Directors

For a while now I was considering doing a list of my ten favourite filmmakers, but decided it was pointless; the choices would be obvious as those directors are ones I rave about all the time. So instead, I’ve decided to compile a list of fifty great filmmakers whose work I admire, as well as up to three of their best films based on what I’ve seen. Ranking them is a pointless task, so I’ve listed them in alphabetical order – except of course for my top ten, who are ranked at the bottom of this post after the initial 40.

Before we begin, here are ten honourable mentions – directors who didn’t quite make the list but are definitely worth talking about, in alphabetical order: Pedro Almodovar, Joel and Ethan Coen, David Cronenberg, David Fincher, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Dusan Makavejev, Terrence Malick, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Alain Resnais, Agnes Varda.

And without further ado, here is the top 50!

Chantal Akerman

Until recently, I had only seen one Akerman film, but decided to rectify that by starting a marathon of her work that is still continuing. It has only made me appreciate her contributions to cinema even deeper. Excellent Films: Hotel Monterey (1972), News from Home (1977). The Best: Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975).

Roy Andersson

Whether its romantic stories of gentle, sweet affection or emotionlessly bleak comedies about empty lives, Roy Andersson is a master in any genre. My favourite living Swedish filmmaker, his works are unusual, offbeat but always brilliant. Excellent: A Swedish Love Story (1970), World of Glory (1991), You the Living (2007). The Best: Songs from the Second Floor (2000).

Theo Angelopoulos

Like Akerman, this is a filmmaker whose work I’m still discovering, but I’m enjoying so much of it. Slow, contemplative cinema that is also beautiful and heartwarming. Excellent: The Traveling Players (1975), Eternity and a Day (1998). The Best: Landscape in the Mist (1988).

Michelangelo Antonioni

The loneliness of all humans may sound like a daunting, depressing subject, but in Antonioni’s hands it became transcendent and powerful, always enriching and stunning. Excellent: L’Avventura (1960), Red Desert (1964). The Best: L’Eclisse (1962).

Robert Bresson

Notorious for ordering his actors not to ‘act,’ and making them do take after take of the same scene, Bresson was a difficult director but his unique methods bore amazing results. Excellent: Diary of a Country Priest (1951), Mouchette (1967). The Best: Au Hasard Balthazar (1966).

Sofia Coppola

I prefer her work immensely to that of her father’s. It immerses me in the screen in such a fantastic manner with its subtlety and wonder that it’s hard to resist. Excellent: Lost in Translation (2003). The Best: Somewhere (2010).

Carl Theodor Dreyer

Though later in his career his creative output slowed down somewhat, Dreyer’s movies never lost their kinetic religious and spiritual energy and marvellous B&W beauty. Excellent: The Passion of Joan of Arc (1927), Day of Wrath (1943). The Best: Ordet (1955).

Sergei Eisenstein

*gulp* I’ve only seen one Eisenstein film so far (but that will be rectified very soon!) and it’s one of the best movies ever made. No argument. The Best: Battleship Potemkin (1925).

Rainer Werner Fassbinder

This is another director whose work I’m only just digging into, but he’s seriously impressing me. Fassbinder’s cinematic output was incredibly prolific, and the results were rarely disappointing. Excellent: Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974), The Marriage of Maria Braun (1978). The Best: Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980).

Federico Fellini

Ah, Fellini. When this man was in his element, he was in his element. Early in his career Fellini achieved success after success, and the sheer power of his greatest films make his worst ones still look great. Excellent: Nights of Cabiria (1957), La Dolce Vita (1960), Amarcord (1973). The Best: 8 ½ (1963).

Abel Gance

I’ve only seen one film from Abel Gance, but in fairness his films are tremendously difficult to find and the one I saw was pretty fucking amazing (and stunning underseen). His incredible, stunning contributions to cinema will never be forgotten, and just thinking about his 1927 silent masterpiece floors me. The Best: Napoleon (1927).

Jean-Luc Godard

Love him or hate him, you’ve got to admit the contributions this guy’s made to cinema are ones we really couldn’t live without (well, I think so anyway). Excellent: 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her (1966), Week End (1967). The Best: Vivre sa Vie (1962).

Werner Herzog

Just barely missing the cut for my top ten directors of all time, Herzog’s movies shine in every way. Whether it’s his iconic voice narrating the documentaries or the distinct faces and personalities of actors such as Klaus Kinski and Bruno S. lighting up the screen, there’s really heaps to love about Herzog. Excellent: Aguirre, The Wrath of God (1972), The Great Ecstasy of Woodcarver Steiner (1974), Heart of Glass (1976), Woyzeck (1979), Fitzcarraldo (1982). The Best: Stroszek (1976).

Alfred Hitchcock

His many words of wisdom regarding cinema are only half as memorable as his stunning movies themselves, each of them standing alone as a powerful work. Excellent: Vertigo (1958), Psycho (1960). The Best: Rear Window (1954).

Abbas Kiarostami

There’s a scene in Kiarostami’s film Taste of Cherry where the protagonist walks into a construction site where sand is thickening the air. He sees his shadow in the dirt and then sits in silence for a minute or two, the sand ferociously whipping him. This sequence alone is all anyone will ever need to see in a movie to understand true sadness and utter despair. It’s mindblowing. Excellent: Through the Olive Trees (1994), The Wind Will Carry Us (1999), Ten (2002). The Best: Taste of Cherry (1997).

Akira Kurosawa

Kurosawa’s magnificent epics defy expectation and blow the mind. Forever he will be known as an incredible filmmaker, and that’s exactly what he is. Excellent: The Seven Samurai (1954), Ran (1985). The Best: Ikiru (1952).

Mike Leigh

Someone the other day referred to Mike Leigh as ‘the British John Cassavetes’ and I have to say, that description sounds surprisingly apt, if a little strange. Excellent: Naked (1993), Another Year (2010). The Best: Secrets & Lies (1996).

Sergio Leone

Justification for Leone’s presence on this list? If you really need any, check out the first 15 minutes of Once Upon a Time in the West. Excellent: A Fistful of Dollars (1964), The Good, The Bad and the Ugly (1967), Once Upon a Time in America (1984). The Best: Once Upon a Time in the West (1968).

Richard Linklater

Arguably one of the most interesting American filmmakers in recent history, Richard Linklater’s movies defy expectation and explanation and invite audiences to sit and genuinely feel something, which doesn’t happen in American cinema properly as often as it should. Excellent: Before Sunrise (1995), Tape (2001), Before Sunset (2004). The Best: Waking Life (2001).

Sidney Lumet

Few knew how to make a movie like Lumet, and few will again. What a man. What a director. What an auteur. Excellent: 12 Angry Men (1957), Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007). The Best: Network (1976).

Louis Malle

Now here’s an underrated director. Each of the great Louis Malle’s are unique, interesting, and in a completely different genre than the last. Malle made films about everything, and heck if he didn’t do it brilliantly. Excellent: Elevator to the Gallows (1957), Murmur of the Heart (1972), My Dinner with Andre (1980), Au Revoir les Enfants (1987), Damage (1992). The Best: The Fire Within (1963).

Chris Marker

Recently deceased but still damn important and interesting to discover, Chris Marker invented and then revolutionized the “essay film” genre and is arguably one of the most interesting, thought-provoking directors to ever have existed. Excellent: La Jetèe (1962), Grin without a Cat (1977). The Best: Sans Soleil (1983).

Steve McQueen

The most ‘recent’ director on this list, it didn’t take much for Steve McQueen to jump on my list of favourite directors. I saw one of his films and admired him immediately. I saw another and became downright obsessed. Excellent: Shame (2011). The Best: Hunger (2008).

Gaspar Noè

Perhaps a controversial choice, though one I’ll fight to defend. Gaspar Noè (or as me and my girlfriend call him, Gaspar No Way!) has made three stunning, excellent feature films that I admire for their raw energy, power and the effectiveness of their controversial content. Excellent: Carne (1991), Irreversible (2002), Enter the Void (2010). The Best: I Stand Alone (1995).

Jacques Rivette

Auteur, mastermind, film enthusiast and director of loooooong ass movies, Jacques Rivette jumped onto my favourite directors list with one movie and will probably stay there. Excellent: Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974), Va Savoir (2004). The Best: La Belle Noiseuse (1991).

Martin Scorsese

Scorsese. We love him. How is it possible not to? Even when he makes bad movies, they’re still kind of awesome. Don’t deny it, you know they are. Excellent: Taxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980), Casino (1998), The Departed (2006). The Best: Goodfellas (1990).

Aleksandr Sokurov

They don’t call him the next Andrei Tarkovsky without a reason. His style resembles Tarkovsky, but Sokurov is in a realm of excellence all his own. The man is stunning. Excellent: Russian Ark (2002). The Best: Mother and Son (1997).

Todd Solondz

I haven’t seen Dark Horse yet but I think I’ll like it. I seem to be the only person who really liked Life During Wartime, and I find myself coming to the defense of other Solondz films more than I should have to. The man is more than a provocateur; he’s an inspirational genius. Excellent: Happiness (1998), Palindromes (2006). The Best: Storytelling (2001).

Oliver Stone

While he’s had his fair share of misses to go with the hits, I cannot deny the man who directed Natural Born Killers a place on this list. That’s one of the best-directed movies I’ve ever seen. Excellent: JFK (1991). The Best: Natural Born Killers (1994).

Andrei Tarkovsky

A twenty-four year career consisting only of seven films, Tarkovsky made all those seven phenomenal. Back in January I did a marathon of all his films (the ones I had seen as well as the ones I hadn’t) and was thoroughly blown away. What a genius. Excellent: Solaris (1972), Mirror (1975), Stalker (1979), Nostalghia (1983). The Best: Andrei Rublev (1966).

Jacques Tati

More than just Keaton or Chaplin in colour with sound, Jacques Tati was an inspirational and hilarious comedian in a realm of his own. Wonderful, wonderful man. Excellent: Mr. Hulot’s Holiday (1953), Mon Oncle (1959). The Best: Play Time (1967).

Francois Truffaut

A man who consistently made great films and really was the first key staple of the French New Wave, Truffaut always stunned and amazed. Excellent: Shoot the Piano Player (1960), Jules and Jim (1962), Day for Night (1973). The Best: The 400 Blows (1959).

Gus van Sant

More impressive when he stepped out of the mainstream to the more minimalist arthouse genre (where he definitely seems more comfortable), Gus van Sant’s wonderful style, love of offbeat personalities and excellent ability makes all his films feel great. Excellent: Drugstore Cowboy (1989), Good Will Hunting (1998), Last Days (2005). The Best: Gerry (2002).

Lars von Trier

Oh Lars you fucking asshole. How awesome you are. Excellent: Europa (1990), Breaking the Waves (1996), The Idiots (1998), Antichrist (2009). The Best: Dogville (2003).

Orson Welles

Can’t exactly say I’m well versed with Welles and his filmography but what I have seen has amazed me. Excellent: Touch of Evil (1958). The Best: Citizen Kane (1941).

Dziga Vertov

Another director from which I’ve only seen one film. Dammit! Still, that one film was orgasmically awesome. The Best: Man with a Movie Camera (1929).

Luchino Visconti

If Fellini was a director of extravagantly empty Italian lives, Visconti was a more low-key but still stunning director of beautifully full ones. Excellent: Le Notti Bianche (1957), Rocco and His Brothers (1960). The Best: The Leopard (1963).

Billy Wilder

A great director who made a name for himself with astonishing, often daring movies, Billy Wilder both challenged mainstream Hollywood in the 40s and 50s and rode on its wave, directing masterpiece that have ensured his name in the annals of important film history. Excellent: The Lost Weekend (1945), Sunset Blvd (1950), Some Like It Hot (1959), The Apartment (1960). The Best: Ace in the Hole (1952).

Edgar Wright

Is it just me or do we need a comedy director on here? Perhaps one of the best of them all, Wright’s frenetic directorial style has resulted in two of the funniest movies ever made and one of the best TV shows. Excellent: Hot Fuzz (2007), Scott Pilgrim vs the World (2010). The Best: Shaun of the Dead (2004).

Edward Yang

After his early retirement Yang fought a battle with sickness and lost, but I will always remember him. Most of his films are cruelly underseen and some stunningly unavailable, but the ones I’ve seen have mesmerized me and won my devotion forever. Excellent: Yi Yi (2000). The Best: A Brighter Summer Day (1991).

The Top Ten

Stanley Kubrick

Often regarded as one of American cinema’s most important auteurs, Stanley Kubrick didn’t make a whole lot of movies but the ones he did make were, more often than not, insanely brilliant. He traversed all the genres, from horror to comedy, and rarely slipped up along the way. His manic attention to detail has inspired countless directors since. Excellent: Paths of Glory (1957), Dr. Strangelove (1964), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Barry Lyndon (1975). The Best: Eyes Wide Shut (1999).

Yasujiro Ozu

To make a judgement about Ozu from one of his films is impossible. All his movies stand together as one collective work, each film complementing all the others in their simplicity and wonder. Movies like Early Summer don’t work as well if you don’t consider them alongside Ozu’s other work. He often told the same story, one of family life in turmoil, only changing the particulars, but it never felt like Ozu was copping out. An Ozu film is difficult to turn off and ridiculous to hate. His movies are about the real lives we all live, each of them one of many episodes telling the tales many of us experience ourselves, of childhood, adulthood, marriage, divorce, and family. Watching an Ozu film is like sinking into a similar-but-different world where one can immediately feel at peace. I adore all his work. Excellent: The Only Son (1936), Late Spring (1949), Floating Weeds (1959), An Autumn Afternoon (1963). The Best: Tokyo Story (1953).

Jim Jarmusch

Jim Jarmusch is the most important and wonderful director of the American independent cinema scene. Since the early eighties he has been churning out wondrous indie classics, on varied budgets, and has almost always scored a winner. In fact, there’s not a single film of his I hate, and there are some I love a hell of a lot. I’ve seen all his movies, and they’re warm, comforting and strangely powerful. They pull us in to a new world that seems familiar and invite us on journeys most directors don’t care to create so lovingly. Excellent: Down By Law (1986), Mystery Train (1989), Night on Earth (1991), Dead Man (1995), Broken Flowers (2005), The Limits of Control (2009). The Best: Stranger than Paradise (1984).

Paul Thomas Anderson

Is there an American director whose films I anticipate more than Paul Thomas Anderson? Heck, probably not. He’s made surprisingly few movies, and yet I love all of them. None of them suffer from gaping flaws, all of them are excellent. Even Hard Eight, which I feel is tremendously underrated, ranks up there with the best of them. I can’t wait for The Master. Excellent: Hard Eight (1996), Boogie Nights (1997), Punch-Drunk Love (2002), There Will Be Blood (2007). The Best: Magnolia (1999).

David Lynch

Lynch, man. Fucking LYNCH, man! Excellent: The Alphabet (1968), Eraserhead (1976), Blue Velvet (1986), Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992), Lost Highway (1997), The Straight Story (1999), Mulholland Dr. (2001). The Best: Inland Empire (2006).

Luis Buñuel

Buñuel. One of the most daring, controversial and radical of all filmmakers. Nothing was sacred to Buñuel. He targeted everyone. The religious, the upper class, the otherwise flawed… he found something in them that to him, was silly, and made fun of it. And he always, always did it in a way that was original, hilarious, provocative and fucking awesome. No one compares to Buñuel. Excellent: Un Chien Andalou (1929), L’Age D’Or (1930), Los Olvidados (1950), Viridiana (1960), The Exterminating Angel (1962), Simon of the Desert (1965), Belle de Jour (1967), The Phantom of Liberty (1974). The Best: The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972).

Bèla Tarr

I could tell you what I think of Bèla Tarr’s movies. But words would be underselling them. Excellent: Almanac of Fall (1985), Damnation (1988), Satantango (1994), The Man from London (2006), The Turin Horse (2012). The Best: Werckmeister Harmonies (2000).

Michael Haneke

No living director seems to have a better understanding of the world we live in than Michael Haneke. And few directors have ever had the ability to communicate their social message as brilliantly as Haneke does. No, I’m not talking about the gruesome and off-putting Funny Games. That’s one of his least intelligent movies (though I do like it). Haneke’s filmography is literally bursting with greatness. Every feature is stunning. Even the cold, dark and hauntingly sparse ones have an incredible energy and brilliance. No movie is bad. Few are disappointing. All, in my mind, are brilliant statements about the world today that never miss a beat. Excellent: The Seventh Continent (1989), 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance (1994), The Piano Teacher (2001), Cachè (2005), The White Ribbon (2009). The Best: Code Unknown (2000).

Krzysztof Kieslowski

Krzysztof Kieslowski directed some of the most beautiful films that have ever been made. He saw the poignancy in real life and translated it beautifully to the screen. His movies deal with real life situations and echo the turmoil of Kieslowski’s home Poland, in a time during which Kieslowski made his earliest films whilst suffering from numerous hurdles and difficulties to overcome. He did so splendidly, and his early films are resounding works of power. However, they were only the beginning. Later in his career he churned out even more impressive and beautiful movies. He died too young, but through his films he lives on. Excellent: Camera Buff (1979), No End (1985), The Double Life of Veronique (1991), Three Colours: Blue (1993), Three Colours: White (1993), Three Colours: Red (1994). The Best: The Decalogue (1988).

Ingmar Bergman

And here it is. The big number one. The boss of them all. The king. Ernst Ingmar Bergman, who directed more than sixty films. Of the 44 feature films that are actually available, I have seen 40. I guess you could say I’m obsessed. That would be putting it lightly. Since March of last year, when I first discovered the man after several studious recommendations from John at The Droid You’re Looking For, I have obsessively tracked down as many films as possible from the director as well as studying his life and career through various writings, books and documentaries (including the revelatory Bergman Island, included on The Seventh Seal Criterion release). What have I gathered from all this? Well, simply put, that Bergman is the greatest filmmaker who has ever lived, and one of my favourite people in the entire world. In interviews he seems so calm, well-informed and knowledgeable about film, as well as having an acute, powerful memory and a mesmerizing way of articulating his thoughts into words and – by extention – films. He has made a few rotten apples – let’s not even talk about All These Women, Crisis and The Serpent’s Egg – but for the most part the number of absolutely perfect films the director has created is astonishing. I’ve given fourteen of his movies 10/10 ratings and glowing reviews, and to see them for the first, second, third or whatever time is to delve into his deep, personal world of wonder and contemplation. I’m not religious, but if I were, Bergman would be my deity. He is one of the finest human beings to have ever walked this Earth. And that is the truth. I will list some of his most excellent films, but I refuse to pick his best. Excellent: The Seventh Seal (1957), Wild Strawberries (1957), Through a Glass Darkly (1961), Winter Light (1962), The Silence (1963), Persona (1966), Cries and Whispers (1972), Scenes from a Marriage (1973), The Magic Flute (1974), Autumn Sonata (1978), Fanny and Alexander (1982).

So… what do you think of the list?

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  1. I like what I know of it, which is admittedly not very much. As for the final quote from the Workbook, amazing.

    • It’s from Ingmar Bergman’s workbook, and it sums up both the exhaustion I feel from making this list and the inevitable criticism that is to follow.

  2. epic. i’ve been writing mine in to three posts and its taken a while (still going actually) but happily you haven’t jogged my memory on anything with this post.

  3. Tarantino?

      • Why not?

        • There are a few films of his I like, but I honestly think he’s overrated. The man borrows so blatantly from other directors without even trying to be subtle that it kind of annoys me. His movies are fun but some of them are incredibly unoriginal and seem almost like ripoffs, rather than tributes.

          • What about Pulp Fiction?

            • Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown were great films where his screenwriting skill really came to the fore, though it all began to dissipate after that with the fun but kind of overrated Kill Bill movies, the astonishingly awful Death Proof and the great but flawed Inglourious Basterds. To be honest, I’m not really looking forward to Django Unchained at all. Tarantino has potential, but in recent years particularly, he has been wasting it.

              • Fair enough. I don’t know why I’m arguing, I’ve never seen one of his films.

                • Haha that’s a relief, I thought for a while you were a fanboy that was going to question my every statement. Tarantino’s overrated. A great writer, a less than impressive director.

              • What made Inglorious Bastards flawed in your opinion?

                • It has some great writing (the sequence in the pub and the opening scene are by far better than anything else in the movie) but at times it goes over-the-top (casting Eli Roth was a terrible idea) and becomes a throwback to the war/vengeance genre instead of the intelligent thriller it started out being.

        • That’s a smart way of lonkoig at the world.

  4. Great revised list, very interesting and eclective group of directors.

  5. Christian Hallbeck

    A well motivated list, Tyler! I would put Antonioni, Bergman and Kurosawa in top of mine.

    I think you might be interested in this series in six parts on Swedish television, starting august 22. You can follow it in http://www.svtplay.se

    http://www.svt.se/bergmans-video/titta-narmare-pa-bergmans-videosamling

  6. Flawless list, Tyler. However, it is a reminder of how much I have not seen. Still very exciting though since the more films I have left to see, the bigger my hunger grows. Any movie lover should always be hungry and eager to see more films.
    Your top two is flawless. Persona and The Double Life of Veronique are currently in my top 20 films of all time. Wild Strawberries is close. I need to check out more of their filmography.

  7. You may be the only person who likes Life During Wartime, I am a Solondz fan. I have been dismissing Stone for the longest time because my first film was Alexander but I watched Natural Born Killers this week and he shot way up. Lot of great directors on here. I really must watch more Bergman, seeing as I have only seen The Seventh Seal and I have never heard one person talk shit about him let alone say hes not one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. I now love Bunuel due to The Exterminating Angel. Again great list that is impressive in scope.

    • I can see why people dislike Life During Wartime (it’s far from perfect) but I enjoyed it and I always enjoy Solondz. Natural Born Killers is Stone’s masterpiece. Phenomenal movie. Definitely see more Bergman – The Seventh Seal is a great place to start, and I suggest next you watch Wild Strawberries, Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light, The Silence, Persona, Cries and Whispers or Fanny and Alexander next. Anything, really. The Exterminating Angel is a great Buñuel film, but you need to see more, man! 🙂

  8. This must have taken such a long time to do, but I really can’t complain with Lynch being in there. The only thing I would mention is probably something you’re probably aware of (lack of females, though there is a lot of diversity in this list which I really like!).

    Great list either way, and I’m glad someone else thinks Somewhere is Sofia Coppola’s best film.

    • It took aaaaaaaages! I only realized halfway through doing it how long it was taking but by then it was too late to stop. Lynch is the man!

      I am kind of tearing my hair out that there’s not enough female filmmakers on here. Akerman and Coppola are two of my favourites, but I also like Agnes Varda, Kelly Reichardt, Claire Denis, Amy Heckerling, Agnieszka Holland, Marry Harron and others.

    • My only issue with the “lack of females” comment is that, by and large, it’s a male dominated industry. Not saying that’s cool, just stating fact. Of course, I don’t have any exact numbers, but did find this article that might interest you. It’s hardly definitive, but gives you an idea of the disparity.
      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stacy-smith/female-directors-writers_b_480848.html

      With that being said, there are certainly some wonderful female directors out there, but by and large, most of them that I’m a fan of haven’t made a lot of films, so there oeuvre is a little thin. I mentioned a few directors in another comment, and I’m looking forward to seeing more films by those women.

  9. Your choices for “best” are pretty daring in some instances!
    Great list…been making a concerted effort to dig into many of these directors’ filmographies this year.

    • Haha daring is nice! I like that. I honestly believe these are the 50 best filmmakers. Hope you enjoy what you find from any of them! 🙂

  10. Interesting list… there are so many great directors and movies to choose from. Sofia Coppola, but no Francis Ford Coppola? Really? I love Lost in Translation, but then there’s Godfather 1 & 2, Apocalypse Now, and The Conversation which are whole other level.

  11. I didn’t know essay film was a genre.

    Anyways, i am not familiar with a lot of these but the ones i do know of like Kubrick i’m in agreement with with. Though i can’t say i share the same love for Coppola you do. I liked Lost in Translation and surprisingly Marie Antoinette but i don’t think i fell in love with them(haven’t seen Somewhere yet)

    My own addition would be Tomas Alfredson.I know hes done only 2 films(or at least only 2 major ones) but he’s impressed me enough that i would credit him as a directing influence.That doesn’t happen with me often.

    I think he has a talent for creating gritty yet visually pleasing images(Like in Tinker tailor Soldier Spy where when the guy smoked his cigar you could see the smoke). I particularly love that he doesn’t rely on shaky cam and other gimmicks to create a realistic look for his movies.

    • On second thought i think i am going to take back my comment about Sofia, as there are others here whose work i liked but haven’t fallen in love with. Plus i haven’t seen Somewhere, which seems to be a love it or hate it film

    • Somewhere is a love-it-or-hate-it film but I think S. Coppola has serious talent.

      Alfredson is a good director. I really liked Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

  12. I’m having a hard time figuring out some of your math here. Francis Ford Coppola is not listed, yet his daughter, an inferior director, is listed. In defense of that statement, your top 100 list features 3 films by Francis and 0 by Sofia. I’m not criticizing the omission of Francis or Sofia’s inclusion, just that the math doesn’t add up. Also, the Coen Brothers are listed in the honorable mention section, yet they have 4 films in your top 100 list, far more than most of the directors on this list. Just curious why some directors featured in your favorite films of all time didn’t make the cut.

    • Haha I love this comment because it really is well-written and reasoned. I can’t argue with your logic. As much as I love the Godfather movies, The Conversation and Apocalypse Now, I just don’t feel F.F. Coppola has the talent that his daughter has. She seems destined for greatness, and impresses me just a little bit more than he does.

      It was difficult making the top 50 cut. There are a lot more than 50 directors that I love.

      • I think FF Coppola, much like Ashby, had a brilliant career in the 70’s but did basically nothing outside of that decade. But even if we were to just take Godfather I and II, Conversation and Apocalypse Now, I don’t see how you can say anything Sofia has done at this point comes even close to any of those films. Maybe in time, she’ll put together a more impressive oeuvre, or at least a more consistent one, but I personally don’t hold her in the same esteem as you do, and just don’t see her rivaling her father’s output. As for putting together a list of 50 directors, that’s tough, and then to have to defend that list, even tougher.

        Of course, we’re just sharing opinions. It’s a subjective list, can anyone truly argue one person’s preferences? And I agree with what you said about QT…he’s an overrated hack. His best attributes are his ear for dialogue and uncanny ability to put together a wonderful soundtrack. Other than that, he’s shitting on a plate and calling it filet mignon.

  13. As far as great directors not listed, that perhaps you aren’t as familiar with but might want to consider, I’ve listed a bunch with some of their best films, in no particular order. I know, it’s a big list but I left a lot of people off too!

    Robert Altman: M*A*S*H, Nashville, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Long Goodbye, Player
    Hal Ashby: Shampoo, Last Detail, Being There, Harold and Maude, Coming Home
    Fritz Lang: Metropolis, M, Testament of Dr. Mabuse, Big Heat
    Woody Allen: Crimes and Misdemeanors, Manhattan, Annie Hall, Hannah and Her Sisters
    Jacques Audiard: A Prophet, Beat That My Heart Skipped, Read My Lips
    Claude Chabrol:La Ceremonie, Le Boucher, Story of Women, This Man Must Die
    Charles Chaplin: Modern Times, Great Dictator, City Lights, Gold Rush
    Henri-Georges Clouzot: Wages of Fear, Diabolique, Le Corbeau, Quai des Orfèvres
    Claire Denis: Beau Travail, Intruder, White Material, 35 Shots of Rum
    John Ford: Searchers, Stage Coach, Grapes of Wrath, Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
    Howard Hawks: Big Sleep, To Have and Have Not, Sergeant York, His Girl Friday
    Jia Zhangke: Platform, Still Life, World
    Aki Kaurismäki: Man Without a Past, Match Factory Girl, Ariel, I Hired a Contract Killer
    Buster Keaton: Sherlock Jr, General, Cops
    Jean-Pierre Melville: Le Samouraï, Army of Shadows, Le cercle rouge
    Kenji Mizoguchi: Ugetsu, Sansho the Bailiff, Life Of Oharu
    Sam Peckinpah: Wild Bunch, Straw Dogs, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, Getaway
    John Sayles: Lone Star, Matewan, Eight Men Out, Men With Guns, Sunshine State
    Preston Sturges: Sullivan’s Travels, Lady Eve, Hail the Conquering Hero, Palm Beach Story
    Wong Kar-wai: In the Mood for Love, Chungking Express, Days of Being Wild, 2046
    Errol Morris: Thin Blue Line, Fog of War, Gates of Heaven, Standard Operating Procedure
    Hayao Miyazaki: Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, My Neighbor Totoro, Porco Rosso
    Lukas Moodysson: Lilya 4-Ever, Together, Fucking Amal
    Lynne Ramsay: We Need to Talk About Kevin, Ratcatcher, Morvern Callar
    John Cassavetes: Woman Under the Influence, Faces, Killing of a Chinese Bookie
    Ernst Lubitsch: Heaven Can Wait, To Be or Not To Be, Ninotchka, Trouble in Paradise
    Apichatpong Weerasethakul: Syndromes and a Century, Tropical Malady, Blissfully Yours
    Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne: Le Fils, L’Enfant, Kid with a Bike, La Promesse
    Joon-ho Bong: Memories of Murder, Mother, Host
    Kelly Reichardt: Wendy and Lucy, Meek’s Cutoff, Old Joy
    Ramin Bahrani: Chop Shop, Goodbye Solo, Man Push Cart
    Lucrecia Martel: Headless Woman, Holy Girl, Swamp
    Andrea Arnold: Fish Tank, Red Road, Wasp

    • Well… where do we begin? Let’s go through each director individually:
      Altman: LOVE him. He came close to making the top 50, believe me. Nashville and Short Cuts stunned me.
      Ashby: Seen Harold and Maude and Being There, didn’t LOVE either of them, but they were decent.
      Lang: Good one! Love Metropolis and M.
      Allen: Love him but just haven’t seen enough to truly wow me.
      Audiard: Not that familiar with him. Seen A Prophet though.
      Chabrol: Only seen La Ceremonie (that was very recently too), but it fully stunned me.
      Chaplin: Meh…
      Clouzot: I like him. That’s about it.
      Denis: Really like her, but need to see more.
      Ford: I’m just getting into him. I ADORED Grapes of Wrath and really liked Man who Shot Liberty Valance and Stagecoach. About to watch The Searchers very soon.
      Hawks: Liked Bringing Up Baby, need to see more.
      Zhangke: Not familiar with him at all.
      Kaurismaki: Only seen Le Havre, which was good but not great.
      Keaton: LOVE him. Can’t really explain his absence.
      Melville: Another almost inexplicable absence. I like his movies but they’ve never really stunned me.
      Mizugochi: Just getting into his movies. Only seen Ugetsu, which I really liked. Sansho the Bailiff is next.
      Peckinpah: Fuck, why isn’t he mentioned on this list? I fucking love Peckinpah. Good choice!
      Sayles: Not too familiar with him.
      Sturges: Haven’t seen anything, been meaning to watch Palm Beach Story though.
      Kar-Wai: Here’s a director I love. Adore In the Mood for Love. He’d definitely make a top 100 list.
      Morris: Gates of Heaven is one of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen, but my only Morris film, sadly.
      Miyazaki: I take a lot of shit for not having seen any Miyazaki movies.
      Moodyson: I’ve seen Fucking Amal, got Together and Lilya 4-Ever ready to be watched next.
      Ramsay: Really liked We Need To Talk About Kevin. Her direction in that film was a revelation.
      Cassavetes: I’ve only seen Shadows and A Woman Under the Influence. The latter I gave a 10/10 rating.
      Lubitsch: Can’t say I’m familiar with him.
      Weerasethakul: Haven’t seen any of his films, but I want to.
      Dardenne: Haven’t seen any of their work.
      Bong: Haven’t seen any of his films.
      Reichardt: Here’s one I actually really like. I’ve seen Wendy and Lucy and Meek’s Cutoff and I really liked them both.
      Bahrani: Not familiar with him.
      Martel: Or her.
      Arnold: I really liked Fish Tank but I haven’t seen anything else.

      Hopefully that cleared a few things up. 🙂

      • I’m surprised at your “meh” to Charlie Chaplin.I myself wnat to catch up on his stuff at some point but i figured he was loved by pretty much everyone. Also, are you just not big on anime or is there something in Miyazaki’s films that you just don’t like?

        If its the former,i would advise giving animated movies a chance. Not saying they are all perfect, but i think the variety of animated movies is large enough that i think you could find something you like

      • Appreciate the generous response to my comment…almost as long as your original list. Haha! I’m not saying these directors would be on my top 50, just threw out some names of people who could be in the discussion. I sure hope you decide to check out some of these director’s films, as I know you watch like 500 films a week, so shouldn’t be too difficult for you. Haha. Seriously though, definitely watch Altman’s M*A*S*H, McCabe and Mrs. Miller and Long Goodbye. Pretty sure he’ll make your next revision. As for other directors you haven’t experienced, check out Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors or Manhattan, Clouzot’s Wages of Fear, Lone Star by Sayles, Memories of Murder by Bong, Headless Woman by Martel, Chop Shop by Bahrani, Le Fils by the Dardennes, Syndromes and a Century by Weerasethakul, Morris’ Thin Blue Line, which redefined documentary film making, and Sullivan’s Travels by Sturges. And all the rest when you get a second. Damn, I’m demanding. But if it makes you feel any better, I’m watching films based on your lists/reviews, so it would just balance things out (and I have impeccable taste!) 🙂

        • Haha no problem, I like long comments. When I get time to actually respond to them, I do my best. I definitely will be seeing more Altman soon. I’ve seen Allen’s Manhattan, but all the other films you listed are new to me. Will have to take some titles down. Thanks!

  14. Great list. I’ve seen at least one film by 32 of those directors, so I’ve still got a lot of work to do. It’s nice to see that someone else thinks that Eyes Wide Shut is Kubrick’s best.

  15. I am sorry to say but your writing on films puts me off. But if you want a detailed criticism, I can offer you that. Otherwise, feel free to delete this comment.

    • I understand what you mean. Since I was writing 50 short pieces on each filmmaker, I did lose the flow at times and it become exhausting, so some of my writing sadly did become repetitive. I’m just as bothered by it as you are.

  16. Of the directors on here, I’ve seen the work of 30 of them. The other 20 I’ve either never saw their work or even heard of them. (You might know which ones they are, Tyler.)

  17. If you want some more Vertov, try here:
    http://www.ubuweb.com/film/vertov.html
    Cannot guarantee you’ll like these as much, though; haven’t seen Kinoeye yet and 3 Songs is more or less outright propaganda.

  18. Superb list, my friend. Bergman reigns supreme. Always and forever.

  19. great list, it reminden me how much movie I still need to see

  20. I think Mr. Kubrik’s “2001” was a better movie than “Eyes Wide Shut”.

  21. Wonderful list. I loved to see Gaspar Noe. “I Stand Alone” is the real stuff.

  22. What are your thoughts on David Fincher

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