The Greatest Film Directors/Filmmakers of All Time(Ever)

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1.
Ridley Scott
Producer, Blade Runner
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 throughout the United Kingdom and Europe before they eventually returned to Teesside. Scott wanted to...
 
2.
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...
 
3.
Luc Besson
Luc Besson 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...
 
4.
John Woo
Director, Face/Off
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 established...
 
5.
Tony Scott
Producer, Man on Fire
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...
 
6.
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 Divinyls...
 
7.
Cameron Crowe
Certainly idiosyncratic as a writer, Cameron Crowe has created a series of scripts that, while liked by the critics, were considered offbeat and difficult to market. Cameron Bruce Crowe was born in Palm Springs, California, to Alice Marie Crowe (née George), a teacher and activist, and James A. Crowe...
 
8.
Guillermo del Toro
Guillermo del Toro is a Mexican film director, screenwriter, producer, and novelist. In his filmmaking career, Del Toro has alternated between Spanish-language dark fantasy pieces, such as the gothic horror film ; El espinazo del diablo (2001)_, and El laberinto del fauno (2006)_, and more mainstream American action movies...
 
9.
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, she attended Emerson College in Boston, but dropped out...
 
10.
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...
 
11.
Lana Wachowski
Writer, The Matrix
Lana Wachowski and her sister Lilly Wachowski, (also known as 'The Wachowskis') are the duo behind ground-breaking movies such as The Matrix and Cloud Atlas. Born to mother Lynne, a nurse, and father Ron, a businessman of Polish descent, Wachowski grew up in Chicago and formed a tight creative relationship with her sister Lilly...
 
12.
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 superhero films...
 
13.
Sylvester Stallone
Actor, Rocky
This athletically built, dark-haired American actor/screenwriter/director may never be mentioned by old-school film critics in the same breath as, say, Richard Burton or Alec Guinness; however, movie fans worldwide have been flocking to see Stallone's films for over 30 years, making "Sly" one of Hollywood's biggest-ever box office draws...
 
14.
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.
 
15.
Tim Burton
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 especially fond of films with Vincent Price)...
 
16.
Carl Rinsch
Director, 47 Ronin
 
17.
Joseph Kosinski
Director, TRON: Legacy
Joseph Kosinski is a director whose uncompromising visual style has quickly made a mark in the filmmaking zeitgeist. His feature film debut, "Tron Legacy" for Walt Disney Studios, grossed over $400 million worldwide and was nominated for several awards including an Academy Award and a Grammy for the score by Daft Punk...
 
18.
Keanu Reeves
Actor, The Matrix
Keanu Charles Reeves, whose first name means "cool breeze over the mountains" in Hawaiian, was born September 2, 1964 in Beirut, Lebanon. He is the son of Patricia Taylor, a showgirl and costume designer, and Samuel Nowlin Reeves, a geologist. Keanu's father was born in Hawaii, of British, Portuguese...
 
19.
David Lean
An important British filmmaker, David Lean was born in Croydon on March 25, 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...
 
20.
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...
 
21.
Akira Kurosawa
Writer, Yojimbo
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...
 
22.
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...
 
23.
James Mangold
Producer, Logan
James Mangold 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.
 
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25.
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...
 
26.
Paul Verhoeven
Director, Total Recall
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...
 
27.
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 before switching to English, and eventually dropping out. He then drove a truck to support his screenwriting ambition...
 
28.
George Lucas
George Walton Lucas, Jr. was raised on a walnut ranch in Modesto, California. His father was a stationery store owner and he had three siblings. During his late teen years, he went to Thomas Downey High School and was very much interested in drag racing. He planned to become a professional race-car driver...
 
29.
Brad Bird
Writer, Ratatouille
Phillip Bradley "Brad" Bird is an American director, screenwriter, animator, producer and occasional voice actor, known for both animated and live-action films. Bird was born in Kalispell, Montana, the youngest of four children of Marjorie A. (née Cross) and Philip Cullen Bird. His father worked in the propane business...
 
30.
Joss Whedon
Writer, The Avengers
Joss Whedon is the middle of five brothers - his younger brothers are Jed Whedon and Zack Whedon. Both his father, Tom Whedon and his grandfather, John Whedon were successful television writers. Joss' mother, Lee Stearns, was a history teacher and she also wrote novels as Lee Whedon...
 
31.
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...
 
32.
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...
 
33.
Alfred Hitchcock
Actor, 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)...
 
34.
Robert Rodriguez
Producer, Grindhouse
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, none were as captivated as the 12-year-old Rodriguez...
 
35.
Simon West
Director, Con Air
 
36.
Alfonso Cuarón
Writer, Gravity
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...
 
37.
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...
 
38.
Roland Emmerich
Roland Emmerich is a German film director and producer of blockbuster films like The Day After Tomorrow, Godzilla, Independence Day and The Patriot. Before fame, he originally wanted to be a production designer, but decided to be a director, after watching the original Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope. Emmerich began his career in his native Germany...
 
39.
Michael Fassbender
Michael Fassbender was born in Heidelberg, Germany, to a German father, Josef, and an Irish mother, Adele (originally from Larne, County Antrim, in Northern Ireland). Michael was raised in the town of Killarney, Co. Kerry, in south-west Ireland, where his family moved to when he was two years old. His parents ran a restaurant (his father is a chef)...
 
40.
John Hyams
Beginning his career in the fine arts, John Hyams graduated from Syracuse University's School of Visual and Performing Arts, earning top awards in painting and sculpture. Hyams exhibited and sold work in Los Angeles and New York before turning his attention to film. In 1997 Hyams wrote, directed, and...
 
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42.
Matthew Vaughn
Matthew Vaughn is an English film producer and director. He is known for producing such films as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch and for directing the crime thriller, Layer Cake, the fantasy epic, Stardust, the superhero comedy, Kick-Ass, and the superhero film, X-Men: First Class...
 
43.
Christopher McQuarrie
Christopher McQuarrie is an acclaimed producer, director and an Academy Award® winning writer. McQuarrie grew up in Princeton Junction, New Jersey and in lieu of college, he spent the first five years out of school traveling and working at a detective agency. He later moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film...
 
44.
Antonio Banderas
Actor, Desperado
Antonio Banderas, one of Spain's most famous faces, was a soccer player until breaking his foot at the age of fourteen; he is now an international film star known for playing Zorro in the eponymous film series. He was born José Antonio Domínguez Banderas on August 10, 1960, in Málaga, Andalusia, Spain...
 
45.
Paul W.S. Anderson
Writer, Death Race
Paul W.S. Anderson gained a fair bit of notoriety in his native England when he directed the ultra-violent Shopping (which he also wrote), starring Jude Law and Sean Pertwee in a story about thieves who steal by ramming a car into storefronts. The film was banned in some cinemas in England, and became a direct-to-video slightly edited release in the United States...
 
46.
Renny Harlin
Director, Die Hard 2
Born in 15 March 1959 as Renny Lauri Mauritz Harjola, he is the most successful Finnish film director in the history of Hollywood. Harlin started his career in film business in the beginning of 1980s when he was directing commercials and company films for companies like Shell. Later he worked as a buyer for Finnish film distributor and met Finnish Markus Selin in Los Angeles...
 
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48.
Shane Black
Considered one of the pioneer screenwriters of the action genre, Black made his mark with his Lethal Weapon screenplay. He also collaborated on the story of the sequel, Lethal Weapon 2. Each successive script he turned in had a higher price attached it, from The Last Boy Scout to The Long Kiss Goodnight, and in between a re-write on the McTiernan/Schwarzenegger Last Action Hero script.
 
49.
Walter Hill
Producer, Aliens
Hill was born in Long Beach, California and educated at Mexico City College and Michigan State University. He worked in oil drilling and construction in the 60s before becoming a 2nd assistant director in 1967. He has written and co-written screenplays, including several uncredited works. He has produced and directed films since 1975.
 
50.
Peter Hyams
Director, 2010
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...
 
51.
Dolph Lundgren
Dolph Lundgren was born in Stockholm, Sweden, to Sigrid Birgitta (Tjerneld), a language teacher, and Karl Johan Hugo Lundgren, an engineer and economist for the Swedish government. He lived in Stockholm until the age of 13, when he moved in with his grandparents in Nyland, Ångermanland, Sweden. Despite an early interest in music and the fine arts...
 
52.
Clint Eastwood
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 and mechanics...
 
53.
Robert Redford
Actor, The Sting
Charles Robert Redford, Jr. was born on August 18, 1936, in Santa Monica, California, to Martha (Hart), from Texas, and Charles Robert Redford, an accountant for Standard Oil, who was originally from Connecticut. He is of English, Scottish, Cornish, and Irish ancestry. Robert's mother died in 1955, the year after he graduated from high school...
 
54.
Jean-Claude Van Damme
Van Damme was born Jean-Claude Camille François Van Varenberg in Berchem-Sainte-Agathe, Brussels, Belgium, to Eliana and Eugène Van Varenberg, an accountant. "The Muscles from Brussels" started martial arts at the age of eleven. His father introduced him to martial arts when he saw his son was physically weak...
 
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56.
Hark Tsui
Producer, Wong Fei Hung
Tsui Hark recently became the fourth Chinese film director to join the board of judges for the 57th Cannes Film Festival in the feature films category this year. An internationally acclaimed visionary director, Hark started making experimental movies with 8mm film when he was only 13. After graduating from the University of Texas in Austin...
 
57.
Sam Peckinpah
"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...
 
58.
Sergio Leone
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...
 
59.
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...
 
60.
Martin Scorsese
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...
 
61.
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 age (he wrote and published eerie short stories...
 
63.
Tom Cruise
Actor, Top Gun
In 1976, if you had told fourteen year-old Franciscan seminary student Thomas Cruise Mapother IV that one day in the not too distant future he would be Tom Cruise, one of the top 100 movie stars of all time, he would have probably grinned and told you that his ambition was to join the priesthood. Nonetheless...
 
64.
Adrian Lyne
Director, Unfaithful
Adrian Lyne (Director/Writer/Producer) is the creative force behind some of the most talked-about movies of our time, among them, "Fatal Attraction", "9 1/2 Weeks", "Flashdance", "Indecent Proposal", "Jacob's Ladder" and "Unfaithful". Born in Peterborough, England and raised in London, Lyne attended the Highgate school...
 
65.
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...
 
66.
M. Night Shyamalan
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 obstetrician and gynecologist...
 
67.
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...
 
68.
Antoine Fuqua
Director, Training Day
Antoine Fuqua is an American film director and film producer. His first feature film was the action film The Replacement Killers, starring Chow Yun Fat. He then directed the crime thriller Training Day, for which star Denzel Washington won an Oscar, the action war drama Tears of the Sun, the Arthurian legend film King Arthur...
 
69.
José Padilha
He is best known for directing the Brazilian critical and financial successes Elite Squad and Elite Squad: The Enemy Within and the 2014 remake of RoboCop. He has won the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival for Elite Squad in 2008. He is also the producer and director of the Netflix original series Narcos, starring frequent collaborator Wagner Moura.