Top 10 Best Movie Directors of All Time
It would be easy to come up with a top 30 or top 20 best directors of all-time list. But, narrowing that down to 10 from all the great filmmakers that have lived over the years, that is something more challenging. But when thinking of directors who have made films that have stood the test of time, that have changed filmmaking, or have provided audiences with thousands of hours of great entertainment, this has to be the defining list.
10 Tim Burton
We might not consider Burton one of the great filmmakers of all time but he is one of the quirkiest and for that, he deserves to be on this list. Think about films that you could watch repeatedly and you will probably get Edward Scissorhands and Beetlejuice. Add to that Batman, Ed Wood, and g Fish for an excellent selection of films.
9 The Coen Brothers
Joel and Ethan Coen referred to as the Coen brothers. As children, they started their careers with a Super 8 camera and eventually moved to the big time with the loved film Raising Arizona. When we think of cult classics, they have probably made more than any other filmmakers. Look at Fargo and The Big Lebowski and Barton Fink.
8 David Lynch
You might not follow along or fully understand his films, but when you leave the theater you will most likely be thinking about what you just watched, and that is the sign of a great filmmaker. David Lynch isn’t just a great director, he is a writer, an actor, and an artist. As a child, his mother took away his coloring books because she could see that he was an outside the lines kind of person, and boy was she right.
7 Akira Kurosawa
When you watch a Kurosawa film, you know you are watching a Kurosawa film. Born in 1910 his movies are often recommended viewing for anyone who wants to get into filmmaking. When it comes to beautifully shot films, there is no better than Rashomon, Yojimbo, and Seven Samurai. Seven Samurai is often listed on critics best films of all time list and was the influence for the 1960 John Sturges film The Magnificent Seven.
6 Francis Ford Coppola
When going down the list of best movies of all time you will usually find on that list The Godfather and Apocalypse Now, both made by Coppola. At 80 most of us would be retired, sitting at home, and watching yards to make sure the neighbor kids don’t mess it up. Not Coppola who is still producing and directing.
5 Martin Scorsese
Making movies for longer than most of us have been alive Martin Scorsese has given us some of the most dramatic films of all time featuring Goodfellas, Taxi Driver, and Raging Bull. And he is still putting out fantastic films for us to enjoy with the Academy Award-nominated The Wolf of Wallstreet. Scorsese’s recent film The Irishman was made with his often collaboration partner Robert DeNiro.
4 Stanley Kubrick
Stanley Kubrick might not have made as many films as some of the other directors on this list, but those he did make are considered some of the greats. Often listed as one of the most influential filmmakers of all time his films are must-watch movies for any filmmaker and student of film thanks to, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, and Dr. Strangelove. His movie A Clockwork Orange was so controversial that it could not be viewed in the UK from 1973 until after his death in 1999
3 Quentin Tarantino
Tarantino writes and directs some of the best dialog and violence we have seen on camera. Famously known as a film nerd who worked at a video store his breakout came with his film Reservoir Dogs that he wrote and directed. He followed up Reservoir Dogs with the even more successful Pulp Fiction. Tarantino has stated many times that he only plans to make a total of 10 films. If that holds true we only have one more film after Once Upon a Time in Hollywood to look forward to.
2 Alfred Hitchcock
The master of suspense Hitchcock gave us some of the best horror films of all time, without the need for excessive violence or blood. His imagery and movies have been parodied and copied but never will we have another like him with films like Psycho, Vertigo and Rear Window. Hitchcock was nominated for five best director Academy Awards yet never won proving that the Academy Awards are a big joke not to be taken seriously.
1 Steven Spielberg
This one is an easy decision. Just some highlights include Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, Indiana Jones, Lincoln, and Jaws. If on a desert island and having to pick only one director, this would be it. If you are in the mood for a comedy, he has it. In the mood for a drama, no problem. Action? Yep. And more. And he is still making movies. Name a top 10 directors list published anywhere and Steven Spielberg’s name is on that list, often in the number one spot.
Unfortunately, Welles doesn’t get mentioned much anymore when it comes to great directors. But don’t forget that he did things in Citizen Kane that had never been done before in films. Touch of Evil still has one of the best opening shots of all time. Especially considering the era when it was made.
Not considered one of the greats, but it was watching Clerks that contributed to me wanting to make films.
He hasn’t impressed us with much lately but do not forget he made Blade Runner and Alien.
His movies make a lot of money with films like Batman Begins, Dark Knight, and Inception. But don’t forget he also made Memento a brilliant physiological thriller.
The Seventh Seal is one of those films that any filmmaking 101 students will watch. And there is a reason it is a must-watch.
He’s on the outs with Hollywood at the moment because of his off-screen behavior, but he has made some super influential films over the years.
When it comes to doing things with technology in filmmaking that had never been done before, you have to look at James Cameron. Thanks to T2 and Avatar.