Top directors

by ola_barcafan | created - 27 Nov 2015 | updated - 23 Jan 2018 | Public

1. Christopher Nolan

Writer | The Prestige

Best known for his cerebral, often nonlinear, storytelling, acclaimed writer-director Christopher Nolan was born on July 30, 1970 in London, England. Over the course of 15 years of filmmaking, Nolan has gone from low-budget independent films to working on some of the biggest blockbusters ever made.

...

  • Inception
  • The Prestige
  • Interstellar
  • Memento
  • The Dark Knight
  • Batman Begins
  • The Dark Knight Rises

2. Denis Villeneuve

Director | Blade Runner 2049

Denis Villeneuve is a French Canadian film director and writer. He was born in 1967, in Trois-Rivières, Québec, Canada. He started his career as a filmmaker at the National Film Board of Canada. He is best known for his feature films Arrival (2016), Sicario (2015), Prisoners (2013), Enemy (2013), ...

  • Prisoners
  • Arrival
  • Incendies
  • Sicario
  • Enemy

3. Martin McDonagh

Writer | Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Martin McDonagh was born on March 26, 1970 in Camberwell, London, England. He is a writer and director, known for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017), In Bruges (2008) and Seven Psychopaths (2012).

  • In Bruges
  • Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Seven Psychopaths

4. Tim Burton

Producer | Edward Scissorhands

Timothy Walter Burton was born in Burbank, California, to Jean Rae (Erickson), who owned a cat-themed gift shop, and William Reed Burton, who worked for the Burbank Park and Recreation Department. He spent most of his childhood as a recluse, drawing cartoons, and watching old movies (he was ...

  • Big Fish
  • Edward Scissorhands
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
  • Sleepy Hollow
  • Big Eyes

5. 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...

  • Fight Club
  • Zodiac
  • Seven
  • Gone Girl
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

6. Guy Ritchie

Director | Sherlock Holmes

Guy Ritchie was born in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, UK on September 10, 1968. After watching Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) as a child, Guy realized that what he wanted to do was make films. He never attended film school, saying that the work of film school graduates was boring and ...

  • Sherlock Holmes
  • Snatch
  • Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
  • RocknRolla
  • The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

7. Robert Zemeckis

Writer | Back to the Future

A whiz-kid with special effects, Robert is from the Spielberg camp of film-making (Steven Spielberg produced many of his films). Usually working with writing partner Bob Gale, Robert's earlier films show he has a talent for zany comedy (Romancing the Stone (1984), 1941 (1979)) and special effect ...

  • Forrest Gump
  • Cast Away
  • The Walk

8. 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...

  • Django Unchained
  • The Hateful Eight
  • Reservoir Dogs
  • Kill Bill
  • Inglorious Basterds

9. Clint Eastwood

Actor | Million Dollar Baby

Clint Eastwood was born May 31, 1930 in San Francisco, the son of Clinton Eastwood Sr., a manufacturing executive for Georgia-Pacific Corporation, and Ruth Wood, a housewife turned IBM operator. He had a comfortable, middle-class upbringing in nearby Piedmont. At school Clint took interest in music...

  • Mystic River
  • Gran Torino
  • Million Dollar Baby
  • Jersey Boys

10. 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 ...

  • Shutter Island
  • Gangs of New York
  • The Wolf of Wall Street

11. Wes Anderson

Writer | Fantastic Mr. Fox

Wesley Wales Anderson was born in Houston, Texas. His mother, Texas Ann (Burroughs), is an archaeologist turned real estate agent, and his father, Melver Leonard Anderson, worked in advertising and PR. He has two brothers, Eric and Mel. Anderson's parents divorced when he was a young child, an ...

  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Darjeeling Limited
  • Moonrise Kingdom

12. Ron Howard

Actor | Arrested Development

Academy Award-winning filmmaker Ron Howard is one of this generation's most popular directors. From the critically acclaimed dramas A Beautiful Mind (2001) and Apollo 13 (1995) to the hit comedies Parenthood (1989) and Splash (1984), he has created some of Hollywood's most memorable films.

Howard ...

  • In the Heart of the Sea
  • Rush
  • A Beautiful Mind
  • The Da Vinci Code
  • Apollo 13

13. Tony Scott

Producer | Domino

Tony Scott was a British-born film director and producer. He was the youngest of three brothers, one of whom is fellow film director Ridley Scott. He was born in North Shields, Northumberland, England to parents Jean and Colonel Francis Percy Scott. As a result of his father's career in the British...

  • True Romance
  • The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3
  • Enemy of the State

14. Damien Chazelle

Writer | La La Land

Damien Sayre Chazelle is an American director and screenwriter. He was born in Providence, Rhode Island. His mother, Celia Sayre (Martin) Chazelle, is an American-Canadian writer and professor of history at The College of New Jersey. His father, Bernard Chazelle, is a French-American Eugene Higgins...

  • Whiplash
  • La La Land

15. Joel Coen

Producer | The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Joel Coen was born on November 29, 1954 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA as Joel Daniel Coen. He is a producer and writer, known for The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018), A Serious Man (2009) and Fargo (1996). He has been married to Frances McDormand since April 1, 1984. They have one child.

  • Burn After Reading
  • No Country for Old Men
  • The Big Lebowski
  • Hail, Caesar!

16. Ethan Coen

Producer | The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Ethan Coen was born on September 21, 1957 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA as Ethan Jesse Coen. He is a producer and writer, known for The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018), A Serious Man (2009) and Inside Llewyn Davis (2013). He has been married to Tricia Cooke since October 2, 1990. They have two ...

  • Burn After Reading
  • No Country for Old Men
  • The Big Lebowski
  • Hail, Caesar!

17. Alejandro G. Iñárritu

Producer | The Revenant

Alejandro González Iñárritu (ih-nyar-ee-too), born August 15th, 1963, is a Mexican film director.

González Iñárritu is the first Mexican director to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director and by the Directors Guild of America for Best Director. He is also the first Mexican-born ...

  • The Revenant
  • Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
  • Amores Perros
  • Babel

18. Michael Mann

Producer | The Insider

A student of London's International Film School, Michael Mann began his career in the late 70s, writing for TV shows like Starsky and Hutch (1975). He directed his first film, the award-winning prison drama The Jericho Mile (1979), in 1979. He followed that in 1981 with his first theatrical release,...

  • Heat
  • Collateral
  • Public Enemies

19. Steven Spielberg

Producer | Schindler's List

One of the most influential personalities in the history of cinema, Steven Spielberg is Hollywood's best known director and one of the wealthiest filmmakers in the world. He has an extraordinary number of commercially successful and critically acclaimed credits to his name, either as a director, ...

  • Catch me if you Can
  • Bridge of Spies
  • The Terminal

20. James Mangold

Producer | Logan

James Mangold is an American film and television director, screenwriter and producer. Films he has directed include Girl, Interrupted (1999), Walk the Line (2005), which he also co-wrote, the 2007 remake 3:10 to Yuma (2007), The Wolverine (2013), and Logan (2017).

Mangold also wrote and directed Cop...

  • Walk the Line
  • Identity
  • The Wolverine
  • Logan
  • Knight and Day

21. 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 ...

  • Twelve Monkeys
  • The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
  • Monthy Pyton and the Holy Grail

22. Barry Levinson

Director | Rain Man

Barry Levinson was born in Baltimore, Maryland, to Violet (Krichinsky) and Irvin Levinson, who worked in furniture and appliance. He is of Russian Jewish descent. Levinson graduated from high school in 1960, attended college at American University in Washington, DC. He did well, but decided he ...

  • Rain Man
  • Sleepers
  • Jimmy Hollywood

23. Antoine Fuqua

Producer | The Magnificent Seven

Antoine Fuqua is an American film director, known for his work in the film Training Day as well as The Replacement Killers, Tears of the Sun, King Arthur, Shooter, Brooklyn's Finest, Olympus Has Fallen and The Equalizer.

He has directed music videos for such artists as Arrested Development, Prince, ...

  • Training Day
  • Southpaw
  • The Equalizer

24. Nicolas Winding Refn

Writer | The Neon Demon

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. ...

  • Drive
  • The Neon Demon
  • Bronson
  • Pusher

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...

  • A History of Violence
  • Eastern Promises
  • A Dangerous Method

26. David O. Russell

Writer | American Hustle

David Owen Russell is an American film writer, director, and producer, known for a cinema of intense, tragi-comedic characters whose love of life can surpass dark circumstances faced in very specific worlds. His films address such themes as mental illness as stigma or hope; invention of self and ...

  • American Hustle
  • The Fighter
  • Silver Linings Playbook
  • Joy

27. 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 ...

  • Requiem for a Dream
  • Black Swan
  • The Wrestler

28. Frank Darabont

Writer | The Green Mile

Three-time Oscar nominee Frank Darabont was born in a refugee camp in 1959 in Montbeliard, France, the son of Hungarian parents who had fled Budapest during the failed 1956 Hungarian revolution. Brought to America as an infant, he settled with his family in Los Angeles and attended Hollywood High ...

  • The Shawshank Redemption
  • The Green Mile
  • The Mist

29. Peter Jackson

Producer | The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Peter Jackson was born as an only child in a small coast-side town in New Zealand in 1961. When a friend of his parents bought him a super 8 movie camera (because she saw how much he enjoyed taking photos), the then eight-year-old Peter instantly grabbed the thing to start recording his own movies,...

  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  • The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

30. Luc Besson

Writer | The Fifth Element

Luc Besson spent the first years of his life following his parents, scuba diving instructors, around the world. His early life was entirely aquatic. He already showed amazing creativity as a youth, writing early drafts of The Big Blue (1988) and The Fifth Element (1997), as an adolescent bored in ...

  • Leon
  • Lucy

31. Joel Schumacher

Director | The Phantom of the Opera

Joel Schumacher was born on August 29, 1939 in New York City, New York, USA as Joel T. Schumacher. He is a director and writer, known for The Phantom of the Opera (2004), Batman & Robin (1997) and Phone Booth (2002).

  • Falling Down
  • Phone Booth
  • 8MM

32. Ben Affleck

Producer | Argo

American actor and filmmaker Benjamin Géza Affleck-Boldt was born on August 15, 1972 in Berkeley, California, and was raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His mother, Chris Anne (née Boldt), is a school teacher, and his father, Timothy Byers Affleck, is a social worker; the two are divorced. Ben has...

  • Gone Baby Gone
  • Argo
  • The Town

33. Danny Boyle

Director | 127 Hours

Danny Boyle was born on October 20, 1956 in Manchester, England as Daniel Boyle. He is a director and producer, known for 127 Hours (2010), 28 Days Later... (2002) and Slumdog Millionaire (2008).

  • 127 Hours
  • Sunshine
  • Slumdog Millionaire

34. Shane Black

Writer | Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Considered one of the pioneer screenwriters of the action genre, Black made his mark with his Lethal Weapon (1987) screenplay. He also collaborated on the story of the sequel, Lethal Weapon 2 (1989). Each successive script he turned in had a higher price attached it, from The Last Boy Scout (1991) ...

  • Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
  • The Nice Guys
  • Iron Man 3

35. Lenny Abrahamson

Director | Room

Lenny Abrahamson was born in Dublin in 1966. He studied physics and philosophy at Trinity College Dublin. While at university he directed short videos with the Trinity Video Society, which he co-founded with Ed Guiney. He graduated in 1991 with first class honours (gold medal). His first short film...

  • Room
  • Frank

36. James McTeigue

Director | V for Vendetta

James McTeigue is an assistant director and director, known for V for Vendetta (2005), The Raven (2012) and Ninja Assassin (2009).

  • V for Vendetta
  • The Raven

37. Morten Tyldum

Director | Hodejegerne

Morten Tyldum was born on May 19, 1967 in Bergen, Norway. He is a director and producer, known for Headhunters (2011), The Imitation Game (2014) and Buddy (2003).

  • The Imitation Game
  • Hodejegerne
  • Folk Flest Bor i Kina

38. James Marsh

Director | The Theory of Everything

James Marsh was born on April 30, 1963 in Truro, Cornwall, England. He is a director and producer, known for The Theory of Everything (2014), The King (2005) and Wisconsin Death Trip (1999).

  • The Theory of Everything
  • Shadow Dancer

39. David Ayer

Writer | End of Watch

David Ayer is an American film director, producer, and screenwriter. David Ayer was born in Champaign, Illinois and grew up in Bloomington, Minnesota, and Bethesda, Maryland, where he was kicked out of his house by his parents as a teenager. Ayer then lived with his cousin in Los Angeles, ...

  • End of Watch
  • Fury



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