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Top 10 Movie Directors of All Time

Top 10 Movie Directors of All Time
VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
These directors are the rightful rulers of the silver screen. Join as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Movie Directors of All Time.

For this list, we'll be combining the entries from our Classic and Modern Movie Directors videos. So, if there's someone missing from this list that you think should have made it, be sure to check if they made the cut on our Top 10 Classic Directors and Top 10 Modern Film Directors lists respectively.

Special thanks to our users abdo esper and bob for submitting the idea on our Interactive Suggestion Tool at http://www.WatchMojo.comsuggest

#10: Ingmar Bergman 1918-2007

Described by Woody Allen as “possibly the greatest film artist since the invention of the camera,” this Swedish auteur took to the director’s chair for over 60 films. Despite writing and directing films entirely in Swedish, his presence was felt around the world, as he took home a total of three Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Language Film category. His most successful movie, The Seventh Seal, has been hailed by many of the directors on this list as a masterpiece in filmmaking.

#9: Woody Allen 1935-

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Top 10 Woody Allen Movies

With a penchant for starring in his own films, Heywood “Woody” Allen started out as a comedy writer in the 1950s. After developing his insecure, timid, yet intellectual character while doing stand-up comedy, Allen began writing and directing films, but didn’t find widespread praise until 1979 with Annie Hall for which he won the Academy Award for Best Director. Since then, Allen has received a long list of Academy Award nominations for screenwriting, and an even longer list of actors who want to star in his films.

#8: Steven Spielberg 1946-

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After laying the foundation for the modern blockbuster in the ‘70s and ‘80s, Spielberg set box office records in the 1990s. He also nabbed critical and commercial acclaim after taking a more mature turn with epics like “Schindler’s List” and “Saving Private Ryan.” Though he’s been bashed for being too sappy, he continues to collect awards in the twenty-first century and remains one of Hollywood’s most recognizable and influential directors.

#7: Orson Welles 1915 - 1985

While he directed some theatrical productions in the mid-‘30s, Orson Welles first came to prominence after he surprised the world with his radio broadcast of H.G. Wells’ “The War of the Worlds.” He switched to motion pictures in 1941 with “Citizen Kane,” which is largely considered the best film of all time. The mark of his directorial style included the insertion of his personality and vision into every aspect of the film. When it came to his work, Welles was truly a renaissance man: he acted in, wrote and directed many of his features, while also being involved in theater and radio – all of which proved he was a rare talent.

#6: Francis Ford Coppola 1939-

The son of an editor, composer and songwriter, it’s safe to say that Francis Ford Coppola was born with a few creative chromosomes. One of only eight filmmakers to win two Palme d’Or Awards from the Cannes Film Festival, Coppola is one of the most decorated directors in history: 14 nominations and 5 Oscar wins, and the Thalberg Memorial Award in honor of his illustrious writing and directing career boost his credentials even further. In charge of heavy hitters such as The Godfather trilogy and Apocalypse Now, you can’t refuse Coppola’s place on the list.

#5: Akira Kurosawa 1910 - 1998

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Top 10 Akira Kurosawa Movies

This Japanese filmmaker is considered one of the greatest directors of the 20th century. Every detail of his productions was thoughtfully considered, especially the script, which he believed to be the most important aspect. Akira Kurosawa also had a distinctive cinematic eye, shooting many of his subjects from a distance using a long lens, and this created a more natural feel to his films while emphasizing the beauty of the natural landscape. Kurosawa has gone on to influence and inspire many directors, such as Sergio Leone.

#4: Federico Fellini 1920 - 1993

The English language will forever be indebted to this man for the contribution of the word “paparazzi” from “La Dolce Vita.” Of course, that wasn’t the only great thing about the 1960 comedy-drama; it was also a deep and sophisticated take on the decline of society. As a director, Federico Fellini understood movies as moving pictures and used the medium to bring many neorealist and baroque images to his films. He paired his more abstract images with stunning landscapes and risqué plotlines, many revolving around sexual politics and religion. So it’s not surprising that Fellini holds the record for the most Oscar wins in the Best Foreign Language film category.

#3: Martin Scorsese 1942-

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Inspired by his Italian background and Roman Catholic upbringing, Scorsese crafted some of cinema’s greatest with recurring collaborator Robert De Niro. Also known for featuring themes of violence and crime, Scorsese found further success in the ‘90s with “Goodfellas.” After pushing his actors to use their dramatic chops in “The Aviator,” he won his first Best Director Oscar for “The Departed” and continues to produce critically acclaimed work today.

#2: Alfred Hitchcock 1899-1980

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Top 10 Alfred Hitchcock Movies

Even more than a director, Alfred Hitchcock was an auteur, meaning he took complete control over every aspect of his productions, which resulted in his signature style. He was aptly named “The Master of Suspense,” since many of his films played with both his characters’ and the viewers’ sense of reality and perception. He also used the camera to break the wall between the audience and his stories, which allowed for a more authentic interaction between the two. Thanks to his groundbreaking filming methods, his mysterious plots and 50+ years in the industry, Hitchcock left a profound impact on cinema and set the stage for everything thereafter. Before we unveil our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions. Quentin Tarantino 1963- Roman Polanski 1933- Jean Renoir 1894-1979 Jean-Luc Godard 1930- Joel and Ethan Coen 1954-, 1957- David Lynch 1969-

#1: Stanley Kubrick 1928-99

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Top 10 Stanley Kubrick Movies

His skills in the director chair were so legendary, some believe he even directed the lunar landing. Lolita, Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, Eyes Wide Shut, need we say more? Not only were his films considered some of the best of all time, but Kubrick was also known for constantly pushing the envelope in cinematography techniques. Whether it’s using new technologies like a steadicam or Zeiss lenses, his borderline obsessive attention to detail, or his impeccably written screenplays; Kubrick is the master of cinema history. Do you agree with our list? Which movie director’s illustrious career did we overlook? For more history making top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to

i think tarantino should be higher
I agree, Stanley Kubrick is far superior to Alfred Hitchcock
A decent list but I think that Scorsese who I love a respect should be under Kurosawa and Fellini as those two directors had a bigger impact on cinema and are two heros of Scorsese
Tarantino should not be among the top 10. Hitchcock should be first.