Lists · Movies · Podcast Unlimited

The Top Ten Movie Directors

George Lucas and Steven Spielberg

“Like Kurosawa I make mad films
Okay, I don’t make films
But if I did they’d have a Samurai.”
Barenaked Ladies – “One Week”

If you are following my blog and/or podcast, then I don’t need to explain the significance and value a good director brings to the making of a movie. But if you need empirical proof, take a look at your multiplex, or steaming provider. We are living in a gilded age of remakes and reboots. Whereas the originals have given us iconic images and memorable scenes that made them timeless classics, the newer versions are created by those that lack the creative vision, and fail to learn the lessons why the originals work so well.

It’s not the caliber of the story or plot that makes or breaks a movie; it’s how well the story is shot. The greatest directors are the ones that have innovated and revolutionized the process of making movies. Directors are artists. Just as a painter uses oils on canvas, a sculptor uses a chisel on marble, and a writer uses ink on paper (nowadays it’s toner ink on printer paper), a director uses a camera on celluloid. It is why a fans of a tentpole franchise care more about casting a director than cast the main lead(s) (and why studios should as well.)

Average movies will tell you who their favorite movies directors are, and point to certain scenes in movies. Film students can tell you why and how those scenes were made. And if the two lists don’t overlap, then certain the latter were a heavy influence on the former.  The visionaries of the 1930’s, 40’s, and 50’s inspired and influenced the young directors of the 1960’s and 70’s. And they in turn, left a large impression on the directors of the 1980’s, 90’s, and today.

So without further ado, let’s keep the chain going, and give you our feature presentation:

The Top Ten Movie Directors

Keith’s List

  • 10. Ridley Scott
  • 9. Peter Jackson
  • 8. Tim Burton
  • 7. Christopher Nolan
  • 6. Quentin Tarantino
  • 5. Joel + Ethan Coen
  • 4. Clint Eastwood
  • 3. Ben Affleck
  • 2. Steven Spielberg
  • 1. James Cameron

Honorable Mentions (in alphabetical order): Woody Allen; Wes Anderson; Darren Aronofsky; Michael Bay; John Carpenter; David Fincher; Alfred Hitchcock; Stanley Kubrick; George Lucas; David O. Russell; Martin Scorsese.

George Lucas and Steven Spielberg

My List

  • 10. Alfred Hitchcock
  • 9. John Ford
  • 8. Akira Kurosawa
  • 7. Joel + Ethan Coen
  • 6. Orson Welles
  • 5. Martin Scorsese
  • 4. Stanley Kubrick
  • 3. Christopher Nolan
  • 2. James Cameron
  • 1. Steven Spielberg

Honorable Mentions (in alphabetical order): Ingmar Bergman; Tim Burton; Frank Capra; Clint Eastwood; Ron Howard; Elia Kazan; Satoshi Kon; Fritz Lang; Sergio Leone; George Lucas; David Lynch; Hayao Miyazaki; Makoto Shinkai; Ridley Scott; Quentin Tarantino; John Woo.

To read Keith’s thoughts on the subject, check out our (little sister) blog here.

Next Podcast Unlimited List: Top Ten Comediennes.

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