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The Ten: Best Directors of All Time “relay race”

best directors of all time

Oh yes, it’s time to start another of these! Who are the ten best directors? I have the feeling that this is going to be one of the most discussed ones.

Making the initial list has been very hard and there are tons of directors I think should be mentioned, but of course I had to narrow it down, which means some of your favorites might not be in here. Don’t worry though as the rules of this relay race are as follows:

So what’s the idea behind the relay? I’ve created a list of what I think are the ten best directors. At the end of the post I, just like in a real relay race, hand over the baton to another blogger who will write his own post. This blogger will have to remove one director (that is an obligation) and add his own choice and describe why he/she did this. At the end the blogger chooses another blogger to do the same. We will end up with a list (not ranked in order) which represents a common agreement of the best directors.
If you are following the relay race it is also a great way to be introduced to new blogs!

So which directors are on the starting grid? Who are The Ten?


Alfred Hitchcock
Even though I’ve only started watching his movies a few years ago I’ve quickly become a big fan of the Master of Suspense. With more than 50 movies to his name Hitchcock has managed to make his mark in cinema. His movies featured great stories full of suspense, violence and crime often revolving about a MacGuffin, the term he coined for something which really isn’t important, but brings something to the movie that would drive the plot.

Most notable films: Psycho, The Birds, Dial M For Murder, Vertigo, North by Northwest, Rear Window


Quentin Tarantino
Tarantino is a director who lives movies. He gained a lot of film knowledge working as an employee of the Video Archives. He took inspiration from all the various genres he loved and started writing scripts. When his first film Reservoir Dogs came out he was a fresh breath of air and has been ever since. A director who to me hasn’t made a bad movie yet.

Most notable films: Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, Inglorious Basterds


Stanley Kubrick
A list of the best directors wouldn’t be complete without Kubrick. He is known for “unique cinematography, attention to details to achieve realism and an inspired use of music scores” (from Wikipedia). He was a director who almost had complete control over what he made and it makes his films unique. He managed to stun with 2001 and shock with A Clockwork Orange.

Most notable films: Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, Full Metal Jacket, The Shining


Steven Spielberg

Can’t leave Steven Spielberg out of this list. I grew up watching a lot of his movies and every time I hear his name I somehow associate it with magic. It’s difficult to put my finger on what that magic is, but I’ve been enjoying his work since E.T. He has shown that he can tackle any genre, whether it is family friendly stuff or drama.

Most notable films: E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Indiana Jones, Saving Private Ryan, The Color Purple, Schindler’s List, Jaws, Jurassic Park


Hayao Miyazaki

In making this list I just couldn’t leave out Miyazaki, co-founder of Studio Ghibli. He was relatively unknown in the West, but with Princess Mononoke he gained popularity. His movies have very strong links with nature. The worlds he creates are full of color and imagination with characters you immediately fall in love with. With his studio has shown that animation can be brought to amazing heights, outdoing Disney.

Most notable films: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Kiki’s Delivery Service


Darren Aronofsky

Although he might not have as many movies under his belt as some of the other directors on this list, Aronofsky is responsible for creating some very memorable films, including my all time favorite movie Black Swan. He manages to tell stories in a way you haven’t seen before and does so in a visceral way. A director to watch in the coming years.

Most notable films: Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream, Pi, The Wrestler


Martin Scorcese

Together with Tarantino probably the biggest “movie nerd” on the list. This is a man who loves movies and he has talked about it in several documentaries. Behind the camera his knowledge of film is clear and his filmography impressive. He finally got his Oscar (which many agree he should have received many years ago) for directing The Departed.

Most notable films: Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, Raging Bull, The Departed, Mean Streets, Casino, The Last Temptation of Christ


Coen brothers

Just looking at the movies these brothers have created, it’s clear these are two very talented men. I found this quote on coenbrothers.net about their movies and couldn’t describe it better myself: They “built a reputation as one of the most visionary and idiosyncratic filmmakers of the late 20th century. Combining thoughtful eccentricity, wry humor, arch irony, and often brutal violence, the films of the Coen brothers have become synonymous with a style of filmmaking that pays tribute to classic American movie genres — especially film noir — while sustaining a firmly postmodern feel.”

Most notable films: Fargo, No Country for Old Men, Barton Fink, Raising Arizona, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, The Big Lebowski, Miller’s Crossing


Akira Kurosawa
As one of the most important and influential filmmakers in the history of cinema, Kurosawa needs to be included in the list. He inspired George Lucas to make Star Wars and Spielberg has said to have learned more from him than any other filmmaker. Many other directors have praised him and he used many techniques in the same film to add drama to what you experience. An example is his use of slow motion or the framing of the appearance of men on top of a hill in Seven Samurai. Things which have been copied many times, but he was exploring it as one of the first.

Most notable films: Seven Samurai, The Hidden Fortress, Ikiru, Ran, Rashômon, Yojimbo, Kagemusha, Throne of Blood


Christopher Nolan

Nolan is another director who to me has made an almost perfect set of movies. Known as very technical director (preferring to shoot on film and do as much as possible without special effects) he has succeeded to bring unique stories to the screen, whether it is the story about a man with memory issues, the rivalry between magicians, the power of dreams or a caped crusader, there is no director like him. I always describe his movie as cerebral, you can’t help but think about them while you are watching them.

Most notable films: Memento, The Prestige, Inception, Batman trilogy

With the initial list now set it’s time to hand over the baton for the first time to Tyler from Southern Vision.

So what are your thoughts on the list? Are you missing directors or are there directors that I shouldn’t have put in?

Category: Movies
  • thescatteredlife says:

    You’re list is pretty good. Aronofsky has to be my favorite, though.

    June 5, 2012 at 8:50 am
    • Nostra says:

      Tarantino is probably mine, although other come pretty close!

      June 5, 2012 at 1:56 pm
  • Pete says:

    Great list so far. as long as Fincher makes an appearance on here soon, I’ll be very happy!

    June 5, 2012 at 12:07 pm
    • Nostra says:

      Thanks, yeah he could easily appear I think!

      June 5, 2012 at 1:57 pm
  • vextrigger says:

    Andrei Tarkovsky?

    June 5, 2012 at 2:16 pm
    • Nostra says:

      He’s not on the list, but I must admit I also haven’t seen any of his films. Someone else might add him though!

      June 5, 2012 at 2:37 pm
  • sati says:

    Another awesome blogathon! Damn, I want to participate only so I could taste the sweetness of removing Nolan :)

    June 5, 2012 at 4:35 pm
    • Nostra says:

      You should check out Tyler’s update then ;)

      June 6, 2012 at 10:11 am
  • Chris says:

    Good idea for a blogathon again, Nostra, I suppose was only a matter of time before we got the ball rolling on the directors ( :
    Interesting contemporary choices, I think those could be the directors who are most likely to get replaced, despite being very talented.

    No Kieslowski, Ridley Scott, David Lean, Federico Fellini, or David Lynch? As usual with ten, we can’t include everyone. I shall follow the new race with interest ( :

    June 5, 2012 at 4:39 pm
    • Nostra says:

      Yeah, these have been so popular that I just had to start the next one and directors seemed to be the best choice to do next.

      Well, I haven’t seen a lot of movies by the directors you mentioned (except for Ridley Scott), so I wouldn’t feel comfortable adding them. I know some other bloggers will though!

      June 6, 2012 at 10:13 am
  • Scott Lawlor (@FrontRoomCinema) says:

    Here we go again!!! HAHAH

    I bet you a pound I know who Tyler will add!!

    June 6, 2012 at 9:45 am
    • Nostra says:

      Well, you can check if you are right, Tyler already put up his post yesterday :)

      June 6, 2012 at 10:14 am
  • Jaina says:

    Fantastic list! I’d definitely like to see Ridley Scott getting thrown in there at some point.

    Here we go again ;)

    June 6, 2012 at 10:44 am
    • Nostra says:

      Yeah, here we go again. I’m really happy to see how much people like these that I just had to do another one….and there will probably be more of them :)

      June 7, 2012 at 8:50 am
  • jackdeth72 says:

    Hi, Nostra and company:

    Great foundation for directors to add and subtract from. I’ve a few off the top of my head, but decorum demands that I wait awhile.

    Very pleased to see Hayao Miyazaki amongst the upper strata!

    June 6, 2012 at 4:34 pm
    • Nostra says:

      Hahaha, the thing with lists is that no one can agree on them making them so interesting to read :)

      I thought Miyazaki deserved to be mentioned and would be someone other probably wouldn’t, so had to put him in there!

      June 7, 2012 at 8:51 am
  • Eric says:

    Awesome blogathon, Nostra, and a great top ten to start! Like Jack above, I am happy that Hayao Miyazaki got an early mention.

    June 6, 2012 at 6:52 pm
    • Nostra says:

      Thanks Eric!

      June 7, 2012 at 8:51 am
  • ruth says:

    WOW, you are just unstoppable aren’t you Nostra!! These are a great start for best directors, now I’m sure I’ll see Ingmar Bergman or Bela Tarr added right away by Tyler :D

    June 6, 2012 at 7:44 pm
    • Nostra says:

      Well, popular demand and all I couldn’t ignore doing another one ;)

      Tyler didn’t pick those, although I was expecting Bergman as well!

      June 7, 2012 at 8:52 am
  • Ben says:

    Love these relays. I don’t know how I’d even begin narrowing it down to ten or how to take any of those ten out so it’ll be interesting to see how this develops… like the others.

    Loads of other people had exactly the same thought as me but I think its worth repeating…. Here We Go Again!

    June 6, 2012 at 8:30 pm
    • Nostra says:

      Yeah, it took me some time to make the initial list and had to make some tough decisions, but I’m pretty happy with this starting grid.

      June 7, 2012 at 8:53 am
  • Claire Packer says:

    Fantastic blogathon, Nostra! I’ve never seen one of these relays before.

    As I’ve just posted over at Tyler’s, it’s great that they’re a really good mix of directors. Michael Bay will always be known for his big budgets while Roland Emmerich is the go to man for end of the world-type films.

    June 8, 2012 at 2:19 pm
    • Nostra says:

      Thanks Claire! If you haven’t seen them yet you have got a lot of catching up to do ;) They are a lot of fun to follow and I’ve discovered so many other great bloggers because of it.

      Yeah, some directors really stand out because of one thing they can do well, with Bay being the example for big budget explosion films. Emmerich also has got his own niche.

      June 12, 2012 at 9:18 am
  • kidmiracleshitter says:

    I relayed it to The Movie Bros, hopefully they get their post up soon. I’ve talked to two of the guys about and they said they were interested.

    June 30, 2012 at 7:04 am

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