< The BEST Directors on planet Earth. A list by a REAL movie fan >

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1.
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...
“ He doesn't care about his critics, he doesn't care about anything. He's doing what he wants to do. And he's doing a great job. ” - Alex_Smith_777
 
2.
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...
 
3.
Billy Wilder
Originally planning to become a lawyer, Billy Wilder abandoned that career in favor of working as a reporter for a Viennese newspaper, using this experience to move to Berlin, where he worked for the city's largest tabloid. He broke into films as a screenwriter in 1929, and wrote scripts for many German films until Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933...
 
4.
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...
 
5.
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...
 
6.
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...
 
7.
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)...
 
8.
Stanley Kubrick
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...
 
9.
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...
 
10.
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...
 
11.
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)...
 
12.
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...
 
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14.
Wolfgang Petersen
Director, Troy
This director seems to shine most when making movies that can best be described as part action movies/part disaster movies. Beginning with Outbreak (1995) about the outbreak of a killer virus. This film had shades of an Irwin Allen disaster movie, The Swarm (1978), about the outbreak of killer bees. Both films had the military and scientists clash, also both had choppers all over the place...
 
15.
David Ayer
Writer, Fury
David Ayer is an American film director, producer, and screenwriter. David Ayer was born in Champaign, Illinois and grew up in Bloomington, Minnesota, and Bethesda, Maryland, where he was kicked out of his house by his parents as a teenager. Ayer then lived with his cousin in Los Angeles, California...
 
16.
Carl Franklin
Director, Out of Time
Carl Franklin studied history and dramatic arts at UC Berkeley. After several years as a television actor with guest shots, roles in TV movies, miniseries, and appearing as a regular on a few unsuccessful series, he returned to school and received his master's degree in directing from the American Film Institute...
 
17.
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...
 
18.
Victor Fleming
Victor Fleming entered motion pictures as a combination driver and stunt man at the Flying A studio in Santa Barbara, California, in 1912, following a series of jobs that included bicycle mechanic, taxi driver, auto mechanic (He also did a little racing on the side), chauffeur and auto salesman. Allan Dwan took credit for hiring him after he repaired Dwan's car...
 
19.
Charles Chaplin
Writer, Modern Times
Charlie Chaplin, considered to be one of the most pivotal stars of the early days of Hollywood, lived an interesting life both in his films and behind the camera. He is most recognized as an icon of the silent film era, often associated with his popular "Little Tramp" character; the man with the toothbrush mustache, bowler hat, bamboo cane, and a funny walk...
 
20.
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...
 
21.
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...
 
22.
Kenneth Branagh
Actor, Valkyrie
Kenneth Charles Branagh was born on December 10, 1960, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK, to parents William Branagh, a plumber and carpenter born in 1930, and Frances (Harper) Branagh, also born in 1930. His brother, William Branagh Jr., was born in 1955 and sister, Joyce Branagh, was born in 1970...
 
23.
Martin Scorsese
Martin Scorsese directed landmark films such as the crime film Mean Streets (1973), the vigilante-thriller Taxi Driver (1976), the biographical sports drama Raging Bull (1980), the black comedy The King of Comedy (1983), and the crime films Goodfellas (1990) and Casino (1995), all of which he collaborated on with actor and close friend Robert De Niro...
 
24.
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...
 
25.
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...
 
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27.
Tom Tykwer
Composer, Run Lola Run
Director, writer, producer and composer Tom Tykwer was born in 1965 in Wuppertal, Germany. He showed an interest in film-making from childhood, making super 8 films from the age of 11. Among his first jobs was working at a local art-house cinema. Tykwer eventually relocated to Berlin, first working as a film projectionist and then becoming head of programming at the Moviemento Theater...
 
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30.
John Carpenter
Writer, Halloween
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...
 
31.
Wolf Rilla
Born in Berlin, Germany, in 1894, Wolf Rilla was the son of German actor Walter Rilla. When Nazi leader Adolf Hitler came to power, the elder Rilla--who was Jewish--moved his family to London, England. After completing his education, Wolf went to work for the BBC World Review in 1942, and in the late 1940s transferred to the network's newly created television service...
 
32.
Richard Linklater
Director, Before Sunset
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. Typically setting each of his movies during one 24-hour period...
 
33.
Gore Verbinski
Gore Verbinski, one of American cinema's most inventive directors who was a punk-rock guitarist as a teenager and had to sell his guitar to buy his first camera, is now the director of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest which made the industry record for highest opening weekend of all time ($135,600,000) and grossed over $1 billion dollars worldwide...
 
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35.
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...
 
38.
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 Radio School along with Jane Campion and Jocelyn Moorhouse...
 
39.
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...
 
40.
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...
 
41.
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...
 
43.
“ I still prefer his older movies. ” - Alex_Smith_777
 
44.
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.
 
45.
François Truffaut
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...
 
46.
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...
 
47.
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...
 
48.
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...
 
49.
Michael Curtiz
Director, Casablanca
The director Michael Curtiz was an American director of Hungarian origin and an Oscar-winner. He received his diploma from the School for Dramatic Arts in 1906. He then went to live in Pécs, then in Szeged. Curtiz began acting in and then directing films in his native Hungary in 1912. The next year...
 
50.
Gregory Hoblit
Producer, Frequency
Gregory Hoblit was born in Texas but moved to Northern California at a young age because of his father's job in law enforcement, a hint at what might have attracted the mystery/courtroom plots of his movie/TV credits. After graduating from UCLA, he worked as a TV co-producer with Steven Bochco until directing the 80s series...
 
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52.
Martin Campbell
Director, Casino Royale
Martin Campbell knows how to entertain an audience when he steps behind the camera. When he directed The Mask of Zorro, the movie earned Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations and launched the international careers of Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Next, when he helmed Vertical Limit, the film was well received by the critics and earned over $200 million in worldwide box-office sales...
 
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54.
Scott Hicks
Director, Shine
Hicks was born in Uganda and lived in Kenya, just outside Nairobi, until the age of ten. His family then moved, first to England and, when he was 14, on to Adelaide, Australia. Hicks graduated from Flinders University of South Australia (BA Honors) in 1975 and was awarded an honorary doctorate in 1997...
 
55.
Barry Levinson
Producer, Sleepers
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...
 
56.
David Lean
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...
 
57.
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 Eileen Hitchcock (born 1892)...
 
58.
Hayao Miyazaki
Director, Spirited Away
Hayao Miyazaki is one of Japan's greatest animation directors. The entertaining plots, compelling characters, and breathtaking animation in his films have earned him international renown from critics as well as public recognition within Japan. The Walt Disney Company's commitment to introduce the films...
 
59.
Kar-Wai Wong
Wong Kar-wai (born 17 July 1956) is a Hong Kong Second Wave filmmaker, internationally renowned as an auteur for his visually unique, highly stylised, emotionally resonant work, including Ah fei zing zyun (1990), Dung che sai duk (1994), Chung Hing sam lam (1994), Do lok tin si (1995), Chun gwong cha sit (1997)...
 
60.
Jane Campion
Writer, The Piano
Jane Campion was born in Wellington, New Zealand, and now lives in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Having graduated with a BA in Anthropology from Victoria University of Wellington in 1975, and a BA, with a painting major, at Sydney College of the Arts in 1979, she began filmmaking in the early 1980s...
 
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62.
Guy Ritchie
Director, Snatch
Guy Ritchie was born in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, UK on September 10, 1968. After watching Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid as a child, Guy realized that what he wanted to do was make films. He never attended film school, saying that the work of film school graduates was boring and unwatchable. At 15 years old, he dropped out of school and in 1995...
 
63.
Curtis Hanson
After small films like The Bedroom Window and Sweet Kill, Curtis Hanson went on to direct major features including The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, The River Wild and the Academy Award-winning L.A. Confidential. Setting his sights on another city, Hanson was critically acclaimed for directing Eminem in Universal Pictures' 8 Mile...
 
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66.
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...
 
67.
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...
 
70.
Andrew Niccol
New Zealand-born screenwriter-director Andrew Niccol began his career in London, successfully directing TV commercials before moving to Los Angeles in order to make films "longer than 60 seconds." He interested high-powered producer Scott Rudin in his The Truman Show script, but Rudin was not willing to gamble on a rookie director...
 
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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...
 
75.
Milos Forman
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...
 
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“ He's starting GREAT! Looking forward to his next movies. ” - Alex_Smith_777
 
79.
Ivan Reitman
Producer, Ghostbusters
Ivan Reitman, as a producer and director, has created many of American cinema's most successful and best loved feature film comedies and has worked with Hollywood's acting elite. Reitman has produced such hits as the ground-breaking sensation National Lampoon's Animal House, which introduced John Belushi to American filmgoers...
 
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Harold Ramis
Born on November 21, 1944 in Chicago, Illinois, Harold Allen Ramis got his start in comedy as Playboy magazine's joke editor and reviewer. In 1969, he joined Chicago's Second City's Improvisational Theatre Troupe before moving to New York to help write and perform in "The National Lampoon Show" with other Second City graduates including John Belushi...
 
83.
Jean-Jacques Annaud
Jean-Jacques Annaud is a French film director, screenwriter and producer, best known for directing Quest for Fire, The Name of the Rose, The Lover, Seven Years in Tibet and Wolf Totem. Annaud has received numerous awards for his work, including four César Awards, one David di Donatello Award, and one National Academy of Cinema Award...
 
84.
Sean Baker
Writer, Tangerine
Sean Baker is a writer/director known for the Spirit Award nominated films Take Out, Prince of Broadway and Starlet (winner of the Robert Altman Spirit Award). His latest film Tangerine premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and will be released by Magnolia Pictures in the United States...
 
86.
Iain Softley
Director, K-PAX
Softley was educated at St Benedict's School, Ealing, London, and Queens' College, Cambridge University, where he was a member of the college's dramatic society, the BATS, and directed a number of highly-praised theatrical productions. He worked for Granada TV and the BBC before becoming a director of music videos and...
 
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William Friedkin
Director, The Exorcist
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...
 
89.
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...
 
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Julie Taymor
Julie Taymor is an Academy Award-nominated director, known for such films as Frida and Across the Universe. She was born on December 15, 1952, in Newton, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston. Her father, Melvin Lester Taymor, was a gynecologist. Her mother, Elizabeth Bernstein, was a teacher of political science...
 
93.
Mervyn LeRoy
Director, Mister Roberts
The great San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906 was a tragedy for Mervyn Leroy. While he and his father managed to survive, they lost everything they had. To make money, Leroy sold newspapers and entered talent contests as a singer. When he entered vaudeville, his act was "LeRoy and Cooper--Two Kids and a Piano"...
 
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Sidney Lumet
Director, 12 Angry Men
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...
 
99.
Ken Loach
Unlike virtually all his contemporaries, Ken Loach has never succumbed to the siren call of Hollywood, and it's virtually impossible to imagine his particular brand of British socialist realism translating well to that context. After studying law at St. Peter's College, Oxford, he branched out into the theater...
 
100.
Howard Hughes
Producer, The Outlaw
Billionaire businessman, film producer, film director, and aviator, born in Humble, Texas just north of Houston. He studied at two prestigious institutions of higher learning: Rice University in Houston and California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California. Inherited his father's machine tool company in 1923...