Top 10 Best Movie Directors of All Time

From the days of silent cinema, directors have been the unsung heroes behind the camera, turning mere scripts into cinematic masterpieces. They're the ones who have given us everything from heart-pounding action sequences to tear-jerking dramas.

But let's dissect what separates the greats from the rest. A top-notch director isn't just a visionary; they're the ultimate multitaskers. They coax award-worthy performances out of actors, weave intricate storylines, and create eye-popping visuals that leave us gasping. They're the conductors of a complex orchestra, ensuring every shot, every cut, and every beat resonates with us, the audience, from the opening credits to that final, lingering frame.
The Top Ten
1 Steven Spielberg Steven Allan Spielberg (born December 18, 1946) is an American director, producer, and screenwriter. He is considered one of the founding pioneers of the New Hollywood era, as well as being viewed as one of the most popular directors and producers in film history.

This man gave us the meaning of the summer blockbuster with Jaws. He reinvented the adventure genre with Indiana Jones. He gave us two of the most contrasting yet revered alien movies: E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. And I haven't even started on his genre-defining war-time movies like Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, and War Horse (yes, I loved it).

If that wasn't enough, he gave us Lincoln, the best biopic ever. Period. When he makes films for the sake of a good script, he ends up with movies like Minority Report, Catch Me If You Can, and The Terminal. He doesn't remain just another great American director.

Consider when he made Munich. Do we need more proof that he's the most versatile director? Here's one more point. The same year he made Schindler's List (a critic's dream), he made Jurassic Park (a geek's dream). The same year he made War Horse (a World War I feature), he made Tintin (an ode to Indiana Jones in animation). So let's just bow to him and stop discussions.

2 Stanley Kubrick Stanley Kubrick was an American film director, screenwriter, producer, cinematographer, editor, and photographer. He is frequently cited as one of the greatest and most influential directors in cinematic history. He died at the age of 71.

I'm not sure who exactly is the greatest filmmaker of all time. All I know is that it's an argument between 2-5 directors: Kubrick, Hitchcock, Scorsese, Spielberg, and maybe Quentin Tarantino. Scorsese and Tarantino haven't made enough films, in my opinion. Although all their films are good, I wouldn't label either of them as the GOAT of directing. Spielberg has made many great films, but he's also made a few that are not so good.

Hitchcock is a great director, and I would say he is the GOAT of directing. However, most of his movies fall under one genre, so you could argue that he wasn't as versatile. On the other hand, Kubrick, in my opinion, has never made a bad film and is one of the most versatile directors ever. He has made us laugh to death with Dr. Strangelove, terrified us in The Shining, and made us stare in awe at 2001: A Space Odyssey. Not to mention, he also made masterpieces like Lolita, A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, Full Metal Jacket, Eyes Wide Shut, Spartacus, and Paths of Glory. He was truly the Michael Jordan of his craft, so good that some people legitimately thought he directed the Moon landing.

3 Quentin Tarantino Quentin Jerome Tarantino (born March 27, 1963) is an American filmmaker, actor, film critic and author. His films are characterized by frequent references to popular culture and film history, nonlinear storylines, dark humor, stylized violence, extended dialogue, pervasive use of profanity, cameos and... read more

Quentin Tarantino is truly a one-of-a-kind filmmaker. His collection of movies, which he wrote and directed, is remarkable. Even his arguably weakest film, Death Proof, is still a good movie.

He has the guts to make movies that other directors wouldn't dare to attempt. Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, Inglourious Basterds, and The Hateful Eight are all highly distinctive films. These aren't even all the movies he has made. Quentin Tarantino is the best. Period.

This guy has the most insane and chaotic films. He made Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained, Reservoir Dogs, Jackie Brown, Sin City, and Kill Bill. The dialogue can be corny, but this guy makes them so over the top that they're enjoyable.

Also, the action is super chaotic in his films, especially Pulp Fiction. All his films are good and insane. Even his worst films are fun. You have to give props to this genius.

4 Martin Scorsese Martin Charles Scorsese (born November 17, 1942) is an American film director, producer, and screenwriter. He is the recipient of many accolades, including an Academy Award, three Primetime Emmy Awards, a Grammy Award, four British Academy Film Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, and two Directors Guild... read more

I've seen just about every Scorsese film, at least all of the wildly successful ones. A key element I notice in a lot of Scorsese films is the element of surprise. This isn't necessarily in a "shock value" sense, but with an ability to perfectly execute a plot twist.

He also has a knack for foreshadowing what's expected to happen in the climax, but then showing exactly how it happens. A good example would be the 1988 controversial film, "The Last Temptation of Christ." The clue is right there in the title.

Many viewers, mostly Christian, drop out of the film right as we see Jesus take on a "normal life." Whether Christian or not, we can all agree that at the time, it was a very wild and risky idea. However, if you watch to the very last scene, we see the story of Christ end the way it was intended by scripture. From the start of the film, we all know what's supposed to happen, but the controversial segment of the "last temptation" is already in the title of the film. It doesn't register until you watch the entire film from start to finish. The same man who is big on mafia and crime filmed the greatest story ever told from his own creative insight. He is a brilliant filmmaker.

5 Alfred Hitchcock Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock, was an English-American film director and producer, at times referred to as "The Master of Suspense".

This guy has more classic movies than any other director in history. "Psycho," "North by Northwest," "Rear Window," "Vertigo," "The Birds," just to name a few. Hitchcock's influence on the film industry has far surpassed any other director, and his original style can be recognized in just a few scenes and camera shots. How many other filmmakers can you instantly recognize without any clues? Hitchcock truly is the greatest and most influential filmmaker to ever grace us with his movies.

Shaped modern cinema from 1960 onwards with the Shower Scene. He created more masterpieces than anyone else: The 39 Steps, The Lady Vanishes, Blackmail, The Lodger, Rebecca, Shadow of a Doubt, Notorious, Strangers on a Train, Rear Window, Dial M for Murder, Vertigo, North by Northwest, Psycho, and The Birds.

Even his four-star movies set new standards, like Lifeboat, Saboteur, Suspicion, The Wrong Man, Frenzy, and Foreign Correspondent.

6 Christopher Nolan Christopher Edward Nolan, CBE (born 30 July 1970), is a British-American film director, producer, and screenwriter. His films have grossed more than US$5 billion worldwide and have garnered 11 Academy Awards from 36 nominations... read more

Maybe some of these other directors are more famous and have made many more movies, but Nolan still easily has them beat. Do you know what he says? "It's disappointing that people make a movie without the mindset that 'this movie has the potential to be the greatest movie ever made.'" No other directors even consider that. They just love money. All of his movies are polished, consistent, unique, and amazing - many of them flawless and renowned.

The top three highest-rated movies of the past 15 years all belong to him: Inception, The Dark Knight, and Interstellar. Inception is the best movie of all time, and I say that with certainty. The Dark Knight revolutionized superhero movies.

Interstellar was such a moving and intelligent movie. I could go on. All his movies are must-watches. He is the most intelligent filmmaker ever, and he's still doing it.

7 Francis Ford Coppola Francis Ford Coppola is an American film director, producer, screenwriter and film composer. He was a central figure in the New Hollywood wave of filmmaking.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: his best film is "Apocalypse Now." The "Godfather Trilogy" is incredible, but he truly displays his perseverance and commitment as a filmmaker through the adaptation of "Heart of Darkness."

The Godfather trilogy left a mark on cinematography and influenced everyone's approach to movies, especially gangster films. The Godfather I and II are especially cinematic jewels.

The Godfather is the best mafia movie in the history of mankind, no doubt. Goodfellas was great, as was Scarface, but The Godfather is better.

8 Upendra

Excellent director. You need to watch the entire movie without missing a single scene to understand it perfectly. This is definitely applicable to movies like A, Upendra, and Swastik. His talent is really showcased in OM.

Excellent director. Expect more and more unique movies. Personally, I did not like the movie Super. He could have done better justice to his latest movie, Super. I hope he will come back with a bang in Upendra2. Do not include commercial elements in Upendra2. Just go with the innocent attitude you had almost one and a half decades ago.

9 James Cameron James Cameron is a Canadian film director, producer, screenwriter, and deep-sea explorer. He is best known for his films, The Terminator, Aliens, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Titanic, and Avatar. He is also the third person in history to reach the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the... read more

James Cameron has guts and a vision that is unprecedented. Only he can break his own box office records. Come on, he took a 12-year gap to break the records set by "Titanic," and no one ever dared to come close to it.

Finally, he shattered his own records by making the most advanced film in the history of world cinema: "Avatar." Truly, he is a genius in direction and an excellent visionary. He should be in the top three.

A lot of his movies not only make my favorite sci-fi films of all time list, they also make my favorite movies of all time list. Period. With the first two Terminators, Aliens (the best sequel ever), and Avatar, come on, guys! He should at least be in the top five.

10 Tim Burton Timothy Walter Burton is an American film director, producer, artist, writer, and animator. He is known for his dark, Gothic, eccentric, and quirky fantasy films such as Beetle-juice (1988), Edward Scissor-hands (1990), the animated musical The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), the biographical film... read more

I love all his movies, both stop-motion and live-action. I like the fact that Tim creates a whole new world that most people wouldn't even dare to think of. His stop-motion movies are beautiful, and all the stories are amazingly written.

Just add Danny Elfman for directing music and Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, and you are bound for nothing short of a masterpiece. As for the characters in his movies, you feel sympathy for them, yet you also can't help loving them. Jack Skellington, Edward Scissorhands, and Victor are just a few examples.

Sure, the Tim Burton style may not be for everyone, but in my opinion, his movies are a perfect mix of romance, comedy, and mystery.

The Contenders
11 Peter Jackson Sir Peter Robert Jackson is a New Zealand filmmaker and screenwriter. He is best known as the director, writer and producer of The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit trilogy, both of which are adapted from the novels of the same name by J. R. R. Tolkein. He is also known for cult films like Bad... read more

Come on, Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, King Kong! This man is easily the greatest film director of all time. All of the Lord of the Rings movies won at least 2 Academy Awards, with Return of the King winning all 11 of its Academy Award nominations. Seriously, this guy should be number 1.

So what if Steven Spielberg made the Jurassic Park series and Jaws? Did that series get 8.7 and over on IMDb for every one of the films in it? No. But every single Lord of the Rings film got between 8.7-8.9. Not to mention getting over 90% for each film on Rotten Tomatoes. Seriously, this guy is the definition of a director. A legend, this man is.

12 Joel and Ethan Coen

Not only have they won four Oscars, but they have also won the Palme d'Or, the Grand Prix, and the Prix Mise En Scène three times. They have made great film after great film.

Miller's Crossing, Barton Fink, Fargo, Raising Arizona, The Big Lebowski, No Country for Old Men, Burn After Reading, A Simple Man, True Grit, Inside Llewyn Davis, and Hail, Caesar! These filmmakers are geniuses and are two of the greatest filmmakers to have ever lived.

Their writing is what really makes me a fan. They do make a wide variety of excellent films, but whatever time and location a film of theirs is set in, the dialogue is always very authentic.

13 David Lynch David Keith Lynch is an American director, screenwriter, producer, painter, musician, actor, and photographer. He has been described by The Guardian as "the most important director of this era".

After all the discussion, no one could fault the conclusion that David Lynch is the most important filmmaker of the current era. Providing a portal into the collective subconscious, the daydream nation he conjures up in tales such as Blue Velvet, Lost Highway, and Mulholland Drive is by turns frightening, exasperating, revelatory, and wild.

Nobody makes films like David Lynch. He is our spooky tour guide through a world of dancing dwarves, femme fatales, and little blue boxes that may or may not contain all the answers. We wouldn't want to live in the places he takes us. Somehow, we suspect, we do.

14 George Lucas George Walton Lucas, Jr. is an American filmmaker and entrepreneur. He is best known as the creator of the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises, as well as the founder of Lucasfilm and Industrial Light & Magic.

Without George Lucas, there would be no Star Wars. He made one of my favorite franchises in my childhood and wrote my all-time favorite fictional character, Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader. When it comes to filmmaking, even in his worst movies, George definitely has a certain style and charm that makes him stand out among others.

I loved the Star Wars original trilogy, and to this day, they're still some of my favorite films ever. As for the prequels, they may not live up to Episodes 4-6, but I still really enjoyed watching them. They were also some of the reasons why I became the Star Wars fan I am today.

To be honest, the prequels are extremely underrated. They may have some problems with scriptwriting and visuals, but these issues were never enough to ruin the films completely. Most of the criticisms old-school Star Wars fans had for them were never bad enough to the point where the prequels should be hated. The prequel trilogy undoubtedly has good stories, a high amount of depth, deep meanings, stylish action scenes that look cool, and astounding direction.

However, at least a fair amount of people are starting to respect Episodes 1-3 more after seeing what bad filmmaking is in Disney's Star Wars sequel trilogy. These sequels had the most convoluted writing, an abysmal grasp of the Star Wars lore, and superficial depth. Star Wars just wouldn't be the same without George Lucas, and I really like him. I just wish I could see his Star Wars Episodes 7-9.

15 Akira Kurosawa Akira Kurosawa was a Japanese film director and screenwriter, who directed 30 films in a career spanning 57 years. He is regarded as one of the most important and influential filmmakers in the history of cinema.

I'm not sure how he was listed 20th in this disappointing list. Every film he ever directed was a masterpiece of storytelling, recreation, cinematography, acting, drama, romance, and violence (and tasteful violence, not gratuitous). He is brilliant.

This list was compiled by people under the age of 30 who have never seen a great old or foreign film. Not just one of his pieces is great. There are people on this list who made a couple of good films, but everything this director made was genius.

Every single film is a brilliant epic. The ironic thing about this list is that most of these directors stole their technique from him. This is a depressingly sad list of film directors, analogous to today's list of music icons. Madonna gets 35 music awards, and Ella Fitzgerald can't pick up a lifetime achievement award. That is sad.

Old school is better. He is my number one pick for the best director of all time, not for just one film, but for every film that he ever brought to life. He wasn't a three-hit wonder. He wasn't chasing his past successes by remaking his first big hit over and over with a different storyline like most well-known directors today.

Each one was epic and brilliant, as well as well-acted. From Dostoyevsky to Shakespeare, to original genius, he made no error in his great filmmaking. His choice of actors was no less brilliant. Toshiro Mifune was an incredible actor - not just in the way you would see some "let me tell you" analogy like Clint Eastwood is to Spaghetti Westerns as Toshiro Mifune is to Samurai. He is the quintessential "it." That's all there is when you think of such a thing. A brilliant actor. This list is crap.

16 Ridley Scott Sir Ridley Scott is an English film director and producer. Following his commercial breakthrough with the science fiction horror film Alien, further works include the neo-noir dystopian science fiction film Blade Runner, historical drama Gladiator, and science fiction film The Martian.

Ridley Scott has directed some really great movies, including Legend, Alien, and Blade Runner. He has directed so many movies and does a fantastic job. Legend is one of the best fantasy/adventure movies ever made (I downright love Blix, the coolest goblin ever).

Alien and Blade Runner are some of the best sci-fi movies ever made. There are plenty of other awesome movies where those come from. Ridley Scott should be ranked higher than this.

Ridley Scott's second movie he ever made was Alien, which still hasn't been topped by any of the sequels. He returned to the series more than 30 years later and knocked it out of the park with his highly underrated Alien prequel, Prometheus.

He also has hits like Blade Runner, Gladiator, and The Martian. Nobody will ever top him on my list.

17 David Fincher David Andrew Leo Fincher is an American film director, film producer, television director, television producer, and music video director.

David Fincher is the director of films like Gone Girl, Zodiac, Fight Club, Se7en, and The Game. These are some of the best thrillers ever made. The tension that builds throughout the films, the characters about whom you never have a clear opinion because of the ever-changing approach towards them, and the plots, which are always full of twists and enigmatic surprises, make his movies experiences you don't want to miss.

He isn't even my favorite director. He's my fourth favorite. But still, he shouldn't be that low. He's much better than George Lucas, Ridley Scott, James Cameron, Tim Burton, and whoever these Indian directors are.

Fight Club might be my favorite movie of all time. Se7en is one of my favorites. Zodiac, Gone Girl, and The Social Network are all masterpieces. Alien 3 is underrated.

18 Andrei Tarkovsky

Films wouldn't be the same without Tarkovsky. The style, the cinematography, and the message in his films are way ahead of other directors. Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Ridley Scott, and George Lucas are just candy sellers. Tarkovsky is art.

I understand why there are people who don't like him, but you can't say that he is not one of the most important filmmakers in history.

Andrei Arsenyevich Tarkovsky is by far the greatest film director of all time. He can portray events in a way that no one else can. Once you watch a Tarkovsky film, you'll understand.

You'll think of cinema in a way that you never have before. Sure, Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, and Stanley Kubrick are great, but Tarkovsky is truly an artist. Watch Solaris, and you'll understand.

19 Ingmar Bergman Ernst Ingmar Bergman was a Swedish director, writer, and producer who worked in film, television, theatre and radio.

I'm crying legitimate tears because of how hilariously ridiculous this list is. Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan, and Tim Burton are the ultimate I don't know a single thing about film picks. Anyone who thinks they are even close to being one of the greatest film directors has definitely never been outside the Hollywood bubble.

They make easy, mainstream movies disguised as thought-provoking films, and judging by this list, they do a pretty good job at fooling the masses. Call me pretentious, arrogant, or bitter - I don't care. It still doesn't erase the fact that you are probably one of those who doesn't watch foreign films because you don't like reading subtitles.

I'd tell you to watch the works of the master so you can understand what art is. But I now realize you are too weak for Bergman. It's best if you just watch the godawful thing that is Interstellar and go on Facebook saying it's the best thing you've ever watched. I'll be here having a great laugh.

20 Robert Zemeckis Robert Lee Zemeckis is an American director, film producer and screenwriter frequently credited as an innovator in visual effects.

Forrest Gump, Cast Away, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Walk, and the greatest trilogy of all time, the Back to the Future movies. He does all these movies that sound dumb and nonsensical on paper but couldn't have more clarity on screen, in addition to charm.

That's much more than the likes of David Lynch could say, whose films don't even make sense after multiple viewings.

His mentor, Steven Spielberg, has created one of the greatest directors of all time. Robert's films have such inexplicable value that it would be a crime not to place him on the best directors list. I mean, come on, who doesn't like Forrest Gump?

21 Charlie Chaplin Sir Charles Spencer "Charlie" Chaplin, KBE (16 April 1889 – 25 December 1977) was an English comic actor, filmmaker, and composer who rose to fame in the silent era. He is considered one of the most important figures in the history of the film industry.

I read the history of Charlie Chaplin, and he would redo each scene multiple times to make his movies perfect. However, his shortest film is, I think, 10 minutes, and the longest is 30 minutes. I'm not sure because I haven't watched some of his movies yet.

He is not just an extraordinary director. He does everything well! Acting without a voice? Just facial expressions? He's nailed that too.

Storyline? It's relevant, refreshing, touching, memorable, everlasting, and risk-taking.

This guy couldn't just direct. He could act, produce, compose, cast, and write in all of his own films! He was that good. Not to mention, he was a great person. He's easily my favorite actor!

22 Mel Brooks Mel Brooks (born Melvin Kaminsky; June 28, 1926) is an American actor, comedian, film producer, director and screenwriter. With a career spanning over 7 decades he is known as a creator of broad film farces and comedic parodies. Brooks began his career as a comic and a writer for Sid Caesar's variety... read more

He directed such comedy classics as Spaceballs and Young Frankenstein.

The Producers coined the song Springtime for Hitler.

23 John Hughes John Wilden Hughes Jr. was an American filmmaker. Beginning as an author of humorous essays and stories for National Lampoon, he went on to write and direct some of the most successful comedy films.

Without him, we couldn't have had the 1980s and the influence it spawned. He directed classics such as The Breakfast Club (my all-time favorite), Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, Home Alone 1 and 2, and Weird Science. He was also a great producer.

John Hughes and Chris Columbus both rock.

24 Wes Anderson Wesley Wales Anderson is an American filmmaker. His films are known for their distinctive visual and narrative styles.

Wes Anderson is a strange cookie. His films always involve strange camera maneuvers, eccentric color choices, made-up worlds, and symmetrical shots executed with such perfectionism that you leave the cinema wondering if he's borderline autistic. His films are full of hilarious but subtle humor and are always a pleasure to watch.

He gets my vote for being brave and bold enough to create his own cinema style and not just conform to the usual Hollywood standards. He's indeed a very intelligent man, and his films will always be jewels.

25 Sergio Leone

I personally think Stanley Kubrick should be number one, but Sergio Leone should be ten spots up at the very least. His films have been extremely influential, and many consider his movies to be some of the greatest ever made. Raise him up, please. Give the Spaghetti man his respect.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly - best movie ever. Once Upon a Time in the West - best Western ever. Once Upon a Time in America - one of the best gangster movies ever. For a Few Dollars More - best spaghetti western ever. A Fistful of Dollars - creator of the spaghetti western genre.

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