The Greatest Working Film Directors, According To My List of Favourite Films

So I have a list of my 500 favourite films that’s available to read here on the blog. And I recently decided to do some maths, and figure out what directors featured the most on the 500: the winners were, by some margin, Alfred Hitchcock and Vincent Minnelli, who are — in my opinion — the two greatest directors of all time. So to make things a bit fairer, I’ve eliminated dead and retired directors (sorry, Stanley Donen), so here are the greatest working filmmakers, based on their appearances on the list:

1. JOEL & ETHAN COEN

A Serious Man, Barton Fink, O Brother Where Art Thou, The Big Lebowski, Raising Arizona, The Hudsucker Proxy, The Man Who Wasn’t There, No Country For Old Men, Inside Llewyn Davis, Blood Simple

2. STEVEN SPIELBERG

War Of The Worlds, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Indiana Jones & The Temple Of Doom, Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade, The Post, The Terminal, Jaws, Bridge Of Spies, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, Jurassic Park

3. CHRISTOPHER NOLAN

Inception, The Prestige, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Interstellar, Dunkirk, Memento, Insomnia

3. WES ANDERSON | WOODY ALLEN

Anderson: Moonrise Kingdom, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Darjeeling Limited, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Bottle Rocket

Allen: Manhattan, Annie Hall, Blue Jasmine, Take The Money & Run, Zelig, Hannah & Her Sisters, Midnight In Paris

4. RICHARD LINKLATER | MARTIN SCORSESE

Linklater: Boyhood, Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight, Dazed & Confused, School Of Rock

Scorsese: Taxi Driver, The Kind Of Comedy, Hugo, After Hours, Bringing Out The Dead, Goodfellas, The Departed

5. DAVID FINCHER

Se7en, Gone Girl, The Social Network, Fight Club, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button

6. ROBERT ZEMECKIS | QUENTIN TARANTINO | DAVID LYNCH | BRAD BIRD | PETER JACKSON

Zemeckis: The Polar Express, Forrest Gump, Back To The Future, A Christmas Carol

Tarantino: Pulp Fiction, Inglorious Basterds, Reservoir Dogs, Django Unchained

Lynch: Mulholland Drive, Blue Velvet, The Elephant Man, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me

Bird: The Incredibles, Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, The Iron Giant, Ratatouille

Jackson: The Fellowship Of The Ring, The Two Towers, The Return Of The King, King Kong

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Jon Favreau, Ron Howard, Sam Raimi, Alfonso Cuaron, Pete Docter, Steven Soderbergh, Roland Emmerich, Gore Verbinski, Guillermo Del Toro, Danny Boyle, Paul Thomas Anderson, Terrence Malick


There’s a few interesting points I’d like to address.

  • Anyone who knows me will see the irony of Steven Spielberg being at №2, considering how much time I spend moaning about how overrated he is. But the numbers don’t lie: the man has made a lot of movies, and many of them happen to be brilliant. That’s what happens when you’re offered the best projects for 5 consecutive decades.
  • If I were making a list from scratch of My Favourite Working Directors, it would probably look different: Christopher Nolan and Wes Anderson would be strong contenders for the №1 spot; but they simply haven’t made as many classics as The Coens yet. Similarly, Damien Chazelle — with only 3 features under his belt — is the most exciting filmmaker in America and will surely be high on this list in two decades. Same with Greta Gerwig, Barry Jenkins etc.
  • I’m embarrassed that Ken Loach doesn’t feature — I am determined to check out more of his films in the near future, because he’s an absolutely legendary figure who I respect immensely.
  • It is a fucking outrage that not a single woman director appears on this list, but there are simply no woman directors who have made 4+ of my favourite films. I need to catch up on my Claire Denis and Chantal Akerman.
  • Terrence Malick appears in the Honourable Mentions section, which is interesting because he is possibly my least favourite director of the current decade, responsible for grotesque films like The Tree of Life and Song to Song.