Top 50 Directors

The 50 directors with the most appearances on the various ballots:

  1. Alfred Hitchcock
  2. Stanley Kubrick
  3. Francis Ford Coppola
  4. Orson Welles
  5. Kurosawa Akira
  6. Billy Wilder
  7. Martin Scorsese
  8. John Ford
  9. Steven Spielberg
  10. Ingmar Bergman
  11. Jean Renoir
  12. Federico Fellini
  13. Jean-Luc Godard
  14. Woody Allen
  15. Howard Hawks
  16. Andrei Tarkovsky
  17. Ozu Yasujiro
  18. F.W. Murnau
  19. David Lynch
  20. Robert Altman
  21. Luis Buñuel
  22. Roman Polanski
  23. David Lean
  24. Carl Theodor Dreyer
  25. Charles Chaplin
  26. Fritz Lang
  27. Robert Bresson
  28. Michael Curtiz
  29. Sergio Leone
  30. The Coen Brothers
  31. Quentin Tarantino
  32. Alain Resnais
  33. Sergei M. Eisenstein
  34. Michelangelo Antonioni
  35. Krzysztof Kieslowski
  36. Carol Reed
  37. François Truffaut
  38. Michael Powell
  39. Mizoguchi Kenji
  40. Buster Keaton
  41. Ridley Scott
  42. Stanley Donen
  43. John Huston
  44. Leo McCarey
  45. Sidney Lumet
  46. Vittorio De Sica
  47. Frank Capra
  48. Victor Fleming
  49. Werner Herzog
  50. Terrence Malick


Anonymous said...

How can it be that there are no women on the list?

Anonymous said...

No Peckinpah in the top 50??

Patrick said...

No William Wyler?? Not only should he be on the list, he should be in the top 10. go watch about 10 of his best films and then redo this list.

tom hyland said...

A great project and one like this always invites a lot of comments, given the final choices.

Great names on the top 50 directors, but how does Quentin Tarantino get on the list while Otto Preminger doesn't? I would think this has to do with the age of the participants, as many young bloggers have seen Tarantino's films, but maybe not Preminger's.

Yet there are several Preminger films on your top 1000, such as Anatomy of a Murder, Exodus and the underrated Bunny Lake is Missing.

Also, how does Legal Eagles get listed in the top 1000 and not Laura from Otto Preminger?

Chris said...

Umm hello?? Fassbinder anyone?

You guys doin some drugs over there??

And the list reads more like the Most Influential/Imitated Directors, rather than the Best...otherwise why are the Coens (wildly uneven body of work), Resnais (ditto) and Antonioni (wildly overrated) on the list?

I like the films of the directors Bresson has influenced more than I like Bresson's own films, but I won't argue his place on the list.

But Tarantino? Seriously? You might as well have saved a place for De Palma as well..

Meanwhile where are the following:

1) Rainer Werner Fassbinder

2) Pedro Almodovar

3) Louis Malle

4) Volker Schlondorff

5) Lina Wertmuller

6) Bela Tarr

7) Eric Rohmer

8) Michael Mann

9) Oliver Stone

(Honorable Mention: Michael Haneke, Catherine Breillat, and Wong-Kar Wai)

And isn't it time the cineaste crowd got over their forced Renoir obsession? I've seen every movie of his I could get my hands on and found them all (save "Grand Illusion") to be collectively UNWATCHABLE.

It never ceases to amaze me how the Film Historians clique operates just like Hollywood: One big cool kids' club, where you're in or you're not.

The same directors mentioned year after year (even if most of their films have aged like crap).

And where the hell's Preminger, Sirk, and Peckinpah??

Anonymous said...

Where is Fassbinder?

Hitchcock and Kubrick are setted right on the places 1+2.

But I Think that Godard should be in Top 10 and that Truffaut and Bunuel should be in the Top 20.

Coppola isn't right on 3.

Barbara said...

The Top 50 Directors.

Top - what does that mean?
Best (what does that mean)?
Most profitable?
Greatest number of films?
One memorable film that stands the test of time?
A consistently good career (no bad films – but what does bad mean?)
Most liked by the most people (surely not)?

Even if it were the top 100, there would be disagreements and if you ask for them to be listed in order of “best” from top down, there would be complete anarchy.

I agree with the first responder and will answer that question. There are no women directors listed - not because there are no women directors or because there are no women directors who are really good, but because women’s names do not come to mind, don’t tend to fit in with the designation “top” or “best” for film director or most other things. You have to purposely decide to consider women directors and when you do, you find there are top women directors and, just like the list, some not so “top” on the list.

So, where are Kathryn Bigelow, Jane Campion, Barbara Kopple, Leni Riefenstahl, Ida Lupino, Lina Wertmuller, Sofia Coppola, Jodie Foster, Penny Marshall, Nora Ephron and many others?

Come on people.

colin wolfe said...

Or Peter Weir?

John Ell said...

quite simply, because film has been a male dominated art form, and no female director has yet produced a body of work worthy of a top 50 place, simple as that. and tbh, there arent many on the verge either, with fassbinder, malle, peckinpah, sirk, almodovar and preminger all waiting in line. so unless you think we need a quota for women in the top 50 there is no argument. reifenstahl made technically proficient and innovative, yet otherwise dubious films, and jane campion, sally potter and sophia coppola are great directors but havent made enough great movies to qualify (tho this assertion brings tarantinos high position into question). but overall, theres no real injustice. the order is a bit suss, but the right 50 people are more or less these

Anonymous said...

The only thing people realy care about is the top ten and they get upset when their favorite director, film, etc. doesn't make the top ten. Really, what does it say to be named the 23rd greatest director of all time?

Anonymous said...

Coppola at number 3??? Are you kidding?? Yes, Godfather was a great film. But the evidence has been stacking up for DECADES now that it was a great film IN SPITE of Coppola, not because of him. And William Wyler's absence from the list immediately destroys all credibility. Sorry.

Unknown said...

Despite the blogger protests I always thought William Wyler was a bit over rated. His films just aren't that personal and they are good in a generic, Oscar baiting way. Of the people that were left out, Fassbinder, Deren, Rosselini, Rohmer, Guy Maddin, and Aldrich are the most worthy. Everything Coppola has done in the '70s was brilliant, and everything he has done since then has been merely good or ok (I did like Tetro more than I expected). Tarantino the icon is actually more important than his body of work (which I do admire), because he inspired half of the newer film makers on the planet (I would argue that Godard did everything he is credited for earlier.)

Dennis Fischer said...

What distinguishes Wyler's work is that he often got superior performances from his actors, making take after take until the performances simply couldn't be bettered. It also helps that he got to work with Gregg Toland, but despite the occasional arresting image, it is not the look but the performances that were the hallmark of a Wyler movie.

Unknown said...

Not too bad a list. The idea that Carol Reed is a better director than Mizoguchi is bizarre and Ozu deserves to be in the top 10 along with Kurosawa.
This is not petty but just lack of exposure to these film makers.

Sean said...

Guy Ritchie? Seriously? Not in the top 50? Snatch, Lock Stock, Rock 'n Rolla?

Anonymous said...

I think the list is fine. The only director I would have liked to see was Tim Burton. Christopher Nolan will be on it eventually.

Guy Ritchie does NOT deserve to be on it. Neither do some of the other randoms people have mentioned. Oh and men are better than woman at directing (I don't know why)

As long as Kubrick, Hitchcock, Scorsese, Coens, Fellini and Bergman are on the list, I'm happy.

Reilly VJ said...

Why are the Japanese directors list with their last name first? The Japanese don't put their last name first. Koreans, Chinese and most other countries do but the Japanese don't

Iain Stott said...

Actually Sheillz, the Japanese do put their family names first. It's just that, for some reason, it's more commonly written the other way round in western publications. Though some film magazines, like Sight & Sound, do now print Japanese names in this more correct way.