My Favorite Film Directors of All Time

by danpivalwil | created - 07 Mar 2012 | updated - 07 Mar 2012 | Public

1. Ridley Scott

Producer | The Martian

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

2. Michael Mann

Producer | The Insider

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 (1975). He directed his first film, the award-winning prison drama The Jericho Mile (1979), in 1979. He followed that in 1981 with his first theatrical release,...

3. Tony Scott

Producer | Domino

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...

4. Luc Besson

Writer | Le cinquième élément

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 (1988) and The Fifth Element (1997), as an adolescent bored in ...

5. John Woo

Producer | Ying hung boon sik

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 ...

6. Michael Bay

Producer | Armageddon

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. His work won...

7. 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 ...

9. 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 ...

10. Simon West

Director | Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

Simon West was born in 1961 in Letchworth, Hertfordshire, England. He is a producer and director, known for Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), The General's Daughter (1999) and Stolen (2012).

11. Paul Verhoeven

Director | Zwartboek

Paul Verhoeven graduated from the University of Leiden, with a degree in math and physics. He entered the Royal Netherlands Navy, where he began his film career by making documentaries for the Navy and later for TV. In 1969, he directed the popular Dutch TV series, Floris (1969), about a medieval ...

12. Adrian Lyne

Director | Flashdance

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...

13. 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...

14. Peter Berg

Writer | Very Bad Things

Peter Berg is an American actor, director, writer, and producer. His first role was in the Adam Rifkin road movie Never on Tuesday (1989). He went on to star in the World War 2 film A Midnight Clear (1992). Roles in Fire in the Sky (1993) and Cop Land (1997) followed, and the Tom Cruise films ...

15. Joe Carnahan

Writer | The A-Team

Joe Carnahan was born on May 9, 1969 in Sacramento, California, USA as Joseph Aaron Carnahan. He is a producer and writer, known for The A-Team (2010), Narc (2002) and Smokin' Aces (2006).

16. Cameron Crowe

Writer | Almost Famous

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. ...

17. Stanley Kubrick

Director | 2001: A Space Odyssey

Stanley Kubrick was born in Manhattan, New York City, to Sadie Gertrude (Perveler) and Jacob Leonard Kubrick, a physician. His family were Jewish immigrants (from Austria, Romania, and Russia). Stanley was considered intelligent, despite poor grades at school. Hoping that a change of scenery would ...

18. Tim Burton

Producer | Edward Scissorhands

Timothy Walter Burton was born in Burbank, California, to Jean Rae (Erickson), who owned a cat-themed gift shop, and William Reed Burton, who worked for the Burbank Park and Recreation Department. He spent most of his childhood as a recluse, drawing cartoons, and watching old movies (he was ...

19. 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 ...

20. 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, ...

21. 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 (1999) and Cloud Atlas (2012). Born to mother Lynne, a nurse, and father Ron, a businessman of Polish descent, Wachowski grew up in Chicago and formed a tight...

22. 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, ...

23. Oliver Stone

Director | JFK

Oliver Stone has become known as a master of controversial subjects and a legendary film maker. His films are filled with a variety of film angles and styles, he pushes his actors to give Oscar-worthy performances, and despite his failures, has always returned to success.

William Oliver Stone was ...

24. Brian De Palma

Director | Dressed to Kill

Brian De Palma is the son of a surgeon. He studied physics but at the same time felt his dedication for the movies and made some short films. After seven independent productions he had his first success with Sisters (1972) and his voyeuristic style. Restlessly he worked on big projects with the ...

25. Martin Scorsese

Director | Taxi Driver

Martin Charles Scorsese was born on November 17, 1942 in Queens, New York City, to Catherine Scorsese (née Cappa) and Charles Scorsese, who both worked in Manhattan's garment district, and whose families both came from Palermo, Sicily. He was raised in the neighborhood of Little Italy, which later ...

26. Robert Rodriguez

Producer | El mariachi

Robert Anthony Rodriguez was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, USA, to Rebecca (Villegas), a nurse, and Cecilio G. Rodríguez, a salesman. His family is of Mexican descent.

Of all the people to be amazed by the images of John Carpenter's 1981 sci-fi parable, Escape from New York (1981), none ...

27. Frank Miller

Writer | Sin City

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

28. Timur Bekmambetov

Director | Nochnoy dozor

Timur Bekmambetov is a Russian-Kazakh film director known for vampire franchise Nochnoy dozor (2004) and Dnevnoy dozor (2006).

He was born Timur Nuruakhitovich Bekmambetov on June 25, 1961, in Guryev, Soviet Union (now Atyrau, Kazakhstan). His father, Nuruakhit Bekmambetov, is a manager at Guryev ...

29. John McTiernan

Director | Die Hard

John McTiernan was born on January 8, 1951 in Albany, New York, USA as John Campbell McTiernan Jr. He is a director and producer, known for Die Hard (1988), Last Action Hero (1993) and Predator (1987). He has been married to Gail Sistrunk since 2012. He was previously married to Kate Harrington, ...

30. Guillermo del Toro

Writer | El laberinto del fauno

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

31. 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 ...

32. Sofia Coppola

Actress | The Godfather: Part III

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 (2010), Lost in Translation (2003) and Marie Antoinette (2006). She has been married to Thomas Mars since August 27, 2011. They have two children. She was ...

33. Sergio Leone

Writer | Once Upon a Time in America

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

34. Sam Peckinpah

Writer | Straw Dogs

"If they move", commands stern-eyed William Holden, "kill 'em". So begins The Wild Bunch (1969), 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 ...

35. Joseph Kosinski

Director | Tron

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 ...

36. Walter Hill

Writer | 48 Hrs.

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 ...

37. John Hyams

Director | Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning

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, ...

38. Isaac Florentine

Director | Undisputed II: Last Man Standing

Worshiped by his fans for many years Isaac Florentine has built up his excellent reputation within the movie business. At first attracting the action movie fans, Isaac moved into the mainstream with New Line's release Undisputed II: Last man standing. The film received rave reviews not only for its...

39. Spike Lee

Director | Do the Right Thing

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 ...

40. James McTeigue

Director | V for Vendetta

James McTeigue is an assistant director and director, known for V for Vendetta (2005), The Raven (2012) and Ninja Assassin (2009).

41. George Lucas

Writer | Star Wars

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 racecar ...