Top Directors Over the Past 20 Years

In my opinion the top 50 directors over the past 20 years. Including some of their best works in that time.
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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...
“ Schindler's List
Saving Private Ryan
Catch Me If You Can
The Terminal
Jurassic Park ” - ChildishGambino
 
2.
“ No Country For Old Men
Fargo
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
True Grit
The Big Lebowski ” - ChildishGambino
 
3.
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...
“ The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Fight Club
Se7en
The Social Network
Zodiac ” - ChildishGambino
 
4.
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...
“ The Dark Knight
Inception
The Prestige
Memento
Batman Begins ” - ChildishGambino
 
5.
Martin Scorsese
After serious deliberations about entering the priesthood - he entered a seminary in 1956 - Martin Scorsese opted to channel his passions into film. He graduated from NYU as a film major in 1964. Catching the eye of producer Roger Corman with his 1960s student films (including co-editing Woodstock)...
“ Goodfellas
The Departed
Shutter Island
The Aviator
Casino ” - ChildishGambino
 
6.
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 nineteen and worked odd jobs over a period of several years before enrolling at Los Angeles City College...
“ Million Dollar Baby
Mystic River
Gran Torino
Changeling
Unforgiven ” - ChildishGambino
 
7.
Tim Burton
Timothy Walter Burton was born in Burbank, California, to Jean Rae (Erickson), cat-themed gift shop owner, 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 especially fond of films with Vincent Price)...
“ Big Fish
Edward Scissorhands
Sweeney Todd
Ed Wood
Sleepy Hollow ” - ChildishGambino
 
8.
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...
“ Pulp Fiction
Reservoir Dogs
Inglourious Basterds
Kill Bill Series
Sin City ” - ChildishGambino
 
9.
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...
“ Requiem for a Dream
Black Swan
The Wrestler
The Fountain
Pi ” - ChildishGambino
 
10.
Sam Mendes
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...
“ Road to Perdition
American Beauty
Revolutionary Road
Jarhead
Away We Go ” - ChildishGambino
 
11.
Ron Howard
Academy Award-winning filmmaker Ron Howard is one of this generation's most popular directors. From the critically acclaimed dramas A Beautiful Mind and Apollo 13 to the hit comedies Parenthood and Splash, he has created some of Hollywood's most memorable films. Howard directed and produced "Cinderella Man" starring Oscar winner Russell Crowe...
“ Cinderella Man
A Beautiful Mind
Apollo 13
Frost/Nixon
Angels & Demons ” - ChildishGambino
 
12.
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...
“ The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
King Kong
Heavenly Creatures
Dead Alive ” - ChildishGambino
 
13.
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...
“ Gladiator
American Gangster
Black Hawk Down
Thelma & Louise
Kingdom of Heaven ” - ChildishGambino
 
14.
“ Slumdog Millionare
Trainspotting
127 Hours
28 Days later
Sunshine ” - ChildishGambino
 
15.
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...
“ Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Brokeback Mountain
Sense & Sensibility
Lust, Caution
Taking Woodstock ” - ChildishGambino
 
16.
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...
“ There Will Be Blood
Magnolia
Boogie Nights
Punch-Drunk Love
Hard Eight ” - ChildishGambino
 
17.
Michael Mann
Producer, Heat
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...
“ Heat
Last of the Mohicans
Ali
Collateral
Public Enemies ” - ChildishGambino
 
18.
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...
“ Avatar
Terminator 2
Titanic
True Lies ” - ChildishGambino
 
19.
Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Producer, The Revenant
His six feature films-Amores Perros (2000), 21 Grams (2003), Babel (2006) (comprising the "Death Trilogy"), Biutiful (2010), Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014), and The Revenant (2015)-have garnered critical acclaim and numerous accolades, including Academy Award nominations and wins...
“ 21 Grams
Babel
Biutiful
Amores Perros ” - ChildishGambino
 
20.
“ Good Will Hunting
Milk
Paris, Je T'Aime
Elephant
Finding Forester ” - ChildishGambino
 
21.
David Lynch
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...
“ Mullholland Dr.
Straight Story
Lost Highway
Inland Empire
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me ” - ChildishGambino
 
22.
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...
“ The Pianist
Ghost Writer
Oliver Twist
Death and the Maiden
The Ninth Gate ” - ChildishGambino
 
23.
“ The Silence of the Lambs
Philadelphia
The Manchurian Candidate
Rachel Getting Married ” - ChildishGambino
 
24.
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...
“ Midnight in Paris
Match Point
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Sweet and Lowdown
Whatever Works ” - ChildishGambino
 
25.
“ Finding Neverland
The Kite Runner
Monster's Ball
Stranger Than Fiction
Quantum of Solace ” - ChildishGambino
 
26.
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...
“ The Shawshank Redemption
Green Mile
The Mist
The Majestic ” - ChildishGambino
 
27.
Rob Reiner
Robert Reiner was born in New York City, to Estelle Reiner (née Lebost) and Emmy-Winning actor, comedian, writer, and producer Carl Reiner. Robert as a child often looked up to his father as his inspiration and role-model. Carl Reiner was on The Dick Van Dyke Show which Carl Reiner created and also starred in...
“ The Bucket List
A Few Good Men
Misery
Flipped
Bullets Over Broadway ” - ChildishGambino
 
28.
Steven Soderbergh
Director, Ocean's Eleven
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...
“ Ocean's Trilogy
Traffic
Erin Brockovich
Bubble ” - ChildishGambino
 
29.
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 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)...
“ A History of Violence
Eastern Promises
Naked Lunch
eXistenZ
Spider ” - ChildishGambino
 
30.
Sam Raimi
Writer, Spider-Man 3
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. From his childhood, Raimi was a fan of the cinema and, before he was ten-years-old, he was out making movies with an 8mm camera...
“ A Simple Plan
The Spiderman Series
Army of Darkness
Evil Dead II
Drag Me to Hell ” - ChildishGambino
 
31.
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)...
“ Forrest Gump
Cast Away
Contact
Back to the Future III ” - ChildishGambino
 
32.
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...
“ Natural Born Killers
JFK
Nixon
W. ” - ChildishGambino
 
33.
Wes Anderson
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...
“ The Royal Tenenbaums
Rushmore
Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
Darjeeling Limited ” - ChildishGambino
 
34.
Lars von Trier
Writer, Melancholia
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. A highly distinctive blend of film noir and German Expressionism with stylistic nods to Dreyer...
“ Dancer in the Dark
Dogville
Breaking the Waves
Europa ” - ChildishGambino
 
35.
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...
“ The Last Samurai
Blood Diamond
Defiance
Legends of the Fall
Love and Other Drugs ” - ChildishGambino
 
36.
“ The Usual Suspects
Valyrie
X2
X-Men
Superman Returns ” - ChildishGambino
 
37.
“ 3:10 to Yuma
Walk the Line
Identity
Girl, Interrupted ” - ChildishGambino
 
38.
Spike Lee
Director, Malcolm X
Spike Lee was born Shelton Jackson Lee on March 20, 1957, in Atlanta, Georgia. At a very young age, he moved from pre-civil rights Georgia, to Brooklyn, New York. Lee came from artistic, education-grounded background; his father was a jazz musician, and his mother, a schoolteacher. He attended school in Morehouse College in Atlanta and developed his film making skills at Clark Atlanta University...
“ Inside Man
Malcolm X
25th Hour
Miracle at St. Anna ” - ChildishGambino
 
39.
Pedro Almodóvar
Writer, Talk to Her
The most internationally acclaimed Spanish filmmaker since Luis Buñuel was born in a small town (Calzada de Calatrava) in the impoverished Spanish region of La Mancha. He arrived in Madrid in 1968, and survived by selling used items in the flea-market called El Rastro. Almodóvar couldn't study filmmaking because he didn't have the money to afford it...
“ Talk to Her
All About My Mother
Volver
Bad Education
Broken Embraces ” - ChildishGambino
 
40.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Director, Amélie
Jean-Pierre Jeunet 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...
“ Amélie
The City of Lost Children
A Very Long Engagement
Delicatessen ” - ChildishGambino
 
41.
Michael Bay
Producer, Transformers
A graduate of Wesleyan University, Michael Bay spent his 20s working on advertisements and music videos. His first projects after film school were in the music video business. He created music videos for Tina Turner, Meat Loaf, Lionel Richie, Wilson Phillips, Donny Osmond and The Divinyls...
“ The Rock
Transformers Series
The Island
Armageddon
Bad Boys II ” - ChildishGambino
 
42.
Anthony Minghella
Anthony Minghella was the son of immigrants from Italy, who own an ice-cream factory on the Isle of Wight, where Anthony was born on January 6, 1954. He and his two siblings, Edana Minghella and Dominic Minghella, grew up there, a popular British holiday spot. After graduating from the University of Hull...
“ The English Patient
Cold Mountain
The Talented Mr. Ripley
Truly Madly Deeply ” - ChildishGambino
 
43.
Alejandro Amenábar
Writer, The Others
Is the son of a Spanish mother and a Chilean father. His family moved back to Spain when he was 1 year old, and he grew up and studied in Madrid. He wrote, produced and directed his first short film La cabeza at the age of 19, and he was 23 when he directed his feature debut Thesis. His film Open Your Eyes was a huge success in Spain and was distributed worldwide...
“ The Others
The Sea Inside
Open Your Eyes
Tesis ” - ChildishGambino
 
44.
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 critiqued by people like Richard Serra...
“ The Hurt Locker
Point Break
Strange Days ” - ChildishGambino
 
45.
Michel Gondry
He grew up in Versailles with a family who was very influenced by pop music. When he was young, Gondry wanted to be a painter or an inventor. In the 80s he entered in an art school in Paris where he could develop his graphic skills and where he also met friends with whom he created a pop-rock band called Oui-Oui...
“ Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
The Science of Sleep
Be Kind Rewind
The Thorn in the Heart ” - ChildishGambino
 
46.
Abbas Kiarostami
Abbas Kiarostami was born in Tehran, Iran, in 1940. He graduated from university with a degree in fine arts before starting work as a graphic designer. He then joined the Center for Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults, where he started a film section, and this started his career as a filmmaker at the age of 30...
“ Taste of Cherry
Close-Up
The Wind Will Carry Us
Through the Olive Trees ” - ChildishGambino
 
47.
M. Night Shyamalan
M. Night Shyamalan is an Indian-American film director, screenwriter, producer and occasional actor known for making movies with contemporary supernatural plots. His major films include the supernatural thriller The Sixth Sense (1999), the superhero drama thriller Unbreakable (2000), the science fiction thriller Signs (2002)...
“ The Sixth Sense
The Village
Signs
Unbreakable
Devil ” - ChildishGambino
 
48.
Joe Wright
Director, Atonement
“ Atonement
Pride & Prejudice
Hanna
The Soloist ” - ChildishGambino
 
49.
Paul Haggis
Writer, Crash
Paul Haggis is the award-winning filmmaker who, in 2006, became the first screenwriter to write two Best Film Oscar winners back-to-back - Million Dollar Baby directed by Clint Eastwood, and Crash which he himself directed. For Crash, he won Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay...
“ Crash
Valley of Elah
The Next Three Days ” - ChildishGambino
 
50.
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.
“ Lost in Translation
The Virgin Suicides
Somewhere
Marie Antoinette ” - ChildishGambino