My greatest unsung Directors

Now, I couldn't resist. I leave out the old/great masters. This is exactly from the intersection of mainstream/art house, where magic might happen. Some are legends of their own right. Sorry for all I have forgotten.

And nobody who has two Palms at home needs my list anyways.
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1.
James Ivory
The main part of his few movies were filmed in the quarter of a century in which he worked closely together with the Indian producer Ismail Merchant and the German writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. His first films are all set in India and are very much influenced by the style of Satyajit Ray and Jean Renoir...
 
4.
John Badham
Director, WarGames
English-born "Army brat" John Badham is the son of English actress Mary Hewitt and the stepson of an American Army general. Raised in Alabama and schooled at Yale, he cut his teeth producing and directing for TV before making his feature debut with The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings. Badham's breakthrough credit was the box office smash Saturday Night Fever...
 
5.
“ - heavyweights of world cinema (i). ” - dsensNWN00
 
7.
Vincent Ward
Writer, Alien³
Vincent Ward has produced, executive produced and/or written and directed feature films including What Dreams May Come (Which won an Oscar and was nominated for 2 Academy Awards), The River Queen (Won best film in Shanghai) and The Last Samurai (4 Academy Award nominations and winner of Best Foreign Film in Japan) developing the underlying material he chose the director...
“ - heavyweights of world cinema (ii). ” - dsensNWN00
 
8.
John Sayles
Writer, Lone Star
A bright child, John Sayles began reading novels before age 9. A Williams grad in 1972, he shunned a corporate career to work various blue-collar jobs, moving to east Boston to take a factory job. He wrote stories and submitted them to various magazines, and the Atlantic Monthly gave him the idea of publishing them in a novel--thus "Pride of the Bimbos" (1975) was born...
 
9.
Norman Jewison
Producer, The Hurricane
Norman Frederick Jewison was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, to Dorothy Irene (Weaver) and Percy Joseph Jewison, who managed a post office and a convenience store. His mother was an English immigrant, and his father was of English and Ulster-Scots descent. Jewison got his BA at Victoria College, University of Toronto...
 
10.
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...
 
11.
Alan Parker
Director, Evita
Prior to moving into film, Alan was noted as one of London's most talented advertising copywriters. He worked for the Collet Dickinson Pearce (CDP) ad agency in the 1960's and early 1970's, and began directing his own tvc scripts in their basement. Formed a partnership with David Puttnam as his producer (Puttnam had been a photographers' agent)...
 
12.
Brian De Palma
Director, Scarface
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 and his voyeuristic style. Restlessly he worked on big projects with the script writers Paul Schrader...
“ - After 30 years I can say I don't understand De Palma on a much deeper level. ” - dsensNWN00
 
13.
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.
 
14.
Robert Aldrich
Director, The Dirty Dozen
Robert Aldrich entered the film industry in 1941 when he got a job as a production clerk at RKO Pictures. He soon worked his way up to script clerk, then became an assistant director, a production manager and an associate producer. He began writing and directing for TV series in the early 1950s, and directed his first feature in 1953 (Big Leaguer)...
 
15.
Robert Wise
Robert Earl Wise was born on September 10, 1914 in Winchester, Indiana, the youngest of three sons of Olive R. (Longenecker) and Earl Waldo Wise, a meat packer. His parents were both of Pennsylvania Dutch (German) descent. At age nineteen, the avid moviegoer came into the film business through an odd job at RKO Radio Pictures...
 
16.
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...
 
17.
Paul Schrader
Writer, Taxi Driver
Although his name is often linked to that of the "movie brat" generation (Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Brian De Palma, etc.) Paul Schrader's background couldn't have been more different than theirs. His strict Calvinist parents refused to allow him to see a film until he was 18...
 
18.
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)...
 
19.
Nicholas Meyer
Nicholas Meyer was born on December 24, 1945 in New York City, and is probably best known for his involvement in the Star Trek films. According to his website, it was seeing his first movie The Beggar's Opera that inspired him to become a filmmaker. He was fascinated by such literary classics as Jules Verne's...
 
20.
Edward James Olmos
Edward James Olmos was born in Los Angeles, California, to Eleanor (Huizar) and Pedro Olmos, who was a mail carrier and welder. His family was of Mexican descent. If Olmos had followed the first love of his life, he would have been a professional baseball player. But by age 13, another love entered his life: rock music...
 
22.
Hsiao-Hsien Hou
Writer, The Assassin
Of the ten films that Hsiao-Hsien Hou directed between 1980 and 1989, seven received best film or best director awards from prestigious international films festivals in Venice, Berlin, Hawaii, and the Festival of the Three Continents in Nantes. In a 1988 worldwide critics' poll, Hou was championed as "one of the three directors most crucial to the future of cinema." Hou's birthplace...
 
23.
Michael Crichton
Michael Crichton was born in Chicago, Illinois, but grew up in Roslyn, New York. His father was a journalist and encouraged him to write and to type. Michael gave up studying English at Harvard University, having become disillusioned with the teaching standards--the final straw came when he submitted...
 
24.
Nanni Moretti
Nanni Moretti was born on the 19th of August, 1953. He lives in Rome, where since he was a kid he devotes himself to his two passions: cinema and water-polo. In 1970 he also played in water-polo first division in Italy, and in the junior National team. In those years he was also very committed in politcs...
 
25.
Todd Field
Director, Little Children
William Todd Field was born in Pomona, California, and began acting after graduating from high school in Portland, Oregon, where he was raised. A budding jazz musician as well, he skipped college in favor of a move east to New York to study acting. Once there, he began performing with the Ark Theatre Company as both an actor and musician...
 
27.
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...
 
28.
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...
 
29.
Tim Robbins
Born in West Covina, California, but raised in New York City, Tim Robbins is the son of former The Highwaymen singer Gil Robbins and actress Mary Robbins (née Bledsoe). Robbins studied drama at UCLA, where he graduated with honors in 1981. That same year, he formed the Actors' Gang theater group...
 
30.
Kelly Reichardt
Director, Wendy and Lucy
Kelly Reichardt was born and raised in Miami-Dade Country, Florida, to a family of police officers. She had an interest in photography from a very young age. She started by using her father's camera, which he used for photographing crime scenes. She went to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston...
 
31.
“ Please make more movies. ” - dsensNWN00
 
32.
Sean Penn
Sean Penn is a powerhouse film performer capable of intensely moving work, who has gone from strength to strength during a colourful film career, and who has drawn much media attention for his stormy private life and political viewpoints. Sean Justin Penn was born in Los Angeles, California, the second son of actress Eileen Ryan (née Annucci) and director...
 
33.
John Irvin
Director, Raw Deal
John Irvin is a British director who has made more than thirty motion pictures in his career so far, and has received mixed success over the years. Born in England, Irvin began his career in television before he filmed the gritty and violent theatrical motion picture, The Dogs of War. The film, starring Christopher Walken and Tom Berenger...
 
34.
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)...
“ - now this is something special. The world needs more special. ” - dsensNWN00
 
35.
George Clooney
Actor, Gravity
George Timothy Clooney was born on May 6, 1961, in Lexington, Kentucky, to Nina Bruce (née Warren), a former beauty pageant queen, and Nick Clooney, a former anchorman and game show host (who was also the brother of singer Rosemary Clooney). He has Irish, English, and German ancestry. Clooney spent most of this youth in Ohio and Kentucky...
 
36.
Jeff Nichols
Writer, Mud
 
38.
Nicolas Roeg
Director, Walkabout
When he made his directorial debut in 1970, Nicolas Roeg was already a 23-year veteran of the British film industry, starting out in 1947 as an editing apprentice and working his way up to cinematographer twelve years later. He first came to attention as part of the second unit on David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia...
 
39.
Paul Haggis
Writer, Crash
Paul Haggis is the award-winning filmmaker who, in 2006, became the first screenwriter to write two Best Film Oscar winners back-to-back - Million Dollar Baby directed by Clint Eastwood, and Crash which he himself directed. For Crash, he won Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay...
 
40.
Peter Greenaway
Peter Greenaway trained as a painter and began working as a film editor for the Central Office of Information in 1965. Shortly afterwards he started to make his own films. He has produced a wealth of short and feature-length films, but also paintings, novels and other books. He has held several one-man shows and curated exhibitions at museums world-wide.
 
41.
Ken Russell
Director, Tommy
Ken Russell tried several professions, before choosing to become a film director. He was a still photographer, a dancer and even served in the army, but it was film that was to be Mr. Russell's destiny. He began by making several short films, and those paved the way for his brilliant television films of the sixties that are acclaimed for his attention to detail and opulent visuals...
 
42.
Atom Egoyan
Atom Egoyan's parents were painters and he studied International Relations and music at the University of Toronto where he began making short films: Howard in Particular, After Grad with Dad, Peep Show and Open House. While he has several distinguished Television and Opera works on his resume and such pictures as his debut Next of Kin ...
 
43.
Yôji Yamada
Yamada Yoji graduated Tokyo University in 1954, the year he joined Shochiku as an assistant director. In 1969, he launched the popular "Tora-san" series, the world's longest theatrical film series. "The Twilight Samurai" (The Twilight Samurai) marks his 77th film as well as his 41th year as a director since his first film in 1961: Nikai no Tanin (Stranger Upstairs).
 
44.
Takeshi Kitano
Takeshi Kitano was born in Tokyo in 1947 and entered show business in 1972 as "Beat" Takeshi, the stage name he continues to use today as a performer. As part of the comic duo Two Beats, Kitano was one of the leading figures in the manzai (stand-up comedy) boom in the late 1970s. With his distinctive art of speech and his idiosyncratic perspective...
 
45.
“ - heavyweights of world cinema (iii). ” - dsensNWN00
 
46.
Ki-duk Kim
He studied fine arts in Paris in 1990-1992. In 1993 he won the award for Best Screenplay from the Educational Institute of Screenwriting with "A Painter and A Criminal Condemned to Death". After two more screenplay awards, he made his directorial debut with Crocodile. Then he went on to direct Wild Animals...
“ - pretty much a genre of his own. ” - dsensNWN00
 
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48.
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...
 
50.
Abel Ferrara
Director, Bad Lieutenant
Born in the Bronx, Ferrara started making amateur films on Super 8 in his teens before making his debut with violent exploitation films such as 'Driller Killer' and 'Ms.45'. Good reviews for the latter helped create his cult reputation, leading to larger budgets, studio funding and 'name' actors (Christopher Walken...
 
51.
 
53.
Aki Kaurismäki
Aki Kaurismäki did a wide variety of jobs including postman, dish-washer and film critic, before forming a production and distribution company, Villealfa (in homage to Jean-Luc Godard's Alphaville) with his older brother Mika Kaurismäki, also a film-maker. Both Aki and Mika are prolific film-makers...
 
54.
Werner Herzog
Director, Grizzly Man
Director. Writer. Producer. Has studied history, literature and theatre, but hasn't finished it. Founded his own production company in 1963. Has staged several operas, besides others in Bayreuth, Germany, and at the Milan Scala in Italy. Herzog has won numerous national and international awards for his films.
 
55.
Rainer Erler
Director, Fleisch
 
56.
Fatih Akin
Director, Head-On
Fatih Akin was born in 1973 in Hamburg of Turkish parentage. He began studying Visual Communications at Hamburg's College of Fine Arts in 1994. His collaboration with Wueste Film also dates from this time. In 1995, he wrote and directed his first short feature, "Sensin - You're The One!" ("Sensin - Du Bist Es!")...
 
57.
 
58.
Douglas Trumbull
Producer, Silent Running
Legendary filmmaker and visual effects pioneer, Douglas Trumbull, was one of the Special Photographic Effects Supervisors for 2001: A Space Odyssey. He went on to become the Visual Effects Supervisor for such classics as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and Blade Runner, each of which earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Visual Effects...
 
59.
Mick Jackson
Director, The Bodyguard
Born Aveley, Essex, England Educated Palmer's School, University of Southampton (BA Hons Electronics) University of Bristol Postgraduate degree in drama.
 
61.
Andrey Zvyagintsev
Director, Leviathan
Andrei Zvyagintsev is a Russian filmmaker and was born on Feb.6, 1964 in the northern city of Novisibirsk. He graduated from the Novosibirsk Actors School in 1984 and started to act on stage in provincial theatres. In the early 1990s he came to Moscow - the centre of the Russian film industry - with the ambition to star in movies...
 
62.
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...
 
63.
Larry Clark
Director, Kids
Was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma (1943). Son of Frances Clark (baby photographer) and Lewis Clark. Graduated from Central High school in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Attended Layton School of Art in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Studied under Walter Sheffer and Gerard Bakker. Film debut was the movie Kids. He was already well known for his revolutionary photographic body of work...
 
64.
Philip Ridley
Writer, Heartless
Philip was born in the East End of London where he still lives and works. He studied painting at St Martin's School of Art and has exhibited widely throughout Europe. As a novelist his credits include Crocodilia (1988), In The Eyes Of Mr. Fury (Penguin, 1989), Flamingoes In Orbit (Hamish Hamilton, 1990) and three novels for children; Mercedes Ice (Collins...
 
65.
Tony Kaye
Tony Kaye was born in London, United Kingdom. He has made several well-known music videos, including the video for "Runaway Train" by Soul Asylum, which won a Grammy Award, "Dani California" by Red Hot Chili Peppers, "What God Wants" by Roger Waters, and "Help Me" and "God's Gonna Cut You Down" by Johnny Cash...
 
66.
Sion Sono
Director, Ai no mukidashi
Shion Sono is a Japanese director, writer and poet. Born in Aichi Perfecture in 1961 he started his career working as a poet before taking his first steps in film directing. As a student he shot a series of short films in Super 8 and managed to make his first feature films in the late 80s and early 90s...
 
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70.
Thomas Vinterberg
Director, The Hunt
With Last Round (Last Round), his graduation short from The National Film School of Denmark, he got an early taste of critical success. He received the Jury's and Producers' Awards at the International Student Film Fest in Munich and won the 1st Prize at the Tel Aviv Film Fest. Popular success followed with his breakthrough short fiction film...
 
71.
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.
 
73.
Dennis Hopper
Actor, Speed
With an amazing cinematic career of more than five decades, Dennis Hopper was a multi-talented and unconventional actor/director, regarded by many as one of the true "enfants terribles" of Hollywood. Hopper was born on May 17, 1936 in Dodge City, Kansas, to Marjorie Mae (Davis) and James Millard Hopper...
 
74.
“ - ridiculously talented director (who happens to like bad scripts). ” - dsensNWN00
 
75.
Ti West
Director, V/H/S
 
76.
“ - deserves more recognition (I). ” - dsensNWN00
 
77.
“ - deserves more recognition (II). ” - dsensNWN00
 
78.
Rod Lurie
Talented film critic-turned-director who burst onto the scene in late 2000 with his hotly debated political thriller The Contender. That film launched Lurie into the spot of filmmakers-to-watch and stood out amongst a year's worth of mindless and politically empty films. Born in Israel, Lurie spent his childhood living in Connecticut and Hawaii...
“ - deserves more recognition (III). ” - dsensNWN00
 
79.
“ - greatest producer ever. Someone invent this man. ” - dsensNWN00