The Top 50 Greatest Directors Working Today

Kathryn Bigelow Greatest Directors Working Today


“Who is your favorite filmmaker?” As critics, we get asked this question a lot, and we all have different answers. Usually we ask for clarification: “Who is our favorite filmmaker ever? Or working today?”

Because film is now well over a century old, and many of the greatest directors who ever lived are no longer with us. There are few who could ever hope to compare to Akira Kurosawa, Frank Capra or Alfred Hitchcock, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of filmmakers who are consistently turning in brilliant, fascinating or at least entertaining work, year after year. So this month at CraveOnline, we wanted to celebrate the greatest directors working today.


Related: CraveOnline Picks The 50 Most Romantic Movies Ever Made


We asked our four film critics – William Bibbiani, Witney Seibold, Fred Topel and Brian Formo – to each nominate 50 filmmakers whose work consistently excites them. The guideline was that each filmmaker needed to have released at least three feature films by the date of publication, and must have directed either one film since 2010, or have at least one film on the schedule for the new future. A few of our finalists skirt these rules, but our committee members fought hard enough for their inclusion that we decided to cut them some slack.

The votes were then tallied, resulting in the following list of CraveOnline’s picks for The Top 50 Greatest Directors Working Today, with each filmmaker presented by one of the critics who championed them. Each of the 50 finalists, along with our 50 runners up, is accompanied by the most recent film which we think could be legitimately considered some of their finest work. Find out where you favorite directors wound up on the list, and let us know if there are any amazing filmmakers that you can’t believe were left out.


The Top 50 Greatest Directors Working Today:

The 50 Runners Up: 

51. Chan-wook Park (Stoker)

52. Jonathan Glazer (Under the Skin)

53. Jaco Van Dormael (Oldboy)

54. Frank Henenlotter (Bad Biology)

55. Abbas Kiarostami (Certified Copy)


Guy Maddin The Forbidden Room Evan Johnson


56. Guy Maddin (The Forbidden Room, pictured)

57. John Lasseter (Toy Story 2)

58. Catherine Breillat (Abuse of Weakness)

59. Mike Leigh (Mr. Turner)

60. Julie Taymor (Across the Universe)


Goodbye to Language Jean Luc Godard


61. Jean-Luc Godard (Goodbye to Language 3D, pictured)

62. Terry Gilliam (The Zero Theorem)

63. Cameron Crowe (Almost Famous)

64. Wes Craven (Scream)

65. Andrea Arnold (Wuthering Heights)


Black Hawk Down Ridley Scott


66. Ridley Scott (Black Hawk Down, pictured)

67. John Woo (Red Cliff)

68. Lucky McKee (The Woman)

69. Peter Jackson (The Return of the King)

70. Stephen Chow (Kung Fu Hustle)


Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives Apichatpong Weerasethakul


71. Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, pictured)

72. J.C. Chandor (A Most Violent Year)

73. Adam Wingard (The Guest)

74. Wong Kar-Wai (The Grandmaster)

75. Guillermo del Toro (Pacific Rim)


The Brothers Bloom Adrien Brody Mark Ruffalo Rian Johnson


76. Rian Johnson (The Brothers Bloom, pictured)

77. Paul Verhoeven (Black Book)

78. Joss Whedon (The Avengers)

79. James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy)

80. Peter Strickland (The Duke of Burgundy)


The Immigrant James Gray


81. James Gray (The Immigrant, pictured)

82. James Wan (The Conjuring)

83. Tim Burton (Big Eyes)

84. Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave)

85. Luc Besson (Lucy)




86. M. Night Shyamalan (Unbreakable, pictured)

87. Roman Polanski (The Ghost Writer)

88. Jon M. Chu (Step Up 3D)

89. David Ayer (Fury)

90. George Miller (Babe: Pig in the City)


Jane Eyre Cary Fukunaga


91. Cary Fukanaga (Jane Eyre, pictured)

92. John Sayles (Go for Sisters)

93. Kevin Smith (Red State)

94. Alexander Payne (Nebraska)

95. Danny Boyle (Trance)


The End of the Tour James Ponsoldt


96. James Ponsoldt (The End of the Tour, pictured)

97. Gaspar Noe (Enter the Void)

98. Lloyd Kaufman (Return to Nuke ‘Em High Volume 1)

99. Bela Tarr (The Turin Horse)

100. Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive)