Top 20 Directors Whose Movies You Need to Binge Watch
Trivia Top 20 Directors Whose Movies You Need to Binge Watch



Top 20 Directors Whose Movies You Need to Binge Watch

VOICE OVER: Peter DeGiglio WRITTEN BY: Mark Sammut
We just planned your weekend for you. You're welcome. For this list, we'll be looking at those directors who have filmographies that are perfect for marathon sessions. Our countdown includes Wes Anderson, Christopher Nolan, Edgar Wright, Taika Waititi, Quentin Tarantino, and more!

Top 20 Directors Whose Movies You Need to Binge Watch

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 20 Directors Whose Movies You Need to Binge Watch.

For this list, we’ll be looking at those directors who have filmographies that are perfect for marathon sessions.

Which director has the most binge-watch worthy resume? Let us know in the comments!

#20: Taika Waititi

A New Zealand director with a peculiar sense of humor, Taika Waititi has amassed an eclectic filmography that covers delightful mockumentaries, huge Hollywood blockbusters, and strange coming-of-age stories set in World War II. Directing six features between 2007 and 2019, all of Waititi's projects manage to be distinct from one another while still sharing a surreal style of comedy that has become something of a trademark for the filmmaker. As Waititi's most mainstream film, "Thor: Ragnarok" is a decent introduction to the director's work, although "What We Do in the Shadows" and "Hunt for the Wilderpeople" might be even better.

Taika Waititi

#19: Christopher Guest

A veteran actor who eventually transitioned into the director's chair, Christopher Guest found his calling making mockumentaries with expansive ensemble casts, although there are some outliers to this formula in his filmography. Usually teaming up with Eugene Levy, Guest's movies are defined by realistic but quirky characters and situations typically centering around showbusiness in some form or another. With plenty of improv comedy and a desire to showcase the characters' humanity and not simply turn them into walking punchlines, Guest's films tend to be hilarious, heartwarming, and even poignant. Although only written by Guest, "This Is Spinal Tap" can be included to elevate this binge-watch up to an 11.

Levy = rhymes with Chevy, not TV

#18: Denis Villeneuve

Some filmographies are easy binges that will leave you smiling and relaxed, while others could trigger an existential crisis. Denis Villeneuve's resume is packed with challenging movies that tackle philosophical, social, and ethical themes. Be it the uncompromising "Prisoners'' or the cyberpunk epic "Blade Runner 2049," Villeneuve injects each one of his films with emotional depth and deeply flawed characters who do not fit any specific archetypes. While it may be tempting to stick to the director's most mainstream films such as "Sicario" and "Arrival," Villeneuve's earlier projects are also worth checking out, especially "Incendies" and "Polytechnique."

Denis Villeneuve

#17: Richard Linklater

Variety and experimentation can be double-edged swords, but Richard Linklater has proven to be more than capable of adapting to new genres. Right from the start, Linklater sought to break from traditional conventions, and "Slacker" serves as a prime example of the director's willingness to think outside of the box. Throughout his career, Linklater has directed stoner comedies like the fantastic "Dazed and Confused," a few experimental animated films, a movie that took 12 years to put together, and "School of Rock." If a 20-movie filmography seems a touch overwhelming, Linklater's "Before" trilogy is a great place to start, particularly for anyone seeking a grounded romance.

Richard Linklater

#16: Tim Burton

Bringing gothic nightmares to the big screen since 1985, Tim Burton has a style all of his own, one that has birthed some of the most visually creative films of the last few decades. Even though the director's output has been hit and miss since the turn of the century, Burton was on fire during the '80s and '90s. "Beetlejuice," the "Batman" movies, and "Sleepy Hollow" demonstrate Burton's gift for blending the accessible with the bizarre, while "Edward Scissorhands" and "Big Fish" showcase the director's talent for telling more character-driven stories.

#15: Edgar Wright

When it comes to crafting movies that are just plain fun, Edgar Wright does it better than most. After creating two seasons of comedy gold through the British comedy series "Spaced," Wright brought his energetic direction and witty humor to the big screen. The Cornetto trilogy is perhaps the director's greatest achievement, as each movie takes a stab at parodying popular genres while also being superior to most non-comedic entries. "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" and "Baby Driver" round off a strong collection of highly entertaining films that will ensure a smile never leaves a viewer's face.

#14: Spike Lee

Over more than three decades, Spike Lee has repeatedly proven to be an ambitious director who is always willing to take risks. Typically focusing on racial and cultural issues, Lee's filmography is home to plenty of dramas highlighting a specific period while exploring timeless subjects. Although Lee has released his share of underwhelming films such as "Oldboy" and "She Hate Me," the director's greatest movies are impeccable and tend to complement each other thematically and tonally. "Do the Right Thing," "Malcolm X," and "25th Hour" are just a few of Lee's best films.

#13: James Cameron

The director behind some of the biggest blockbusters of all time, James Cameron does not make films often, but when he does, they tend to be spectacles. With the "Terminator" franchise, Cameron set a standard in the action genre that few have been able to match, and both films are endlessly rewatchable. Despite being a widely different type of movie, "Aliens" does justice to Ridley Scott's sci-fi horror classic, while "The Abyss" and "True Lies" would be most other directors' best movies. "Titanic" is, well, "Titanic," and even "Piranha II" can be entertaining in a b-movie kind of way.

#12: Alfred Hitchcock

The master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock honed his craft over half a century, and the quality of his films stay absurdly high throughout. Hitchcock's peak was during the '40s and' 50s, a period where the director seemed to fluctuate back and forth between enjoyable thrillers and bona fide masterpieces. Films like "Vertigo," "Rear Window," and "Psycho" need no introduction, but deeper cuts like "Rope," "Notorious," and "Shadow of a Doubt" are also riveting and have mostly aged well. At his best, Hitchcock had almost no peers, and the director was often at the top of his game.

#11: Coen Brothers

When the weakest films in a binge-watch are perfectly enjoyable comedies like "The Ladykillers" and "Intolerable Cruelty," then there is very little to complain about. In a diverse filmography containing black comedies, period dramas, westerns, and gripping thrillers, it’s incredible how each Coen Brothers movie preserves the siblings’ artistic style. Defined by clever humor, mesmerizing performances, and sophisticated themes, the Coen Brothers have constantly evolved throughout their careers while resisting the temptation to retread previously fruitful ideas. Every day is a good day to rewatch "Fargo," "The Big Lebowski," "Blood Simple," and almost every other Coen Brothers film.

#10: Kathryn Bigelow

Vampires, surfers, and the Iraq War; Kathryn Bigelow is as unpredictable as she is brilliant. An Academy Award winner, Bigelow has been crafting provocative movies since making her debut with 1981's "The Loveless," although 1987's "Near Dark" would serve as a clearer demonstration of the director's trademark visceral style. While hardly specializing in blockbusters, most of Bigelow's films move at such a quick pace that they can rival the best action films out there. With 10 feature movies spread over four decades and covering a wide array of subject matters, this is one filmography that never gets repetitive.


#9: Guillermo del Toro

An auteur with a penchant for dark fairy tales that balance gothic horror with thorough explorations of very human characters, Guillermo del Toro's movies are hauntingly beautiful. Del Toro's trademark magical realism style is at its best in the director's Spanish films, specifically the masterful "Pan's Labyrinth" and "The Devil's Backbone." While his English projects are generally quite mainstream, del Toro's talents for imaginative storytelling and fantastical visuals are still on full display in the "Hellboy" films, "Pacific Rim," "The Shape of Water," and "Crimson Peak." Del Toro is a unique voice in the film industry.

#8: Bong Joon-ho

As the director behind 2019's "Parasite," the South Korean film that left the 92nd Academy Awards with four Oscars to its name, Bong Joon-ho has cemented his name in history. A project as transcendent and complex as "Parasite" does not just come out of nowhere, as Joon-ho has been producing stellar movies for the best part of two decades. Frequently touching upon themes of social class, animal abuse, and family dynamics, a Joon-ho film can be laugh-out-loud funny or devastatingly dark, usually within minutes of each other. From engrossing cop dramas to sci-fi action epics and monster movies, Joon-ho rarely misses the mark.

Bong Joon-ho

#7: Christopher Nolan

Regardless of a film's genre or budget, almost every Christopher Nolan project feels like a genuine attempt to create the greatest movie ever. Ambitious in scale and known to play around with traditional story structure, Nolan's resume is packed with landmark releases that were among the most talked-about movies of their respective years. Starting out with a string of captivating crime dramas before transitioning into blockbuster territory with "The Dark Knight" trilogy and "Inception," Nolan has become the master of event movies. While some entries are naturally better than others, this is one filmography without a total miss.

#6: Wes Anderson

This American director stormed out of the gate with a clear vision and an unflinching desire to constantly push it further. With each entry in his filmography, Wes Anderon reveals a deeper layer to his eccentric direction, stylistic presentation, and whimsical melancholy. "Rushmore" and "The Royal Tenenbaums" couldn’t have been created by any other director but Anderson. They paved the way to the more fantastical but still undoubtedly personal "Moonrise Kingdom" and "The Grand Budapest Hotel." Anderson blends child-like creativity with refined storytelling to produce films that are intimate but also strangely universal.

#5: Paul Thomas Anderson

Dysfunctional, broken, and obsessive people populate Paul Thomas Anderson's stories. Set in realistic worlds that have no time for stereotypical heroes and villains, Anderson's movies treat their characters with respect as they battle loneliness, ruthlessly chase the American Dream, or become ingrained in a cult. Putting aside "Punch-Drunk Love" and "Hard Eight," which are on the shorter side, most of the director's films are long sits that make the most of each second, regardless of whether they are sprawling multi-facet ensemble pieces or more narrow affairs. While some are harder to get into than others, Anderson's movies are rewarding.

#4: Quentin Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino loves cinema, a fact made crystal clear by each one of his films. Since 1992, Tarantino has directed 10 movies… or 9 if you count “Kill Bill” as one. In any case, he’s covered a wide range of genres, including gangster flicks, martial arts tributes, and westerns. Regardless of the period or setting, a Tarantino project can be relied upon to deliver a memorable storyline, quotable dialogue, career-defining performances, and a whole lot of violence. While a myriad of imitators sought to recreate Tarantino's earliest films, the director himself has never been a static creator, making his filmography a very entertaining watch.

#3: Martin Scorsese

Pick any decade from the last five and it will include at least a few great Martin Scorsese films. The iconic director might be primarily known for thrilling gangster films like "Goodfellas" and filthy character pieces such as the powerful "Taxi Driver," but Scorsese is about as far removed from a one-trick pony as filmmakers get. Feel like a laugh? Check out "The King of Comedy" and "After Hours." Looking for something that borders on horror? "Cape Fear" and "Bringing Out the Dead" are solid picks. Want a biopic? "The Wolf of Wall Street" and "Raging Bull" cannot be beaten. Scorsese has done it all, and that is without even mentioning his many great documentaries.

#2: Hayao Miyazaki

The director behind most of Studio Ghibli's best anime projects and, by extension, some of the greatest animated films of all time, Hayao Miyazaki creates mature worlds soaked in wonder. While dripping in fantastical elements, Miyazaki's films utilize escapism to earnestly comment on complex subject matters such as environmentalism without relying on cliche villainization or preachy rhetoric. "Spirited Away" is probably Miyazaki's most famous film, but other projects like the quietly sublime "My Neighbor Totoro," the philosophical "Princess Mononoke," and the epic "Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind" are just as brilliant.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

John Carpenter
Because Even at His Worst, Carpenter Can Create Moments of Magic

John Woo
His Hong Kong Films Are Consistently Great & His American Ones Are Usually Fun

Steven Spielberg
“Indiana Jones,” “Jurassic Park,” & “Schindler’s List” Are Just the Tip of the Iceberg

#1: Stanley Kubrick

From historical epics to satirical war comedies, sci-fi operas, and horror movies, Kubrick accomplished a lot throughout his long and storied career. Over half a century, Kubrick directed 13 feature films, each serving as a showcase of the director's one-of-a-kind vision and immeasurable talent. Great early genre pieces like "The Killing" and "Spartacus" eventually gave way to ambitious and almost unclassifiable masterpieces such as "2001: A Space Odyssey" and "A Clockwork Orange," films that could not be more different than each other. While Kubrick's movies can be challenging sits, they tend to leave long-lasting impressions and only get better with each repeat viewing. Also, don't skip "Barry Lyndon."
Robert Altman ("M*A*S*H", "Brewster McCloud", "HealtH", "Come Back To The Five & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean", "Short Cuts") Todd Solondz ("Welcome To The Dollhouse", "Happiness", "Storytelling", "Palindromes", "Life During Wartime", "Wienerdog")