Top 10 Modern Directors
Trivia Top 10 Modern Directors



Top 10 Modern Directors

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
When you direct the making of a film, you're the person who takes care of the artistic and dramatic elements and makes sure the actors and crew working on the film fulfill those elements. For this list, we're sticking to directors that have found mega critical and commercial success in the 1990s and beyond, though their success doesn't have to be limited to this period. We're basing our choices on a mix of the directors' popularity and talent. In this video, we count down our picks for the top 10 modern directors.
They're behind some of the greatest movies ever made. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the 10 modern directors.

For this list, we’re sticking to directors that have found mega critical and commercial success in the 1990s and beyond, though their success doesn’t have to be limited to this period. We’re basing our choices on a mix of the directors’ popularity and talent.

#10 - Peter Jackson

Though he did make movies in the ‘90s, his contribution to epic fantasy films alone merits his place on this list. “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy was a massive undertaking and a commercial smash, bringing together hobbits, elves, wizards, dwarves and more with critics and fan boys. Jackson’s epic adventure “King Kong” also won Oscars, but it’s “The Hobbit”’s box office triumph that cemented his spot in pop culture.

#9 – Christopher Nolan

Known for his neo-noir-inspired style, modern look and dark themes, Nolan first played with our minds in psychological thrillers. But, audiences really took notice of this Brit thanks to his gritty Batman reboot, which recharged the superhero franchise and paved the way for one of the genre’s finest. He’s since mesmerized us, turned dreams into reality and coaxed The Dark Knight out of retirement to the delight of fans.

#8 – Ang Lee

This Taiwanese-American’s work is so diverse, you don’t always expect what he’s gonna do next. And so far, that’s worked: he’s broken the laws of gravity, has had us seeing green and has broken our hearts. Lee even managed the technically impossible by turning Yann Martel’s fantasy adventure novel into a movie. What’s more, he’s the first Asian to win a Best Director Oscar, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA.

#7 – David Fincher

After the dark and stylish “Se7en,” Fincher made “Fight Club” one of the most talked about films of the year despite disappointing box office returns and extreme violence. He then kept tensions high and brought to life the fantastical tale of a man who ages in reverse. Thanks to his visually exhilarating work and masterful storytelling, Fincher also thrilled us with an Oscar-winning drama and mystery flick.

#6 – Coen Brothers

Joel and Ethan Cohen aren’t just directors; they’re also writers and producers. These brothers are known for letting their wit and cleverness shine through, which sometimes leads to dark and twisted results. Whether it’s an Oscar-winning crime flick, a cult hit or a satirical comedy, the Coens prove two heads are better than one. While they’ve excelled especially in western-inspired films, their black comedies have also been critically recognized.

#5 – Clint Eastwood

He’ll probably always be most famous for his acting, but Eastwood’s far from a one-trick pony. He’s been directing films since the ‘70s but came into his own during the last few decades, winning Best Picture and Director Oscars for both “Unforgiven” and “Million Dollar Baby.” His simple yet effective directing style has allowed him to explore many different genres and garner multiple accolades throughout the 2000s in the process.

#4 – James Cameron

After establishing himself in the sci-fi and action genres in the ‘80s, Cameron infiltrated pop culture with “Terminator 2.” But it was his 1997 epic romantic disaster film that crowned him “king of the world”: “Titanic” won 11 Oscars and was the highest grossing movie ever. Over a decade later, Cameron broke that record with the groundbreaking 3D and computer-generated movie, “Avatar.”

#3 – Quentin Tarantino

Tarantino introduced us to the stylized violence, pop culture-heavy references and excessive cursing we’ve come to love and expect with his directorial debut. The director then demonstrated his knack for pastiche and planted the seed for the growth of nonlinear films with “Pulp Fiction.” With “Kill Bill,” he continued to showcase his penchant for different movie genres and has since managed two of his highest grossing films to date.

#2 – Steven Spielberg

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.

#1 – Martin Scorsese

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.

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