10 Greatest Directors of Modern Cinema



Movie directors are arguably the most crucial members of the film-making team. They are the ones who visualised the whole project and they are the ones who captured it on camera. Today we are looking at the greatest 10 modern film directors. Directors who are are behind some of the best films ever made. We've restricted our list to directors who have found mega critical acclaim and commercial success in the 1990's and beyond, though their success doesn't have to be limited to this period. We've based our choices on a mixture of the director's popularity and talent, but to avoid any arguments among ardent film fans, the list is not in any particular order. All good? Then let's get started.

1. Peter Jackson

Though he did make movies in the 90's, 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 fanboys. Jackson's epic adventure King Kong also won Oscars, but it's the Hobbit box-office triumph that cemented his spot in pop culture.


2. Christopher Nolan

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


3. Ang Lee

This Taiwanese/American's work is so diverse we don't always expect what he is going to do next.  And so far, it's worked. Lee has broken the laws of gravity, (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon) has had us seeing green, (Hulk) and has broken our hearts (Brokeback Mountain). He even managed the technically impossible by turning Jan Martel's fantasy adventure novel, The Life of Pi, into a movie. What's more, he is the first Asian to win a Best Director Oscar, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA.


4. 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 in Panic Room and brought to life the fantastical tale of a man who ages in reverse (The Curious Tale of Benjamin Button). Thanks to his visually exhilarating work and masterful storytelling, Fincher also thrilled us with an Oscar-winning drama (The Social Network) and a mystery flick (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).


5. The Coen Brothers

Joel and Ethan Coen 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 Oscar-winning crime flicks like Fargo or No Country for Old Men, their cult hit The Big Lebowski, or the satirical comedy Brother, Where Art Thou? The Coens prove time and again that two heads can be better than one. While they have especially excelled in Western films (True Grit), their black comedies such as Burn After Reading, have also been critically recognised.


6. Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood will probably always be famous for his acting, (the Spaghetti Westerns and Dirty Harry), but he's far from a one trick pony. Eastwood has been directing films since the 70's (Play Misty for Me) but came into his own during the last few decades, winning Best Picture and Best Director Oscars for both Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby. His simple yet effective directing style has allowed him to explore many different genres (Mystic River, Invictus) and garner multiple accolades throughout the 2000's in the process.


7. James Cameron

After establishing himself in the sci-fi and action genres in the 80's, (The Abyss, Aliens) Cameron effortlessly infiltrated pop culture with Terminator 2: Judgement Day. 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 smashed that record with the groundbreaking 3D and computer generated movie, Avatar.


8. Quentin Tarantino

Tarantino introduced us to the stylised violence, pop culture-heavy references, and with his directorial debut (Reservoir Dogs) the excessive cursing we've come to love and expect. The director then demonstrated his knack for pastiche and planted the seed for the growth of non-linear films with Pulp Fiction. With Kill Bill, he continued to showcase his penchant for different movie genres and his since managed two of his highest grossing films to date, (Django Unchained and Inglorious Basterds).


9. Steven Spielberg

After laying the foundation for the modern blockbuster in the 70's and 80's, (Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark), Spielberg set box-office records in the 1990's (Jurassic Park). 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 21st century (Lincoln) and he remains one of Hollywood's most recognisable and influential directors.


10. Martin Scorcese

Inspired by his Italian background and Roman Catholic upbringing, Scorcese has crafted some of cinema's greatest films, often with recurring collaborator, Robert de Niro, (Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull). Also known for featuring themes of violence and crime, Scorcese found further success in the 90's with Goodfellas. After pushing his actors to use their dramatic abilities in The Aviator, he won his first Best Director Oscar for The Departed in 2006. Scorcese continues to produce critically acclaimed work today.


So, there we have it. A list of the most influential and successful film directors in modern day cinema. Do you agree? Have we left your favourite director off the list? Who should we add and who should be taken off. Drop us a line and let us know.

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