Saturday, June 30, 2012

My 100 Favorite Directors

Because 99 Is Too Few and 101 Is Too Many

       I'm jubilant. The idea that I can even cultivate a list of 100 directors, stretching from the silent era to present-day, from pioneers to pop-culture pragmatists, brings me great elation. These are directors whose work nourishes my cinematic education, whose talents I've increasingly come to admire. 
      I'm a fairly disciplined and autonomous thinker. I've been told routinely that I'm a champion of vim and vigor, of which my ethic is tethered inextricably. The reason, I suppose, is that I tend to excel only in areas where my interests lie aggressively and most authentically; a rather simple principle to guide one's ambitions, correct? Well, film is my cornerstone passion. It has been for as long as I can remember. In the last two-to-three years, coinciding with the genesis of this very blog, my indoctrination has grown even more radically—an inexorable pursuit that is nothing less than obsessive. This impending list is definitive proof. 
      I'm proud my little cinematic-centric space has fostered some engaging relationships. Many of us, I've learned, are bound by a common filmic enthusiasm. My primitive journey into the blogosphere, transpiring amid my deeper ascension into film, has crystallized two things: 1). Unblinking love for film. 2). Developing penchant for writing. A tangible by-product of my film-torn mind, you see, is the realization that I also harbor a fondness for language. This blog harnesses that fondness; fledgling forays into the language craft, if you will.
      Writing is something I've done casually throughout my life. The transmission of a thought from mind to printed matter is exhilarating. I was a voracious reader for a long stretch of my life, an activity that has devolved into the oasis of "Not Enough Time" as I've grown older. But this blog has invigorated that which I deem to be germane to my passions and for a period too long was sadly vacant. And so I'm grateful. This journey, cinematic and literary, shall continue unperturbed. I've no regrets.  
      Now please excuse my digression. Let's get back to the more pivotal matter at hand. At some point in the future I would like to expound on these choices. Identifying one's pristine esteem for 100 directors is a lot to wrestle with mentally. But for now, as this post involves already a great deal of deliberation, consuming enough bandwidth to run NASA, I'm going to have to preemptively excise any snippets that would otherwise serve to elucidate my choices. 
      The construction of this list is primarily borne from a selfish calculus. I want to have tangible proof of what I've seen, what needs to be seen still, and what deserves my strongest temporal devotion. This compendium will ideally serve to carefully illuminate the directors whose work I've familiarized myself with most favorably as well as reminder of the filmmakers whose filmographies I still need to explore. This is by no means comprehensive, but it is pretty damn close. There are films and directors I did not include, but that does not belie interest. 
      The criterion is simple: My enjoyment of these films, particularly the director's distinct craftsmanship, is without reproach. The essential condition garnering the list's creation is that I had to have seen at least four of the director's films, which I contend is a reasonable representation of their oeuvre. That means I must resist the urge to include Ramin Bahrani and Edgar Wright. Bahrani has made, in my estimation, three masterpieces (Man Push Cart, Chop Shop, Goodbye Solo). But three films does not four make. Bahrani's eligibility is thusly precluded. Wright has made three features which I deem exemplars of modern pop-innovation (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World). But alas, A Fistful of Fingers does not constitute a viable fourth option. Therefore, I'll have to wait until The World's End before I can authorize Wright to grace my Top 100.
      *It should be noted that I made this list without consideration to the number of directors I would ultimately highlight. I figured the directors I've studied and enjoyed most appreciably would resonate upon inception. That is exactly what happened. After enumerating the key works of these master auteurs, I tallied the numbers. There were 98 directors! Astonishing. But 98 is such a strange number to unify a post of this magnitude. So, I decided to exercise my brain a little more rigorously. After consulting with Robin Williams, the Therapist, not the Comedian, I derived two more names. And while the order of this list was arbitrary, the final two directors who gained entry were, fittingly, numbers 99 and 100 (i.e. that was the only portion of the order that was NOT arbitrary). Thus, this final anecdote qualifies my list as a legitimate psychoanalysis tool.
      **Films listed below director's pictures are those I've seen and recommend unequivocally.   

Martin Scorsese
Mean Streets, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The King of Comedy, After Hours, The Last Temptation of Christ, The Color of Money, Goodfellas, Cape Fear, The Age of Innocence, Casino, Kundun, Bringing Out the Dead, Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed, Shutter Island, Hugo

Federico Fellini
Federico Fellini
I Vitelloni, La Strada, Nights of Cabiria, La Dolce Vita, 8 1/2, Amarcord, Juliet of the Spirits

Akira Kurosawa

One Wonderful Sunday, Drunken Angel, Stray Dog, Rashomon, Ikiru, Seven Samurai, Throne of Blood, The Hidden Fortress, Yojimbo, Sanjuro, High and Low, Red Beard, Kagemusha, Ran

Stanley Kubrick
Killer's Kiss, The Killing, Paths of Glory, Spartacus, Lolita, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, Eyes Wide Shut

Wong Kar-wai
As Tears Go By, Days of Being Wild, Chungking Express, Ashes of Time, Fallen Angels, Happy Together, In the Mood for Love, 2046

Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
The Thief of Bagdad (co-director), 49th Parallel, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, A Matter of Life and Death, Black Narcissus, The Red Shoes, The Tales of Hoffman, Peeping Tom

Jean Pierre-Melville
Bob le flambeur, Le Doulos, Le Samourai, Army of Shadows, Le Cercle Rouge, Un Flic

Preston Sturges
Preston Sturges
The Lady Eve, Sullivan's Travels, The Palm Beach Story, The Miracle of Morgan's Creek, Hail the Conquering Hero, Unfaithfully Yours

Charlie Chaplin
Charlie Chaplin
Charlie Chaplin Short Film Collection (includes over 30 shorts), The Kid, The Gold Rush, The Circus, City Lights, Modern Times, The Great Dictator

Buster Keaton
One Week, Cops, Our Hospitality, Three Ages, The Navigator, Go West, Seven Chances, Battling Butler, Sherlock Jr., The General, College, Steamboat Bill, Jr., The Cameraman

William Wyler
Dodsworth, Wuthering Heights, The Best Years of Our Lives, Roman Holiday, The Big Country, Ben-Hur

Billy Wilder
Double Indemnity, The Lost Weekend, Sunset Boulevard, Sabrina, Ace in the Hole, Stalag 17, Witness For The Prosecution, One Two Three, Some Like It Hot, The Apartment

Vittorio De Sica
Shoeshine, The Bicycle Thief, Umberto D., Miracle in Milan

Michelangelo Antonioni
La Notte, L'avventura, L'Eclisse, Blow-Up

Paul Thomas Anderson
Cigarettes and Coffee, Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love, There Will Be Blood, The Master

Steven Spielberg
Duel, The Sugarland Express, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T: The Extraterrestrial, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Empire of the Sun, Schindler's List, Jurassic Park, Saving Private Ryan, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Minority Report, Catch Me If You Can, War of the Worlds, Munich, War Horse, Lincoln

Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne
Luc Dardenne Luc Dardenne and Jean-Pierre Dardenne attends the Dardennes Brothers Cinema Masterclass held at the Salle Bunuel, Palais Des Festivals during the 62nd International Cannes Film Festival on May 19, 2009 in Cannes, France.  (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Luc Dardenne;Jean-Pierre Dardenne
Rosetta, Le Fils (The Son), L'Enfant (The Child), The Kid with a Bike

Yasujiro Ozu
I Was Born, But..., An Inn In Tokyo, Good Morning, Late Spring, The Only Son, Early Summer, Tokyo Story, Floating Weeds, An Autumn Afternoon

David Lynch
Eraserhead, The Elephant Man, Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, The Straight Story, Lost Highway, Mulholland Dr., Inland Empire

David Fincher
Seven, The Game, Fight Club, Panic Room, Zodiac, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Social Network, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Nicolas Winding Refn
Pusher, Pusher II: With Blood on my Hands, Pusher III: I'm the Angel of Death, Bronson, Valhalla Rising, Drive

Joel and Ethan Coen
Blood Simple, Raising Arizona, Miller's Crossing, Barton Fink, The Hudsucker Proxy, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, O Brother, Where Art Thou, The Man Who Wasn't There, No Country for Old Men, Burn After Reading, A Serious Man, True Grit

Quentin Tarantino
Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill: Vol. 1, Kill Bill: Vol. 2, Death Proof, Inglourious Basterds 

Francis Ford Coppola

The Godfather, The Godfather: Part II, The Conversation, Apocalypse Now, The Outsiders, Rumble Fish, Peggy Sue Got Married

Sergei Eisenstein
Strike, The Battleship Potemkin, October, Alexander Nevsky, Ivan the Terrible Part I, Ivan the Terrible Part II

F.W. Murnau
Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens, Last Laugh, Faust, Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

D.W. Griffith
The Lonedale Operator, A Corner in Wheat, The Birth of a Nation, Intolerance, True Heart Susie, Broken Blossoms, Way Down East

Francois Truffaut
The 400 Blows, Shoot the Piano Player, Jules et Jim, The Wild Child, Day for Night

Jean-Luc Godard
Breathless, Vivre sa vie, A Woman Is A Woman, Contempt, Pierrot le fou, Band a part, Masculine-Feminine, Alphaville, Week-End

Jean Renoir
La Chienne, Partie de campagne, Boudu Saved from Drowning, La Grande Illusion, The Rules of the Game, The River, The Golden Coach, French Cancan

Ernst Lubitsch

Trouble in Paradise, Ninotchka, The Shop Around the Corner, To Be or Not to Be

William Wellman
Wings, The Public Enemy, A Star is Born, Nothing Sacred, Yellow Sky

Michael Curtiz
The Adventures of Robin Hood, Casablanca, Yankee Doodle Dandy, White Christmas

Kenji Mizoguchi
The Story of the Late Chrysanthemums, The Life of Oharu, Ugetsu, Sansho the Bailiff

George Cukor
The Philadelphia Story, Gaslight, Adam's Rib, My Fair Lady

Robert Altman
Director Robert Altman
MASH, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Nashville, The Long Goodbye, 3 Women, Secret Honor, The Player, Short Cuts, Gosford Park, Prairie Home Companion

George Stevens
Swing Time, A Place in the Sun, Shane, Giant

Nicholas Ray
They Live by Night, In a Lonely Place, Johnny Guitar, Rebel Without a Cause, Bigger Than Life, Party Girl

Frank Capra
It Happened One Night, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, It's a Wonderful Life

Elia Kazan
On the Waterfront, A Streetcar Named Desire, East of Eden, A Face in the Crowd

Jee-woon Kim
Kim Ji-Woon
A Tale of Two Sisters, A Bittersweet Life, The Good, the Bad, the Weird, I Saw the Devil

David Cronenberg
Videodrome, The Dead Zone, Dead Ringers, Crash, eXistenZ, A History of Violence, Eastern Promises, Cosmopolis

Park Chan-wook
Judgment, Joint Security Area, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, Thirst

Ang Lee
The Wedding Banquet, Sense and Sensibility, The Ice Storm, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hulk, Brokeback Mountain, Life of Pi

Roberto Rossellini
Rome, Open City, Paisan, German Year Zero, Journey to Italy

Bernardo Bertolucci
Bernardo Bertolucci
The Conformist, Last Tango in Paris, 1900, The Last Emperor

Luchino Visconti
Ossessione, The Leopard, Rocco and His Brothers, Death in Venice

Fritz Lang
Metropolis, M, Spies, Fury, You Only Live Once, Scarlet Street, The Big Heat, The Woman in the Window

Brian De Palma

Hi, Mom, Carrie, Obsession, Blow Out, Dressed to Kill, Scarface, Body Double, The Untouchables, Casualties of War, Carlito's Way, Mission Impossible

Michael Mann

Thief, Manhunter, The Last of the Mohicans, Heat, The Insider, Ali, Collateral

William Friedkin
The French Connection, The Exorcist, Sorcerer, To Live and Die in L.A., Blue Chips

John Sturges
John Sturges
Bad Day at Black Rock, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape 

John Woo

A Better Tomorrow, A Better Tomorrow 2, The Killer, Bullet in the Head, Hard Boiled, Face/Off, Red Cliff, Red Cliff II

Zhang Yimou
Ju Dou, Raise the Red Lantern, To Live, Shanghai Triad, Hero, House of Flying Daggers

Ingmar Bergman
The Virgin Spring, The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, Smiles of a Summer Night, Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light, The Silence, Hour of the Wolf, Persona, Cries and Whispers, Fanny and Alexander

Robert Bresson
Diary of a Country Priest, A Man Escaped, Pickpocket, Au Hasard Balthazar, Mouchette 

Chantal Akerman
Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles, A Couch in New York, From the Other Side, Tomorrow We Move

Alfred Hitchcock
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), 39 Steps, Young and Innocent, The Lady Vanishes, Rebecca, Shadow of a Doubt, Notorious, Strangers on a Train, Lifeboat, Rope, Dial M for Murder, The Wrong Man, Marnie, Rear Window, To Catch a Thief, Vertigo, North by Northwest, Psycho, The Birds

Woody Allen
Still of Woody Allen in Annie Hall.
Take the Money and Run, Bananas, Sleeper, Love and Death, Interiors, Annie Hall, Manhattan, Stardust Memories, Zelig, Crimes and Misdemeanors, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Hannah and Her Sisters, Broadway Danny Rose, Bullets Over Broadway, Radio Days, Husbands and Wives, Deconstructing Harry, Anything Else, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Match Point, Midnight in Paris

John Ford

Stagecoach, The Informer, How Green Was My Valley, Young Mr. Lincoln, The Grapes of Wrath, My Darling Clementine, The Quiet Man, The Searchers, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Howard Hawks
Scarface: The Shame of a Nation, Bringing Up Baby, Only Angels Have Wings, His Girl Friday, Sergeant York, The Big Sleep, Red River, The Thing From Another World, Rio Bravo

Orson Welles
Citizen Kane, The Stranger, The Lady from Shanghai, The Magnificent Ambersons, Touch of Evil, The Trial, Chimes at Midnight, Othello, F For Fake

Luis Bunuel
Un Chien Andalou, L'Age d'Or, Land Without Bread, Los Olvidados, The Young One, Viridiana, The Exterminating Angel, Belle de jour, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, That Obscure Object of Desire

John Huston
The Maltese Falcon, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Key Largo, The Asphalt Jungle, Beat the Devil, The African Queen, The Man Who Would Be King, Prizzi's Honor

Roman Polanski

Repulsion, Rosemary's Baby, Chinatown, Frantic, The Pianist, The Ghost Writer

Sergio Leone
A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, Once Upon a Time in the West, Once Upon a Time in America

Ridley Scott

Alien, Blade Runner, Thelma & Louise, Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, American Gangster

James Cameron
The Terminator, Aliens, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, True Lies, Titanic, Avatar

Clint Eastwood
The Outlaw Josey Wales, Unforgiven, Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, Letters From Iwo Jima, Gran Torino

Hayao Miyazaki
Ficheiro:Hayao Miyazaki.jpg
Lupin the Third: Castle of Cagliostro, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service, Porco Rosso, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, Ponyo

Brad Bird
The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

John Lasseter

Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2, Cars

Sidney Lumet

12 Angry Men, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, Network, Prince of the City, The Verdict, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

Christopher Nolan

Following, Memento, Insomnia, Batman Begins, The Prestige, The Dark Knight, Inception

Krzystof Kieslowski
 The Decalogue, A Short Film About Killing, A Short Film About Love, The Double Life of Veronique, Three Colors: Blue, Three Colors: White, Three Colors: Red

Terry Gilliam
Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Monty Python: Meaning of Life,  Time Bandits, Brazil,The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, 12 Monkeys, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Terrence Malick
Terrence Malick
Badlands, Days of Heaven, The Thin Red Line, The New World, Tree of Life

Pedro Almodvar
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, All About My Mother, Talk To Her, Volver

Werner Herzog
Werner Herzog
Aguirre, The Wrath of God, The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, Nosferatu: Phantom of the Night, Stroszek, Fitzcarraldo, Heart of Glass, Little Dieter Needs to Fly, Grizzly Man, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, Into the Abyss 

Danny Boyle

Shallow Grave, Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Millions, Sunshine, Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours

Darren Aronofsky
Darren Aronofsky Gallery
Pi, Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain, The Wrestler, Black Swan

Sam Peckinpah
Ride the High Country, The Wild Bunch, Straw Dogs, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid

Rob Reiner

This Is Spinal Tap, Stand by Me, The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally, Misery, A Few Good Men

Robert Wise

Born to Kill, The Set-Up, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Odds Against Tomorrow, The Sand Pebbles, West Side Story, The Sound of Music

Alfonso Cuaron
A Little Princess, Y Tu Mama Tambien, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Children of Men

Gus Van Sant
Gus Van Sant
Drugstore Cowboy, My Own Private Idaho, To Die For, Good Will Hunting, Finding Forrester, Milk

Hal Ashby
Harold and Maude, The Last Detail, Coming Home, Being There

Wes Anderson
Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenebaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Moonrise Kingdom

John Carpenter
Assault on Precinct 13, Halloween, Escape from New York, The Thing, Big Trouble in Little China, They Live

Guillermo Del Toro
Cronos, Blade II, Hellboy, Pan's Labyrinth

David Lean
Brief Encounter, Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago

Spike Lee

School Daze, Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, Clockers, He Got Game, 25th Hour, Inside Man

Alexander Payne
Citizen Ruth, Election, About Schmidt, Sideways, The Descendants 

John Hughes
Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Uncle Buck

Sam Raimi

The Evil Dead, Evil Dead II, A Simple Plan, Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Drag Me to Hell

Steven Soderbergh

Sex, Lies, and Videotape, King of the Hill, Gray's Anatomy, Out of Sight, The Limey, Erin Brockovich, Traffic, Ocean's Eleven, Ocean's Twelve, Bubble, The Informant!, And Everything Is Going Fine, Contagion, Haywire

Andrei Tarkovsky
Ivan's Childhood, Andrei Rublev, Solaris, The Mirror, Stalker, Nostalghia

Fred Zinnemann
High Noon, From Here to Eternity, A Man for All Seasons, The Day of the Jackal, Julia

Oliver Stone

Platoon, Wall Street, Born on the Fourth of July, The Doors, JFK, Any Given Sunday

Mel Brooks
The Producers, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, Spaceballs, Robin Hood: Men in Tights 

IMPORTANT DIRECTORS WHOSE WORK I STILL NEED TO EXPLORE FULLY BEFORE A CONCRETE DETERMINATION CAN BE MADE (the films whose titles are italicized in parenthesis are the few from these directors I've actually the top of my head): John Cassavetes (Shadows, A Woman Under the Influence, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie), Lars Von Trier (Breaking the Waves, Dancer in the Dark, Dogville), Ramin Bahrani (Man Push Cart, Chop Shop, Goodbye Solo), Chris Marker (La Jetee), Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), Jia Zhangke (The Pickpocket, The World, Still Life), Jason Reitman (Thank You For Smoking, Juno, Up In The Air, Young Adult), Errol Morris (Gates of Heaven, The Thin Blue Line, The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara), Georges Melies (The Haunted Castle, A Trip to the Moon, The Impossible Voyage), Edwin S. Porter (The Great Train Robbery, Life of an American Fireman), Vsevolod Pudovkin (Mother, The End of St. Petersburg, Storm Over Asia), Carl Theodor Dreyer (The Passion of Joan of Arc, Ordet), Dziga Vertov (Man with a Movie Camera), Mikhail Kalatozov (I Am Cuba, The Cranes Are Flying), Lynne Ramsay, Takeshi Kitano (Sonatine, Hana-bi, The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi), Bob Fosse (Cabaret, All That Jazz), Louis Malle (Atlantic City, My Dinner with Andre, Au revoir, les enfants, Vanya on 42nd Street), Max Ophuls (Lola Montes, Le Plaisir, The Earrings of Madame D), Alain Resnais (Night and Fog, Hiroshima Mon Amour, Last Year at Marienbad), Terence Davies (Distant Voices, Still Lives, The Long Day Closes, The Deep Blue Sea), Werner Rainer Fassbinder (Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, The Marriage of Maria Braun), Jean Cocteau (The Blood of a Poet, Beauty and the Beast, Orpheus), Leni Riefenstahl (Triumph of the Will), Wim Wenders (The American Friend, Paris, Texas, Wings of Desire), Jacques Rivette (La Belle Nouiseuse), Jacques Demy, Jonathan Demme (Melvin and Howard, The Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia), Budd Boetticher (The Tall T, Ride Lonesome), Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, Submarino, The Hunt), Andrea Arnold (Wasp, Fish Tank, Wuthering Heights), Abbas Kiarostami (Close-Up, Taste of Cherry, Certified Copy), Carol Reed (Odd Man Out, The Third Man), Lee Chang-dong (Peppermint Candy, Oasis), Claire Denis (White Material, Beau Travail, 35 Shots of Rum), Pier Paola Pasolini (The Gospel According to St. Matthew, Mamma Roma, The Decameron), King Vidor, Leo McCarey (Duck Soup, Make Way for Tomorrow), Douglas Sirk (Written on the Wind, All That Heaven Allows, Imitation of Life), Claude Chabrol (Le Boucher), Robert Aldrich (Vera Cruz, Kiss Me Deadly, The Dirty Dozen), Delmer Daves (Dark Passage, Broken Arrow, Jabal), Paul Verhoeven (Soldier of Orange, Robocop, Starship Troopers), Kelly Reichardt (Old Joy, Wendy and Lucy, Meek's Cutoff), Harmony Korine (Gummo, Julien Donkey-Boy), Jacques Audiard (Read My Lips, The Beat That My Heart Skipped, A Prophet), Henri-Georges Clouzot (The Wages of Fear, Les Diaboliques), Marcel Carne (Children of Paradise, Daybreak), Jacques Tati (Mr. Hulot's Holiday, Mon Oncle, Playtime), Jacques Becker (Touchez Pas au Grisbi, Le Trou), Satyajit Ray (Pather Panchali, Aparajito, The World of Apu), Robert Siodmak (The Killers, The Spiral Staircase, Criss Cross), Anthony Mann (Raw Deal, The Naked Spur, The Man From Laramie), Bong Joon-ho (Memories of Murder, The Host, Mother), Ki-duk Kim (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring, 3-Iron, Pieta), Atom Egoyan (Calendar, Exotica, The Sweet Hereafter), Alejandro Jodorowsky (El Topo, The Holy Mountain, Santa Sangre), Stan Brakhage (By Brakhage: An Anthology, Vol 1: Dog Star Man: Prelude - Part IV, The Stars Are Beautiful, Desistfilm, Wedlock House; An Intercourse, LoveSong, Mothlight, EyeMyth, The Act of Seeing with One's Own Eyes, Window Water Baby Moving, Crack Glass Eulogy, Cat's Cradle I...Dreaming, The Dante Quartet, Delicacies of Molten Horror Synapse), Richard Brooks (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, In Cold Blood), Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused, Before Sunrise, Before Sunset), Jim Jarmusch (Stranger Than Paradise, Dead Man, Ghost Dog; The Way of the Samurai), Josef Von Sternberg (The Blue Angel, The Scarlet Empress), Jacques Tourneur (Cat People, Out of the Past), Jules Dassin (Night and the City, Rififi, The Naked City), Edward G. Ulmer (Detour), Aki Kaurismaki (The Match Stick Girl), Robert Rossen (The Hustler), Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation), Rene Clair, Robert Flaherty (Nanook of the North), Victor Fleming (Gone With The Wind, Captains Courageous, The Wizard of the Oz), Milos Forman (Firemen's Ball, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Amadeus, The People vs. Larry Flint), Gillo Pontecorvo (The Battle of Algiers), Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), Eric Rohmer (La Collectionneuse, A Tale of Winter), Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Distant, Climates, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia), Masaki Kobayashi (Harakiri, Samurai Rebellion), Michael Haneke (The Piano Teacher, Cache, The White Ribbon), Peter Jackson (LOTR Trilogy), George Romero (The Night of the Living Dead, Day of the Dead, Dawn of the Dead), Giuseppe Tornatore (Cinema Paradiso), John Frankenheimer (The Manchurian Candidate, Ronin), Edward Yang (Yi Yi), Emir Kusturica, Larry Clark (Kids, Bully), James Gray (Little Odessa, We Own The Night, Two Lovers), Peter Weir (Dead Poets Society, The Truman Show, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World), Andrze Wajda (Ashes and Diamonds, Kanal), Jean Vigo (Zero for Conduct, L'Atalante), Erich von Stroheim, Bela Tarr, Olivier Assayas, Aleksandr Sokurov (Mother and Son, Russian Ark, The Sun), Nicolas Roeg (Walkabout, Don't Look Now), Alex Gibney, Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition, Jarhead), Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Amores Perros, 21 Grams, Babel), Hsiao-Hsien Hou (Flowers of Shanghai), Peter Bogdanovich (The Last Picture Show, Paper Moon), Dario Argento (Suspiria), G.W. Pabst (Pandora's Box, Diary of a Lost Girl), Otto Preminger (Laura, Angel Face, Anatomy of a Murder), Ken Loach (Kes, Land and Freedom, My Name Is Joe), Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Uncle Boonme Who Can Recall His Past Lives, Tropical Malady, Syndromes and a Century), Takashi Miike (13 Assassins), Gaspar Noe (I Stand Alone, Irreversible, Enter the Void), Abel Gance, Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Delicatessen, Amelie), and Theo Angelopoulos (The Travelling Players, Landscape in the Mist, Eternity and A Day)

SPECIAL CASES I.E. DIRECTORS WHO HAVE MADE FILMS I DEEPLY ADMIRED/ENJOYED BUT WHO HAVE NOT (YET?) CARVED A CAREER THAT WARRANTS INCLUSION IN MY FAVORITE 100: Charles Laughton made only one film, which I absolutely adore (The Night of the Hunter), Robert Wiene (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari), Dimitri Kirsanoff (Menilmontant), Alan Crosland (The Jazz Singer), James Whale (Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, The Invisible Man), Joseph Mankiewicz (All About Eve, Sleuth), Sam Wood (A Night At The Opera), Judd Apatow (The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up), John Boorman (Point Blank, Deliverance, Excalibur), Norman Jewison (In The Heat of the Night, Moonstruck, The Hurricane), Steve James (Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters), Edward Cline (One Week, Cop, The Bank Dick), Franklin J. Schaffner (Planet of the Apes, Patton, Papillon), Juzo Itami (Tampopo), Mike Hodges (Get Carter), Robert Hamer (Kind Hearts and Coronets), Katsuhiro Ohtomo (Akira), Mathieu Kassovitz (La Haine), Martin Donovan (Apartment Zero), Tony Kaye (American History X), Curtis Hanson (LA Confidential, Too Big To Fail), Guy Ritchie (Snatch, Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels), Stephen Frears (The Hit, High Fidelity), Andrew Stanton (A Bug's Life, Finding Nemo, Wall E), David O. Russell (Three Kings, The Fighter), John Schlesinger (Midnight Cowboy), Amy Heckerling (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, European Vacation), Michael Ritchie (The Bad News Bears, Fletch), Gene Saks (The Odd Couple), Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects, X-Men), Isao Takahata (Grave of the Fireflies), Kathryn Bigelow (Point Break, The Hurt Locker), Peter Yates (Bullitt, The Friends of Eddie Coyle), Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko), George Roy Hill (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting, Slap Shot), Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly (On The Town, Singing in the Rain), Andy and Larry Wachowski (The Matrix), Luc Besson (Leon: The Professional), Patty Jenkins (Monster), Paul Haggis (Crash), John Landis (Animal House, Trading Places), Harold Ramis (Caddyshack, Groundhog Day), Gore Verbinski (The Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Rango), James Marsh (Man on Wire), Andrew Niccol (Gattaca), Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell), J.J. Abrams (Star Trek, Super 8), Pete Doctor (Monsters, Inc., Up), George Miller (Mad Max, Mad Max: The Road Warrior), Robert Mulligan (To Kill a Mockingbird), Joseph Sargent (original Taking of Pelham One Two Three), Ron Howard (Splash, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind), Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation), John Mackenzie (The Long Good Friday), Joss Whedon (Serenity, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, The Avengers), Ron Shelton (Bull Durham, White Men Can't Jump), Jose Padilha (Elite Squad, Elite Squad: The Enemy Within), David Anspaugh (Hoosiers, Rudy), Mike Nichols (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, The Graduate), Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, The Patriot), Fernando Meirelles (City of God), Robert Zemeckis (Used Cars, Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Forrest Gump, Contact), Vincente Minnelli (An American In Paris, The Bad and The Beautiful), John Singleton (Boyz in the Hood), Stanley Kramer (Inherit the Wind, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World), Michael Moore (Bowling For Columbine), George Lucas (American Graffiti, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope), Zucker, Abrahams, Zucker (Airplane!), Barry Sonnenfeld (Men In Black, Get Shorty), Tim Burton (Beetlejuice, Batman, Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Big Fish), Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile), Michael Cimino (Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, The Deer Hunter, Year of the Dragon), Baz Luhrmann (Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge!), Stuart Rosenberg (Cool Hand Luke), John McTiernan (Die Hard, Predator, The Hunt for Red October), Lewis Milestone (All Quiet on the Western Front), Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run), Alan Pakula (The Parallax View, All The President's Men, Sophie's Choice), Terry George (Hotel Rwanda), Penny Marshall (Big, A League of Their Own), Tod Browning (Dracula), Paul Leni (The Man Who Laughs), Abraham Polonsky (Force of Evil), Jean Epstein (The Fall of the House of Usher), Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Ultimatum, United 93), Gavin O'Connor (Warrior), Blake Edwards (Breakfast at Tiffany's, The Party), Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist), Michael Bay (The Rock, Transformers), Kevin Costner (Dances with Wolves), Giovanni Pastrone (Cabiria), Elem Klimov (Come and See), John G. Avildsen (Rocky, The Karate Kid), Dennis Hopper (Easy Rider), Samuel Fuller (Pickup on South Street, The Big Red One, The Naked Kiss), Walter Hill (The Driver, The Warriors, 48 Hrs.), Arthur Penn (Bonnie and Clyde, Night Moves), Sean Penn (Into the Wild), Wolfgang Peterson (Das Boot, The NeverEnding Story, Troy, The Perfect Storm), Mary Harron (American Psycho), John Hillcoat (The Proposition, Lawless), Jean-Francois Richet (Mesrine Part I: Killer Instinct, Mesrine Part 2: Public Enemy #1), Alexander Mackendrick (The Ladykillers, The Man in the White Suit, Sweet Smell of Success), Abel Ferrara (King of New York, Bad Lieutenant), Barry Levinson (The Natural, Good Morning, Vietnam, Rain Man, Bugsy, Wag the Dog), Kim Sang-jin (Attack the Gas Station), Mike Figgis (Leaving Las Vegas), James L. Brooks (Broadcast News, As Good As It Gets), Don Siegel (Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Dirty Harry, Escape from Alcatraz), Hong-jin Na (The Chaser), Je-kyu Kang (Tae Kug Gi), Phil Alden Robinson ( Field of Dreams, Sneakers), Stanley Tong (Police Story 3: Supercop), Yuen Woo-ping (Drunken Master), Bob Rafelson (Head, Five Easy Pieces), Lau Kar-Leung (Drunken Master II), David Mamet (House of Games), Bong Joon-ho (Memories of Murder, The Host), Alex Cox (Repo Man, Sid and Nancy), Mike Judge (Office Space), Ivan Reitman (Stripes, Ghostbusters), Sydney Pollack (Three Days of the Condor, Tootsie), Richard Sarafian (Vanishing Point), Monte Hellman (Two-Lane Blacktop), George Sluzier (Spoorloos), Shane Meadows (Dead Man's Shoes, This Is England), Thomas McCarthy (The Station Agent, Win, Win), Terry Zwigoff (Crumb, Ghost World), Neil Jordan (The Crying Game), Peter and Bobby Farrelly (Dumb and Dumber, Kingpin, There's Something About Mary), Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale), Kevin Smith (Clerks, Chasing Amy, Dogma), Seijun Suzuki (Tokyo Drifter, Branded to Kill), Johnnie To (Throw Down, Election, Vengeance), Alex Proyas (The Crow, Dark City), Robert Rodriguez (Desperado, From Dusk  till Dawn, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Sin City), Cameron Crowe (Say Anything, Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous).

THE JURY IS STILL OUT ON THE MERITS OF THESE DIRECTORS, MANY OF WHOM ARE JUST BEGINNING THEIR CAREERS: Bennett Miller (Capote, Moneyball), Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake, Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class), Michael R. Roskam (Bullhead), Asghar Farhadi (A Separation), Neill Blomkamp (District 9), Florian Henckel von Donnnersmarck (The Lives of Others), Joachim Trier (Oslo, August 31st), Gareth Evans (The Raid: Redemption), Jeong-beom Lee (The Man from Nowhere), Drew Goddard (The Cabin in the Woods), Andrew Dominik (Chopper, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford), Jeff Nichols (Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter), David Michod (Animal Kingdom), Ryan Fleck (Half Nelson), Charlie Kaufman (Synecdoche, New York), Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer), Daniel Espinosa (Easy Money), Joe Cornish (Attack the Block), Shane Carruth (Primer), Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton), Rian Johnson (Brick, The Brothers Bloom), Tom Hooper (The King's Speech), Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland), Martin McDonagh (In Bruges), John McDonagh (The Guard), Josh Trank (Chronicle), Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code), Ben Affleck (Gone Baby Gone The Town), Steve McQueen (Hunger, Shame).

***If you have not guessed, I've seen the films whose titles are italicized in parenthesis. I did not include every film from the aforementioned directors, merely the ones that I found to be exceptional or memorable. 

*****Closing Thoughts*****

      What saddens me, as I reflect briefly on my 100 Favorite Directors, is the glaring—many may consider jarring—absence of female directors save for Chantel Akerman, the lone female directorial voice I've burnished. One reason for my specific omission, I suspect, is the simple fact that I still need to see the films of Claire Denis, Jane Campion, Mira Nair, women who are frequently bathed in a brightening glow by critics everywhere. I love Nora Ephron, the writer, may she rest in peace. Not so much do I love the director. Sleepless in Seattle and You've Got Mail are worthy experiences, though. I do, too, enjoy the work of Kathryn Bigelow who could arguably make this list in the foreseeable future, as she is proving to be a formidable bastion of femininity in the male-dominated filmmaking world. Amy Heckerling has made some films I immensely enjoy. Patty Jenkins has not made anything compelling since Monster, such a promising start. And I've yet to witness the purported beauty of a Lynne Ramsay picture, but that will most certainly change. 


  1. Wow, another massive post! :) Some iconic names here.. which I'm not surprised about. Yay for Zhang Yimou, Ang Lee, Fincher and Tarantino. Not a big fan of the Cohen brothers though. Their films are quite pretentious in my book.

    1. I do not know why I feel compelled to write these lengthy treatises on film, but I commend you, George, for taking the time to peruse it. Thanks!

      Another YES for Yimou, Lee, Fincher and Tarantino! I know you are arguably Yimou's biggest supporter. For good reasons.

      I really admire the Coan Brothers style. They have a very distinct cinematic approach, executing their visions in ways uncommon. That kind of original, audacious approach ought to be celebrated. Not enough filmmakers are willing, or for that matter capable, of taking such risks. The Coen brothers not only take those risks, but they succeed. That being said, I understand your disapproval. Film is personal.

  2. A great list Matty - maybe a little light on the distaff side. (I'll throw out Ida Lupino, Penelope Spheeris and Penny Marshall as other women worthy of review) But a most worthy Megapost for sure!

    1. Thanks, Craig!

      You are spot-on. The lack of women in my Top 100 is a disservice to their contributions to film. And how can I forget to mention Lupino and Spheeris?

      I did include a number of women in my "Directors Whose Work I Still Need To Explore" and "Directors Whose Work I Deeply Admired/Enjoyed," so they are not completely off my least I do not regard them in any negligible sense. I just need to devote more substantive time to the exploits of women filmmakers, and perhaps only then will there be a more egalitarian gender representation in my 100 Favorite Directors list. I very much hope so.

  3. Late to the party and I apologize. What a list! And you included Carpenter and Raimi, hell to the yeah! I even love your picks for their works with a few exceptions. But film is subjective.

    There does need to be more women on there and I think it's simply because we don't get the opportunities like our male counterparts. You do have some excellent women listed I recommend Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham, Bride & Prejudice), Julie Taymor (Across the Universe, Titus, Frida), and Allison Anders (Gas, Food, Lodging, Mi Vida Loca).

    1. Thanks for coming to the party :)

      I recently re-watched Assault on Precinct 13 and was immediately reminded of how sophisticated and tactful young Carpenter was. Such an economical low-budget style, but with absolutely mesmerizing pacing, shrewd production design, smart scripting, and lest we forget unforgettable thrills. His late 70's, early 80's work has been terribly undervalued. Such a marvelous period.

      Raimi has always garnered my praise. Few directors have ever had a more successful debut than Evil Dead. And we need more Bruce Campbell whom I know you love personally :)

      It is no surprise you agree with my take on the absence of important female directors. But there are great works to be found from those of the fairer, more graceful sex. You've certainly named some of them. I do appreciate your suggestions. I know they were culled from an honest, incisive mind :)

  4. Wow. An excellent, extensive list. Two things are certain: 1) You have seen far, far more movies than I have, and 2) I am about to add another dozen or two films to my Netflix list. I'd forgotten just how many great films some of those older directors made.

    And not that it matters, but when I reached the end, there were two missing directors I was hoping might make your list: Jean-Pierre Jeunet (on your need-to-see-more-first list) and Edgar Wright (on your needs-to-make-more-first list).

    1. Thanks, Nate!

      One thing I know for certain is there are still hundreds of great movies that demand my attention. It's an evolving process. And I would never dare question your viewing record. I know you are a refined cinemagoer. By the way, I appreciate the fact that my list has inspired you to add some new films to your Netflix queue. It is why I do what I do.

      Such an interesting observation. Amelie is one of my favorite films in the past decade. Jeunet harvests an enthralling world that is simply unforgettable. So much fun to see his characters interact. And his work with the cinematographer (Bruno Delbonnel) governs some of the most inventive, incredible visuals/camerawork that I've seen in a long time.

      Edgar Wright is one of my favorite contemporary directors. There's no questions he'll be in my Top 100 list once he completes his "true" fourth feature-film. As you know from reading this post, I do not consider A Fistful of Fingers a valid representation of his oeuvre. He is a genius. And all three of his films are remarkable exercises in visual art.

  5. Hey Matthew! I was on vacation when you posted this but caught when I scrolled through to clear out my Google Reader. You inspired me to create my own post of favorite directors today. Just ten though!

    1. Hope you enjoyed your vacation. With all the tireless work you put forth on your blog and the careful attention you extend towards other's blogs, you deserved it :)

      I'm ecstatic that my post encouraged you to create your own Top 10 list. Few things bring me greater joy.


  6. Thank you for putting Fellini so high on the list. Since I first saw Roma in the theater when it first came out, that film has remained high in my top 10 favorite films and I've considered Fellini a favorite director. Recently I rewatched 8 1/2 for the first time since 1972 and now realize the many references to that film in Roma. Fellini was a truly great director.

    Your comprehensive list is pretty right on for me. Many filmmakers that I'm not familiar with are there and I'll have to check them out, but you got just about all my favorites.

    Good job.

    Tossing It Out

    1. Hey, Arlee!

      Fellini, I can say with complete confidence, is emblazoned unwaveringly in my Top 10 Favorite Directors of All-Time. His films breathe with such vitality, such infectious excitement, that it is impossible not to be moved by his work. I love character-driven films and Fellini is perhaps one of the great curators of character-based narratives; his environments themselves also function as ornate characters. All this pro-Fellini talk reminds me that I need to revisit 8 1/2 (interestingly that film marked my primal exposure to Fellini so many years ago), and frankly all of his films.

      I appreciate your feedback and encouragement. I hope you find the time to peruse the work of some of the directors whose work you're not too keenly familiar with. That's what motivates me to do these admittedly grandiose posts.

      Thanks again!

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