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,...Read More
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,...Read More
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...Read More
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...Read More
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.
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...Read More
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,...Read More
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...Read More
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...Read More
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.
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...Read More
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...Read More
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...Read More
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...Read More
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...Read More
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...Read More
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...Read More
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...Read More
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...Read More
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...Read More
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),...Read More
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...Read More
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...Read More
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...Read More
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...Read More
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...Read More
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.
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...Read More
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...Read More
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)....Read More
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...Read More
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...Read More
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...Read More
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,...Read More
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...Read More
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...Read More
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...Read More
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...Read More
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...Read More