Best American Director's working today

by lemmycaution40 | created - 26 Mar 2012 | updated - 8 months ago | Public

1. Gus Van Sant

Director | Elephant

Gus Van Sant was born on July 24, 1952 in Louisville, Kentucky, USA as Gus Greene Van Sant Junior. He is a director and producer, known for Elephant (2003), My Own Private Idaho (1991) and Drugstore Cowboy (1989).

2. 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...

3. Abel Ferrara

Director | Bad Lieutenant

Born in the Bronx, Ferrara started making amateur films on Super 8 in his teens before making his debut with violent exploitation films such as 'Driller Killer' and 'Ms.45'. Good reviews for the latter helped create his cult reputation, leading to larger budgets, studio funding and 'name' actors (...

4. James Gray

Director | The Lost City of Z

Writer/director James Gray made his first film Little Odessa (1994) at the age of twenty-five. The film, which starred Tim Roth, Edward Furlong, Vanessa Redgrave and Maximilian Schell, received critical acclaim and was the winner of the Venice Film Festival's prestigious Silver Lion Award in 1994.

...

5. Terrence Malick

Writer | Days of Heaven

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 ...

6. 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 ...

7. Jim Jarmusch

Director | Only Lovers Left Alive

Moved to New York City at the age of seventeen from Akron, Ohio. Graduated from Columbia University with a B.A. in English, class of '75. Without any prior film experience, he was accepted into the Tisch School of the Arts, New York.

8. Harmony Korine

Director | Gummo

Harmony Korine was born in Bolinas, California, in 1973. His family moved to the east coast of the United States when he was five, and he spent his early years in Nashville, Tennessee, and New York. At the age of 19, he wrote the critically acclaimed screenplay Kids (1995) for director Larry Clark....

9. Alexander Payne

Director | Nebraska

Director, producer and screenwriter Alexander Payne was born in Omaha, Nebraska. His parents, Peggy (Constantine) and George Payne, ran a Greek restaurant. His father is of Greek and German ancestry, and his mother is of Greek descent; the family name was originally Papadopoulos. He has two older ...

10. Joel Coen

Writer | Fargo

Joel Coen was born on November 29, 1954 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA as Joel Daniel Coen. He is a producer and writer, known for Fargo (1996), A Serious Man (2009) and Inside Llewyn Davis (2013). He has been married to Frances McDormand since April 1, 1984. They have one child.

11. Kelly Reichardt

Director | Wendy and Lucy

Kelly Reichardt was born and raised in Miami-Dade Country, Florida, to a family of police officers. She had an interest in photography from a very young age. She started by using her father's camera, which he used for photographing crime scenes. She went to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in ...

12. Sofia Coppola

Director | Lost in Translation

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 (2010), Lost in Translation (2003) and Marie Antoinette (2006). She has been married to Thomas Mars since August 27, 2011. They have two children. She was ...

13. Todd Haynes

Director | Far from Heaven

Todd Haynes was always interested in art, and made amateur movies and painted while he was still a child. He attended Brown university and majored in art and semiotics. After he graduated he moved to New York City and made the controversial short film Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (1988). ...

14. 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...

15. 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 ...

16. Vincent Gallo

Actor | Buffalo '66

Vincent Gallo. American-born, Buffalo, New York, 1961. Left home, moved to New York City in 1978, and began playing in the experimental musical group, Gray, with artist Jean Michel Basquiat. After leaving Gray, he formed the band, Bohack, and recorded the highly regarded avant-garde industrial ...

17. Noah Baumbach

Writer | The Squid and the Whale

Born in Brooklyn in 1969 Noah Baumbach is the son of two film critics, Georgia Brown and Jonathan Baumbach (also a writer). His studies at Vassar College were the subject of his first film (made as he was 26 years old), Kicking and Screaming (1995). His second major picture, made ten years later, ...

18. 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. ...

19. Spike Jonze

Producer | Her

Spike Jonze made up one-third (along with Andy Jenkins and Mark Lewman) of the triumvirate of genius minds behind Dirt Magazine, the brother publication of the much lamented ground-breaking Sassy Magazine. These three uncommon characters were all editors for Grand Royal Magazine as well, under the ...

20. Gregg Araki

Director | Mysterious Skin

Gregg Araki was born on December 17, 1959 in Los Angeles, California, USA. He is a director and producer, known for Mysterious Skin (2004), Kaboom (2010) and White Bird in a Blizzard (2014).

21. 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...

22. 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 ...

23. Bennett Miller

Director | Foxcatcher

Bennett Miller is an American film director, best known for Capote (2005), Moneyball (2011), and Foxcatcher (2014). He began his film career directing the 1998 documentary The Cruise.

In 2006 Miller directed the Bob Dylan music video "When the Deal Goes Down" starring Scarlett Johansson.

Miller has ...

24. Josh Safdie

Director | Good Time

Born and raised in New York City: in both Queens & Manhattan. He attended the school of Communication at Boston University. He often collaborates with his brother Benny Safdie. The brothers have both cited early experiences in front of their father's camera as the reasons for their pursing ...

25. Jeff Nichols

Writer | Take Shelter

Jeff Nichols was born on December 7, 1978 in Little Rock, Arkansas, USA. He is a writer and director, known for Take Shelter (2011), Midnight Special (2016) and Mud (2012).

26. Clint Eastwood

Actor | Gran Torino

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...

27. 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 ...

28. Steven Soderbergh

Director | Sex, Lies, and Videotape

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 ...

29. Woody Allen

Writer | Manhattan

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...

30. Todd Solondz

Director | Welcome to the Dollhouse

Todd Solondz was born in Newark, New Jersey. One of his earliest jobs in the film industry was when, as a young man, he worked as a messenger for the Writers' Guild of America. During this time, he wrote several screenplays.

Solondz's first color film with sync sound was the short "Schatt's Last ...

31. Richard Kelly

Writer | Donnie Darko

James Richard Kelly better known as Richard Kelly, is an American film director and writer, known for writing and directing the cult classic Donnie Darko in 2001. Kelly was born James Richard Kelly in Newport News, Virginia, the son of Lane and Ennis Kelly. He grew up in Midlothian, Virginia, where...

32. 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,...

33. Tim Burton

Producer | Edward Scissorhands

Timothy Walter Burton was born in Burbank, California, to Jean Rae (Erickson), who owned a cat-themed gift shop, and William Reed Burton, who worked for the Burbank Park and Recreation Department. He spent most of his childhood as a recluse, drawing cartoons, and watching old movies (he was ...

34. John Lasseter

Writer | Toy Story 2

Although born in Hollywood John and his twin sister, Johanna were raised in Wittier near Los Angeles. His parents were Jewell Mae (Risley), an art teacher, and Paul Eual Lasseter, a parts manager at a Chevrolet dealership. His mother's profession contributed to his interest in animation and ...

35. Bobby Farrelly

Producer | There's Something About Mary

Bobby Farrelly was born on June 17, 1958 in Cumberland, Rhode Island, USA as Robert Leo Farrelly Jr. He is a producer and writer, known for There's Something About Mary (1998), Osmosis Jones (2001) and Me, Myself & Irene (2000). He has been married to Nancy Farrelly since 1990. They have two ...

36. Larry Clark

Director | Bully

Was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma (1943). Son of Frances Clark (baby photographer) and Lewis Clark. Graduated from Central High school in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Attended Layton School of Art in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Studied under Walter Sheffer and Gerard Bakker. Film debut was the movie Kids (1995). He was ...

37. 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 ...

38. David O. Russell

Director | 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 ...

39. Steven Spielberg

Producer | Artificial Intelligence: AI

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, ...

40. 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 ...

41. Julian Schnabel

Director | Le scaphandre et le papillon

Julian Schnabel was born on October 26, 1951 in Brooklyn, New York, USA. He is a director, known for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007), Before Night Falls (2000) and Miral (2010).

42. 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 ...

43. Judd Apatow

Producer | Girls

Judd Apatow was born on December 6, 1967 in Syosset, New York, USA. He is a producer and writer, known for Girls (2012), Knocked Up (2007) and The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005). He has been married to Leslie Mann since June 9, 1997. They have two children.

44. Kevin Smith

Producer | Clerks

Kevin Patrick Smith was born in Red Bank, New Jersey, to 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 first movie, Clerks (1994), was ...

45. 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 ...