Great directors to watch

by TheCinemister | created - 30 Oct 2018 | updated - 09 Jan 2019 | Public

1. 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 ...

Great Movies: Clockwork Orange The Shining 2001: A Space Odyssey Eyes Wide Shut

2. Sam Peckinpah

Writer | The Wild Bunch

"If they move", commands stern-eyed William Holden, "kill 'em". So begins The Wild Bunch (1969), Sam Peckinpah's bloody, high-body-count eulogy to the mythologized Old West. "Pouring new wine into the bottle of the Western, Peckinpah explodes the bottle", observed critic Pauline Kael. That ...

Great Movies: Straw Dogs The Wild Bunch The Getaway

3. Wes Craven

Writer | A Nightmare on Elm Street

Wes Craven has become synonymous with genre bending and innovative horror, challenging audiences with his bold vision.

Wesley Earl Craven was born in Cleveland, Ohio, to Caroline (Miller) and Paul Eugene Craven. He had a midwestern suburban upbringing. His first feature film was The Last House on ...

Great Movies: The Last House on the Left A Nightmare on Elm Street The Hills Have Eyes

4. 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 ...

Great Movies: The French Connection The Exorcist To Live and Die in L.A.

5. Leni Riefenstahl

Producer | Das blaue Licht - Eine Berglegende aus den Dolomiten

Leni Riefenstahl's show-biz experience began with an experiment: she wanted to know what it felt like to dance on the stage. Success as a dancer gave way to film acting when she attracted the attention of film director Arnold Fanck, subsequently starring in some of his mountaineering pictures. With...

Great Movies: The Triumph of the Wil Victory of the Faith

6. 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 ...

Great Movies: Taxi Driver Raging Bull I Call First The Last Temptation of Christ

7. Quentin Tarantino

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...

Great Movies: Pulp Fiction Reservoir Dogs Kill Bill

8. Tom Six

Director | The Human Centipede (First Sequence)

Tom Six was born on August 29, 1973 in Alkmaar, Noord-Holland, Netherlands. He is a director and writer, known for The Human Centipede (First Sequence) (2009), The Human Centipede III (Final Sequence) (2015) and The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) (2011).

Great Movies: The Human Centipede Trilogy

9. Lars von Trier

Writer | Dancer in the Dark

Probably the most ambitious and visually distinctive filmmaker to emerge from Denmark since Carl Theodor Dreyer over 60 years earlier, Lars von Trier studied film at the Danish Film School and attracted international attention with his very first feature, The Element of Crime (1984). A highly ...

Great Movies: Breaking the Wave Dancer in the Dark Antichrist

10. Larry Charles

Producer | Seinfeld

Larry Charles was born on December 1, 1956 in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA. He is a producer and writer, known for Seinfeld (1989), Brüno (2009) and The Dictator (2012).

Great Movies: Borat Bruno The Dictator

11. Michael Moore

Director | Bowling for Columbine

Michael Francis Moore was born in Flint, Michigan on April 23, 1954, and was raised in its Davison suburb. He is the son of Helen Veronica (Wall), a secretary, and Francis Richard Moore, who worked on an auto assembly line. He has Irish, as well as English and Scottish, ancestry.

Moore studied ...

Great Movies: Bowling for Columbine Fahrenheit 9/11 Sicko

12. David Fincher

Director | Se7en

David Fincher was born in 1962 in Denver, Colorado, and was raised in Marin County, California. When he was 18 years old he went to work for John Korty at Korty Films in Mill Valley. He subsequently worked at ILM (Industrial Light and Magic) from 1981-1983. Fincher left ILM to direct TV commercials...

Great Movies: Fight Club Seven The Game

13. Larry Clark

Director | Bully

Was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma (1943). Son of Frances Clark (baby photographer) and Lewis Clark. Graduated from Central High school in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Attended Layton School of Art in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Studied under Walter Sheffer and Gerard Bakker. Film debut was the movie Kids (1995). He was ...

Great Movies: Kids Ken Park Bully

14. 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 ...

Great Movies: JFK Platoon Natural Born Killers

15. Paul Verhoeven

Director | Zwartboek

Paul Verhoeven graduated from the University of Leiden, with a degree in math and physics. He entered the Royal Netherlands Navy, where he began his film career by making documentaries for the Navy and later for TV. In 1969, he directed the popular Dutch TV series, Floris (1969), about a medieval ...

Great Movies: Basic Instict Elle Showgirls

16. Spike Lee

Director | Do the Right Thing

Spike Lee was born Shelton Jackson Lee on March 20, 1957, in Atlanta, Georgia. At a very young age, he moved from pre-civil rights Georgia, to Brooklyn, New York. Lee came from artistic, education-grounded background; his father was a jazz musician, and his mother, a schoolteacher. He attended ...

Great Movies: Do The Right Thing 4 Little Girls Malcolm X

17. Ruggero Deodato

Director | Deathcember

Ruggero Deodato was born on May 7, 1939, in Potenza, Italy, and grew up outside Rome. One of his close friends at the time was Renzo Rossellini, the son of famed Italian director Roberto Rossellini. Knowing Ruggerio's love for the movies, Renzo persuaded him to work as a second unit director on ...

Great Movies: Cannibal Holocaust Last Cannibal World Waves of Lust

18. Terry Gilliam

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 ...

Great Movies: Monty Python and the Holy Grail Brazil Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

19. Pier Paolo Pasolini

Writer | Il Decameron

Pier Paolo Pasolini achieved fame and notoriety long before he entered the film industry. A published poet at 19, he had already written numerous novels and essays before his first screenplay in 1954. His first film Accattone (1961) was based on his own novel and its violent depiction of the life ...

Great Movies: Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom Teorema The Gospel According to St. Matthew Arabian Nights

20. Gaspar Noé

Director | Climax

Gaspar Noé was born on December 27, 1963 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is a director and producer, known for Climax (2018), Irreversible (2002) and Enter the Void (2009).

Great Movies: Enter The Void Irreversible Climax

21. Roman Polanski

Actor | 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 ...

Great Movies: The Tenant Rosemary’s Baby Chinatown Repulsion The Pianist

22. 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 ...

Great Movies: Mulholland Dr. Eraserhead Blue Velvet Inland Empire

23. Tod Browning

Director | Dracula

Belonging to a well-situated family, Charles Browning fell in love at the age of 16 with a dancer of a circus. Following her began his itinerary of being clown, jockey and director of a variety theater which ended when he met D.W. Griffith and became an actor. He made his debut in Intolerance: ...

24. Kar-Wai Wong

Writer | Yi dai zong shi

Wong Kar-wai (born 17 July 1956) is a Hong Kong Second Wave filmmaker, internationally renowned as an auteur for his visually unique, highly stylised, emotionally resonant work, including Ah fei zing zyun (1990), Dung che sai duk (1994), Chung Hing sam lam (1994), Do lok tin si (1995), Chun gwong ...

25. David Cronenberg

Director | The Fly

David Cronenberg, also known as the King of Venereal Horror or the Baron of Blood, was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in 1943. His father, Milton Cronenberg, was a journalist and editor, and his mother, Esther (Sumberg), was a piano player. After showing an inclination for literature at an early...

26. Vilgot Sjöman

Director | Garaget

Vilgot Sjöman was born on December 2, 1924 in Stockholm, Stockholms län, Sweden as David Harald Vilgot Sjöman. He was a director and writer, known for Garaget (1975), My Sister My Love (1966) and Lyckliga skitar (1970). He was married to Lotta Sjöman and Kristina Hasselgren. He died on April 9, ...

27. Bernardo Bertolucci

Writer | Ultimo tango a Parigi

Bernardo Bertolucci, the Italian director whose films were known for their colorful visual style, was born in Parma, Italy. He attended Rome University and became famous as a poet. He served as assistant director for Pier Paolo Pasolini in the film Accattone (1961) and directed The Grim Reaper (...

28. Francis Ford Coppola

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 ...

29. Darren Aronofsky

Director | Pi

Darren Aronofsky was born February 12, 1969, in Brooklyn, New York. Growing up, Darren was always artistic: he loved classic movies and, as a teenager, he even spent time doing graffiti art. After high school, Darren went to Harvard University to study film (both live-action and animation). He won ...

30. Adrian Lyne

Director | Jacob's Ladder

Adrian Lyne (Director/Writer/Producer) is the creative force behind some of the most talked-about movies of our time, among them, "Fatal Attraction", "9 1/2 Weeks", "Flashdance", "Indecent Proposal", "Jacob's Ladder" and "Unfaithful".

Born in Peterborough, England and raised in London, Lyne attended...

31. Ken Russell

Director | The Devils

Ken Russell tried several professions before choosing to become a film director; he was a still photographer and a dancer and he even served in the Army, but film was his destiny. He began by making several short films which paved the way for his brilliant television films of the 1960s that are ...

32. Michael Haneke

Writer | Caché

A true master of his craft, Michael Haneke is one of the greatest film artists working today and one who challenges his viewers each year and work goes by, with films that reflect real portions of life in realistic, disturbing and unforgettable ways. One of the most genuine filmmakers of the world ...

33. Yorgos Lanthimos

Director | The Lobster

Yorgos Lanthimos was born in Athens, Greece. He studied directing for Film and Television at the Stavrakos Film School in Athens. He has directed a number of dance videos in collaboration with Greek choreographers, in addition to TV commercials, music videos, short films and theater plays. Kinetta,...

34. D.W. Griffith

Director | The Birth of a Nation

David Wark Griffith was born in rural Kentucky to Jacob "Roaring Jake" Griffith, a former Confederate Army colonel and Civil War veteran. Young Griffith grew up with his father's romantic war stories and melodramatic nineteenth-century literature that were to eventually shape his movies. In 1897 ...

35. Takashi Miike

Director | Koroshiya 1

Takashi Miike was born in the small town of Yao on the outskirts of Osaka, Japan. His main interest growing up was motorbikes, and for a while he harbored ambitions to race professionally. At the age of 18 he went to study at the film school in Yokohama founded by renowned director Shôhei Imamura, ...

36. Todd Solondz

Director | Welcome to the Dollhouse

Todd Solondz was born in Newark, New Jersey. One of his earliest jobs in the film industry was when, as a young man, he worked as a messenger for the Writers' Guild of America. During this time, he wrote several screenplays.

Solondz's first color film with sync sound was the short "Schatt's Last ...

37. Ingmar Bergman

Writer | Smultronstället

Ernst Ingmar Bergman was born July 14, 1918, the son of a priest. The film and T.V. series, The Best Intentions (1992) is biographical and shows the early marriage of his parents. The film 'Söndagsbarn' depicts a bicycle journey with his father. In the miniseries Private Confessions (1996) is the ...

38. Andrei Tarkovsky

Writer | Solyaris

The most famous Soviet film-maker since Sergei M. Eisenstein, Andrei Tarkovsky (the son of noted poet Arseniy Tarkovsky) studied music and Arabic in Moscow before enrolling in the Soviet film school V.G.I.K. He shot to international attention with his first feature, Ivan's Childhood (1962), which ...

39. Harmony Korine

Director | Gummo

Harmony Korine was born in 1973 in Bolinas, California. His family moved to the east coast of the United States when he was five, and he spent his early years in Nashville, Tennessee, and New York. At the age of nineteen, he wrote the critically acclaimed screenplay Kids (1995) for director Larry ...

40. Eli Roth

Producer | Cabin Fever

Eli Raphael Roth was born in Newton, Massachusetts, to Cora (Bialis), a painter, and Sheldon H. Roth, a psychoanalyst, psychiatrist, and clinical professor. His family is Jewish (from Austria, Hungary, Russia, and Poland). He began shooting Super 8 films at the age of eight, after watching Ridley ...

41. Nicolas Winding Refn

Writer | Valhalla Rising

Writer, director, and producer Nicolas Winding Refn was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1970, to Anders Refn, a film director and editor, and Vibeke Winding (née Tuxen), a cinematographer. Just before he turned 11, in 1981, he moved to New York with his parents, where he lived out his teen years. ...

42. Aleksey German

Director | Khrustalyov, mashinu!

Aleksey German was born on July 20, 1938 in Leningrad, Russian SFSR, USSR as Aleksei Yuryevich German. He was an actor and director, known for Khrustalyov, My Car! (1998), Hard to Be a God (2013) and My Friend Ivan Lapshin (1985). He was married to Svetlana Karmalita. He died on February 21, 2013 ...

43. Béla Tarr

Producer | Werckmeister harmóniák

Béla Tarr was born on July 21, 1955 in Pécs, Hungary. He is a producer and director, known for Werckmeister Harmonies (2000), The Turin Horse (2011) and Satantango (1994). He is married to Ágnes Hranitzky.

44. 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 ...

45. François Truffaut

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 ...

46. Chan-wook Park

Director | Ah-ga-ssi

Chan-wook Park was born on August 23, 1963 in Seoul, South Korea. He is a director and producer, known for The Handmaiden (2016), Thirst (2009) and Oldboy (2003). He is married to Eun-hee Kim. They have one child.

47. Jean-Luc Godard

Director | Pierrot le Fou

Jean-Luc Godard was born in Paris on December 3, 1930, the second of four children in a bourgeois Franco-Swiss family. His father was a doctor who owned a private clinic, and his mother came from a preeminent family of Swiss bankers. During World War II Godard became a naturalized citizen of ...

48. Luis Buñuel

Writer | Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie

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 ...

49. Álvaro Brechner

Writer | Mal día para pescar

Álvaro Brechner was born in 1976 in Montevideo, Uruguay. He is a writer and producer, known for Bad Day to Go Fishing (2009), Mr. Kaplan (2014) and A Twelve-Year Night (2018).

50. 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...

51. Alfonso Cuarón

Writer | Gravity

Alfonso Cuarón Orozco was born on November 28th in Mexico City, Mexico. From an early age, he yearned to be either a film director or an astronaut. However, he did not want to enter the army, so he settled for directing. He didn't receive his first camera until his twelfth birthday, and then ...

52. Ciro Guerra

Director | El abrazo de la serpiente

Ciro Guerra was born on February 6, 1981 in Río de Oro, Cesar, Colombia. He is a director and writer, known for Embrace of the Serpent (2015), Birds of Passage (2018) and The Wind Journeys (2009).

53. Gan Bi

Director | Lu bian ye can

Gan Bi is a director and writer, known for Kaili Blues (2015), Long Day's Journey Into Night (2018) and The Poet and Singer (2012).

54. Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Director | Loong Boonmee raleuk chat

Apichatpong Weerasethakul (b. 1970, Bangkok) grew up in Khon Kaen, a city in the north east of Thailand. He has a degree in Architecture from Khon Kaen University and a Master of Fine Arts in Filmmaking from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has been making films and videos since the ...

55. Sang-soo Hong

Director | Bam gua nat

Sang-soo Hong was born on October 25, 1960 in Seoul, Korea. He is a director and writer, known for Night and Day (2008), Right Now, Wrong Then (2015) and On the Beach at Night Alone (2017).

56. Lav Diaz

Writer | Ang panahon ng halimaw

Lav Diaz was born on December 30, 1958 in Datu Paglas, Maguindanao, Mindanao, Philippines as Lavrente Indico Diaz. He is a writer and director, known for Season of the Devil (2018), The Woman Who Left (2016) and From What Is Before (2014).

57. Zhangke Jia

Producer | Tian zhu ding

Zhangke Jia was born on May 24, 1970 in Fenyang, Shanxi, China. He is a producer and director, known for A Touch of Sin (2013), Mountains May Depart (2015) and Ash Is Purest White (2018). He has been married to Tao Zhao since January 7, 2012.

58. Jafar Panahi

Director | Taxi

Jafar Panahi (Born 11 July 1960) is an Iranian film director, screenwriter, and film editor, commonly identified with the Iranian New Wave film movement. After several years of making short films and working as an assistant director for fellow Iranian film-maker Abbas Kiarostami, Panahi achieved ...

59. Frederick Wiseman

Director | Ex Libris: The New York Public Library

Born in 1930, Wiseman is a Cambridge, Massachusetts resident and member of the Massachusetts Bar Association who turned to filmmaking in 1967, after years as an instructor and/or researcher at Boston University, Brandeis University, and Harvard. In 1970 he founded Zipporah Films, Inc., which ...

60. Michel Ocelot

Director | Princes et princesses

Michel Ocelot was born on October 27, 1943 in Villefranche-sur-Mer, French Riviera, France. He is a writer and director, known for Princes and Princesses (2000), Kirikou and the Wild Beasts (2005) and We Are the Star (1989).

61. Hirokazu Koreeda

Director | Manbiki kazoku

Born in Tokyo in 1962. Originally intended to be a novelist, but after graduating from Waseda University in 1987 went on to become an assistant director at T.V. Man Union. Snuck off set to film Lessons from a Calf (1991). His first feature, Maborosi (1995), based on a Teru Miyamoto novel and drawn ...

62. Miguel Gomes

Director | Aquele Querido Mês de Agosto

Miguel Gomes was born in 1972 in Lisbon, Portugal. He is a director and writer, known for Our Beloved Month of August (2008), Arabian Nights: Volume 2 - The Desolate One (2015) and Arabian Nights: Volume 3 - The Enchanted One (2015).

63. Pedro Costa

Director | Cavalo Dinheiro

Pedro Costa was born on December 30, 1958 in Lisbon, Portugal. He is a director and writer, known for Horse Money (2014), Vitalina Varela (2019) and Colossal Youth (2006).

64. Naomi Kawase

Director | An

Naomi Kawase was born on May 30, 1969 in Nara, Japan. She is a director and writer, known for Sweet Bean (2015), Suzaku (1997) and Still the Water (2014). She was previously married to Takenori Sentô.

65. Yann Arthus-Bertrand

Director | Human

Yann Arthus-Bertrand was born on March 13, 1946 in Paris, France. He is a director and writer, known for Human (2015), Woman (2019) and Planet Ocean (2012).

66. Paolo Sorrentino

Writer | Youth

Paolo Sorrentino was born on May 31, 1970 in Naples, Campania, Italy. He is a writer and director, known for Youth (2015), The Great Beauty (2013) and This Must Be the Place (2011). He is married to Daniela D'Antonio. They have two children.

67. Pablo Larraín

Producer | El Club

Born in Santiago in 1976, Pablo Larraín is, along with Sebastián Lelio, Chile's greatest movie director as well as a major producer (through his Fabula company). Not for the weak-hearted, his films are straightforward, generally aggressive and interspersed with violence. They paint a hard-hitting ...

68. Nuri Bilge Ceylan

Director | Bir Zamanlar Anadolu'da

Nuri Bilge Ceylan was born in Istanbul on January 26th, 1959. In 1976, he began studying chemical engineering at Istanbul Technical University, in a context of strong student unrest, boycotts and political polarization. In 1978, he switched courses to Electrical Engineering at Bogazici University. ...

69. Semih Kaplanoglu

Producer | Bugday

Semih Kaplanoglu was born in 1963 in Izmir, Turkey. He is a producer and director, known for Grain (2017), Honey (2010) and Egg (2007). He is married to Leyla Ipekçi.

70. Jacques Audiard

Writer | De rouille et d'os

Born in Paris, France, in 1952. Jacques Audiard's family has always been involved in movie business. His father, Michel, was a popular screenwriter and director and his uncle a producer. But in his teens he refused that world and wanted to be a teacher. He studied literature and philosophy at the ...



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