My Top Fifteen Favorite Directors of All Time

August 18, 2010 at 11:14 pm (Movies, Top Ten)

I’ve said a dozen times I love the art of making films. I love what goes into it and what comes out of it. There’s so much talent that goes behind making a film, and honestly they don’t get enough respect. Of course the head honcho behind any film is the director, and the personal style and tastes of the director can come through on a multitude of levels, transforming an average film to a masterpiece, all because that one man or woman’s sheer talent. So without any further ado, and with much deliberation on my part, here are my top fifteen favorite directors of all time.

15-JJ Abrams-This guy barely made my list, as I’ve only seen a couple of his projects. The guy has a cult status for creating hit series like Lost and Alias, among others, and has some serious nerd cred. However, my experience and favor towards him comes from his work in both the Star Trek reboot and Cloverfield, two films that had a human element to them amongst a larger than life scenario. Cloverfield was a terrifying film backed by a genius concept, and Star Trek was one of the smartest and yet most fun films I’ve gotten to see over the years. Plus, there’s a lot of promise in his film to come, Super 8.

14-Sam Raimi-Raimi of course was the leading mind behind the Spiderman trilogy, and based his fame on the Bruce Campbell Evil Dead franchise. His unique style that you can see in those films, along with the spectacularly campy job he delivered in the Spiderman series, is the reason this director holds such a special place in my movie-going heart. I grew up with the Spiderman film series, in fact it’s one of the reasons I love film as much as I do. However, I also enjoyed his delightfully morbid and old-school take in the 2009 horror film, Drag Me to Hell.

13-Steven Spielberg-When it comes to making great action films, one director’s name always springs to mind quickly, and that name is none other than Steven Spielburg. His legacy is legendary in the film community, and he has inspired many of our current filmmakers. The main reason he’s so low on the list is mainly because I never connected quite as much as others have with his material, but I can still respect an amazing filmmaker. Having directed War of the Worlds, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and countless other films, few directors have a reputation quite like him.

12-Jason Reitman-Reitman made his name very recently with films like Juno and Up in the Air, both of which are great movies in my book and deserve a look. Reitman has a certain way of writing dialogue and crafting characters that no other director can really do quite the same way. You care about these people on a different level, they’re quirky, mean, and witty, but at the same time you love them.

11-Edgar Wright-Very recently I saw and loved Wright’s newest film “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”, and I absolutely loved it. The same goes for the rest of Wright’s filmmography, including Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead. Both are fantastic films, and are great showcases for Wright’s unique sense of style and humor, along with the simple fact the man has a knack for filmmaking. Don’t believe me? Check out any of his action scenes and check to see if your jaw doesn’t drop. The man is poised to take over the industry as one of the next generation’s leading filmmakers.

10-Morgan Spurlock-Now this guy I respect on a different level. On top of making one of my favorite documentaries of all time, this guy subjected himself to 30 days of horribly unhealthy food for each of his meals, all in the name of science and exposing the truth. It also does hurt that both of his films, Supersize Me and Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden are audaciously entertaining and pack a whallop of a message.

9-Zac Snyder-I’ll admit it, I’m a sucker for slo-mo. Snyder has been on the scene for almost a decade now, and has already made some of my favorite films of my life time. His war epic 300 is now basically the template for my high school’s yearbook, and was all we could talk about for months. Watchmen was a fantastic adaptation oozing with style and good ol fashioned great filmmaking, reinventing the style of a classic crime noir while still serving the source material with good faith.

8-Peter Jackson-Let’s face it. When a director can film the un-film-able, break the trilogy curse once and for all, and create some of the most iconic moments of fantasy film of our time, you are obligated to take your hat off to him. Jackson had an unbelievable knack for perfectly replicating epic battle sequences in all three Lord of the Rings films, and is now one of the most respected and most wanted directors in the industry. Although the guy had quite a misstep with The Lovely Bones, I can’t wait to see what this director can do next.

7-Martin Scorsese-Although I’ve missed a number of his more acclaimed works, I immensely respect Martin Scorsese. The man has a thing for twist endings in his films that make legitimate sense and take your breath away, turning the film and its audience on its head by the time the credits roll. To this day The Departed stands as my favorite crime film of all time thanks to its ultimate depiction of the rivalry between cops and gangs along with its colorful cast full of talented acting veterans. This year’s mind-bending thriller, Shutter Island also successfully blew my mind in the best way possible.

6-Judd Apatow-I believe I stated it earlier in one of my comedy reviews, but Judd Apatow is by far the king of the current generation of comedy. Having directed a handful of films like Knocked Up, The 40 Year Old Virgin and Funny People, and having a hand in almost every other funny thing that’s happened in the past 10 years, Apatow definitely has an eye for the art. My favorite thing about his style, however, remains to be his ability to craft sweet characters and gripping, emotional situations inside raunchy humor and ridiculously laughable scenarios. That takes talent.

5-Joel and Ethan Coen-The Coen Brothers could literally have any job they wanted in Hollywood. The two have been respected filmmakers for decades now, and continue to churn out classics like Raising Arizona, The Big Lebowski, and this year’s film being released in December, True Grit starring Jeff Bridges. The two have an eye for storytelling with at times irreverent humor, and can create some real emotion, whether that’s laughter or gripping terror as we see a relentless bounty hunter stalk a Texas man in my favorite film of their’s, No Country for Old Men. The movie has a bleak style to it that I can’t get enough of, and blends the old school Western/Cat and Mouse vibe just enough with new school suspense techniques and shooting of action to create an instant classic.

4-Quentin Tarantino-Few filmmakers have the cajones to do what Tarantino does best. Why choose between stylish wit and storytelling? Why can’t we have both? Many of Tarantino’s films are “self-indulgent” to some, having an odd sense of editing that isn’t proud or arrogant, it’s just his way of doing things. Tarantino will tell many stories at once that often interweave in his films like Pulp Fiction and Inglourious Basterds, giving the audience 20-30 minutes of dialogue and odd exposition at a time before bursting in with a grisly violent attack or big comedic/action sequence. He sort of broke this standard of interweaving storylines with the Kill Bill Two-Parter, but the Tarantino we know was still there with some scenes that went on forever. Only one filmmaker can get away with a scene having two characters talk about the characteristics of rats for 20 minutes before we meet the main characters, and that man is Quentin Tarantino.

3-Alfred Hitchcock-There are few scenes in horror films that can genuinely scare me. Sure there are jump scares in a lot of films that modern directors use to scare people lifeless, but when it came to a Hitchcock film, you were in for a treat. While I’ve never gotten to see some of his bigger films like Vertigo, Rear Window, or North by Northwest, I have gotten to see two of his classics, Psycho and The Birds. The man knows his suspense, and can build characters and fear in a way no other director could in his time. Nothing tops that scene of sheer terror as Sam enters Norman Bates’ basement, turns the chair, sees the corpse, and in a split second we figure out the entire mystery in a haunting way.

2-Mel Brooks-Although Hitchcock was a man of adventure and suspense, Brooks was a figure of comedy, and quite possibly was the best comedic director of all time. Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles, along with Robin Hood: Men in Tights and Silent Movie! are all comedy gems that deserve to be seen. In a sense Brook invented the spoof genre, as even in 1974 Brooks understood the concept of creating a real movie that just so happened to be making fun of tons of other cliches in the genre. And admit it, you busted out in laughter too when you saw Mongo punch the horse in the face that first time, didn’t you?

1-Christopher Nolan-This comes as no surprise to many of you. Christoper Nolan has been making films for little over a decade now, and even in that short span of time I could consider 4 of his movies in my Top Ten. Nolan has an eye for story like no other, crafting a sense of suspense along with a sense of wonder, creating a world in each and every one of his films, giving his characters meaning and purpose, and shocking each and every one of us by the very end. After seeing each of his films I’m not quite sure what I’ve seen, but I do know that I loved it. The Prestige, Inception, and The Dark Knight stand out as my current favorites of the director, and each one earns its spot for a different reason. There’s an obvious sense of time and effort that goes into making his films, and it shows. Each one has a style to it and a complex mythology that combines with a unique story to build and build into a modern classic. Out of all the directors today, I can truly see Nolan’s films being viewed decades from now as some of the classics of our generation.


  1. The James said,

    Great Article, very informative. 😀

    As far as Hitchcock goes, I have only seen rear window, and I would recommend you see it. It was a great film.

    And speaking of Hitchcock, I think you would be interested in called “Arsenic and Old Lace” starring Cary Grant. IMDB describes the plot as “A drama critic learns on his wedding day that his beloved maiden aunts are homicidal maniacs, and that insanity runs in his family.” It is one of the funniest film I have seen, while still being really dark and morbid.

    You never really hear of a light-hearted dark comedy, but that is about what this film feels like. It is an absolute treat, and you would love it. It was directed and produced by Frank Capra and based on the play of the same name.

  2. The James said,

    oh, and I associated that film with Hitchcock because I watched it right before Rear Window, and it also feels like it is trying to satirize Hitchcock a little (possibly unconsciously)

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