Top 10 Best Film Directors of All Time

Let's pretend you were organizing a team of super-heroes to be made up of the 10 best film directors of all time. Let's also pretend that you had access to directors both living and dead. Finally, let's pretend that you led this ragtag team into battle with evil super-director Garry Marshall. Cool, right? Here's a list of the 10 best directors.

  1. F.W. Murnau One of the many things a director does on a movie set is decide where to put the camera. In the 1920's, this usually consisted of the director yelling "Put the camera here!" and then shouting at the actors through one of those giant conical megaphone things. But it was Murnau who discovered all the wonderful effects you can achieve through camera movement. Watch the scene in "Sunrise" when his camera seemingly floats across marshy swampland and be amazed.
  2. Charlie Chaplin The actor-director isn't rare in the Hollywood of today. But Chaplin wasn't in the Hollywood of today, or was he simply an actor-director. More like writer-actor-producer-director-composer. He had complete control over every aspect of production in his iconic movies. And the movies, like "The Gold Rush" or "Modern Times," are undeniable classics. Also, he pulls of the Hitler mustache remarkably well.
  3. Buster Keaton Many of the best directors are known for a touch of show-offiness in their movies. Not so with Keaton, who as a silent actor was known as "The Great Stone Face," and who applied that same idea to his directing style. Still, he made the best movies that silent comedy has to offer.
  4. John Ford It would be a shame that one of the best directors of all time is most-remembered as a guy who made John Wayne westerns— if those westerns weren't so damn great! Still, John Ford made a lot of other great movies too, and some of them don't even have a horse!
  5. Akira Kurosawa Have you ever watched a "Godzilla" movie on TV on a Sunday afternoon? Well you have this guy, one of the best directors of all time, to indirectly thank for it. You see, it was he who made the first Japanese movie to get noticed in the United States, the narratively groundbreaking "Rashomon." Hooray for Amerocentrism!
  6. Alfred Hitchcock Any fan of the best directors has to learn to appreciate "the 'Cock," as he was referred to at some late-night Hollywood parties. And this is a particularly easy task, since even though he was making complex, artistic movies in Hollywood, he was also making the most entertaining cinematic rollercoasters at the same time. Hitch believed in "playing the audience like a piano," and being a piano never felt this good.
  7. Howard Hawks The best directors often get an adjective named after them. "Hitchcockian," "Wellesian," and in the case of Double-H, "Hawksian." Howard Hawks may not be a household name but his movies are just as distinctive as anyone else's. They're marked by a clean, unpretentious style, a smooth hang-out vibe, and lots of overlapping dialogue. And since space is limited we'll just ask you to Google "Hawksian Female Archetype."
  8. Francois Truffaut There are multiple names that were part of the famous French New Wave that would be at home among the best directors. But Truffaut is arguably the best. His movies showcase a love of film that's downright intoxicating.
  9. Martin Scorsese The best directors have a love of movies that you can feel through the screen. Scorsese is perhaps the best example of the auteur-as-cinephile. According to movie lore he's seen every movie ever made between the years 1920 and 1980. AND he managed to have girlfriends and has even been married a few times. What's YOUR excuse?
  10. Lars von Trier The best directors make movies for themselves, not for mass audiences. And LVT takes this to heart by making movies that most people absolutely HATE but the faithful know are some of the best ever. His latest has a scene with Willem Dafoe ejaculating blood. Hello, date night!
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