Top 50 Directorsby maltvaterexpensivebeingpunk | created - 10 Jun 2017 | updated - 1 month ago | Public
Writer | The Great Dictator
Considered to be one of the most pivotal stars of the early days of Hollywood, Charlie Chaplin lived an interesting life both in his films and behind the camera. He is most recognized as an icon of the silent film era, often associated with his popular character, the Little Tramp; the man with the ...
Seen: all feature-length movies Best: City Lights
2. Milos Forman
Director | One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Milos Forman was born Jan Tomas Forman in Caslav, Czechoslovakia, to Anna (Svabova), who ran a summer hotel, and Rudolf Forman, a professor. During World War II, his parents were taken away by the Nazis, after being accused of participating in the underground resistance. His father died in ...
Seen: 7 Best: Hair
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 ...
Seen: 38 Best: Psycho
Writer | Brazil
Terry Gilliam was born near Medicine Lake, Minnesota. When he was 12 his family moved to Los Angeles where he became a fan of MAD magazine. In his early twenties he was often stopped by the police who suspected him of being a drug addict and Gilliam had to explain that he worked in advertising. In ...
Seen: 11 Best: 12 Monkeys
Director | To Be or Not to Be
From Ernst Lubitsch's experiences in Sophien Gymnasium (high school) theater, he decided to leave school at the age of 16 and pursue a career on the stage. He had to compromise with his father and keep the account books for the family tailor business while he acted in cabarets and music halls at ...
Seen: 15 (as director), 14 (as producer) Best: Heaven can wait
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...
Seen: 12 (as director), 16 (as actor), 15 (as writer), 8 (as producer) Best: Pulp Fiction
7. Joel Coen
Producer | The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Joel Coen was born on November 29, 1954 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA as Joel Daniel Coen. He is a producer and writer, known for The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018), A Serious Man (2009) and Fargo (1996). He has been married to Frances McDormand since April 1, 1984. They have one child.
Seen: 12 Best: No Country for Old Men
8. Nicolas Roeg
Director | Don't Look Now
When he made his directorial debut in 1970, Nicolas Roeg was already a 23-year veteran of the British film industry, starting out in 1947 as an editing apprentice and working his way up to cinematographer twelve years later. He first came to attention as part of the second unit on David Lean's ...
Seen: 7 Best: Insignificance
9. 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 ...
Seen: 8 Best: Blue Velvet
10. Billy Wilder
Writer | The Apartment
Originally planning to become a lawyer, Billy Wilder abandoned that career in favor of working as a reporter for a Viennese newspaper, using this experience to move to Berlin, where he worked for the city's largest tabloid. He broke into films as a screenwriter in 1929 and wrote scripts for many ...
Seen: 23 Best: Some like it hot
11. Michael Powell
Director | A Matter of Life and Death
The son of Thomas William Powell and Mabel (nee Corbett). Michael Powell was always a self-confessed movie addict. He was brought up partly in Canterbury ("The Garden of England") and partly in the south of France (where his parents ran a hotel). Educated at Kings School, Canterbury and Dulwich ...
Seen: 8 Best: A Matter of Life and Death
12. Akira Kurosawa
Writer | Kakushi-toride no san-akunin
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...
Seen: 7 Best: Rashomon
13. 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 ...
Seen: 6 (+ 7 as assistant director) Best: Once upon a Time in the West
14. Luc Besson
Writer | The Fifth Element
Luc Besson spent the first years of his life following his parents, scuba diving instructors, around the world. His early life was entirely aquatic. He already showed amazing creativity as a youth, writing early drafts of The Big Blue (1988) and The Fifth Element (1997), as an adolescent bored in ...
Seen: 6 Best: Leon
15. 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 ...
Seen: 10 Best: The Shining
16. Wes Anderson
Writer | Fantastic Mr. Fox
Wesley Wales Anderson was born in Houston, Texas. His mother, Texas Ann (Burroughs), is an archaeologist turned real estate agent, and his father, Melver Leonard Anderson, worked in advertising and PR. He has two brothers, Eric and Mel. Anderson's parents divorced when he was a young child, an ...
Seen: 6 Best: The Grand Budapest Hotel
17. Luis Buñuel
Writer | El ángel exterminador
The father of cinematic Surrealism and one of the most original directors in the history of the film medium, Luis Buñuel was given a strict Jesuit education (which sowed the seeds of his obsession with both religion and subversive behavior), and subsequently moved to Madrid to study at the ...
Seen: 8 Best: Un Chien Andalou /Viridiana
18. John Carpenter
Soundtrack | Escape from New York
John Howard Carpenter was born in Carthage, New York, to mother Milton Jean (Carter) and father Howard Ralph Carpenter. His family moved to Bowling Green, Kentucky, where his father, a professor, was head of the music department at Western Kentucky University. He attended Western Kentucky ...
Seen: 16 Best: Escape from New York
19. Robert Zemeckis
Writer | Back to the Future
A whiz-kid with special effects, Robert is from the Spielberg camp of film-making (Steven Spielberg produced many of his films). Usually working with writing partner Bob Gale, Robert's earlier films show he has a talent for zany comedy (Romancing the Stone (1984), 1941 (1979)) and special effect ...
Seen: 13 Best: Back to the Future/Forrest Gump
20. John Ford
Director | The Quiet Man
John Ford came to Hollywood following one of his brothers, an actor. Asked what brought him to Hollywood, he replied "The train". He became one of the most respected directors in the business, in spite of being known for his westerns, which were not considered "serious" film. He won six Oscars, ...
Seen: 23 Best:The Grapes of Wrath
21. David Lean
Director | Lawrence of Arabia
An important British filmmaker, David Lean was born in Croydon on March 25, 1908 and brought up in a strict Quaker family (ironically, as a child he wasn't allowed to go to the movies). During the 1920s, he briefly considered the possibility of becoming an accountant like his father before finding ...
Seen: 11 Best: Great Expectations
22. Alan Parker
Director | Evita
Prior to moving into film, Alan was noted as one of London's most talented advertising copywriters. He worked for the Collet Dickinson Pearce (CDP) ad agency in the 1960's and early 1970's, and began directing his own tvc scripts in their basement. Formed a partnership with David Puttnam as his ...
Seen: 11 Best: Pink Floyd - The Wall
23. Clint Eastwood
Actor | Million Dollar Baby
Clint Eastwood was born May 31, 1930 in San Francisco, the son of Clinton Eastwood Sr., a manufacturing executive for Georgia-Pacific Corporation, and Ruth Wood, a housewife turned IBM operator. He had a comfortable, middle-class upbringing in nearby Piedmont. At school Clint took interest in music...
Seen: 15 (as actor: 33) Best: Gran Torino
24. Hayao Miyazaki
Director | Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi
Hayao Miyazaki is one of Japan's greatest animation directors. The entertaining plots, compelling characters, and breathtaking animation in his films have earned him international renown from critics as well as public recognition within Japan. The Walt Disney Company's commitment to introduce the ...
seen: 9 Best: Spirited Away
25. Woody Allen
Writer | Manhattan
Woody Allen was born Allan Stewart Konigsberg on December 1, 1935 in Brooklyn, New York, to Nettie (Cherrie), a bookkeeper, and Martin Konigsberg, a waiter and jewellery engraver. His father was of Russian Jewish descent, and his maternal grandparents were Austrian Jewish immigrants. As a young boy...
Seen: 23 Best: Zelig
26. Roman Polanski
Director | 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 ...
Seen: 12 Best: Repulsion/Frantic
27. 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....
Seen: 5 (as actor: 23) Best: Citizen Kane
28. Lasse Hallström
Director | What's Eating Gilbert Grape
Lasse Hallström was born on June 2, 1946 in Stockholm, Stockholms län, Sweden as Lars Hallström. He is a director and writer, known for What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993), Chocolat (2000) and The Cider House Rules (1999). He has been married to Lena Olin since March 18, 1994. They have one child. ...
Seen: 6 Best: Hachi: A Dog's Tale
29. Frank Capra
Director | It's a Wonderful Life
One of seven children, Frank Capra was born on May 18, 1897, in Bisacquino, Sicily. On May 10, 1903, his family left for America aboard the ship Germania, arriving in New York on May 23rd. "There's no ventilation, and it stinks like hell. They're all miserable. It's the most degrading place you ...
Seen: 11 Best: It's a Wonderful Life
30. 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 ...
Seen: 17 Best: Goodfellas/The Departed/Hugo/The Wolf of Wall Street
31. William Wyler
Director | The Best Years of Our Lives
William Wyler was an American filmmaker who, at the time of his death in 1981, was considered by his peers as second only to John Ford as a master craftsman of cinema. The winner of three Best Director Academy Awards, second again only to Ford's four, Wyler's reputation has unfairly suffered as the...
Seen: 15 Best: Jezebel
32. Carol Reed
Director | The Third Man
Carol Reed was the second son of stage actor, dramatics teacher and impresario founder of the Royal School of Dramatic Arts Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree. Reed was one of Tree's six illegitimate children with Beatrice Mae Pinney, who Tree established in a second household apart from his married life. ...
Seen: 8 Best: The Third Man
Writer | La nuit américaine
French director François Truffaut began to assiduously go to the movies at age seven. He was also a great reader but not a good pupil. He left school at 14 and started working. In 1947, aged 15, he founded a film club and met André Bazin, a French critic, who became his protector. Bazin helped the ...
Seen: 7 Best: The Bride wore Black
34. Bob Fosse
Director | Cabaret
Bob Fosse was born on June 23, 1927 in Chicago, Illinois, USA as Robert Louis Fosse. He is known for his work on Cabaret (1972), Lenny (1974) and All That Jazz (1979). He was married to Gwen Verdon, Joan McCracken and Mary Ann Niles. He died on September 23, 1987 in Washington, District of Columbia...
Seen: 4 Best: Cabaret
35. 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 ...
Seen: 14 Best: Blade Runner/Gladiator
36. William Friedkin
Director | The French Connection
Friedkin's mother was an operating room nurse. His father was a merchant seaman, semi-pro softball player and ultimately sold clothes in a men's discount chain. Ultimately, his father never earned more than $50/week in his whole life and died indigent. Eventually young Will became infatuated with ...
Seen: 4 Best: The French Connection
37. Fritz Lang
Actor | Le mépris
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. ...
Seen: 13 Best: Clash by Night
38. John Landis
Director | The Blues Brothers
John Landis began his career in the mail room of 20th Century-Fox. A high-school dropout, 18-year-old Landis made his way to Yugoslavia to work as a production assistant on Kelly's Heroes (1970). Remaining in Europe, Landis found work as an actor, extra and stuntman in many of the Spanish/Italian "...
Seen: 12 Best: Trading Places
39. Robert Altman
Director | Gosford Park
Robert Altman was born on February 20th, 1925 in Kansas City, Missouri, to B.C. (an insurance salesman) and Helen Altman. He entered St. Peters Catholic school at the age six, and spent a short time at a Catholic high school. From there, he went to Rockhurst High School. It was then that he started...
Seen: 10 Best: Nashville
40. John Waters
Writer | Pecker
Growing up in Baltimore in the 1950s, John Waters was not like other children; he was obsessed by violence and gore, both real and on the screen. With his weird counter-culture friends as his cast, he began making silent 8mm and 16mm films in the mid-'60s; he screened these in rented Baltimore ...
Seen: 8 Best: Pink Flamingos
41. Werner Herzog
Director | Fitzcarraldo
Director. Writer. Producer. Actor. Poet. He studied history, literature and theatre for some time, but didn't finish it and founded instead his own film production company in 1963. Later in his life, Herzog also staged several operas in Bayreuth, Germany, and at the Milan Scala in Italy. Herzog has...
Seen: Best: Woyzeck
42. Oliver Stone
Producer | JFK
Oliver Stone has become known as a master of controversial subjects and a legendary film maker. His films are filled with a variety of film angles and styles, he pushes his actors to give Oscar-worthy performances, and despite his failures, has always returned to success.
William Oliver Stone was ...
Seen: 8 Best: Natural Born Killers
43. Robert Aldrich
Director | What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
Robert Aldrich entered the film industry in 1941 when he got a job as a production clerk at RKO Pictures. He soon worked his way up to script clerk, then became an assistant director, a production manager and an associate producer. He began writing and directing for TV series in the early 1950s, ...
Seen: 12 (as director, +4 as assistant director), 7 (as producer) MFM: Hush Hush, Sweet Charlotte
44. Jonathan Demme
Director | The Silence of the Lambs
Jonathan Demme was born on February 22, 1944 in Baldwin, Long Island, New York, USA as Robert Jonathan Demme. He was a director and producer, known for The Silence of the Lambs (1991), Philadelphia (1993) and Rachel Getting Married (2008). He was married to Joanne Howard and Evelyn Purcell. He died...
Seen: 5 Best: Stop making sense
45. Jim Jarmusch
Director | Broken Flowers
Moved to New York City at the age of seventeen from Akron, Ohio. Graduated from Columbia University with a B.A. in English, class of '75. Without any prior film experience, he was accepted into the Tisch School of the Arts, New York.
Seen: 5 Best: Down by Law/Dead Man/Ghost Dog
46. Elia Kazan
Director | On the Waterfront
Known for his creative stage direction, Elia Kazan was born Elias Kazantzoglou on September 7, 1909 in Constantinople, Ottoman Empire (now Istanbul, Turkey). Noted for drawing out the best dramatic performances from his actors, he directed 21 actors to Oscar nominations, resulting in nine wins. He ...
Seen: 10 Best: East of Eden
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 ...
Seen: 12 (as director), 7 (as Best: Bram Stroker's Dracula/Dementia 13
48. Ron Howard
Actor | Arrested Development
Academy Award-winning filmmaker Ron Howard is one of this generation's most popular directors. From the critically acclaimed dramas A Beautiful Mind (2001) and Apollo 13 (1995) to the hit comedies Parenthood (1989) and Splash (1984), he has created some of Hollywood's most memorable films.
Seen: 13 Best: A Beautiful Mind
49. Barbet Schroeder
Director | La virgen de los sicarios
Barbet Schroeder was born on August 26, 1941 in Tehran, Iran. He is a director and producer, known for Our Lady of the Assassins (2000), Single White Female (1992) and Murder by Numbers (2002). He has been married to Bulle Ogier since April 1991.
Seen: 5 MFM: Barfly
50. Tim Burton
Producer | Edward Scissorhands
Timothy Walter Burton was born in Burbank, California, to Jean Rae (Erickson), who owned a cat-themed gift shop, and William Reed Burton, who worked for the Burbank Park and Recreation Department. He spent most of his childhood as a recluse, drawing cartoons, and watching old movies (he was ...
Seen: 13 (as director) Best: Ed Wood/Big Fish
51. Blake Edwards
Writer | The Pink Panther Strikes Again
Blake Edwards' stepfather's father J. Gordon Edwards was a silent screen director, and his stepfather Jack McEdward was a stage director and movie production manager. Blake acted in a number films, beginning with Ten Gentlemen from West Point (1942) and wrote a number of others, beginning with ...
Seen: 17 Best: A Shot in the Dark