The Greatest British Directors.

by jerahl-hall92 | created - 23 Oct 2012 | updated - 24 Oct 2012 | Public

Top British film directors.

1. Christopher Nolan

Writer | Inception

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.

...

2. Paul Greengrass

Director | United 93

Paul Greengrass started his filmmaking career with a super 8 camera he found in his art room in secondary school. Those short movies were animation horror films he made using old dolls, artist dummies, and the general art room clutter.

After studying in Cambridge University he got into Granada ...

3. 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 ...

4. Matthew Vaughn

Producer | Kick-Ass

Matthew Vaughn is an English film producer and director. He is known for producing such films as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) and Snatch (2000) and for directing the crime thriller, Layer Cake (2004), the fantasy epic, Stardust (2007), the superhero comedy, Kick-Ass (2010), and the ...

5. Duncan Jones

Director | Moon

Duncan Jones was born on May 30, 1971 in Bromley, Kent, England as Duncan Zowie Haywood Jones. He is a director and writer, known for Moon (2009), Source Code (2011) and Mute (2018). He has been married to Rodene Ronquillo since November 6, 2012. They have two children.

6. 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...

7. Ridley Scott

Producer | The Martian

Described by film producer Michael Deeley as "the very best eye in the business", director Ridley Scott was born on November 30, 1937 in South Shields, Tyne and Wear (then County Durham). His father was an officer in the Royal Engineers and the family followed him as his career posted him ...

8. Alfred Hitchcock

Director | Psycho

Alfred Joseph Hitchcock was born in Leytonstone, Essex, England. He was the son of Emma Jane (Whelan; 1863 - 1942) and East End greengrocer William Hitchcock (1862 - 1914). His parents were both of half English and half Irish ancestry. He had two older siblings, William Hitchcock (born 1890) and ...

9. Sam Mendes

Producer | Road to Perdition

Samuel Alexander Mendes was born on August 1, 1965 in Reading, England, UK to parents James Peter Mendes, a retired university lecturer, and Valerie Helene Mendes, an author who writes children's books. Their marriage didn't last long, James divorced Sam's mother in 1970 when Sam was just 5-...

10. 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).

11. Edgar Wright

Director | Shaun of the Dead

Edgar Howard Wright (born 18 April 1974) is an English director, screenwriter, producer, and actor. He is best known for his comedic Three Flavours Cornetto film trilogy consisting of Shaun of the Dead (2004), Hot Fuzz (2007), and The World's End (2013), made with recurrent collaborators Simon Pegg...

12. David Lean

Director | Lawrence of Arabia

An important British filmmaker, David Lean was born in Croydon on March 25, 1908 and brought up in a strict Quaker family (ironically, as a child he wasn't allowed to go to the movies). During the 1920s, he briefly considered the possibility of becoming an accountant like his father before finding ...

13. Terence Davies

Director | The House of Mirth

Terence Davies was born on November 10, 1945 in Liverpool, England. He is a director and writer, known for The House of Mirth (2000), Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988) and A Quiet Passion (2016).

14. Charles Chaplin

Writer | The Great Dictator

Considered to be one of the most pivotal stars of the early days of Hollywood, Charlie Chaplin lived an interesting life both in his films and behind the camera. He is most recognized as an icon of the silent film era, often associated with his popular character, the Little Tramp; the man with the ...

15. Michael Powell

Director | A Matter of Life and Death

The son of Thomas William Powell and Mabel (nee Corbett). Michael Powell was always a self-confessed movie addict. He was brought up partly in Canterbury ("The Garden of England") and partly in the south of France (where his parents ran a hotel). Educated at Kings School, Canterbury and Dulwich ...

16. Nicolas Roeg

Director | Don't Look Now

When he made his directorial debut in 1970, Nicolas Roeg was already a 23-year veteran of the British film industry, starting out in 1947 as an editing apprentice and working his way up to cinematographer twelve years later. He first came to attention as part of the second unit on David Lean's ...

17. Carol Reed

Director | The Third Man

Carol Reed was the second son of stage actor, dramatics teacher and impresario founder of the Royal School of Dramatic Arts Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree. Reed was one of Tree's six illegitimate children with Beatrice Mae Pinney, who Tree established in a second household apart from his married life. ...

18. John Boorman

Producer | Excalibur

John Boorman attended Catholic school (Salesian Order) although his family was not, in fact, Roman Catholic. His first job was for a dry-cleaner. Later, he worked as a critic for a women's journal and for a radio station until he entered the television business, working for the BBC in Bristol. ...

19. Stephen Frears

Director | Dangerous Liaisons

Stephen Frears was born on June 20, 1941 in Leicester, Leicestershire, England as Stephen Arthur Frears. He is a director and producer, known for Dangerous Liaisons (1988), Philomena (2013) and The Queen (2006). He has been married to Anne Rothenstein since 1992. They have two children. He was ...

20. Michael Winterbottom

Director | Genova

Michael Winterbottom was born on March 29, 1961 in Blackburn, Lancashire, England. He is a director and producer, known for A Summer in Genoa (2008), A Mighty Heart (2007) and The Killer Inside Me (2010).

21. John Schlesinger

Director | Midnight Cowboy

Oscar-winning director John Schlesinger, who was born in London, on February 16, 1926, was the eldest child in a solidly middle-class Jewish family. Berbard Schlesinger, his father, was a pediatrician, and his mother, Winifred, was a musician. He served in the Army in the Far East during World War ...

22. Lindsay Anderson

Director | If....

Lindsay Anderson was born on April 17, 1923 in Bangalore, Kingdom of Mysore, British India as Lindsay Gordon Anderson. He was a director and actor, known for If.... (1968), Britannia Hospital (1982) and This Sporting Life (1963). He died on August 30, 1994 in Angoulême, Charente, France.

23. Ken Loach

Director | I, Daniel Blake

Unlike virtually all his contemporaries, Ken Loach has never succumbed to the siren call of Hollywood, and it's virtually impossible to imagine his particular brand of British socialist realism translating well to that context. After studying law at St. Peter's College, Oxford, he branched out into...

24. Mike Leigh

Director | Secrets & Lies

Mike Leigh was born on February 20, 1943 in Salford, Greater Manchester, England. He is a director and writer, known for Secrets & Lies (1996), Happy-Go-Lucky (2008) and Another Year (2010). He was previously married to Alison Steadman.

25. Shane Meadows

Director | This Is England

Shane Meadows was born on December 26, 1972 in Uttoxeter, Staffordshire, England. He is a director and writer, known for This Is England (2006), Dead Man's Shoes (2004) and TwentyFourSeven (1997).

26. Ken Russell

Director | The Devils

Ken Russell tried several professions before choosing to become a film director; he was a still photographer and a dancer and he even served in the Army, but film was his destiny. He began by making several short films which paved the way for his brilliant television films of the 1960s that are ...

27. Tony Richardson

Director | A Taste of Honey

Tony Richardson was born on June 5, 1928 in Shipley, Yorkshire, England as Cecil Antonio Richardson. He was a director and producer, known for A Taste of Honey (1961), Tom Jones (1963) and The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962). He was married to Vanessa Redgrave. He died on November 14,...

28. Laurence Olivier

Actor | Sleuth

Laurence Olivier could speak William Shakespeare's lines as naturally as if he were "actually thinking them", said English playwright Charles Bennett, who met Olivier in 1927.

Laurence Kerr Olivier was born in Dorking, Surrey, England, to Agnes Louise (Crookenden) and Gerard Kerr Olivier, a High ...

29. Kenneth Branagh

Actor | Henry V

Kenneth Charles Branagh was born on December 10, 1960, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, to parents William Branagh, a plumber and carpenter, and Frances (Harper), both born in 1930. He has two siblings, William Branagh, Jr. (born 1955) and Joyce Branagh (born 1970). When he was nine, his family ...

30. Roland Joffé

Director | The Mission

Roland Joffé was born on November 17, 1945 in London, England. He is a producer and director, known for The Mission (1986), The Killing Fields (1984) and The Scarlet Letter (1995). He was previously married to Jane Lapotaire.

31. Adrian Lyne

Director | Flashdance

Adrian Lyne (Director/Writer/Producer) is the creative force behind some of the most talked-about movies of our time, among them, "Fatal Attraction", "9 1/2 Weeks", "Flashdance", "Indecent Proposal", "Jacob's Ladder" and "Unfaithful".

Born in Peterborough, England and raised in London, Lyne attended...

32. Michael Apted

Director | Rome

Michael Apted was born on February 10, 1941 in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, England as Michael David Apted. He is a director and producer, known for Rome (2005), Enigma (2001) and The World Is Not Enough (1999). He has been married to Paige Simpson since January 8, 2014. He was previously married to ...

33. Richard Attenborough

Actor | Jurassic Park

Lord Richard Attenborough was born in Cambridge, England, the son of Mary (née Clegg), a founding member of the Marriage Guidance Council, and Frederick Levi Attenborough, a scholar and academic administrator who was a don at Emmanuel College and wrote a standard text on Anglo-Saxon law. ...

34. Gurinder Chadha

Writer | Bend It Like Beckham

Gurinder Chadha was born in Kenya, and grew up in Southall, London, England. She began her career as a news reporter with BBC Radio, directed several award winning documentaries for the BBC, and began an alliance with the British Film Institute (BFI) and Channel Four. In 2001, Chadha set up her own...

35. Richard Curtis

Writer | Love Actually

Richard Curtis was born on November 8, 1956 in Wellington, New Zealand as Richard Whalley Anthony Curtis. He is a writer and producer, known for Love Actually (2003), Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) and About Time (2013).

36. Mike Figgis

Director | Leaving Las Vegas

Mike Figgis was born on February 28, 1948 in Carlisle, Cumberland, England as Michael Figgis. He is a director and writer, known for Leaving Las Vegas (1995), Stormy Monday (1988) and Timecode (2000).

37. 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 ...

38. John Guillermin

Director | The Towering Inferno

Began his career in France in 1947 as a documentary filmmaker.

39. Tom Hooper

Director | The Danish Girl

Tom Hooper was educated at one of England's most prestigious schools, Westminster. His first film, Runaway Dog, was made when he was 13 years old and shot on a Clockwork 16mm Bolex camera, using 100 feet of film. At age 18, he wrote, directed and produced the short film Painted Faces (1992), which ...

40. Hugh Hudson

Director | Chariots of Fire

Hugh Hudson was born on August 25, 1936 in London, England. He is a director and producer, known for Chariots of Fire (1981), Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984) and The Tortoise and the Hare (1966). He has been married to Maryam d'Abo since November 2003. He was previously ...

41. Nicholas Hytner

Director | The Madness of King George

Nicholas Hytner was born on May 7, 1956 in Manchester, England. He is known for his work on The Madness of King George (1994), The Crucible (1996) and The History Boys (2006).

42. Ronald Neame

Director | Golden Salamander

A British filmmaker who, over the years, worked as assistant director, cinematographer, producer, writer and ultimately director, Ronald Neame was born on April 23, 1911. His father, Elwin Neame, was a film director and his mother, Ivy Close, was a film star. During the 1920s, he started working at...

43. Alan Parker

Director | Evita

Prior to moving into film, Alan was noted as one of London's most talented advertising copywriters. He worked for the Collet Dickinson Pearce (CDP) ad agency in the 1960's and early 1970's, and began directing his own tvc scripts in their basement. Formed a partnership with David Puttnam as his ...

44. Robert Stevenson

Director | Mary Poppins

Robert Stevenson was born on March 31, 1905 in Buxton, Derbyshire, England as Robert Edward Stevenson. He was a director and writer, known for Mary Poppins (1964), Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971) and King Solomon's Mines (1937). He was married to Ursula Henderson, Frances Holyoke Howard, Anna Lee ...

45. Joe Wright

Director | Pride & Prejudice

Joe Wright is an English film director. He is best known for Pride & Prejudice (2005), Atonement (2007), Anna Karenina (2012), and Darkest Hour (2017).

Wright always had an interest in the arts, especially painting. He would also make films on his Super 8 camera as well as spend time in the evenings...

46. Peter Yates

Director | Krull

Having seen Robbery (1967) and Bullitt (1968), it comes as no surprise that Peter Yates started out as a professional racing car driver and team manager - albeit briefly - before turning his attention to film. The son of a military man, he was educated at Charterhouse School and trained at RADA, ...



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