The list of directors who have left a legacy in cinema is extensive, but some have claimed such a high status that they are simply without peers. One of the defining features of a great director is innovation. While everyone who makes movies is a director, there are few who consistently push the boundaries of what movies can be, who are constantly innovating and doing something new with the form of movies. This list is about a few such directors. Let’s begin!
Stanley Kubrick ( July 26, 1928 – March 7, 1999) was an American film director, producer, screenwriter, and photographer. He is frequently cited as one of the greatest filmmakers in cinematic history. His films, which are mostly adaptations of novels or short stories, cover a wide range of genres, and are noted for their realism, dark humor, unique cinematography, extensive set designs, and evocative use of music.
Kubrick was raised in the Bronx, New York City, and attended William Howard Taft High School from 1941 to 1945. He received average grades, but displayed a keen interest in literature, photography, and film from a young age, and taught himself all aspects of film production and directing after graduating from high school. After working as a photographer for Look magazine in the late 1940s and early 1950s, he began making short films on a shoestring budget, and made his first major Hollywood film, The Killing, for United Artists in 1956. This was followed by two collaborations with Kirk Douglas—the war picture Paths of Glory (1957) and the historical epic Spartacus (1960).
Ernst Ingmar Bergman (14 July 1918 – 30 July 2007) was a Swedish film director, screenwriter, and producer. Considered to be among the most accomplished and influential filmmakers of all time, Bergman’s films include Smiles of a Summer Night (1955), The Seventh Seal (1957), The Silence (1963), Wild Strawberries (1957), Persona (1966), Cries and Whispers (1972), Scenes from a Marriage (1973), and Fanny and Alexander (1982); the last two exist in extended television versions.
David Keith Lynch (born January 20, 1946) is an American filmmaker, painter, visual artist, musician, writer, and occasional actor. A recipient of an Academy Honorary Award in 2019, Lynch has received three Academy Award nominations for Best Director, and the César Award for Best Foreign Film twice, as well as the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and a Golden Lion award for lifetime achievement at the Venice Film Festival. In 2007, a panel of critics convened by The Guardian announced that ‘after all the discussion, no one could fault the conclusion that David Lynch is the most important film-maker of the current era’, while AllMovie called him “the Renaissance man of modern American filmmaking”. His work led to him being labeled “the first popular surrealist” by film critic Pauline Kael.Lynch initially studied painting before he began making short films in the late 1960s. His first feature-length film, the surrealist horror Eraserhead (1977), became a success on the midnight movie circuit, and he followed that by directing The Elephant Man (1980), Dune (1984), and Blue Velvet (1986).
Steven Allan Spielberg (born December 18, 1946) is an American film director, producer, and screenwriter. He began his career in the New Hollywood era, and is one of the most commercially successful directors in history. Spielberg is the recipient of various accolades, including two Academy Awards for Best Director, a Kennedy Center honor, and a Cecil B. DeMille Award.
Spielberg was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and grew up in Phoenix, Arizona. He later moved to California and studied film in college. After directing television episodes and several minor films for Universal Studios, he became a household name for directing 1975’s summer blockbuster Jaws.
Asghar Farhadi ( born 7 May 1972) is an Iranian film director and screenwriter. Farhadi has won critical praise for his international films which focus on the human condition as well as portray intimate and challenging stories of internal family conflicts. His films include About Elly (2009), A Separation (2011), The Past (2013), The Salesman (2016), and Everybody Knows (2018). Farhadi has received two Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film for his films A Separation (2011) and The Salesman (2016), making him one of the few directors worldwide who have won the category twice. He also received the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Screenplay for his film The Salesman. In 2012, he was included on the annual Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world. That same year he also received the Legion of Honour from France.
Woody Allen (born Allan Stewart Konigsberg; December 1, 1935) is an American film director, writer, actor, and comedian whose career spans more than six decades and multiple Academy Award-winning films. He began his career as a comedy writer on Sid Caesar’s comedy variety program Your Show of Shows, working alongside Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Larry Gelbart and Neil Simon.
By the mid-1960s, Allen was writing and directing films, first specializing in slapstick comedies such as Take the Money and Run (1969), Bananas (1971), Sleeper (1973), and Love and Death (1975), before moving into dramatic material influenced by European art cinema during the late 1970s with Interiors (1978), Manhattan (1979), and Stardust Memories (1980), and alternating between comedies and dramas to the present. Allen is often identified as part of the New Hollywood wave of filmmakers of the mid-1960s to late 1970s such as Martin Scorsese, Robert Altman, and Sidney Lumet.
Satyajit Ray (2 May 1921 – 23 April 1992) was an Indian film director, writer, illustrator and music composer. He is widely considered to have been one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, celebrated for works such as The Apu Trilogy (1955–59), The Music Room (1958), The Big City (1963) and Charulata (1964). Ray was born in Calcutta into a Bengali Kayastha family which was prominent in the field of arts and literature. Starting his career as a commercial artist, he was drawn into independent filmmaking after meeting French filmmaker Jean Renoir and viewing Vittorio De Sica’s Italian neorealist film Bicycle Thieves (1948) during a visit to London.
Ray directed 36 films, including feature films, documentaries and shorts. He was also a fiction writer, publisher, illustrator, calligrapher, music composer, graphic designer and film critic. He authored several short stories and novels, primarily for young children and teenagers. Feluda, the sleuth, and Professor Shonku, the scientist in his science fiction stories, are popular fictional characters created by him. In 1978, he was awarded an honorary degree by Oxford University.
Ray’s first film, Pather Panchali (1955), won eleven international prizes, including the inaugural Best Human Document award at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival. This film, along with Aparajito (1956) and Apur Sansar (The World of Apu) (1959), form The Apu Trilogy. Ray did the scripting, casting, scoring, and editing, and designed his own credit titles and publicity material. Ray received many major awards in his career, including 32 Indian National Film Awards, a Golden Lion, a Golden Bear, 2 Silver Bears, a number of additional awards at international film festivals and ceremonies, and an Academy Honorary Award in 1992. The Government of India honoured him with the Bharat Ratna, its highest civilian award, in 1992. Ray had received many noticeable awards and gained a prestigious position over his life time.
Akira Kurosawa ( Hepburn: Kurosawa Akira, March 23, 1910 – September 6, 1998) was a Japanese film director, screenwriter, and producer who directed 30 films in a career spanning fifty-seven years. He is regarded as one of the most important and influential film-makers in the history of cinema.
Kurosawa entered the Japanese film industry in 1936, following a brief stint as a painter. After years of working on numerous films as an assistant director and scriptwriter, he made his debut as a director during World War II with the popular action film Sanshiro Sugata (a.k.a. Judo Saga). After the war, the critically acclaimed Drunken Angel (1948), in which Kurosawa cast the then little-known actor Toshiro Mifune in a starring role, cemented the director’s reputation as one of the most important young film-makers in Japan. The two men would go on to collaborate on another fifteen films.
Satyajit Ray (2 May 1921 – 23 April 1992) was an Indian film director, scriptwriter, documentary filmmaker, author, essayist, lyricist, magazine editor, illustrator, calligrapher, and music composer. Widely regarded as one of the greatest filmmakers in film history, he is celebrated for works such as The Apu Trilogy (1955–59), The Music Room (1958), The Big City (1963) and Charulata (1964). Ray was born in Calcutta to renowned writer Sukumar Ray who was prominent in the field of arts and literature. Starting his career as a commercial artist, he was drawn into independent filmmaking after meeting French filmmaker Jean Renoir and viewing Vittorio De Sica’s Italian neorealist film Bicycle Thieves (1948) during a visit to London.
Ritwik Kumar Ghatak (4 November 1925 – 6 February 1976) was a noted Indian film director, screenwriter, and playwright. Along with prominent contemporary Bengali filmmakers Satyajit Ray, Tapan Sinha and Mrinal Sen, his cinema is primarily remembered for its meticulous depiction of social reality, partition and feminism. He won the National Film Award’s Rajat Kamal Award for Best Story in 1974 for his Jukti Takko Aar Gappo and Best Director’s Award from Bangladesh Cine Journalist’s Association for Titash Ekti Nadir Naam. The Government of India honoured him with the Padma Shri for Arts in 1970.
Shekhar Kulbhushan Kapoor (born 6 December 1945) is an Indian film director, actor, and film producer, known for his works in Hindi cinema and international cinema. Part of the Anand family, Kapur became known in Bollywood with his recurring role in the TV series Khandan in the mid-1980s and his directorial debut in the cult Bollywood film Masoom in 1983, which won the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Movie for that year, before gaining widespread success with the science fiction film Mr. India (1987).
Anurag Kashyap (born 10 September 1972) is an Indian film director, writer, editor, producer, actor known for his works in Hindi cinema. He is the recipient of several accolades, including four Filmfare Awards. For his contributions to film, the Government of France awarded him the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and letters) in 2013. After writing a television serial, Kashyap got his major break as a co-writer in Ram Gopal Varma’s crime drama Satya (1998), and made his directorial debut with Paanch, which never had a theatrical release due to censorship issues.
Andrei Arsenyevich Tarkovsky (4 April 1932 – 29 December 1986) was a Soviet Russian filmmaker, theatre director, writer, and film theorist. He is widely considered one of the greatest and most influential directors in the history of Russian and world cinema. His films explored spiritual and metaphysical themes, and are noted for their slow pacing and long takes, dreamlike visual imagery, and preoccupation with nature and memory.
Roman Polanski ( born Raymond Thierry Liebling; 18 August 1933) is a Polish-French film director, producer, writer, and actor. Polanski is also a fugitive from the U.S. criminal justice system; he fled the country in 1977 while awaiting sentencing for unlawful intercourse with a minor. His Polish-Jewish parents moved the family back from Paris to Kraków in 1937. Two years later, Poland was invaded by Nazi Germany starting World War II and the Polanskis found themselves trapped in the Kraków Ghetto. After his mother and father were taken in raids, Polanski spent his formative years in foster homes under an adopted identity, surviving the Holocaust.Polanski’s first feature-length film, Knife in the Water (1962), was made in Poland and was nominated for the United States Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock KBE (13 August 1899 – 29 April 1980) was an English film director, producer, and screenwriter. He is one of the most influential and widely studied filmmakers in the history of cinema. Known as the “Master of Suspense”, he directed over 50 feature films in a career spanning six decades, becoming as well known as any of his actors thanks to his many interviews, his cameo roles in most of his films, and his hosting and producing the television anthology Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955–65). His films garnered 46 Academy Award nominations including six wins, although he never won for Best Director despite having had five nominations.
Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola (born April 7, 1939) is an American film director, producer and screenwriter. He was a central figure in the New Hollywood filmmaking movement of the 1960s and 1970s, and is widely considered to be one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. His accolades include five Academy Awards, six Golden Globe Awards, two Palmes d’Or, and a British Academy Film Award. After directing The Rain People in 1969, Coppola co-wrote Patton (1970), earning the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay along with Edmund H. North. Coppola’s reputation as a filmmaker was cemented with the release of The Godfather (1972), which revolutionized movie-making in the gangster genre and had a strong commercial and critical reception. The Godfather won three Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay (shared with Mario Puzo).
Christopher Edward Nolan CBE ( born 30 July 1970) is a British-American film director, producer, and screenwriter. His directorial efforts have grossed more than US$5 billion worldwide, garnered 36 Oscar nominations and 11 wins. Born and raised in London, Nolan developed an interest in filmmaking from a young age. After studying English literature at University College London, he made his feature debut with Following (1998). Nolan gained international recognition with his second film, Memento (2000), for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. He transitioned from independent to studio
Martin Charles Scorsese (born November 17, 1942) is an American film director, producer, screenwriter, and actor. One of the major figures of the New Hollywood era, he is widely regarded as one of the most significant and influential directors in film history. Scorsese’s body of work explores themes such as Italian-American identity, Catholic concepts of guilt and redemption, faith, machismo, nihilism, crime and sectarianism. Many of his films are known for their depiction of violence and the liberal use of profanity. Scorsese has also dedicated his life to film preservation and film restoration by founding the nonprofit organization The Film Foundation in 1990, as well as the World Cinema Foundation in 2007 and the African Film Heritage Project in 2017.
Federico Fellini, Cavaliere di Gran Croce OMRI (20 January 1920 – 31 October 1993) was an Italian film director and screenwriter known for his distinctive style, which blends fantasy and baroque images with earthiness. He is recognized as one of the greatest and most influential filmmakers of all time. His films have ranked highly in critical polls such as that of Cahiers du cinéma and Sight & Sound, which lists his 1963 film 8+1⁄2 as the 10th-greatest film.
Sergio Leone ( January 3, 1929 – April 30, 1989) was an Italian film director, producer and screenwriter, credited as the creator of the Spaghetti Western genre and widely regarded as one of the most influential directors in the history of cinema.Leone’s film-making style includes juxtaposing extreme close-up shots with lengthy long shots. His movies include the Dollars Trilogy of Westerns featuring Clint Eastwood: A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965), and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966); and the Once Upon a Time films: Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), Duck, You Sucker! (1971), and Once Upon a Time in America (1984).
Bong Joon-ho ( born September 14, 1969) is a South Korean film director, producer and screenwriter. His films are characterised by emphasis on social themes, genre-mixing, black humor, and sudden tone shifts. He first became known to audiences and achieved a cult following with his directorial debut film, the black comedy Barking Dogs Never Bite (2000), before achieving both critical and commercial success with his subsequent films: the crime thriller Memories of Murder (2003), the monster film The Host (2006), the science fiction action film Snowpiercer (2013), and the Academy Award-winning black comedy social thriller Parasite (2019), all of which are among the highest-grossing films in South Korea, with Parasite also being the highest-grossing South Korean film in history.All of Bong’s films have been South Korean productions, although both Snowpiercer and Okja (2017) are mostly in the English language.
Darren Aronofsky (born February 12, 1969) is an American film director, producer, and screenwriter. His films are noted for their surreal, melodramatic, and often disturbing elements, often based in psychological horror and drama. Aronofsky attended Harvard University, where he studied film and social anthropology, and then the American Film Institute where he studied directing. He won several film awards after completing his senior thesis film, Supermarket Sweep, which went on to become a National Student Academy Award finalist. Aronofsky’s feature debut, the surrealist psychological thriller Pi, was shot in November 1997. The low-budget, $60,000 production, starring Sean Gullette, was sold to Artisan Entertainment for $1 million, and grossed over $3 million; Aronofsky won the Directing Award at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival and an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay.
Aronofsky’s follow-up, the psychological drama Requiem for a Dream, was based on the novel of the same name by Hubert Selby Jr. The film garnered strong reviews and received an Academy Award nomination for Ellen Burstyn’s performance. The film also generated considerable controversy due to the graphic nature of several scenes as well as its depiction of substance abuse, and was eventually released unrated.
Abbas Kiarostami ( 22 June 1940 – 4 July 2016) was an Iranian film director, screenwriter, poet, photographer, and film producer. An active film-maker from 1970, Kiarostami had been involved in the production of over forty films, including shorts and documentaries. Kiarostami attained critical acclaim for directing the Koker trilogy (1987–1994), Close-Up (1990), The Wind Will Carry Us (1999), and Taste of Cherry (1997), which was awarded the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival that year. In later works, Certified Copy (2010) and Like Someone in Love (2012), he filmed for the first time outside Iran: in Italy and Japan, respectively. His films Where Is the Friend’s Home?, Close-Up, and The Wind Will Carry Us were ranked among the 100 best foreign films in a 2018 critics’ poll by BBC Culture. Close-Up was also ranked one of the 50 greatest movies of all time in the famous decennial Sight & Sound poll conducted in 2012.Kiarostami had worked extensively as a screenwriter, film editor, art director, and producer and had designed credit titles and publicity material. He was also a poet, photographer, painter, illustrator, and graphic designer.
Alejandro González Iñárritu
Alejandro González Iñárritu ( born 15 August 1963) is a Mexican film director, producer, and screenwriter. He is known for making films about the human condition, and his projects have garnered critical acclaim and numerous accolades. His most notable films include Amores perros (2000), 21 Grams (2003), Babel (2006), Biutiful (2010), Birdman (2014), and The Revenant (2015).
His debut film, Amores Perros, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and won the Critics’ Week Grand Prize and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2000. His next and first American film, 21 Grams, was presented in competition at the 60th Venice International Film Festival, where Sean Penn won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor. It was nominated for two Academy Awards for Lead Actress Naomi Watts and Supporting Actor Benicio del Toro. In 2006, Babel was presented in competition at the 59th Cannes Film Festival where Iñárritu won the Best Director Award. That same year, Babel went on to win the Golden Globe Award for Best Picture Drama, was nominated for the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing, and was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including two for Iñárritu for Best Picture and Best Director.
Terrence Frederick Malick (born November 30, 1943) is an American film director, screenwriter, and producer. Malick began his career as part of the New Hollywood film-making wave with the films Badlands (1973), about a murderous couple on the run in 1950s American Midwest, and Days of Heaven (1978), which detailed the love-triangle between two labourers and a wealthy farmer during the First World War, before a lengthy hiatus.
He returned to directing after twenty years with The Thin Red Line (1998) for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director and was awarded the Golden Bear at the 49th Berlin International Film Festival, followed by The New World (2005) and The Tree of Life (2011) for which he also received an Academy Award nomination for Best Director and for Best Adapted Screenplay for the former film and received the Palme d’Or at the 64th Cannes Film Festival for the second.
Friedrich Christian Anton “Fritz” Lang (December 5, 1890 – August 2, 1976) was an Austrian-German-American filmmaker, screenwriter, and occasional film producer and actor. One of the best-known émigrés from Germany’s school of Expressionism, he was dubbed the “Master of Darkness” by the British Film Institute.Lang’s most celebrated films include the groundbreaking futuristic Metropolis (1927) and the influential M (1931), a film noir precursor that he made before he moved to the United States. His other major films include Dr. Mabuse the Gambler (1922), Die Nibelungen (1924), Fury (1936), You Only Live Once (1937), Hangmen Also Die! (1943), The Woman in the Window (1944), Scarlet Street (1945) and The Big Heat (1953).
Sir David Lean (25 March 1908 – 16 April 1991) was an English film director, producer, screenwriter and editor. Widely considered one of the most influential directors of all time, Lean directed the large-scale epics The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Doctor Zhivago (1965), and A Passage to India (1984). He also directed two adaptations of Charles Dickens novels, Great Expectations (1946) and Oliver Twist (1948), as well as the romantic drama Brief Encounter (1945).
Originally a film editor in the early 1930s, Lean made his directorial debut with 1942’s In Which We Serve, which was the first of four collaborations with Noël Coward. Beginning with Summertime in 1955, Lean began to make internationally co-produced films financed by the big Hollywood studios; in 1970, however, the critical failure of his film Ryan’s Daughter led him to take a fourteen-year break from filmmaking, during which he planned a number of film projects which never came to fruition. In 1984 he had a career revival with A Passage to India, adapted from E. M. Forster’s novel; it was an instant hit with critics but proved to be the last film Lean would direct.
F. W. Murnau
Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau (born Friedrich Wilhelm Plumpe; December 28, 1888 – March 11, 1931) was a German film director.
He was greatly influenced by Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Shakespeare and Ibsen plays he had seen at the age of 12, and became a friend of director Max Reinhardt. During World War I he served in the Imperial German Army, initially as an infantry company commander on the Eastern Front. Murnau later transferred to the German Army’s Flying Corps, as an observer/gunner, and survived several crashes without any severe injuries.One of Murnau’s acclaimed works is the film Nosferatu (1922), an adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Although not a commercial success, owing to copyright issues with Stoker’s estate, the film is considered a masterpiece of German Expressionist cinema. He later directed the film The Last Laugh (1924), as well as a 1926 interpretation of Goethe’s Faust. He emigrated to Hollywood in 1926, where he joined the Fox Studio and made three films: Sunrise (1927), 4 Devils (1928) and City Girl (1930). Sunrise has been regarded by critics and film directors as among the best films ever made.
David Andrew Leo Fincher (born August 28, 1962) is an American film director. Known for his psychological thrillers, his films have received 40 nominations at the Academy Awards, including three for him as Best Director.
Born in Denver, Colorado, Fincher developed a passion for filmmaking at an early age. He first gained recognition from directing numerous music videos, most notably Madonna’s “Express Yourself” in 1989 and “Vogue” in 1990, both of which won him the MTV Video Music Award for Best Direction. He made his feature film debut with Alien 3 (1992), which garnered mixed reviews, followed by the thriller Seven (1995), which was better received. Fincher found lukewarm success with The Game (1997) and Fight Club (1999), with the latter eventually becoming a cult classic. In 2002, he returned to prominence with the thriller Panic Room starring Jodie Foster.
Paul Thomas Anderson
Paul Thomas Anderson (born June 26, 1970) is an American film director, producer, and screenwriter. Born in Los Angeles, Anderson developed an interest in filmmaking from a young age. He made his feature-film debut with Hard Eight (1996). He found critical and commercial success with Boogie Nights (1997), set in the Golden Age of Porn, and received further accolades with Magnolia (1999), an ensemble piece set in the San Fernando Valley, and Punch-Drunk Love (2002), a romantic comedy-drama film.
Anderson’s 2007 film There Will Be Blood, about an oil prospector during the Southern California oil boom, achieved major critical and commercial success, and is often cited as one of the greatest films of the 2000s. This was followed by The Master (2012) and Inherent Vice (2014). Anderson’s eighth film, Phantom Thread, was released in 2017. He has directed music videos for artists including Fiona Apple, Radiohead, Haim, Joanna Newsom, Aimee Mann, Jon Brion, and Michael Penn, and has also directed a documentary, Junun (2015), about the making of the album of the same name in India. More recently, he directed a short film accompanying Thom Yorke’s Anima (2019), released on Netflix and in select IMAX theatres.
Quentin Jerome Tarantino (; born March 27, 1963) is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, and actor. His films are characterized by nonlinear storylines, dark humor, stylized violence, extended dialogue, ensemble casts, references to popular culture, alternate history, and neo-noir.
Born in Knoxville, Tennessee, Tarantino grew up in Los Angeles. He began his career as an independent filmmaker with the release of Reservoir Dogs in 1992, a crime thriller film which was funded by money from the sale of his screenplay True Romance (1993). Empire magazine hailed Reservoir Dogs as the “Greatest Independent Film of All Time”. His second film, Pulp Fiction (1994), a crime comedy, was a major success among critics and audiences and won him numerous awards, including the Palme d’Or and the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
Denis Villeneuve ( born October 3, 1967) is a French Canadian film director, producer, and screenwriter. He is a four-time recipient of the Canadian Screen Award (formerly Genie Award) for Best Direction, for Maelström in 2001, Polytechnique in 2009, Incendies in 2011 and Enemy in 2013. The first three of these films also won the Canadian Screen Award for Best Motion Picture, while the latter was awarded the prize for best Canadian film of the year by the Toronto Film Critics Association.
Internationally, he is known for directing several critically acclaimed films, including the thrillers Prisoners (2013) and Sicario (2015), as well as the science fiction films Arrival (2016) and Blade Runner 2049 (2017). For his work on Arrival, he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Director. He was awarded the prize of Filmmaker of the Decade by the Hollywood Critics Association in December 2019.His next film, Dune, based on Frank Herbert’s novel of the same name, is scheduled to be released on October 1, 2021.
Wong Kar-wai (born 17 July 1958) is a Hong Kong film director. His films are characterised by nonlinear narratives, atmospheric music, and vivid cinematography involving bold, saturated colours. A pivotal figure of Hong Kong cinema, Wong has had a considerable influence on filmmaking with his trademark personal, unconventional approach. His films frequently appear on best-of lists domestically and internationally.
Born in Shanghai, Wong emigrated to British Hong Kong as a child with his family. He began a career as a screenwriter for soap operas before transitioning to directing with his debut, the crime drama As Tears Go By (1988). While As Tears Go By was fairly successful in Hong Kong, Wong moved away from the contemporary trend of crime and action movies to embark on more personal filmmaking styles. Days of Being Wild (1990), his first venture into such direction, did not perform well at the box office. It however received critical acclaim, and won Best Film and Best Director at the 1991 Hong Kong Film Awards. His next film, Ashes of Time (1994), was met with mixed reception because of its vague plot and atypical take on the wuxia genre.
James Francis Cameron CC (born August 16, 1954) is a Canadian film director, producer, screenwriter, editor, artist, and environmentalist who currently lives in New Zealand. He is best known for making science fiction and epic films. Cameron first gained recognition for directing The Terminator (1984). He found further critical and commercial success with Aliens (1986), The Abyss (1989), Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), and the comedy thriller True Lies (1994). His other big-budget productions include Titanic (1997) and Avatar (2009), with Titanic earning him Academy Awards in Best Picture, Best Director and Best Film Editing. Avatar, filmed in 3D technology, also garnered him nominations in the same categories.
Mel Columcille Gerard Gibson AO (born January 3, 1956) is an American actor, film director, producer, and screenwriter. He is best known for his action hero roles, particularly his breakout role as Max Rockatansky in the first three films of the post-apocalyptic action series Mad Max and as Martin Riggs in the buddy cop film series Lethal Weapon.
In 1995, Gibson produced, directed, and starred in Braveheart, a historical epic, for which he won the Golden Globe Award for Best Director, the Academy Award for Best Director, and the Academy Award for Best Picture. He later directed and produced The Passion of the Christ, a biblical drama that was both financially successful and highly controversial. He received further critical notice for his directorial work of the action-adventure film Apocalypto (2006), which is set in Mesoamerica during the early 16th century.
Clinton Eastwood Jr. (born May 31, 1930) is an American actor, film director, composer, and producer. After achieving success in the Western TV series Rawhide, he rose to international fame with his role as the “Man with No Name” in Italian filmmaker Sergio Leone’s “Dollars Trilogy” of Spaghetti Westerns during the mid-1960s, and as antihero cop Harry Callahan in the five Dirty Harry films throughout the 1970s and 1980s. These roles, among others, have made Eastwood an enduring cultural icon of masculinity. His accolades include four Academy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, three César Awards, and an AFI Life Achievement Award.
Wesley Wales Anderson (born May 1, 1969) is an American filmmaker. His films are known for their symmetry, eccentricity and distinctive visual and narrative styles, and he is cited by some critics as a modern-day example of the auteur. Three of his films – The Royal Tenenbaums, Moonrise Kingdom, and The Grand Budapest Hotel – appeared in BBC Culture’s 2016 poll of the greatest films since 2000.Anderson was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), Moonrise Kingdom (2012) and The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), as well as the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature for the stop-motion films Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) and Isle of Dogs (2018). With The Grand Budapest Hotel, he received his first Academy Award nominations for Best Director and Best Picture, and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and the BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay. He currently runs the production company American Empirical Pictures, which he founded in 1998. He won the Silver Bear for Best Director for Isle of Dogs in 2018.
Sir Ridley Scott (born 30 November 1937) is an English film director and producer. He has directed the science fiction horror film Alien (1979), the neo-noir dystopian film Blade Runner (1982), the road adventure film Thelma & Louise (1991), the historical drama film Gladiator (2000), the war film Black Hawk Down (2001), and the science fiction film The Martian (2015).
Scott began his career as a television designer and director before moving into advertising, where he honed his filmmaking skills by making inventive mini-films for television commercials. His work is known for its atmospheric and highly concentrated visual style. Though his films range widely in setting and period, they frequently showcase memorable imagery of urban environments, spanning 2nd-century Rome (Gladiator), 12th-century Jerusalem (Kingdom of Heaven), Medieval England (Robin Hood), contemporary Mogadishu (Black Hawk Down), or the futuristic cityscapes of Blade Runner and distant planets in Alien, Alien: Covenant, Prometheus, and The Martian. Several of his films are also known for their strong female characters.Scott has been nominated for three Academy Awards for Directing, which he received for Thelma & Louise, Gladiator and Black Hawk Down.
Sir Peter Robert Jackson (born 31 October 1961) is a New Zealand film director, producer, and screenwriter. He is best known as the director, writer, and producer of the Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001–03) and the Hobbit trilogy (2012–14), both of which are adapted from the novels of the same name by J. R. R. Tolkien. He is the third-highest-grossing film director of all time, his films having made over $6.5 billion worldwide. Jackson began his career with the “splatstick” horror comedy Bad Taste (1987) and the black comedy Meet the Feebles (1989) before filming the zombie comedy Braindead (1992). He shared a nomination for Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay with his partner Fran Walsh for Heavenly Creatures, which brought him to mainstream prominence in the film industry. Jackson has been awarded three Academy Awards for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), including the award for Best Director. His other awards include a Golden Globe, four Saturn Awards, three Nebula Awards and three BAFTAs among others.
Shelton Jackson “Spike” Lee (born March 20, 1957) is an American film director, producer, screenwriter, actor, and professor. His production company, 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks, has produced more than 35 films since 1983. He made his directorial debut with She’s Gotta Have It (1986). He has since written and directed such films as Do the Right Thing (1989), Mo’ Better Blues (1990), Jungle Fever (1991), Malcolm X (1992), Crooklyn (1994), Clockers (1995), 25th Hour (2002), Inside Man (2006), Chi-Raq (2015), BlacKkKlansman (2018) and Da 5 Bloods (2020). Lee also acted in ten of his films.
Lee’s work has continually explored race relations, colorism in the black community, the role of media in contemporary life, urban crime and poverty, and other political issues. He has won numerous accolades for his work, including an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, a Student Academy Award, a BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, two Emmy Awards, two Peabody Awards, and the Cannes Grand Prix. He has also received an Academy Honorary Award, an Honorary BAFTA Award, an Honorary César, and the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize.
Sidney Arthur Lumet ( loo-MET; June 25, 1924 – April 9, 2011) was an American film director, producer, and screenwriter with over 50 films to his credit. He was nominated five times for the Academy Award: four for Best Director for 12 Angry Men (1957), Dog Day Afternoon (1975), Network (1976), and The Verdict (1982) and one for Best Adapted Screenplay for Prince of the City (1981). He did not win an individual Academy Award, but did receive an Academy Honorary Award, and 14 of his films were nominated for Oscars, including Network, which was nominated for ten and won four. According to The Encyclopedia of Hollywood Lumet was one of the most prolific filmmakers of the modern era, directing more than one movie a year on average since his directorial debut in 1957. Turner Classic Movies notes his “strong direction of actors,” “vigorous storytelling” and the “social realism” in his best work. Film critic Roger Ebert described him as “one of the finest craftsmen and warmest humanitarians among all film directors.” Lumet was also known as an “actor’s director,” having worked with the best of them during his career, probably more than “any other director.” Sean Connery, who acted in five of his films, considered him one of his favorite directors, and one who had that “vision thing.”A member of the inaugural class at New York’s Actors Studio, Lumet began his directorial career in Off-Broadway productions, then became a highly efficient TV director.