My Favorite Directors

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1.
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...
 
2.
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...
 
3.
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...
 
4.
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.
 
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 before switching to English, and eventually dropping out. He then drove a truck to support his screenwriting ambition...
 
6.
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...
 
7.
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...
“ By which I mean the George Lucas of the early days. ” - Mikesw1234
 
8.
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...
 
9.
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...
 
10.
Wilson Yip
Director, Yip Man
 
11.
Dante Lam
Director, Ji zhan
 
12.
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...
 
13.
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...
 
14.
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...
 
15.
Tony Scott
Director, Top Gun
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...
 
16.
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...
 
17.
Ben Affleck
Producer, Argo
American actor and filmmaker Benjamin Géza Affleck-Boldt was born on August 15, 1972 in Berkeley, California, and was raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His mother, Chris Anne (née Boldt), is a school teacher, and his father, Timothy Byers Affleck, is a social worker; the two are divorced. Ben has a younger brother...
 
18.
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.
 
19.
Guillermo del Toro
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) and worked on making his own short films...
 
20.
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...
 
21.
Christopher Nolan
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. At 7 years old...
 
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23.
Cheh Chang
Chang Cheh was the leading Martial Arts director in Hong Kong in the 1970s, now with close to 100 films to his name. His has influenced other directors such as John Woo and Liu Chiau Liang, and made famous such Hong Kong stars as Phillip Chung-Fung Kwok, Fu Sheng and Lung Ti. Chang has declared that he will stop working after he has made his 101st film...
 
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25.
Johnnie To
Producer, Hak se wui
With over thirty directing and producing credits to his name, Johnnie To enjoyed international breakthroughs with Election, Triad Election (aka "Triad Election") and Exiled; those films enjoyed multiple international film festival appearances and were separately sold to more than 21 foreign territories (including theatrical distributions in France and USA)...
 
26.
Jackie Chan
Actor, Rush Hour
Hong Kong's cheeky, lovable and best known film star, Jackie Chan endured many years of long, hard work and multiple injuries to establish international success via his early beginnings in Hong Kong's manic martial arts cinema industry. Jackie was born Kong-sang Chan on Hong Kong's famous Victoria Peak on April 7...
“ A lot of people forget that he's actually directed several of his best movies including Project A and Police Story. ” - Mikesw1234
 
27.
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...
 
28.
Jon Cassar
Producer, 24
“ The primary director of the TV series 24. ” - Mikesw1234
 
29.
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.
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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33.
Phillip Noyce
Director, Salt
Born in the Australian outback town of Griffith, New South Wales, Phillip Noyce moved to Sydney with his family at the age of 12. As a teenager, he was introduced to underground films produced on shoestring budgets as well as mainstream American movies. He was 18 when he made his first film, the 15-minute...
 
34.
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...
 
35.
Guy Hamilton
Director, Goldfinger
Typically British stiff-upper-lip war dramas and action adventure laced with moments of sophisticated comedy were Guy Hamilton's trademark. The son of a British diplomat, he spent most of his youth with his family in France, seemingly destined to be groomed for a career in the diplomatic service. Growing up...
 
36.
Terence Young
Director, Dr. No
Born in Shanghai and Cambridge-educated, Terence Young began in the industry as a scriptwriter. In the 1940s he worked on a variety of subjects, including the hugely popular wartime romance Suicide Squadron, set to Richard Addinsell's rousing "Warsaw Concerto". His original story was devised while listening to a concert in an army training camp...
 
37.
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)...
 
38.
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...
 
39.
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...
 
40.
John Ford
Director, The Searchers
John Ford is, arguably, The Great American Director. When Orson Welles, who repeatedly screened Ford's Stagecoach as a crash course in filmmaking before helming his first film, Citizen Kane, was asked who his three favorite directors were, he answered, "John Ford, John Ford, and John Ford." Along with D.W. Griffith and Cecil B. DeMille...
 
41.
Samuel Fuller
Sam Fuller had six siblings: three brothers (Ving, Ray and Tom) and three sisters (Evelyn, Tina and Rose). His most famous sibling was his older brother, the nationally syndicated comic strip artist and cartoonist, Ving Fuller. In the 1920s Ving was a staff cartoonist at the New York Evening Graphic...
 
42.
Howard Hawks
Director, The Big Sleep
What do the classic films Scarface, Twentieth Century, Bringing Up Baby, Only Angels Have Wings, His Girl Friday, Sergeant York, To Have and Have Not, The Big Sleep, Red River Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Rio Bravo have in common? Aside from their displays of great craftsmanship, the answer is director Howard Hawks...
 
43.
Frank Capra
One of seven children, Frank Capra was born on May 18, 1897, in Bisacquino, Sicily. On May 10, 1903, his family left for America aboard the ship Germania, arriving in New York on May 23rd. "There's no ventilation, and it stinks like hell. They're all miserable. It's the most degrading place you could ever be," Capra said about his Atlantic passage...
 
44.
Ted Post
Director, Peyton Place
Ted Post first began thinking about a career in show business in 1938, when he was working as a weekend usher at the Loew's Pitkin Theater in Brooklyn, New York, and getting so caught up in the movies that he would sometimes forget to escort the patrons to their seats. He received some acting training at the workshop of Tamara Daykarhanova...
 
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47.
Je-kyu Kang
Director Je-Kyu Kang was born in South Korea. Before directing his hit film Swiri pronounced "Shee Rhee", Kang nearly gave up the film business. After struggling for many years, he has finally become one of the premier directors in South Korea.
 
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49.
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...
 
52.
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...
 
53.
Andrew Davis
Director, The Fugitive
Director/Producer/Writer) Andrew Davis is a filmmaker with a reputation for directing intelligent thrillers, most notably the Academy Award-nominated box-office hit The Fugitive, starring Harrison Ford and 'Tommy Lee Jones' (Fqv). The film received seven Academy Award nominations including Best Picture and earned Jones a Best Supporting Actor award...
 
55.
Antoine Fuqua
Director, Training Day
Antoine Fuqua (born January 19, 1966) is an American film director, known for his work in the film Training Day as well as The Replacement Killers, Tears of the Sun, King Arthur, Shooter, Brooklyn's Finest, Olympus Has Fallen and The Equalizer. He has directed music videos for such artists as Arrested Development...
 
56.
Spike Lee
Director, Inside Man
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...
 
57.
George Roy Hill
Director, The Sting
George Roy Hill was never able to 'hit it off' with the critics despite the fact that 2 of his films - Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and The Sting - had remained among the top 10 box office hits by 1976. His work was frequently derided as 'impersonal' or lacking in stylistic trademarks. Andrew Sarris famously referred to it as 'idiosyncratic...
 
58.
John Frankenheimer
Director, Ronin
Born in New York and raised in Queens, John Frankenheimer wanted to become a professional tennis player. He loved movies and his favorite actor was Robert Mitchum. He decided he wanted to be an actor but then he applied for and was accepted in the Motion Picture Squadron of the Air Force where he realized his natural talent to handle a camera...
 
59.
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...
 
60.
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...
 
61.
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...
 
62.
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...
 
63.
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...
 
64.
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...
 
65.
Sergio Leone
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 Italy (usually making Biblical and Roman epics...
 
66.
Don Siegel
Director, Dirty Harry
Don Siegel was educated at Cambridge University, England. In Hollywood from the mid-'30s, he began his career as an editor and second unit director. In 1945 he directed two shorts (Hitler Lives and Star in the Night) which both won Academy Awards. His first feature as a director was 1946's The Verdict...
 
67.
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...
 
68.
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...
 
69.
Hiroshi Inagaki
Inagaki's career in film began as an actor--a child actor, in fact, appearing in numerous silent films beginning at the very dawn of Japanese cinema. This is probably why he was promoted to director at the unusually (for Japan) young age of 22. Along with producer Mansaku Itami (later the father of another acclaimed director...
 
70.
David O. Russell
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 survival; the family home as nexus of love...
 
71.
Gareth Evans
Welsh born writer/director, in 2003 directed a short film "Samurai Monogatari" telling the tale of a Samurai waiting to be executed. The short was in Japanese language and starred students from Tokyo who were studying at Cardiff University at the time. In 2003 he also graduated with an MA in Scriptwriting...
 
72.
Sergio Corbucci
Writer, Django
Sergio Corbucci was born on December 6, 1927, in Rome, Italy. He entered grade school with thoughts of becoming a businessman, but after earning a college degree in economics he took an abrupt detour into the world of cinema. Corbucci began his career as a film critic, first for the Italian film journal...
 
73.
John Milius
John Milius is a screenwriter and director who came to prominence in the 1970s, when he was associated with Francis Ford Coppola and the pre-Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope George Lucas. Born on April 11, 1944 in St. Louis, Missouri, Milius was one of the first movie industry professionals to be a film school graduate...
 
74.
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...
 
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76.
George A. Romero
George A. Romero never set out to become a Hollywood figure; by all indications, though, he was very successful. The director of the groundbreaking "Living Dead" films was born February 4, 1940 ,in New York City to Ann (Dvorsky) and Jorge Romero. His father was born in Spain and raised in Cuba, and his mother was Lithuanian...
 
77.
Takashi Miike
Takashi Miike was born in the small town of Yao on the outskirts of Osaka, Japan. His main interest growing up was motorbikes, and for a while he harbored ambitions to race professionally. At the age of 18 he went to study at the film school in Yokohama founded by renowned director Shôhei Imamura, primarily because there were no entrance exams...
 
78.
Peter Berg
Producer, Lone Survivor
Peter Berg is an American actor, director, writer, and producer. His first role was in the Adam Rifkin road movie Never on Tuesday. He went on to star in the World War 2 film A Midnight Clear. Roles in Fire in the Sky and Cop Land followed, and the Tom Cruise films Collateral and Lions for Lambs...
 
79.
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...
 
81.
David Ayer
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...
 
82.
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...
 
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84.
Hideo Gosha
Director, Goyôkin
 
85.
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...