Thursday, October 11, 2012

Top 10 Favorite Directors of All-Time

Spoiler: Only one of these guys is on the list.

After talking with Alex Withrow, I've finally found the nerve to make this list. Check out his eloquent one here.

This is merely my opinion, and nothing else. These aren't these greatest directors of all-time. Though, some of them might be viewed as such by film lovers.

Here we go...

10. Howard Hawks

This iconic American director is responsible for a great number of classics. In his time, he was frequently overlooked, despite directing such films as Scarface, Bringing Up Baby, Only Angels Have Wings, His Girl Friday, To Have and Have Not, The Big Sleep, and Rio Bravo. I love so many of his films that he simply couldn't be left off.

9. Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne

These Belgian filmmakers have made less than ten narrative features since their first one twenty-five years ago. Their films are independently-produced, personal stories that are shot mostly with handheld camerawork. I've always admired the way they can create such raw, naturalistic stories, and I can't resist being sucked in whenever I watch one of their films.

8. Woody Allen

What other filmmaker could give you comedies and the occasional drama virtually every year for the past thirty-five years? As expected, he has his ups and downs, but many of his ups are outstanding. This is the man who made Annie Hall, then followed it up with Interiors, his ode to Ingmar Bergman. He's always working, and he's proven he can do both funny and serious.

7. Terrence Malick

Most film buffs and critics love him, but the majority of widespread audiences do not. Despite this, one need only look at the screen to see his genius. The man is a cinematic painter, and I feel privileged to see anything creates.

6. Billy Wilder

He is simply one of the finest writer/directors to ever live. This director could do noirs, comedies, and dramas, creating some of the finest entries in each genre. He did The Apartment and Sunset Blvd. for cryin' out loud. How different are they from each other? Or what about The Lost Weekend and Some Like It Hot? He had such range.

5. Martin Scorsese

Did anybody else punch the air when he finally won an Oscar for The Departed? This filmmaker needs no explanation when you look at his staggering body of work. For anyone who says Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and Goodfellas, I can say Casino, Mean Streets, and even Hugo. The man just doesn't stop making great films, and his knowledge of the history of cinema is doubly impressive.

4. Alfred Hitchcock

Why is the master of suspense on here? Because he made several films that I love to watch. His career of more than fifty years has given viewers films like Notorious, Rear Window, Vertigo, and Psycho, plus other greats, such as The Birds, Dial M for Murder, North by Northwest, and The 39 Steps. He even did more great films that I haven't even mentioned. He was that good.

3. Stanley Kubrick

Everyone has their favorite Kubrick film, which is usually 2001: A Space Odyssey. I'm one of the select few who view Eyes Wide Shut as his masterpiece. As a skilled director who worked endlessly on set to get exactly what he wanted, his final film brings all of that to a culminating tour-de-force with a stylish, haunting mystery. The film is perfect to me, and several of his other ones are not far from it.

2. Krzysztof Kieslowski

When I saw Three Colors: Blue, this director instantly became one of my favorites. His films present life as it is, with all of the emotion and the drama. Not melodrama, but "real" drama. A number of his films feature beautiful cinematography, and the performances he got from his actors do wonders for his work. The man could make you (well, me anyways) feel. Juliette Binoche's complex, internalized performance in Blue devastated me. Kieslowski gave me that moment, and a number of fine films to boot.

1. Ingmar Bergman

My favorite director only breathed life into what little cinematic exposure I'd had up to that point, which primarily extended to some of classic Hollywood's finest. The Seventh Seal was my first Bergman film, and it remains one of my favorites. What Bergman did in that film (and others) shook me. I'd never seen imagery in film like that. He showed me just what you can do with the medium. Like I've mentioned before, upon seeing my first Bergman film I thought "Why aren't there more films like this?". Perhaps it's because this man could only make so many of them. 

Final note: There are some directors, such as Fritz Lang, Akira Kurosawa, Charlie Chaplin, and Mike Leigh, who would've been considered for this list if I'd seen more of their films.


  1. Love this post! Off the top of my head, I'd probably list Jean-Luc Godard (my clear favorite), Fellini, Allen, Ridley Scott, Fincher, Bergman, Kubrick, Hitchcock, Wilder and Chaplin.

    1. Thanks! Great list. Love Godard, but I wouldn't rank him that highly. Plus, I need to see more of his films. The same goes for Fellini.

      Nice to see Ridley Scott make the list. He was in the running when I made a longlist.

  2. You've got some big old icons on your list. Sad to see David Lynch didn't make it.
    Great that Dardenne's are included, that'a an inspired choice, even with all the Cannes recognition, they are still kind of underrated?

    1. I like the 3 Lynch films I've seen, but he probably wouldn't make the list, even when I see more of his work. Perhaps he'd get an honorable mention though.

      Thanks, Chris. The Dardenne's have somehow managed to become underrated award-winners, which is quite odd.

  3. Boy I really need to catch up Howard Hawks and Billy Wider's works, unlike Kubrick's, I think I'd enjoy their films as they're more my cup of tea.

  4. Excellent list! You view Eyes Wide Shut as Kubrick's masterpiece? I guess I'll have to overcome my ambivalence about that movie and give it a go.

    1. Thanks! Haha. Like I said, I'm in the minority, so proceed with caution. ;)

  5. So you went Bergman way as well huh ?? Great list Buddy :)

    Wilder, Scorsese, Hitchcock are some of my favorites too. Couple I missed would be Kurosawa - which you said would have made if you have seen more of him. I can not encourage you more to go ahead and Sidney Lumet. What do you think of him ? You should have seen some of his movies right ?

    1. Thanks man. :)

      Yeah, Kurosawa would've likely made the list if I'd seen more of his work. (I've only seen Rashomon and Seven Samurai.)

      I love Sidney Lumet's work. He was considered for a spot on the list, but didn't make it in the end. 12 Angry Men and Dog Day Afternoon are my favorites of his, but I also love films like The Verdict, Serpico, and Before the Devil Knows You're Dead.

  6. Dude, truly solid picks here. Love them. And, of course, LOVE seeing the Ol' Berg at number one. I thought Kieslowski or Wilder would take the top spot, but I'm glad to see they are on the list too!

    And thanks so much for the links man!

    1. Thanks, and no problem man! I was surprised by some of my picks when I was putting the list together, but Bergman was always going to be #1. Glad you approve.

  7. Great taste,Josh.I share many things and opinions with you,like I also consider Wilder as one of the finest writer/directors to ever live,and I also love Eyes Wide Shut a lot,Blue just blew me away when I first watched it.

    1. Thanks, David. Nice to see more support for Wilder and those films.