The A-Z of Movie Directors

Or more specifically, my A-Z of movie directors. Everyone has their own, and I invite everyone to share theirs. Although you can probably guess, it’s a list of directors sorted alphabetically, with one director for each letter of the alphabet, for example, the letter A could be Akira Kurosawa or Paul Thomas Anderson, depending on whether you choose to sort alphabetically by the first letter of the first name or the last name. Either one is optional, you don’t have to restrict it to using the first letter of the surname.

Anyway, here’s my list.

A

Paul Thomas Anderson: The greatest living American director today, Paul Thomas Anderson has consistently served excellent films about the human condition, live in the San Fernando Valley and character studies.

Best Movie: There Will Be Blood (2007)

B

Ingmar Bergman: The king of European cinema, the late Ingmar Bergman was a man who knew everything about cinema, and made films that covered various excellent moments in human life, confronting topics such as religion, sexuality and human relationships.

Best Movie: Persona (1966)

C

Francis Ford Coppola: In the 70s, at least, this dedicated man went through Hell (from the time constraints of The Godfather making to the infamous tragedies of the Apocalypse Now shoot) to make some great movies and cannot be ignored.

Best Movie: The Godfather (1972)

D

Darren Aronofsky: A man whose knowledge of cinema has resulted in some moving, horrifying images put to screen, Aronofsky tests the limits of film and uses his strong filming tactics to create original, studied pieces.

Best Film: Requiem for a Dream (2000)

E

Edgar Wright: From fast-paced, extra-extreme editing, to quick cuts, witty humour delivered with notable velocity and film reference after countless film reference, it’s nice to have a fresh British take on modern comedy.

Best Movie: Shaun of the Dead (2004)

F

David Fincher: A director whose understanding of the foundations of a decent thriller and whose analysis of human behaviour is fascinatingly key, Fincher has presented us with his own fresh outlook on darker societies.

Best Movie: Fight Club (1999)

G

Vincent Gallo: A doubtful and surprising choice, I know, but this man deserves his place here for his simple cleverness and accuracy in either comedy (Buffalo ’66) or deep-seated tragic drama (The Brown Bunny). An interesting, misunderstood man.

Best Movie: Buffalo ’66 (1998)

H

Alfred Hitchcock: One of the founders of action thriller, Hitchcock has managed to, time after, time, produce interesting, thought-provoking thrillers, and earned his name among the best of Hollywood’s directors.

Best Movie: Rear Window (1954)

I

Alejandro Gonzalez Iñàrritu: A Mexican film director whose movies examine racism, prejudice, coincidence, chance and human connections unlike any others, Iñàrritu is a man who knows what he films, and makes strong, beautiful movies.

Best Movie: Amores Perros (2000)

J

Joel Coen: One of a duet of extremely talented brothers, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen have consistenly and regularly produced interesting, often hilarious, always moving movies that have taken their place in great movie history.

Best Movie: Fargo (1996)

K

Krzysztof Kieslowski: Though the man only made four movies (and one ten hour movie split into ten “episodes”), those films are beautiful, masterful films of exploration and deep meaning about humanity. His premature death is a sadness, but his films live on.

Best Movie: Three Colours: Red (1994)

L

David Lynch: Probably the most original film director in Hollywood at the moment, Lynch is a man who can formulate mammoth, confusing tales, and decorate them with his original, unique and poignant outlook on life, America and humanity. A fantastic, strange man.

Best Movie: Mulholland Dr. (2001)

M

Michael Haneke: A fantastic director whose techniques involving violence and sex are unique, clever and smart. Read my full article about his career here.

Best Movie: Cachè (2005)

N

Christopher Nolan: Reinventor of the Batman franchise and director of twisting, unbelievable films, Christopher Nolan is a man whose vast knowledge and superior opinions of use involving special effects is mind-boggling. His films are accurate, yet will always be questionable in the annals of film discussion.

Best Movie: Memento (2000)

O

Orson Welles: From Citizen Kane to The Muppet Movie, Orson Welles is a man who dominates the screen with his presence, as well as his inventive imagination and timeless visionary representations of life and living.

Best Movie: Citizen Kane (1941)

P

Alexander Payne: An offbeat filmmaker whose indie gems are held in high consideration among others, Alexander Payne’s films are clever, interesting and fun to watch.

Best Movie: Sideways (2004)

Q

Quentin Tarantino: A man whose movies excel in glorious violence, subtle humour and beautifully written and choreographed scenes of fantastic acting, Quentin Tarantino’s movies have become famous for their awesomeness.

Best Movie: Pulp Fiction (1994)

R

Robert Altman: From the annoying yet cinematically awesome touch of overlapping dialogue, to the true cleverness into which he weaves the tales of various characters, Altman’s films are brilliant works of art.

Best Movie: Short Cuts

S

Martin Scorsese: The King of comedy… and gangster movies, character studies, psychological thrillers, street dramas and others, Scorsese is a powerful presence among all cinematic directors. Awesome.

Best Movie: Goodfellas (1990)

T

Lars von Trier: Whether or not you think he’s an egotistical Anti-Semitic bastard, that his films are pointless, narcissistic, and hate-driven, you have to admit von Trier is smart, clever and knows how to make a movie. Feel free to disagree, but I freakin love this guy’s films.

Best Movie: Dogville (2003)

U

Edgar G. Ulmer: Sure, he’s only made one or two good films, and you may not recognize his name or even his movies, but he’s a suitable enough choice as any for the letter ‘U.’

Best Film: Detour (1945)

V

Gus Van Sant: Love him or hate him, this is a man whose smarts for the film industry is original and interesting, and who seems to perfectly capture whatever he wants with a camera in a perfectly acceptable (though rarely accessible) manner.

Best Movie: Elephant (2003)

W

Billy Wilder: A man whose excellence has resulted in some of the best movies Hollywood has ever had to offer, Wilder is a talented man that no one will ever forget.

Best Movie: Sunset Blvd. (1950)

X

Xavier Dolan: Though I’ve only seen one of his movies, it was fair enough and he’s deserving of a place here. Besides, how many directors have a name beginning with X?

Best Movie: I Killed My Mother (2009)

Y

Terence Young: His Bond movies weren’t the best, but nevertheless they were still Bond, and decent ones at that. And I must remind you how stressful it is to find directors whose names begin with a certain letter.

Best Movie: Dr. No (1962)

Z

Robert Zemeckis: He’s made some great American movies, ones that will never be forgotten, and he’s a fitting way to end this alphabetical list of 26.

Best Movie: Forrest Gump (1994)

Phew! So that’s my list. Leave a comment below telling me what you thought of it, and what some of your own favourite directors are.

Thanks for reading.

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About Tyler

Patient observer of all things film and music, from Béla Tarr to Boards of Canada. Foul mouthed and clinging to the edge of sanity.

Posted on May 28, 2011, in Filmmakers, Lists and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. I agree with your list for the most part. You’ve got all the greats listed. (With the exception of Lynch, he’s a creative genius but I can’t stand his movies.)

    But no John Hughes? He defined the 80’s for me and is maybe my favorite director of all time. Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, they’re classics! Not to mention all of his writing and producing credits.

    Or Cameron Crowe, granted, not all of his movies are winners but I’d have to include him for Almost Famous alone!

  2. Wow- great job, I love this article. A lot of those had to be tough. “I” and “X” were two that I figured had to be a lot of though.

    • Um, “thought”, not “though”. I’ve been drinking. A lot. It’s amazing the horrible roads that an innocuous drink like a caucasian/white Russian can lead you all based on Lebowski nostalgia.

    • The hardest letters were U, X, and Y. I was going to skip them until I realized that would be cheating.

  3. Could not agree more!! excelent article. I will add:

    P- Chan-wook Park / Oldboy (2003).

    H- John Huston / The Maltese Falcon (1941).

    F- Federico Fellini / La Dolce Vita (1960).

    E- Clint Eastwood / Million Dollar Baby (2004).

    C- Charles Chaplin / City Lights (1931).

  4. At the beginning of this I figured ‘how the hell is he gonna do A-Z full of directors.’ But it was over before I realized it. I agree with most if not all of your choices. Brava.

  5. thegeekswereright

    Great list, though I’m sad to see the following left out (I know it’s hard): Hayao Miyazaki (greatest animator/director of animated films of all time, I’d wager), Guillermo Del Toro, Tim Burton (old Burton), Danny Boyle, Clint Eastwood, Woody Allen, Alfonso Cuaron, and Peter Jackson, to name a few.

    • thegeekswereright

      Glad to see that you included Nolan, Anderson, Wright and Fincher, though–and obviously, if you had left out Hitchcock, it would’ve been criminal. Great post!

  6. You’ve made some great choices for this list. I need to watch more Von Trier so I’m told, just wondering if the film Dancer in the Dark is any good, what is your view?

  1. Pingback: The A-Z of Movie Directors (via Southern Vision: A Blog About Movies) « Take The Leap

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