When it comes to selecting the greatest film directors of all time, there is always going to debates amongst fans. Some individuals are going to point to certain directors while others might be fans of other. Particular individuals might hold one or two movies by the director above everyone else, while others might rank the entire collection of work against the rest. However, regardless of how the films are ranked, there are going to be some film directors who appear on the list and others who don’t that some might argue with. Regardless though, this is one of the greatest movie directors of all time listings that looks at the entire body of work and not just one or two productions.
10. Martin Scorsese
Some might have this individual higher, but he only won his first Oscar for director a few years ago with The Departed, and many might argue that award only came because he hadn’t won one yet (especially with a movie that is a carbon copy of the Chinese movie it is based on, almost shot for shot). However, even with the lack of awards, Scorsese has made some incredibly influential movies throughout the years, ranging from Taxi Driver to Goodfellas. There really can’t be a list without this director, which is exactly why he is considered one of the greatest movie directors of all time. Plus, there really is nothing that is going to slow him down, and there is almost always a new Scorsese moving coming out every year.
9. Woody Allen
Woody Allen is essentially the exact opposite of a Martin Scorsese. Scorsese usually goes with large budget movies that are full of explosions, tough guys, f-bombs and all sorts of violence. Additionally, almost all of his movies are remakes, spin offs or taken from books or foreign movies. Scorsese doesn’t really have too many original movies under his belt that hadn’t been heard, in some shape or form, before. Woody Allen is the opposite. He basically writes all of his movies, develops the scripts and are his original stories, all of which develop inside of his head. This is why he has won four Oscars for productions including Annie Hall, Manhattan and Midnight in Paris. For some individuals who simply can’t stand his antics or his personality (or even the way he writes), he can’t be denied as one of the greatest movie directors of all time, and it shows with the actors who want to work with him.
8. Francis Ford Coppola
Coppola hasn’t worked as a director very much recently as the majority of his work came out in the 1970s and 1980s. However, he has crafted some of the most brilliant works of art of all time. The Godfather Trilogy is still considered by many the greatest mafia movies of all time, and The Godfather Part II is even seen as the greatest sequel of all time. Outside of this movies, he directed Apocalypse Now” and wrote other Oscar winning movies, including Patton. Outside of mentoring a young George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola would appear higher on the list if he had more work to his name. With that being said though, the limited movies he does have is what places him as one of the greatest movie directors of all time.
7. Alfred Hitchcock
He might not of won all of the Oscars as other individuals on the list (he took home an individual Academy Award for Rebecca), but he is potentially the most influential director of all time. Essentially the true creator of suspense, the movies he created still capture the hearts, minds and throats of those who watch the productions today. Psycho remains one of the most beloved movies of all time and it is why he is one of the greatest movie directors of all time.
6. Stanley Kubrick
Stanley Kubrick had a true knack for creating something completely different in every single movie he made. Very few film directors are able to move from horror so science fiction and historic epic in the same career, but Stanley Kubrick proved capable of this. From director classics including the Shining and Spartacus, it is hard to argue against his inclusion as one of the greatest movie directors of all time. Perhaps his most loved movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey, remains one of the most discussed and confused movies of all time.
5. Christopher Nolan
Christopher Nolan is the current heavy weight director out there. He has basically taken the torch of the old regime of directors (Scorsese, Kubrick and Coppola) and created his own real dynasty as a film director. He doesn’t have all of the “Best Director” awards yet, but those are sure to come. With movies including Memento, Inception and the recent Batman trilogy, he is just getting started, not to mention he is also the youngest individual on the list. Due to this, he has the potential of eventually becoming the greatest director on this list, although time will ultimately tell.
4. Ridley Scott
Here is a director who either produces one of the greatest movies of the year or a complete flop. Some individuals just don’t like his directing style, but it hasn’t prevented him from making some of the most influential movies of all time. Alien and Blade Runner are two of the best examples of this. He also made movies including Black Hawk Down and Gladiator, on top of Thelma and Louise. There really is not a style he has not crossed over. With his ability to jump in between genres and still make influential movies is why he is one of the greatest movie directors of all time.
3. Clint Eastwood
Clint Eastwood is on this list not only as one of the best filmmakers of all time, but also because of his complete collaboration and control of his productions. Had he spent more time of his career directing than acting, it is possible he would be at least second on the list. However, with movies including Million Dollar Baby and Unforgiven, both of which brought home a fistful of Oscars, he continues to be one of the most desirable directors out there.
2. Akira Kurosawa
A Japanese director, he produced some of the most well respected movies of his time. The sheer number of movies he directed, including Seven Samurai and Rashomon showcase his exceptional skill, especially at a time where most movies were made in the United States. His movie “Seven Samurai” went on to greatly influence the American movie The Magnificent Seven and George Lucas used it as inspiration for Star Wars.
1. Steven Spielberg
The sheer number of movies Steven Spielberg has created is what sets him apart. Any director that can state they directed Jaws, E.T., Indiana Jones, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and The Color Purple should be tops on the list, and all of these movies he directed before he hit 40. On top of these movies he has also directed Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, Minority Report and countless others. There really is nothing close to his line of work and the number of classics he has made.