The Great Directors List

I have decided to make a few changes to the format of my “Top Twenty Directors” list.  The more I watch, research, and write about film the more I realize that “ranking” the great directors doesn’t really do justice to their impact on film or to their work in general.  Instead I’m going to keep a list of Great Directors, and periodically write “Great Director Profiles” posts to share my thoughts on their work.  (The original “Top Twenty” list is archived under “February 2012” for anyone interested).

Here’s the background.  Back in 2006,  having noticed hundreds of “best film of all time” lists I realized that there weren’t nearly as many lists of the greatest directors.  At the time, I was in law school and I needed a good distraction to prevent myself from going batty, so I started doing research, got myself a Netflix subscription, and got to work.

That being said, here’s the list, complete with a few of the directors’ most notable films (no more than five).  The directors are listed alphabetical order. More descriptive profiles will follow.

– Woody Allen (1935 – ), US.  Some Notable Films: Annie Hall (1977), Manhattan (1979), Midnight in Paris (2011).

– Robert Altman (1925-2006), US.  Some Notable Films: MASH (1970), McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971), Nashville (1975).

– Michelangelo Antonioni (1912-2007), Italy. Some Notable Films: L’avventura (1960), La Notte (1961), Blow-Up (1966).

– Ingmar Bergman (1918-2007), Sweden.  Some Notable Films: The Seventh Seal (1957), Persona (1966), Fanny and Alexander (1982).

– Luis Bunuel (1900-1983), Spain/France.  Some Notable Films: Un Chien Andalou (1929), The Exterminating Angel (1962), Belle de Jour (1967).

– Mel Brooks (1926 – ), US. Some Notable Films: The Producers (1968), Blazing Saddles (1974), Young Frankenstein (1974).

– Jane Campion (1954 – ), New Zealand/Australia. Some Notable Films: Sweetie (1989), Angel at My Table (1990), The Piano (1993).

– Charles Chaplin (1889-1977), UK/US.  Some Notable Films: City Lights (1931), Modern Times (1936), The Great Dictator (1941).

– Joel Coen (1954 – ) and Ethan Coen (1957 – ), US.  Some Notable Films: Fargo (1996), No Country for Old Men (2007), The Big Lebowski (1998)

– Francis Ford Coppola (1939 – ), US.  Some Notable Films: The Godfather (1972), The Godfather, Part II (1974), Apocalypse Now (1979).

– Vittorio De Sica (1901-1974), Italy.  Some Notable Films: Bicycle Thieves (1948), Umberto D. (1952), Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (1963).

– Carl Theodor Dreyer (1889-1968), Denmark.  Some Notable Films: Michael (1924), The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928), Vampr (1932).

– Sergei Eisenstien (1898-1948), USSR.  Some Notable Films: Battleship Potemkin (1925), Alexander Nevsky (1938), Ivan the Terrible (1944).

– Rainer Werner Fassbinder (1945-1982), Germany.  Some Notable Films: Love is Colder than Death (1969), Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974), The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979).

– Fredrico Fellini (1920-1993), Italy.  Some Notable Films:  La Strada (1954), La Dolce Vita (1960), 8 1/2 (1963).

Robert J. Flaherty (1884-1951), US/Canada.  Some Notable Films: Nanook of the North (1922), Man of Aran (1934), Louisiana Story (1948).

John Ford (1894-1973), US. Some Notable Films: The Grapes of Wrath (1940), The Searchers (1956), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962).

– Jean-Luc Godard (1930 – ), France.  Some Notable Films: Breathless (1960), Vivre sa Vie (1962), Week-End (1967).

– Werner Herzog (1942 – ), Germany.  Some Notable Films: Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972), The Enigma of Kasper Hauser (1974), Grizzly Man (2005).

– Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980), UK/US.  Some Notable Films: Rear Window (1954), Vertigo (1958), Psycho (1960).

Peter Jackson (1961 – ), New Zealand/US. Some Notable Films: Heavenly Creatures (1994), The Lord of the Rings (2001, 2002, 2003), King Kong (2005).

– Buster Keaton (1895-1966), US.  Some Notable Films: Sherlock, Jr. (1924), The General (1926), Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928).

– Krzysztof Kieslowski (1941-1996), Poland.  Some Notable Films: The Decalogue (1989), The Double Life of Veronique (1991), Three Colors (1993-1994).

– Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999), US/UK.  Some Notable Films: Dr. Strangelove (1964), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), A Clockwork Orange (1971).

Akira Kurosawa (1910-1998), Japan.  Some Notable Films: Rashomon (1950), Seven Samurai (1954), Ran (1985).

– Fritz Lang (1890-1976), Germany/US.  Some Notable Films: Metropolis (1927), M (1931), Fury (1936).

David Lean (1908-1991), UK/US.  Some Notable Films: Brief Encounter (1945), Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Lawrence of Arabia (1962).

Spike Lee (1957 – ), US.  Some Notable Films: Do the Right Thing (1989), Malcolm X (1992), 25th Hour (2002).

– Sergio Leone (1929-1989), Italy.  Some Notable Films: A Fistful of Dollars (1964), The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966), Once Upon a Time in the West (1968).

– David Lynch (1946 – ), US. Some Notable Films: Blue Velvet (1986), Lost Highway (1997), Mulholland Dr. (2001).

– Louis Malle (1932-1995), France.  Some Notable Films: Elevator to the Gallows (1958), My Dinner with Andre (1981), Au Revoir Les Enfants (1987).

– F.W. Murnau (1888-1931), Germany/US.  Some Notable Films: Nosferatu (1922), Faust (1926), Sunrise: A Tale of Two Humans (1927).

– Laurence Olivier (1907-1989), UK.  Some Notable Films: Henry V (1944), Hamlet (1948), Richard III (1955).

– Yasujiro Ozu (1903-1963), Japan.  Some Notable Films: Late Spring (1949), Tokyo Story (1953), Floating Weeds (1959).

– Satyajit Ray (1921-1992), India.  Some Notable Films: Pather Panchali (1955), World of Apu (1959), The Chess Players (1977).

– Jean Renoir (1894-1979), France.  Some Notable Films: The Lower Depths (1936), The Grand Illusion (1937), The Rules of the Game (1939).

– Roberto Rossellini (1906-1997), Italy.  Some Notable Films: Rome, Open City (1945), Paisan (1946), Stromboli (1950).

– Martin Scorsese (1942 – ), US.  Some Notable Films: Taxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980), Goodfellas (1990).

Steven Spielberg (1946 – ), US.  Some Notable Films: Jaws (1975), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Schindler’s List (1993).

– Quentin Tarantino (1963 – ), US.  Some Notable Films: Reservoir Dogs (1992), Pulp Fiction (1994), Inglourious Basterds (2009).

– Andrei Tarkovsky (1932-1986), USSR.  Some Notable Films: Andrei Rublev (1966), Solaris (1972), Stalker (1979).

– Francois Truffaut (1932-1984), France.  Some Notable Films: The 400 Blows (1959), Jules et Jim (1962), Day for Night (1973).

– Orson Welles (1915-1985), US.  Some Notable Films: Citizen Kane (1941), The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), The Lady from Shanghai (1947).

– Billy Wilder (1906-2002), US. Some Notable Films: Double Indemnity (1944), Sunset Blvd. (1950), The Apartment (1960).

Dziga Vertov (1896-1954), USSR.  Some Notable Films: The Kino-Pravda Series (1922), Man with a Movie Camera (1929), Enthusiasm (1930).

– Jean Vigo (1905-1934), France.  Some Notable Films: Zero de Conduite (1933), L’Atalante (1934).

(c) 2013 D.G. McCabe

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