia Sibirskaia...
 
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54.
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...
 
55.
Akira Kurosawa
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. Within a few years, Kurosawa had achieved sufficient stature to allow him greater creative freedom...
 
57.
Ang Lee
Director, Life of Pi
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, and a Masters Degree in Film Production at New York University...
 
59.
Joseph Losey
Director, The Servant
Belonging to an important family clan in Wisconsin, Joseph Losey studied philosophy but was always interested in theater and thus worked together with Bertolt Brecht. After directing some shorts for MGM, he made his first important film, The Boy with Green Hair, for RKO. While he was filming The Prowler in Italy he was summoned to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee...
 
62.
Jean-Pierre Melville
Writer, Le Samouraï
The name "Melville" is not immediately associated with film. It conjures up images of white whales and crackbrained captains, of naysaying notaries and soup-spilling sailors. It is the countersign to a realm of men and their deeds, both heroic and villainous. It is the American novel, with its Ishmaels and its Claggarts a challenge to the European canon...
 
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Ronald Neame
A British filmmaker who, over the years, worked as assistant director, cinematographer, producer, writer and ultimately director, Ronald Neame was born on April 23, 1911. His father, Elwin Neame, was a film director and his mother, Ivy Close, was a film star. During the 1920s, he started working at famous Elstree Studios...
 
65.
Kihachi Okamoto
Director, Kill!
Okamoto belonged to what one colleague called "the generation where most of them got killed": the leagues of university graduates who were drafted into and sacrificed to the last years of Japan's war in the South Pacific. Okamoto was drafted during the very worst of it, in 1943, but almost alone among his colleagues managed to survive...
 
66.
Robert Aldrich
Director, The Dirty Dozen
Robert Aldrich entered the film industry in 1941 when he got a job as a production clerk at RKO Pictures. He soon worked his way up to script clerk, then became an assistant director, a production manager and an associate producer. He began writing and directing for TV series in the early 1950s, and directed his first feature in 1953 (Big Leaguer)...
 
68.
Max Ophüls
Director Max Ophüls was born Max Oppenheimer in Saarbrücken, Germany. He began his career as a stage actor and director in the golden twenties. He worked in cities such as Stuttgart, Dortmund, Wuppertal, Vienna, Frankfurt, Breslau and Berlin. In 1929 his son Marcel Ophüls was born in Frankfurt, Germany...
 
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Georg Wilhelm Pabst
Director, Pandora's Box
Georg Wilhelm Pabst is considered by many to be the greatest director of German cinema, in his era. He was especially appreciated by actors and actresses for the humane way in which he treated them. This was in contrast to some of his contemporaries, such as Arnold Fanck, who have been characterized as martinets.
 
72.
Christian Petzold
Director, Phoenix
Christian Petzold, one of today's leading German filmmakers, was born in Hilden in 1960. After studying German and drama at the Freie Universität, he enrolls in Berlin's German Academy for Film and Television. There he studies movie direction while at same time working as assistant director to Harun Farocki and Hartmut Bitomsky...
 
73.
Roman Polanski
Director, The Pianist
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 before World War II began...
 
74.
Sydney Pollack
Director, Tootsie
Sydney Pollack was an Academy Award-winning director, producer, actor, writer and public figure, who directed and produced over 40 films. Sydney Irwin Pollack was born July 1, 1934 in Lafayette, Indiana, USA, to Rebecca (Miller), a homemaker, and David Pollack, a professional boxer turned pharmacist...
 
75.
Michael Powell
Director, The Red Shoes
The son of Thomas William Powell & Mabel (nee Corbett). Michael Powell was always a self confessed movie addict. He was brought up partly in Canterbury ("The Garden of England") and partly in the South of France (where his parents ran an hotel). Educated at Kings School, Canterbury & Dulwich College he first worked at the National Provincial Bank from 1922 - 1925...
 
76.
Otto Preminger
Otto Ludwig Preminger was born in Wiznitz, Bukovina, Austria-Hungary. His father was a prosecutor, and Otto originally intended to follow his father into a law career; however, he fell in love with the theater and became a stage director. He directed his first film in 1931, and came to the US in 1936 to direct on the Broadway stage...
 
77.
Nicholas Ray
Nicholas Ray was born Raymond Nicholas Kienzle, Jr. in 1911, in small-town Galesville, Wisconsin, to Lena (Toppen) and Raymond Joseph Kienzle, a contractor and builder. He was of German and Norwegian descent. Ray's early experience with film came with some radio broadcasting in high school. He left the University of Chicago after a year...
 
78.
Carol Reed
Director, The Third Man
Carol Reed was the second son of stage actor, dramatics teacher and impresario founder of the Royal School of Dramatic Arts Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree. Reed was one of Tree's six illegitimate children with Beatrice Mae Pinney, who Tree established in a second household apart from his married life. There were no social scars here; Reed grew up in a well-mannered...
 
79.
Nicolas Roeg
Director, Walkabout
When he made his directorial debut in 1970, Nicolas Roeg was already a 23-year veteran of the British film industry, starting out in 1947 as an editing apprentice and working his way up to cinematographer twelve years later. He first came to attention as part of the second unit on David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia...
 
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Ken Russell
Director, Tommy
When he was age 8 he was given a 9.5 mm projector for Xmas. He graduated to 35mm together with a box of silents that had been salvaged from the liner Mauretania when she was being broken up. He attended a nautical school where he made his first short film, trained as an Air Force electrician and tried unsuccessfully to break into the world of ballet and the theatre...
 
81.
Carlos Saura
Writer, Cria Cuervos
Spanish director, writer, producer (2 films) and actor (2 films). His interest on cinema started when he was very young. His mother, who was a pianist, instilled in him the liking for music, and his brother, Antonio, who was a painter, the passion for art. When he was an teenager he started to practice photography...
 
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John Schlesinger
Director, Midnight Cowboy
Oscar-winning director John Schlesinger, who was born in London, on February 16, 1926, was the eldest child in a solidly middle-class Jewish family. Berbard Schlesinger, his father, was a pediatrician, and his mother, Winifred, was a musician. He served in the Army in the Far East during World War II...
 
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Ridley Scott
Producer, Blade Runner
Ridley Scott was born in South Shields, Tyne and Wear (then County Durham) on 30 November 1937. His father was an officer in the Royal Engineers and the family followed him as his career posted him throughout the UK and Europe before they eventually returned to Teesside. Scott wanted to join Army (his...
 
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Jill Sprecher
After graduating from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in philosophy and literature, she moved to NewYork to study film and has since made Manhattan her home. She has worked as a coordinator, production manager and line producer on both studio and independent features. She studied film directing with Robert Wise and...
 
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Whit Stillman
Whit Stillman was born in 1952 and raised in Cornwall in upstate New York, the son of a impoverished débutante from Philadelphia and a Democratic politician from Washington D.C. Stillman graduated from Harvard in 1973 and started out as a journalist in Manhattan, New York City. In 1980 he met and married his Spanish wife while on an assignment in Barcelona...
 
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Seijun Suzuki
Director, Branded to Kill
Seijun Suzuki was born in Nihonbashi, Tôkyô, on May 24, 1923. In 1943, he entered the army to fight at the front. In 1946, he enrolled in the film department of the Kamakura Academy and passed the assistant director's exam. For the next few years, he worked as an assistant director at several studios...
 
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Johnnie To
Producer, Hak se wui
With over thirty directing and producing credits to his name, Johnnie To enjoyed international breakthroughs with Election, Triad Election (aka "Triad Election") and Exiled; those films enjoyed multiple international film festival appearances and were separately sold to more than 21 foreign territories (including theatrical distributions in France and USA)...
 
92.
Jacques Tourneur
Director, Out of the Past
Born in Paris in 1904, Tourneur went to Hollywood with his father, director Maurice Tourneur around 1913. He started out as a script clerk and editor for his father, then graduated to such jobs as directing shorts (often with the pseudonym Jack Turner), both in France and America. He was hired to run the second unit for David O. Selznick's A Tale of Two Cities...
 
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James Whale
Director, Frankenstein
James Whale, who grew up poor in an English mining town, learned to put on plays in a World War I German POW camp. Postwar theatre work took him to the London stage, then Broadway, then a contract with Paramount, as dialog director for Howard Hughes' Hell's Angels. He began his contribution to the horror film genre with his move to Universal...
 
96.
Billy Wilder
The second of two sons, his father ran a chain of railway station cafes. As a youth he was obsessed with everything American. encouraged by his mother he enrolled as a law student at the University of Vienna but quit after 3 months to be a writer on a magazine which although poorly paid it gave him a great amount of experience interviewing such as Richard Strauss and Sigmund Freud...
 
97.
Michael Winner
Director, Death Wish
Michael Winner was interested in film at an early age, especially writing, which brought him briefly to television. He then moved into directing at age 25, and after a few comedies and vehicles for pop stars, quickly switched to more dramatic films, attaining something of a trade mark for violence - frequently working with Charles Bronson...
 
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