Lists

60 Directors and Their Greatest Films

September 7, 2015
6 min read

Each filmmaker has a film that defines them as an artist, their masterpiece. Some have more than one, but to be fair we limited each to just one. Perhaps they won an Oscar or the DGA Award for the film, perhaps not, it really does not matter. What matter is that when all of us are long gone, the film will be here still, being discussed as the soaring work of art if was and remains. Indulge us. Here are sixty directors from yesterday and today and the film we believe is their greatest.

 

John’s List:

1. STEVEN SPIELBERG — SCHINDLERS LIST (1993)
2. MARTIN SCORSESE — RAGING BULL (1980)
3. WOODY ALLEN — MANHATTAN (1979)
4. PAUL THOMAS ANDERSON — THERE WILL BE BLOOD (2007)
5. PETER JACKSON — THE LORD OF THE RINGS — THE RETURN OF THE KING (2003)
6. FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA — THE GODFATHER PART II (1974)
7. CLINT EASTWOOD — UNFORGIVEN (1992)
8. COEN BROTHERS — TRUE GRIT (2010)
9. SYDNEY POLLACK — TOOTSIE (1982)
10. MILOS FORMAN — ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOOS NEST (1975)
11. SIDNEY LUMET — NETWORK (1976)
12. ALAN J. PAKULA — ALL THE PRESIDENTS MEN (1976)
13. STANLEY KUBRICK — A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1971)
14. WARREN BEATTY — REDS (1981)
15. JAMES L. BROOKS — TERMS OF ENDEARMENT (1983)
16. OLIVER STONE — NATURAL BORN KILLERS (1994)
17. JONATHAN DEMME — THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991)
18. RON HOWARD — APOLLO 13 (1995)
19. KATHRYN BIGELOW — ZERO DARK THIRTY (2012)
20. ROBERT ZEMECKIS — FORREST GUMP (1994)
21. QUENTIN TARANTINO — PULP FICTION (1994)
22. TIM BURTON — ED WOOD (1994)
23. MEL GIBSON — THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST (2004)
24. JAMES CAMERON — ALIENS (1986)
25. DAVID FINCHER — THE SOCIAL NETWORK (2010)
26. CHRISTOPHER NOLAN — THE DARK KNIGHT (2008)
27. WES ANDERSON — THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (2014)
28. TODD HAYNES — FAR FROM HEAVEN (2002)
29. ALEXANDER PAYNE — THE DESCENDANTS (2011)
30. ANG LEE — BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN (2005)
31. DAVID LEAN — LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1962)
32. JOHN SCHESLINGER — MIDNIGHT COWBOY (1969)
33. JOHN FORD — THE SEARCHERS (1956)
34. ELIA KAZAN — ON THE WATERFRONT (1954)
35. BILLY WILDER — SUNSET BOULEVARD (1950)
36. WILLIAM WYLER — BEN HUR (1959)
37. DAVID LYNCH — BLUE VELVET (1986)
38. ROB REINER — STAND BY ME (1986)
39. KEVIN COSTNER — DANCES WITH WOLVES (1990)
40. PENNY MARSHALL — AWAKENINGS (1990)
41. BOB FOSSE — CABARET (1972)
42. RIDLEY SCOTT — THELMA AND LOUISE (1991)
43. ATOM EGOYAN — THE SWEET HEREAFTER (1997)
44. CURTIS HANSON — LA CONFIDENTIAL (1997)
45. DANNY BOYLE — TRAINSPOTTING (1996)
46. CHARLES CHAPLIN — CITY LIGHTS (1931)
47. BRIAN DE PALMA — BLOW OUT (1981)
48. DARREN ARONOFSKY — REQUIEM FOR A DREAM (2000)
49. SEAN PENN — INTO THE WILD (2007)
50. PHILLIP KAUFMANN — THE RIGHT STUFF (1983)
51. JOHN HUSTON — THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE (1948)
52. ORSON WELLES — CITIZEN KANE (1941)
53. GEORGE STEVENS — SHANE (1953)
54. ROBERT ROSSEN — THE HUSTLER (1961)
55. VICTOR FLEMING — THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939)
56. GUS VAN SANT — MILK (2008)
57. SPIKE LEE –WHEN THE LEVEES BROKE (2006)
58. PETER BOGDONAVICH — THE LAST PICTURE SHOW (1971)
59. GEORGE LUCAS — AMERICAN GRAFFITI (1973)
60. WILLIAM FRIEDKIN — THE EXORCIST (1973)

 

Gautam’s List (The film is marked in red if the choices differ)

1. STEVEN SPIELBERG — SCHINDLERS LIST (1993)
2. MARTIN SCORSESE — TAXI DRIVER (1976)
3. WOODY ALLEN — ANNIE HALL (1977)
4. PAUL THOMAS ANDERSON — MAGNOLIA (1999)
5. PETER JACKSON — THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING (2003)
6. FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA — APOCALYSE NOW (1979)
7. CLINT EASTWOOD — UNFORGIVEN (1992)
8. COEN BROTHERS — FARGO (1996)
9. SYDNEY POLLACK — TOOTSIE (1982)
10. MILOS FORMAN — ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOOS NEST (1975)
11. SIDNEY LUMET — NETWORK (1976)
12. ALAN J. PAKULA — ALL THE PRESIDENTS MEN (1976)
13. STANLEY KUBRICK — 2001: A SPACE ODESSEY (1967)
14. WARREN BEATTY — REDS (1981)
15. JAMES L. BROOKS — TERMS OF ENDEARMENT (1983)
16. OLIVER STONE — PLATOON (1986)
17. JONATHAN DEMME — THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991)
18. RON HOWARD — APOLLO 13 (1995)
19. KATHRYN BIGELOW — ZERO DARK THIRTY (2012)
20. ROBERT ZEMECKIS — BACK TO THE FUTURE (1985)
21. QUENTIN TARANTINO — PULP FICTION (1994)
22. TIM BURTON — EDWARD SCISSORHANDS (1990)
23. MEL GIBSON — BRAVEHEART (1995)
24. JAMES CAMERON — TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY (1991)
25. DAVID FINCHER — ZODIAC (2005)
26. CHRISTOPHER NOLAN — MEMENTO (2002)
27. WES ANDERSON — THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (2014)
28. TODD HAYNES — FAR FROM HEAVEN (2002)
29. ALEXANDER PAYNE — SIDEWAYS (2004)
30. ANG LEE — BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN (2005)
31. DAVID LEAN — LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1962)
32. JOHN SCHESLINGER — MIDNIGHT COWBOY (1969)
33. JOHN FORD — THE SEARCHERS (1956)
34. ELIA KAZAN — ON THE WATERFRONT (1954)
35. BILLY WILDER — SUNSET BOULEVARD (1950)
36. WILLIAM WYLER — BEN HUR (1959)
37. DAVID LYNCH — MULHOLLAND DR. (2000)
38. ROB REINER — STAND BY ME (1986)
39. KEVIN COSTNER — DANCES WITH WOLVES (1990)
40. PENNY MARSHALL — AWAKENINGS (1990)
41. BOB FOSSE — CABARET (1972)
42. RIDLEY SCOTT — BLADE RUNNER (1982)
43. ATOM EGOYAN — THE SWEET HEREAFTER (1997)
44. CURTIS HANSON — LA CONFIDENTIAL (1997)
45. DANNY BOYLE — TRAINSPOTTING (1996)
46. CHARLES CHAPLIN — CITY LIGHTS (1931)
47. BRIAN DE PALMA — BLOW OUT (1981)
48. DARREN ARONOFSKY — REQUIEM FOR A DREAM (2000)
49. SEAN PENN — INTO THE WILD (2007)
50. PHILLIP KAUFMANN — THE RIGHT STUFF (1983)
51. JOHN HUSTON — THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE (1948)
52. ORSON WELLES — CITIZEN KANE (1941)
53. GEORGE STEVENS — SHANE (1953)
54. ROBERT ROSSEN — THE HUSTLER (1961)
55. VICTOR FLEMING — THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939)
56. GUS VAN SANT — ELEPHANT (2003)
57. SPIKE LEE — 25TH HOUR (2002)
58. PETER BOGDONAVICH — THE LAST PICTURE SHOW (1971)
59. GEORGE LUCAS — STAR WARS: EPISODE IV – A NEW HOPE (1977)
60. WILLIAM FRIEDKIN — THE EXORCIST (1973)

Bonus:
61. RICHARD LINKLATER — BEFORE SUNSET (2003)
62. ALEJANDRO G. INARRITU — BIRDMAN (2014)

Read More: The 50 Greatest Hollywood Directors of All Time

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