Best Directors

by Nick Andrews | created - 15 Feb 2013 | updated - 05 Feb 2014 | Public

Simply my opinion. The order doesn't necessarily matter that much.

1. 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 ...

Here's my reasoning for Stanley Kubrick as the best director of all time. Every film he made was excellent and many revolutionized either a genre of film or the industry/art itself. 2001: A Space Odyssey revolutionized Science Fiction and special effects and is still one of the deepest films ever made. The effects are still some the best, even if released today. Don't even get me started on the stargate sequence. Every shot in that is insanely mesmerizing and beautiful.

A Clockwork Orange is an incredible statement about mankind, the goodness (or badness) of mankind, and is an interesting look on government's role in morality. Not to mention the cinematography is wonderful, as is the set design.

Dr. Strangelove is a hilarious look at something that isn't funny: nuclear holocaust. It is a comedy that actually is a good film too, complete with great lighting, direction, cinematography, and acting. Peter Sellers plays three characters, and is great as them all. George C. Scott is a great hyperbole of a childish warmonger general. Sterling Hayden is a great satire of the type of general that has become cliche in film.

Full Metal Jacket is a masterpiece war film that comments on war and "the duality of man". It is regarded as one of the greatest war films ever made.

The Shining is, in my opinion, the greatest horror movie ever made. Jack Nicholson's performance is unforgettable. Not to mention the unnerving steadicam shots through the halls of the hotel. It brought life to a sometimes stagnant genre.

2. Orson Welles

Actor | Citizen Kane

His father was a well-to-do inventor, his mother a beautiful concert pianist; Orson Welles was gifted in many arts (magic, piano, painting) as a child. When his mother died (he was nine) he traveled the world with his father. When his father died (he was fifteen) he became the ward of Chicago's Dr....

He did Citizen Kane. Is there much more that needs to be said? Yes. He also made Touch of Evil. Both masterpieces that innovated and told stories in excellent ways. Here's the good news too, he did more great stuff too.

3. Andrei Tarkovsky

Writer | Solyaris

The most famous Soviet film-maker since Sergei M. Eisenstein, Andrei Tarkovsky (the son of noted poet Arseniy Tarkovsky) studied music and Arabic in Moscow before enrolling in the Soviet film school V.G.I.K. He shot to international attention with his first feature, Ivan's Childhood (1962), which ...

This is someone not everyone has heard of. He's a Russian/Soviet director and is a great director. I highly recommend him, and if you haven't seen his movies, watch Stalker and Solaris. They're great, a bit slow, but still fantastic. His movies will take multiple viewings to understand and appreciate.

4. Ingmar Bergman

Writer | Smultronstället

Ernst Ingmar Bergman was born July 14, 1918, the son of a priest. The film and T.V. series, The Best Intentions (1992) is biographical and shows the early marriage of his parents. The film 'Söndagsbarn' depicts a bicycle journey with his father. In the miniseries Private Confessions (1996) is the ...

5. 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 ...

Psycho, North by Northwest, Vertigo, Rear Window, The Birds, Rope, Rebecca. Come on. Everyone has heard of this guy. He's the master of suspense and made some fantastic movies even if he was a weirdo.

6. 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 ...

You may know him as the Spaghetti Western guy, which is true, but that's not the extent of his talents. He did the Dollars Trilogy and Once Upon a Time in the West, some of the best movies ever made. His use of editing can turn a sequence where nothing happens into one of the most exciting scenes of all time.

7. Quentin Tarantino

Writer | Reservoir Dogs

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...

One of the best modern directors around. He's made Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, Inglourious Basterds, and Django Unchained, just to list a few. All his movies are fantastic and I recommend them all.

8. Paul Thomas Anderson

Director | Punch-Drunk Love

Anderson was born in 1970. He was one of the first of the "video store" generation of film-makers. His father was the first man on his block to own a V.C.R., and from a very early age Anderson had an infinite number of titles available to him. While film-makers like Spielberg cut their teeth making...

Another one the the best modern directors. He's made Punch Drunk Love, There Will Be Blood, and The Master most recently. His movies are beautifully made, with complex characters that seem real, and stories that allow them to shine. Now go watch this guy's movies.

9. Francis Ford Coppola

Producer | Apocalypse Now

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 ...

He has made some truly fantastic movies, some of the best. Godfather and Apocalypse Now are incredible. But. and that's a big but, everything he has made in the recent past has been crap, so that's why he is lower.

10. Steven Spielberg

Producer | Artificial Intelligence: AI

One of the most influential personalities in the history of cinema, Steven Spielberg is Hollywood's best known director and one of the wealthiest filmmakers in the world. He has an extraordinary number of commercially successful and critically acclaimed credits to his name, either as a director, ...

11. Béla Tarr

Producer | Werckmeister harmóniák

Béla Tarr was born on July 21, 1955 in Pécs, Hungary. He is a producer and director, known for Werckmeister harmóniák (2000), A torinói ló (2011) and Kárhozat (1988). He is married to Ágnes Hranitzky.

A master of black and white photography of the long take. So far I've only seen one of his movies, Werckmeister Harmonies, but that was enough for him to earn a spot on here.

12. David Lynch

Writer | Twin Peaks

Born in precisely the kind of small-town American setting so familiar from his films, David Lynch spent his childhood being shunted from one state to another as his research scientist father kept getting relocated. He attended various art schools, married Peggy Lynch and then fathered future ...

13. Roman Polanski

Actor | Chinatown

Roman Polanski is a Polish film director, producer, writer and actor. Having made films in Poland, Britain, France and the USA, he is considered one of the few truly international filmmakers. Roman Polanski was born in Paris in 1933. His parents returned to Poland from France in 1936, three years ...

14. 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 ...

15. Fritz Lang

Director | M

Fritz Lang was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1890. His father managed a construction company. His mother, Pauline Schlesinger, was Jewish but converted to Catholicism when Lang was ten. After high school, he enrolled briefly at the Technische Hochschule Wien and then started to train as a painter. ...

A German expressionist master, he made some fantastic movies both silent, and talkie. Metropolis is one of the greatest movies of all time and innovated the genre as well as special effects in a huge way. Plus M touched on some deep psychological issues in the early 1930's which is astonishing. If you haven't seen it, watch it. Not to mention Dr. Mabuse, one of the first, if not the first "movie supervillain".

16. Terrence Malick

Writer | Days of Heaven

Terrence Malick was born in Ottawa, Illinois. His family subsequently lived in Oklahoma and he went to school in Austin, Texas. He did his undergraduate work at Harvard, graduating summa cum laude with a degree in philosophy in 1965.

A member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society, he attended Magdalen ...

17. Steve McQueen

Director | 12 Years a Slave

Steve McQueen was born on October 9, 1969 in London, England as Steve Rodney McQueen. He is a director and writer, known for 12 Years a Slave (2013), Shame (2011) and Hunger (2008).

18. Joel Coen

Writer | Fargo

Joel Coen was born on November 29, 1954 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA as Joel Daniel Coen. He is a producer and writer, known for Fargo (1996), A Serious Man (2009) and Inside Llewyn Davis (2013). He has been married to Frances McDormand since April 1, 1984. They have one child.

19. Akira Kurosawa

Writer | Ran

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 (1943). Within a few years, Kurosawa had achieved sufficient stature to allow him greater...

20. Christopher Nolan

Writer | Interstellar

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.


21. David Fincher

Director | Se7en

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...

22. 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 ...

23. Peter Jackson

Producer | The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

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,...

The Lord of the Rings trilogy is a masterpiece and one of the best book adaptations of all time. Enough said.

24. Spike Jonze

Producer | Her

Spike Jonze made up one-third (along with Andy Jenkins and Mark Lewman) of the triumvirate of genius minds behind Dirt Magazine, the brother publication of the much lamented ground-breaking Sassy Magazine. These three uncommon characters were all editors for Grand Royal Magazine as well, under the ...

25. Danny Boyle

Director | 127 Hours

Danny Boyle was born on October 20, 1956 in Manchester, England as Daniel Boyle. He is a director and producer, known for 127 Hours (2010), 28 Days Later... (2002) and Slumdog Millionaire (2008).

26. James Cameron

Writer | Avatar

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 ...

Generally, he can get a lot of hate for his movies because they are popular and make a lot of money, but, they are not bad movies. Even though I think Avatar and Titanic aren't that great, they are still pretty good. Plus this is the guy that did Terminator 1 and 2 and Aliens, which are some great movies. He's done a lot for cinema.

27. 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 ...

Pan's Labyrinth and Devil's Backbone are top notch, yet his most recent stuff is a bit subpar. That's why he's down here. Still a great director though.

28. Nicolas Winding Refn

Writer | The Neon Demon

Writer, director, and producer Nicolas Winding Refn was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1970, to Anders Refn, a film director and editor, and Vibeke Winding (née Tuxen), a cinematographer. Just before he turned 11, in 1981, he moved to New York with his parents, where he lived out his teenage years...

29. Edgar Wright

Director | Shaun of the Dead

Edgar Howard Wright (born 18 April 1974) is an English director, screenwriter, producer, and actor. He is best known for his comedic Three Flavours Cornetto film trilogy consisting of Shaun of the Dead (2004), Hot Fuzz (2007), and The World's End (2013), made with recurrent collaborators Simon Pegg...

This guy makes some really entertaining movies. Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz deconstructed two overused genres and gave them new life, good for you Edgar.