Best directors of all time

by xpr83 | created - 24 Aug 2012 | updated - 14 Feb 2013 | Public

The most solid film-makers of all time. Some have created many masterpieces, while others are just interesting because of one or two successful projects. However they all deserve some role in movie history.

1. Stanley Kubrick

Director | 2001: A Space Odyssey

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 ...

Best films: 'A Clockwork Orange', '2001', 'Lolita', 'Full Metal Jacket' and 'The Shining'

2. 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 ...

Best films: 'Eraserhead', 'Lost Highway, 'Mulholland Drive' and 'Inland Empire'.

3. 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 ...

Best films: 'Pi', 'Requiem for a Dream', 'The Fountain', 'Black Swan'.

4. 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 ...

Best films: 'Taxi Driver', 'The King of Comedy', 'Cape Fear', 'Shutter Island'.

5. 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 ...

Best films: 'Beetlejuice', 'Sleepy Hollow' and 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'.

6. Christopher Nolan

Writer | The Prestige

Best known for his cerebral, often nonlinear storytelling, acclaimed writer-director Christopher Nolan was born on July 30, 1970 in London, England. Over the course of 15 years of filmmaking, Nolan has gone from low-budget independent films to working on some of the biggest blockbusters ever made.


Best films: 'Memento', 'Inception', 'Batman Begins', 'The Dark Knight'.

7. Terry Gilliam

Writer | Brazil

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....

Best films: 'Brazil', 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas', 'Tideland'.

8. 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 ...

Best films: 'Psycho', 'Vertigo', 'Rope' and 'Strangers on a Train'.

9. Michael Haneke

Writer | Caché

A true master of his craft, Michael Haneke is one of the greatest film artists working today and one who challenges his viewers each year and work goes by, with films that reflect real portions of life in realistic, disturbing and unforgettable ways. One of the most genuine filmmakers of the world ...

Best films: 'Benny's Video', 'The Seventh Continent', 'The Piano Teacher', ''Caché'.

10. Bille August

Director | Pelle erobreren

Bille August was born on November 9, 1948 in Brede, Denmark. He is a director and writer, known for Pelle the Conqueror (1987), The House of the Spirits (1993) and Les Misérables (1998). He is married to Sara-Marie Maltha. He was previously married to Pernilla August, Annie Munksgaard and ...

Best films: 'Zappa', 'Pelle Erobreren'.

11. Roman Polanski

Actor | Chinatown

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 ...

Best films: 'The Fearless Vampire Killers', 'Rosemary's Baby', 'The Ninth Gate', 'Ghost Writer'.

12. 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, Milton Cronenberg, was a journalist and editor, and his mother, Esther (Sumberg), was a piano player. After showing an inclination for literature at an early...

A specialist in scary and disturbing films, from the quiet to the more gory. Best films: 'The Fly', 'Naked Lunch', 'eXistenZ'.

13. James Cameron

Writer | Avatar

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 ...

Best films: 'Aliens', 'The Abyss', 'Terminator', 'Terminator 2: Judgement Day'.

14. Ridley Scott

Producer | The Martian

Described by film producer Michael Deeley as "the very best eye in the business", director Ridley Scott was born on November 30, 1937 in South Shields, Tyne and Wear (then County Durham). His father was an officer in the Royal Engineers and the family followed him as his career posted him ...

Best films: 'Alien', 'Legend' and 'Blade Runner'.

15. 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...

Best films: 'Reservoir Dogs' and 'Pulp Fiction'.

16. Guillermo del Toro

Writer | El laberinto del fauno

Guillermo del Toro was born October 9, 1964 in Guadalajara Jalisco, Mexico. Raised by his Catholic grandmother, del Toro developed an interest in filmmaking in his early teens. Later, he learned about makeup and effects from the legendary Dick Smith (The Exorcist (1973)) and worked on making his ...

Best films: 'El Labyrinto del Fauno' and 'Hellboy'.

17. Edward D. Wood Jr.

Writer | Plan 9 from Outer Space

Hacks are nothing new in Hollywood. Since the beginning of the film industry at the turn of the 20th century, thousands of untalented people have come to Los Angeles from all over America and abroad to try to make it big (as writers, producers, directors, actors, talent agents, singers, composers, ...

This director wasn't good, byt awful, but every film is a delightful rotten egg...

18. 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...

Best films: 'Fight Club', 'The Game' and 'Se7en'.

19. Jacques Tati

Writer | Les vacances de Monsieur Hulot

The comic genius Jacques Tati was born Taticheff, descended from a noble Russian family. His grandfather, Count Dimitri, had been a general in the Imperial Army and had served as military attaché to the Russian Embassy in Paris. His father, Emmanuel Taticheff, was a well-to-do picture framer who ...

Best film: 'Mr. Hulot's Holiday'.

20. Francis Ford Coppola

Producer | Apocalypse Now

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 ...

Best films: 'Godfather 1+2' and 'Bram Stoker's Dracula'.

21. Oliver Stone

Director | JFK

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 ...

Best film: 'Wall Street', 'Natural Born Killers' and 'U Turn'.

22. Lars von Trier

Writer | Dancer in the Dark

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 (1984). A highly ...

Best films: 'The Idiots', 'Antichrist' and 'Melancholia'

23. Alex Proyas

Director | Dark City

Alex Proyas has moved effortlessly between helming TV commercials and music videos to feature films. Born to Greek parents in Egypt, Proyas relocated to Australia with his family when he was three years old. He began making films at age ten and went on to attend the Australian Film Television and ...

Best films: 'The Crow', 'Dark City' and 'I, Robot'.

24. Danny Boyle

Director | 127 Hours

Danny Boyle was born on October 20, 1956 in Manchester, England as Daniel Boyle. He is a director and producer, known for 127 Hours (2010), 28 Days Later... (2002) and Slumdog Millionaire (2008).

Best films: 'Trainspotting' and 'The Beach'.

25. Brad Anderson

Director | Session 9

Brad Anderson was born in 1964 in Madison, Connecticut, USA. He is a director and producer, known for Session 9 (2001), The Machinist (2004) and Transsiberian (2008).

Best films: 'Session 9' and 'The Machinist'.

26. Michel Gondry

Director | Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

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 ...

Best films: 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind', 'Science of Sleep' and 'Green Hornet'.

27. Milos Forman

Director | One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

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 ...

Best films: 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest' and 'Man On The Moon'.

28. 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 ...

Best films: 'Scarface' and 'Mission Impossible'.

29. Tobe Hooper

Director | The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

Honored with many awards for his films and achievement in the horror genre, Tobe Hooper is truly one of the Masters of Horror (2005).

Tobe Hooper was born in Austin, Texas, to Lois Belle (Crosby) and Norman William Ray Hooper, who owned a theater in San Angelo. He spent the 1960s as a college ...

Best films: 'Poltergeist' and 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre'. Besides from those two, none were good.

30. Peter Jackson

Producer | The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

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,...

Best films: 'Braindead' and 'Bad Taste'.

31. Zack Snyder

Director | 300

Zachary Edward "Zack" Snyder (born March 1, 1966) is an American film director, film producer, and screenwriter, best known for action and science fiction films. Snyder made his feature film debut with the 2004 remake Dawn of the Dead and has gone on to be known for his comic book movies and ...

He gets picked for all the good projects. Best films: 'Blade', '300' and 'Watchmen'.

32. 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 ...

Best films: 'From Dusk 'Till Dawn', 'Sin City' and 'Planet Terror'.

33. Frank Miller

Writer | Sin City

Frank Miller was born in Olney, Maryland, to a nurse mother and a carpenter and electrician father, and was raised in Montpelier, Vermont. He is of Irish descent. Miller was a big comics writer/artist in the '70s and '80s. He wrote and penciled the Marvel series "Daredevil" for a long time. His ...

Best films: 'Sin City'.

34. Joe Dante

Director | Innerspace

Joe Dante is a graduate of the Philadelphia College of Art. After a stint as a film reviewer, he began his filmmaking apprenticeship in 1974 as trailer editor for Roger Corman's New World Pictures. He made his directorial debut in 1976 with Hollywood Boulevard (co-directed with Allan Arkush), a ...

Best films: 'The Burbs' and 'Gremlins'.

35. Paul Verhoeven

Director | Zwartboek

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 (1969), about a medieval ...

Best films: 'Total Recall' and 'Robocop'.

36. Lilly Wachowski

Writer | The Matrix

Director, writer and producer Lilly Wachowski was born in 1967 in Chicago as Andrew Wachowski, the son of Lynne, a nurse and painter and Ron, a businessman. Lilly was educated at Kellogg Elementary School in Chicago, before moving on to Whitney Young High School. After graduating from high school, ...

37. Luis Buñuel

Writer | Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie

The father of cinematic Surrealism and one of the most original directors in the history of the film medium, Luis Buñuel was given a strict Jesuit education (which sowed the seeds of his obsession with both religion and subversive behavior), and subsequently moved to Madrid to study at the ...

Best films: 'The Andalusian Dog', 'Phantom of Liberty'.

38. Federico Fellini

Writer | Le notti di Cabiria

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 ...

Best films: '8½' and 'The Clowns'.

39. Ingmar Bergman

Writer | Smultronstället

Ernst Ingmar Bergman was born July 14, 1918, the son of a priest. The film and T.V. series, The Best Intentions (1992) 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 (1996) is the ...

Best film: 'Persona'.

40. John Carpenter

Writer | The Fog

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 ...

Best films: 'Halloween', 'The Thing'.

41. Sergio Leone

Writer | Once Upon a Time in America

Sergio Leone was virtually born into the cinema - he was the son of Roberto Roberti (A.K.A. Vincenzo Leone), one of Italy's cinema pioneers, and actress Bice Valerian. Leone entered films in his late teens, working as an assistant director to both Italian directors and U.S. directors working in ...

Best films: 'A Fistful of Dollars', 'For A Few Dollars More' and 'The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly'.

42. Akira Kurosawa

Writer | Ran

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 (1943). Within a few years, Kurosawa had achieved sufficient stature to allow him greater...

Best film: 'Dreams'.

43. Kinji Fukasaku

Director | Batoru rowaiaru

Kinji Fukasaku was born on July 3, 1930 in Mito, Japan. He was a director and writer, known for Battle Royale (2000), Kamata kôshinkyoku (1982) and Chûshingura gaiden: Yotsuya kaidan (1994). He was married to Sanae Nakahara. He died on January 12, 2003 in Tokyo, Japan.

Best film: 'Battle Royale'.

44. Robert Zemeckis

Writer | Back to the Future

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 (1984), 1941 (1979)) and special effect ...

Best films: 'Back to the Future I-III', 'Death Becomes Her'.

45. Barry Sonnenfeld

Producer | Wild Wild West

Barry Sonnenfeld was born and raised in New York City. He graduated from New York University of Film School in 1978. He started work as director of photography on the Oscar-nominated In Our Water (1982). Then Joel Coen and Ethan Coen hired him for Blood Simple. (1984). This film began his ...

Best films: 'Men in Black' and 'The Adams Family I-II'.