My "in progress" list of the top Directors involved in cinema. These are people who have either created original and inventive films, or seamlessly applied groundbreaking new techniques to appeal to telling better stories through the language of film. This list is also based on my personal opinion, and listed in order that I find most influential, personally.
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)...
“ Noteworthy Films: The Duelists, Alien, Blade Runner, Legend, Black Rain, Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, Kingdom of Heaven, American Gangster, Body of Lies, Prometheus.
Know for creating worlds for his characters and stories by means of original and interesting camera techniques, amazing lighting design and execution, smoke and rain, realistic and meticulous set design, overall functionality of everything shown in the frame, incredibly detailed costume design, use of mise en scene, use of detailed special effects that don't hinder the story, and master of techincal direction. ” - Not_Even_Dreams
Terry Gilliam was born in Minnesota near Medicine Lake. When he was 12 his family moved to Los Angeles where he became a fan of Mad magazine. In his early 20's he was often stopped by the police who often suspected him of being a drug addict and Gilliam had to explain that he worked in advertising....
“ Noteworthy Films: Time Bandits, Brazil, The Adventures of Baron Munchhausen, The Fisher King, Twelve Monkeys, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
Oddball director, know showcasing craziness and absurdity though seamless technique. One of the few directors who knows how to employ wide angle lenses and dutch angles for correct effect. Has a meticulous attention to detail, utilizes special effects to enhance a story, and create fantastical worlds. Films are often told or perceived from a child's point of view, someone who is a child at heart, or someone who behaves like a child. ” - Not_Even_Dreams
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 was a journalist, and his mother was a piano player. After showing an inclination for literature at an early age (he wrote and published eerie short stories, thus following his father's path) and for music (playing classical guitar until he was 12)...
“ Noteworthy Films: Rabid, The Brood, Scanners, Videodrome, The Dead Zone, The Fly, Dead Ringers, Naked Lunch, M. Butterfly, Crash, Spider, A History of Violence, Eastern Promises, A Dangerous Method, Cosmopolis. ” - Not_Even_Dreams
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...
“ Noteworthy Films: The Killing, Paths of Glory, Lolita, Dr. Strangelove, 2001, A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, Eyes Wide Shut. ” - Not_Even_Dreams
“ Noteworthy Films: Picnic at Hanging Rock, The Last Wave, Gallipoli, The Year of Living Dangerously, Witness, The Mosquito Coast, Dead Poets Society, Fearless, The Truman Show, Master and Commander, The Way Back. ” - Not_Even_Dreams
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...
Director. Writer. Producer. Has studied history, literature and theatre, but hasn't finished it. Founded his own production company in 1963. Has staged several operas, besides others in Bayreuth, Germany, and at the Milan Scala in Italy. Herzog has won numerous national and international awards for his films.
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
, about a medieval knight...
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 University and then USC film school in Los Angeles...
Born in 1946 in Missoula, Montana, David Lynch was raised in small-town America. After high school, he went to Boston to attend the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. Shortly after that, he planned a three-year trip to Europe to work on his art, but didn't take to it and left after 15 days. In 1977...
Ernst Ingmar Bergman was born July fourteenth, 1918, the son of a priest. The film and T.V. series, The Best Intentions
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
is the trilogy closed. Here...
An important British filmmaker, David Lean was born in Croydon in 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 a job at Gaumont British Studios in 1927...
Friedkin's mother was an operating room nurse. His father was a merchant seaman, semi-pro softball player and ultimately sold clothes in a men's discount chain. Ultimately, his father never earned more than $50/week in his whole life and died indigent. Eventually young Will became infatuated with Orson Welles
after seeing Citizen Kane
John Boorman attended Catholic school (Salesian Order) although his family was not, in fact, Roman Catholic. His first job was for a dry-cleaner. Later, he worked as a critic for a women's journal and for a radio station until he entered the television business, working for the BBC in Bristol. There...
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 his politics were somewhat left-leaning and he often treated socially relevant themes in his films...
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...
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...
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...
Paul Thomas Anderson
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 8 mm films, Anderson cut his teeth shooting films on video and editing them from V.C.R. to V.C.R...
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
. He directed his first film, the award-winning prison drama The Jericho Mile
, in 1979. He followed that in 1981 with his first theatrical release, Thief
starring James Caan
as a safe-cracker who falls under the spell of the mob...
Steven Andrew Soderbergh was born on January 14, 1963 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, the second of six children of Mary Ann (Bernard) and Peter Soderbergh
. His father was of Swedish and Irish descent, and his mother was of Italian ancestry. While he was still at a very young age, his family moved to Baton Rouge...
Takeshi Kitano was born in Tokyo in 1947 and entered show business in 1972 as "Beat" Takeshi, the stage name he continues to use today as a performer. As part of the comic duo Two Beats, Kitano was one of the leading figures in the manzai (stand-up comedy) boom in the late 1970s. With his distinctive art of speech and his idiosyncratic perspective...
Nicolas Winding Refn
Nicolas Winding Refn is a Danish film director, screenwriter and producer. He moved to the United States in 1981 and is known for directing the crime dramas Bleeder (1999) and the Pusher films (1996, 2004, 2005), the fictionalised biographical film Bronson (2008), the dramatic adventure film Valhalla Rising (2009)...
Terrence Malick was born in Ottawa, Illinois. His family subsequently lived in Oklahoma and he went to school in Austin, Texas. He did his undergraduate work at Harvard, graduating summa cum laude with a degree in philosophy in 1965. A member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society, he attended Magdalen College...
Wim Wenders is an Oscar-nominated German filmmaker who was born Ernst Wilhelm Wenders on August 14, 1945 in Düsseldorf, which then was located in the British Occupation Zone of what became the Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Federal Republic of Germany, known colloquially as West Germany until reunification)...
The women who both attracted and frightened him and an Italy dominated in his youth by Mussolini and Pope Pius XII - inspired the dreams that Fellini started recording in notebooks in the 1960s. Life and dreams were raw material for his films. His native Rimini and characters like Saraghina (the devil herself said the priests who ran his school)...
The most famous Soviet film-maker since Sergei M. Eisenstein
, Andrei Tarkovsky
(the son of noted poet Arseniy Tarkovsky) studied music and Arabic in Moscow before enrolling in the Soviet film school V.G.I.K. He shot to international attention with his first feature, Ivan's Childhood
, which won the top prize at the Venice Film Festival...
Mr. Kieslowski started his career shooting documentaries and later became associated with the "cinema of moral anxiety" movement. It grouped several Polish directors, including Krzysztof Zanussi
and Andrzej Wajda
, and aimed at depicting the conditions of Poles under communism. His best known work was the Three Colors trilogy: Three Colors: Red
is a self-taught director who was very quickly interested by cinema, with a predilection for a fantastic cinema where form is as important as the subject. Thus he started directing TV commercials and video clips (such as Julien Clerc
in 1984). At the same time he met designer/drawer Marc Caro
with whom he made two short animation movies: L'évasion
and Le manège
Lars von Trier
Lars von Trier (the "von" was adopted during his stay at the Danish Film School) was born in Copenhagen, Denmark in April 1956. He graduated from the Danish Film School in 1983 with his short film Befrielsesbilleder
("Images of Relief"), which won the Best Film award at the Munich Film Festival the following year...
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...
Milos Forman was born Jan Tomas Forman in Caslav, Czechoslovakia, to Anna (Svabova), who ran a summer hotel, and Rudolf Forman, a professor. During World War II, his parents were taken away by the Nazis, after being accused of participating in the underground resistance. His father died in Buchenwald and his mother died in Auschwitz...
Robert Altman was born on February 20th, 1925 in Kansas City, Missouri, to B.C. (an insurance salesman) and Helen Altman. He entered St. Peters Catholic school at the age six, and spent a short time at a Catholic high school. From there, he went to Rockhurst High School. It was then that he started exploring the art of exploring sound with the cheap tape recorders available at the time...
Sergio Leone was an Italian film director, producer and screenwriter, credited as the inventor of "Spaghetti Western" genre. Leone's film-making style includes juxtaposing extreme close-up shots with lengthy long shots. His movies include the sword and sandal action films The Last Days of Pompeii
and The Colossus of Rhodes
"If they move", commands stern-eyed William Holden
, "kill 'em". So begins The Wild Bunch
, Sam Peckinpah's bloody, high-body-count eulogy to the mythologized Old West. "Pouring new wine into the bottle of the Western, Peckinpah explodes the bottle", observed critic Pauline Kael
. That exploding bottle...
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)...
Brian De Palma
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
and his voyeuristic style. Restlessly he worked on big projects with the script writers Paul Schrader
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 seven) he traveled the world with his father. When his father died (he was fifteen) he became the ward of Chicago's Dr...
Prior to moving into film, Alan was noted as one of London's most talented advertising copywriters. He worked for the Collet Dickinson Pearce (CDP) ad agency in the 1960's and early 1970's, and began directing his own tvc scripts in their basement. Formed a partnership with David Puttnam
as his producer (Puttnam had been a photographers' agent)...
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-years-old...
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
. But his biggest success was The Deer Hunter
which won the Oscar for best film...
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 event that he described as the most crucial event of his brothers and his growing up...
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 immediately started to film everything he saw...
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...
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...
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...
Educated at the Universities of Prague and Stuttgart, Emeric Pressburger worked as a journalist in Hungary and Germany and an author and scriptwriter in Berlin and Paris. He was a Hungarian Jew, chased around Europe (he worked on films for UFA in Berlin and Paris) before World War II, finally finding sanctuary in London--but as a scriptwriter who didn't speak English...
Alejandro Jodorowsky was born in Iquique, Chile on February 7, 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
François began to assiduously go to the movies at 7. He was also a great reader but not a good pupil. He left school at 14 and started working. In 1947, aged 15, he founded a film club and met André Bazin
, a French critic, who becomes his protector. Bazin helped the delinquent Truffaut and also when he was put in jail because he deserted the army...
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 Switzerland and attended school in Nyons (Switzerland)...
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...
Best known for his cerebral, often nonlinear story-telling, acclaimed writer-director Christopher Nolan
was born on July 30, 1970 in London, England. Over the course of 15 years of film-making, Nolan has gone from low-budget independent films to working on some of the biggest blockbusters ever made. At 7 years old...
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 screenwriting ambition...
“ Noteworthy Films: The Terminator, Aliens, The Abyss, Terminator 2, True Lies.
Always pushes the envelope in terms of special effects. Takes an established technique and takes it to the next level.
Personally, I am only interested in Cameron from the "Pre-Titantic" era. After that his films become nothing more than visual spectacle, without any substance. His writing also gets very lazy and thin, borderline melodrama. His work just lost the weight it had previously. ” - Not_Even_Dreams
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...
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 stayed in high school until the comparatively late age of nineteen and worked menial jobs over a period of several years before enrolling at Los Angeles City College...
Barry Levinson was born in Baltimore, Maryland, to Violet (Krichinsky) and Irvin Levinson, who worked in furniture and appliance. He is of Russian Jewish descent. Levinson graduated from high school in 1960, attended college at American University in Washington, DC. He did well, but decided he wanted to go to Los Angeles...
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 critiqued by people like Richard Serra...
is an American film and television director, screenwriter and producer. Films he has directed include Girl, Interrupted
, Walk the Line
, which he also co-wrote, the 2007 remake 3:10 to Yuma
, The Wolverine
, and Logan
. Mangold also wrote and directed Cop Land
, starring Sylvester Stallone
, Robert De Niro
, Harvey Keitel
, and Ray Liotta
Born in Kyoto, Japan. Studied law at Kyoto University. After graduation, joined the Shochiku Film Company in 1954 as an assistant director.
Having seen Robbery
, it comes as no surprise that Peter Yates started out as a professional racing car driver and team manager - albeit briefly - before turning his attention to film. The son of a military man, he was educated at Charterhouse School and trained at RADA, gaining his first experience as an actor with local repertory companies...
Born in New York and raised in Queens, John Frankenheimer wanted to become a professional tennis player. He loved movies and his favorite actor was Robert Mitchum
. He decided he wanted to be an actor but then he applied for and was accepted in the Motion Picture Squadron of the Air Force where he realized his natural talent to handle a camera...
Hal Ashby was born the fourth and youngest child in a Mormon household in Ogden, Utah, on September 2, 1929. His father was a dairy farmer. After a rough childhood that included the divorce of his parents, his father's suicide, his dropping out of high school, getting married and divorced all before he was 19...
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
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
and The Fifth Element
, as an adolescent bored in school. He...
Jim Sheridan is a master story-teller, and an acclaimed film director of few films, but good films nevertheless. Born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1949, Sheridan moved to America in 1982, meeting a man who invited him to run the Irish Arts Center. He found a place to live in Hell's Kitchen, New York City...
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 military...
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...
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...
Peter Hyams was born in New York on July 26, 1943, and attended Hunter College Elementary School. He studied art and music at the Art Students League and the High School of Music and Art as well as at Syracuse University, where he majored in music and art. Before he became a CBS News news anchor in...
is an Australian film director, screenwriter, producer, and former medical doctor. He is best known for his Mad Max franchise, with The Road Warrior
and Mad Max: Fury Road
being hailed as amongst the greatest action films of all time. Aside from the Mad Max films, Miller has been involved in a wide range of projects...
In much the same way that director George A. Romero
creative output has been primarily centered around the highly successful "Dead" series of zombie films, then fellow fantasy director Don Coscarelli
has for over two decades seen his universe swirling around the lesser successful, but equally cult, and much loved "Phantasm" series of horror movies...
Toshiya Fujita was born on January 16, 1932 in Pyongyang, Korea. Following graduation from Tokyo University Fujita joined the Nikkatsu studio in 1955. Toshiya initially worked at Nikkatsu as a publicist, screenwriter, and assistant director prior to directing his first film in 1967. His debut feature won Fujita the 1967 New Directors Award from the Directors Guild of Japan...
Takashi Miike was born in the small town of Yao on the outskirts of Osaka, Japan. His main interest growing up was motorbikes, and for a while he harbored ambitions to race professionally. At the age of 18 he went to study at the film school in Yokohama founded by renowned director Shôhei Imamura
, primarily because there were no entrance exams...