Directors Rank the top 25 directors!

Discussion in 'Movies' started by SteveGon, May 12, 2005.

  1. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

    Dec 11, 2000
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    This is sort of a companion piece to Jim's ongoing polls.

    The 25 most influential directors according to MovieMaker magazine. Rank 'em and add comments if you like. Feel free to add a few more director to your indivdual lists as well.

    1. Alfred Hitchcock
    2. D.W. Griffith
    3. Orson Welles
    4. Jean-Luc Godard
    5. John Ford
    6. Stanley Kubrick
    7. Sergei Eisenstein
    8. Charlie Chaplin
    9. Federico Fellini
    10. Steven Spielberg
    11. Martin Scorsese
    12. Akira Kurosawa
    13. Ingmar Bergman
    14. John Cassavetes
    15. Billy Wilder
    16. Jean Renoir
    17. Francis Ford Coppola
    18. Howard Hawks
    19. Francois Truffaut
    20. Buster Keaton
    21. Fritz Lang
    22. John Huston
    23. Woody Allen
    24. Luis Bunuel
    25. Ernst Lubitsch
  2. Rob Tomlin

    Rob Tomlin Producer

    Jan 8, 2000
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    So, are we ranking the directors in order of their "influence" or in order that we like their work?
  3. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

    Dec 11, 2000
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    My rankings: [​IMG] to [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    1. Alfred Hitchcock [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Master of the suspense film, with at least three bona fide classics (Rear Window, Psycho and Vertigo) to his credit, plus a half dozen or so other films ranging from very good to great. Lifeboat is probably my favorite Hitchcock.

    2. D.W. Griffith [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Haven't seen too many of his films; the ones I have seen are just okay. I know he was technically innovative, which counts for something, but I ain't a fan.

    3. Orson Welles [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    One of the all-time greats. Favorite Welles flick: The Magnificent Ambersons (despite its studio-imposed cuts).

    4. Jean-Luc Godard [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Some good films to his credit, but I ain't big on him.

    5. John Ford [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Solid craftsman, master of the western. Not big on westerns though. [​IMG]

    6. Stanley Kubrick [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Another all-time great, a master craftsman. I find his thematic material interesting.

    7. Sergei Eisenstein [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Another technical innovator, but I'm not a big fan of his work.

    8. Charlie Chaplin [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Some great films under his belt, but I'm not a big fan.

    9. Federico Fellini [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Another great craftsman. I like his earlier films, the latter ones less so.

    10. Steven Spielberg [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Another master craftsman with some undeniably great films to his credit, though his output varies in quality. Seems too beholden to convention lately.

    11. Martin Scorsese [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Another master craftsman, with a real sense of style.

    12. Akira Kurosawa [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Another all-time great, technically accomplished, with a wide variety of films to his credit. Hard to pick a favorite.

    13. Ingmar Bergman [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Makes interesting films, but I can't say that I've loved any of 'em.

    14. John Cassavetes N/A

    Only seen one or two of his films and that was long ago.

    15. Billy Wilder [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Another superb craftsman, with a wide variety of films to his credit. Hard to pick a favorite.

    16. Jean Renoir [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Another great whose output I enjoy exploring. Not a favorite though.

    17. Francis Ford Coppola [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Some great films to his credit, but when's the last time he made a great one?

    18. Howard Hawks [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Huge output encompassing various genres. Favorite: Only Angels Have Wings, with Bringing Up Baby a close second.

    19. Francois Truffaut [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Another great, but whose films I rarely love. Favorite: The Wild Child. (So sue me!)

    20. Buster Keaton [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Comedic genius, but I haven't seen many of his films. Have all the Kino DVDs and I'll get around to those eventually.

    21. Fritz Lang [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Love this guy! Favorite: M, with Fury coming in second.

    22. John Huston [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Another solid craftsman, with at least two classics to his credit. Favorite: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

    23. Woody Allen [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Not big on the Woodman, but I occasionally enjoy his movies.

    24. Luis Bunuel [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Another very good director, whose themes I'm in sync with. Favorite: Viridiana.

    25. Ernst Lubitsch [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Another great comic director. Seen a handful of his films, can't say that I have a favorite.


    Werner Herzog: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    His films may be a bit rough around the edges, but I find his thematic material interesting. Favorite: The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser.

    Rainer Werner Fassbinder [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    A director whose work I'm currently exploring. Some great films to his credit, though his style make take some getting used to. Favorite: Fox and His Friends.

    George Romero [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Perennially underfunded master of the zombie film. Two genre classics to his credit, though his one non-horror outing, Knightriders, is my favorite.

    Michael Curtiz [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Great craftsman, though with no distinctive style. Huge and varied output, with my favorite being Casablanca (natch).

    David Lean [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Another great craftsman. Not sure if I could pick a fav.

    Michael Bay Bomb

  4. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

    Dec 11, 2000
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    Just cut and paste the list and follow my lead. [​IMG]
  5. Rob Tomlin

    Rob Tomlin Producer

    Jan 8, 2000
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    Yes, your subsequent post made it quite clear. Now it's just a matter of finding the time to respond! [​IMG]
  6. Arman

    Arman Screenwriter

    Jan 10, 2003
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    I'll just rate 'em with practically no comment - refer to my posts in Jim's threads (you should know by now who and which are my favorites). Let my ratings (and few comments) speak for themselves and raise the blood pressure of my non-movie buddies here [​IMG].

    1. Alfred Hitchcock [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    2. D.W. Griffith [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] / 5
    3. Orson Welles [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] [What Steve said]
    4. Jean-Luc Godard [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    5. John Ford [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    6. Stanley Kubrick [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    7. Sergei Eisenstein [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    8. Charlie Chaplin [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] [4 years ago he and Spielberg are my movie gods/Top 2 All-Time favorite directors - Oh yeah, I'm having more fun and great time with the movies NOW!]
    9. Federico Fellini [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    10. Steven Spielberg [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] / 4 [4 years ago he was my movie hero]
    11. Martin Scorsese [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    12. Akira Kurosawa [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    13. Ingmar Bergman [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    14. John Cassavetes N/A
    15. Billy Wilder [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] / 5
    16. Jean Renoir [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    18. Howard Hawks [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    19. Francois Truffaut [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] [Oh God, I love Truffaut!]
    20. Buster Keaton [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] / 4
    21. Fritz Lang [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    22. John Huston [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    17. Francis Ford Coppola [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] [a star each for his masterworks TG, TGII and AN]
    23. Woody Allen [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    24. Luis Bunuel [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]: [he with Truffaut are my new film heroes]
    25. Ernst Lubitsch [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    My other 4/5 [​IMG]s director:
    Robert Bresson
    David Lean
    Michaelangelo Antonioni
    Eric Rohmer
    Wong Kar-wai
    Quentin Tarantino
    Carl Theodor Dreyer
    Zhang Yimou
    F.W Murnau
    David Lynch
  7. Jim_K

    Jim_K Executive Producer

    Apr 7, 2000
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    Let me just state that these will all be appearing sooner or later in my "great directors" series (if they haven't already) no matter what I personally think of their work. [​IMG]

    As for other Directors not on this list who's work I admire/respect, there are just too many to name, but I have plans to include them in my series so look for 'em. [​IMG]

    I'll stick with a simple
    [​IMG] = A favorite
    [​IMG] = don't care for, sorry
    lukewarm = lukewarm [​IMG]

    1. Alfred Hitchcock [​IMG]

    2. D.W. Griffith [​IMG]

    3. Orson Welles [​IMG]

    4. Jean-Luc Godard [​IMG]

    5. John Ford [​IMG]

    6. Stanley Kubrick [​IMG]

    7. Sergei Eisenstein - lukewarm

    8. Charlie Chaplin - lukewarm

    9. Federico Fellini - lukewarm

    10. Steven Spielberg [​IMG]

    11. Martin Scorsese [​IMG]

    12. Akira Kurosawa [​IMG]

    13. Ingmar Bergman - lukewarm

    14. John Cassavetes - lukewarm

    15. Billy Wilder [​IMG]

    16. Jean Renoir - lukewarm

    17. Francis Ford Coppola [​IMG]

    18. Howard Hawks [​IMG]

    19. Francois Truffaut - lukewarm

    20. Buster Keaton - lukewarm

    21. Fritz Lang [​IMG]

    22. John Huston [​IMG]

    23. Woody Allen - lukewarm

    24. Luis Bunuel - lukewarm

    25. Ernst Lubitsch - lukewarm
  8. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

    May 19, 2002
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    Other than to observe how American/Northern Euorpean this list is (even most of Bunuel's best films were made in France) I won't bother to add any of the many fine directors who could also make a top 25 list. I'll also leave off the star ratings, as there is no one to leave off the 'A' list here.

    1D.W. Griffith--at the top as his influence is still evident today
    2Orson Welles--ditto
    3Sergei Eisenstein--the father of the montage has to be near the top
    4Akira Kurosawa--the only non-white representative
    5Charlie Chaplin--he might be higher, except that his work was so impossible to duplicate
    6Alfred Hitchcock--ditto
    7Stanley Kubrick--his output somewhat limits his influence
    8Howard Hawks--master of multiple forms--crossing the Red River has never been equaled--nor has his use of Hepburn/Grant
    9Fritz Lang--tailed off toward the end, but his early films continue to influence pschyo dramas
    10Federico Fellini--perhaps on the list as he went past the neo-realism school
    11John Ford--a lot more than Westerns here
    12Ingmar Bergman--even influenced Woody Allen
    13Billy Wilder--another transplanted across the Atlantic
    14Jean-Luc Godard--his early films helped change the way movies were made
    15Steven Spielberg--perhaps responsible for the blockbuster mania
    16Buster Keaton--just did not last so long as Chaplin
    17Ernst Lubitsch--directors still try to match his style and touch
    18Jean Renoir--lost some of his touch when he came to Hollywood
    19Martin Scorsese--still makes the films he wants
    20John Cassavetes--no doubt the least well known on this list--but not among directors
    21Luis Bunuel--he might qualify as another non-white guy and would be higher but much of his influence has waned today
    22Francois Truffaut--see Godard--just not so much the master
    23Francis Ford Coppola--hugh for a few films
    24Woody Allen--master of managing independent movies that people actually watch
    25John Huston--some great movies, but not so much so as the Fords and Hawks of the time
  9. Brook K

    Brook K Lead Actor

    Feb 22, 2000
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    To put it mildly, this list blows. I don't have time for detailed comments like Steve's and it feels weird to assign grades to directors; besides, I'm positive on all of them. I guess I'll just rank them like Lew did but more based on how I would rate them for talent/impact than necessarily their influence today which I don't know that I have a good sense of. I think this list is heavily flawed in that some of these directors are probably more influential today for their writing than their technique.

    1. Stanley Kubrick
    2. Akira Kurosawa
    3. Ingmar Bergman
    4. Alfred Hitchcock
    5. Jean-Luc Godard
    6. Federico Fellini
    7. Orson Welles
    8. Luis Bunuel
    9. John Ford
    10. Billy Wilder
    11. Fritz Lang
    12. John Cassavetes
    13. Sergei Eisenstein
    14. D.W. Griffith
    15. Martin Scorsese
    16. Steven Spielberg
    17. Howard Hawks
    18. Charlie Chaplin
    19. Buster Keaton
    20. Jean Renoir
    21. Woody Allen
    22. Francois Truffaut
    23. Francis Ford Coppola
    24. John Huston
    25. Ernst Lubitsch

    I would yank off at least the bottom five to include Rainer Werner Fassbinder, F.W. Murnau, Yasujiro Ozu, Lars Von Trier, and Andrei Tarkovsky and if ability/artistic qualities were being noted rather than "influence", than space would be needed for Preston Sturges, Dreyer, Rohmer, and Herzog.
  10. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

    Mar 14, 2001
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    I can't really rank order directors as well as I can films.

    1. Alfred Hitchcock
    2. Billy Wilder
    3. Everyone else

    However, I will list what I consider to be the best 25 directors in no particular order (after #2):

    Alfred Hitchcock
    Billy Wilder
    Orson Welles
    Steven Spielberg
    Charlie Chaplin
    Stanley Kubrick
    Francis Ford Coppola
    Howard Hawks
    John Huston
    Woody Allen
    Ernst Lubitsch
    Blake Edwards
    Frank Capra
    George Cukor
    Harold Ramis
    Jacques Tati
    Mel Brooks
    Michael Curtiz
    Rob Reiner
    Robert Zemekis
    W. S. Van Dyke
    John Ford
    Akira Kurosawa
    Ingmar Bergman
    Fritz Lang
  11. Arman

    Arman Screenwriter

    Jan 10, 2003
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    Love and pretty much agree with your comments (in each director) Lew! I think your re-ranking is even better than MM's. I know you don't enjoy making this kind of lists but am so interested on your take on Jim's director threads.

    BTW, my directors' ratings are not really an assessment of their directorial talents (or influence as a filmmaker) but an indicative of the intensity of my admiration to them [e.g those who got 5 stars are the ones I love/admire most]

    Lew, what film is that where Woody Allen's character made a direct funny reference to Bergman's "Wild Strawberries"? [​IMG]
  12. Arman

    Arman Screenwriter

    Jan 10, 2003
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    How I would (re)rank them based on "influence"?

    I would just modify Lew's re-ranking by dragging John Cassavetes and Francis Ford Coppola down to the bottom of his list then switch Charlie Chaplin and Alfred Hitchcock's position and finally move Godard (my biggest issue in his list! [​IMG]) all the way up behind Hitchcock (like what my other movie buddy, Brook did [​IMG]).
  13. Bill McA

    Bill McA Producer

    Oct 18, 2000
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    Rated on personal opinion, rather than their influence.

    1. Alfred Hitchcock - master craftsman of psychologically layered thrillers, just wish his films weren't so emotionally cold [​IMG]
    2. D.W. Griffith - innovative and with a great sense of drama and spectacle [​IMG]
    3. Orson Welles - skilled filmmaker but a little too dry for my tastes LUKEWARM
    4. Jean-Luc Godard - I'm more familiar with his later works and thought that they were pretentious BS. Need to see more of his earlier films especially Weekend, so for now it's a [​IMG]
    5. John Ford - Has made some really great films and a whole lot more routine filler...the filler brings him down to a LUKEWARM
    6. Stanley Kubrick - the greatest and most skilled filmmaker that ever lived, a conductor of cinematic symphonies. [​IMG]
    7. Sergei Eisenstein - strong visual and technical skills that are sort of squandered on mostly political propaganda films. Needed to be a bit more of a visionary and personal storyteller for me to rate him more than a LUKEWARM
    8. Charles Chaplin - great comedian and storyteller. Although he sometimes came close, he managed to film good sentimental dramas without becoming maudlin. [​IMG]
    9. Federico Fellini - imaginitive and sometimes flamboyant, a creator of his own world [​IMG]
    10. Steven Spielberg - skilled, but hollow manipulator. Even with his best films, he somehow manages to put his foot in it. [​IMG]
    11. Martin Scorsese - skilled storyteller but lacking imagination or inspiration, I know that he's a passionate filmlover...I just don't see that passion in most of his films. LUKEWARM
    12. Akira Kurosawa - Capable of filming epics on a grand scale and yet still maintain a deeply intimate emotional core. A humanist filmmaker. [​IMG]
    13. Ingmar Bergman - Introspective and thoughtful, the best filmmaker of deep inner thoughts and emotions. [​IMG]
    14. John Cassavetes - Iconoclast and rebel, his films seethe with a raw, emotional energy you won't find anywhere else. [​IMG]
    15. Billy Wilder - Probably a greater writer than a director, the written/spoken word is the true star of his films [​IMG]
    16. Jean Renoir - From the minority of his films that I've seen, they seem to be rather slight and innocuous...maybe I just haven't seen the good ones yet. LUKEWARM
    17. Francis Ford Coppola - Never been overly impressed with his films, the best films seem almost like happy accidents rather than the work of a skilled filmmaker. [​IMG]
    18. Howard Hawks - No strong feelings either way, would liked to have seen him work more outside of a restrictive studio system and genre pictures. LUKEWARM
    19. Francois Truffaut - made some terrific films and some rather slight ones, overall he's a [​IMG]
    20. Buster Keaton - Supposedly better than Chaplin, but I've just never gotten that. Seen his feature films and almost none of his shorts. LUKEWARM
    21. Fritz Lang - Love his early German films, his later American films somewhat less so. [​IMG]
    22. John Huston - Made 2-3 films that I adore and a whole slew of mediocre ones, Phobia being an all-out embarassment. LUKEWARM
    23. Woody Allen - Creator of some really funny and witty films, but the last 15-20 years illustrate why filmmakers shouldn't receive financing based on goodwill alone. LUKEWARM
    24. Luis Bunuel - surrealist with a acidic and sardonic wit and a healthy distain for religion. Right up my alley. [​IMG]
    25. Ernst Lubitsch - Still haven't seen some of his more well-known films. Have liked what I've seen, but not overly so. LUKEWARM

    Maybe not so 'great' or influencial (at least by HTF standards), but all the following are a big [​IMG] from me:

    Pedro Almodovar
    Lindsay Anderson
    Paul Thomas Anderson
    Roy Andersson
    Michelangelo Antonioni
    Denys Arcand
    The Archers (Powell & Pressburger)
    Dario Argento
    Ralph Bakshi
    Mario Bava
    Bernardo Bertolucci
    Leos Carax
    John Carpenter
    H.G. Clouzot
    Joel & Ethan Coen
    David Cronenberg
    Brian De Palma
    Vittorio De Sica
    Claire Denis
    Carl Th. Dreyer
    Rainer Werner Fassbinder
    Terence Fisher
    Bob Fosse
    Sam Fuller
    Peter Greenaway
    John Greyson
    Michael Haneke
    Werner Herzog
    Shohei Imamura
    Alejandro Jodorowsky
    Elia Kazan
    Hirokazo Kore-eda
    Kiyoshi Kurosawa
    Neil LaBute
    Jean-Claude Lauzon
    Spike Lee
    Mike Leigh
    Sergio Leone
    Ken Loach
    David Lynch
    Guy Maddin
    Terrence Malick
    Takashi Miike
    Hayao Miyazaki
    Michael Moore
    Paul Morrissey
    F.W. Murnau
    Gaspar Noe
    Nagisa Oshima
    Yasujiro Ozu
    Pier Paolo Pasolini
    Roman Polanski
    Nicolas Roeg
    Eric Rohmer
    George A. Romero
    Ken Russell
    Volker Schlondorff
    Jerzy Skolimowski
    Todd Solondz
    Andrei Tarkovsky
    Jacques Tati
    Ming-liang Tsai
    Shinya Tsukamoto
    Paul Verhoeven
    Luchino Visconti
    Lars von Trier
    John Waters
    Peter Watkins
    Peter Weir
    Lina Wertmuller
    James Whale
    Frederick Wiseman
    Zhang Yimou
  14. Rob Tomlin

    Rob Tomlin Producer

    Jan 8, 2000
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    So is there any consensus here as to who is the most glaring omission from this list?

    I am leaning towards Sergio Leone myself. Also a bit surprised to see that Werner Herzog and Carl Th. Dreyer not making the list.
  15. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

    May 19, 2002
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    You're right (and thanks for the kind words). I've been reading Jim's threads with interest, but acting as a lurker in order to keep my post count down.

    I'll try to put together some kind of thoughts as to the directors (and perhaps some of their films) as I have the time.
  16. Adam_S

    Adam_S Producer

    Feb 8, 2001
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    In the original thread there was a general consensus that David Lean was the most glaring omission.

    Copied from the original thread and edited for clarity.

    Thoughts on the list in brief:
    Hitch is pretty much perfect, not who I'd pick but damn good, I'd say Griffith is rated too high, Spielberg too low, Lean should be on the list, Kurosawa is too low, Coppola doesn't need to be on the list (Godfather is great, but so is Tokyo Story and I don't see Ozu here, primarily because his films have only become available to western audiences in the last two years). I can't comment on Cassavetes as he's the only filmmaker I've not seen any films by. Missing are Lean, Ozu, and Murnau in my opinion, and I'd gladly swap them in and swap out my bottom three.

    Setting aside Cassavetes, here's how I'd order these twenty four in terms of INFLUENCE/IMPACT:

    1. Hitchcock
    2. John Ford
    3. Akira Kurosawa
    4. Steven Spielberg
    5. Stanley Kubrick (tie)
    5. Sergei Eisenstein(tie)
    7. Orson Welles (this is where I'd insert Lean and Murnau, most likely)
    8. Charlie Chaplin
    9. Billy Wilder
    10. Howard Hawks
    11. Ingmar Bergman
    12. Federico Fellini
    13. Ernst Lubitsch
    14. Fritz Lang
    15. Buster Keaton
    16. Martin Scorsese
    17. Jean Renoir
    18. D.W. Griffith
    19. John Huston (this is where I'd insert Ozu)
    20. Luis Bunuel
    21. Jean Luc-Godard
    22. Francis Ford Coppola
    23. Francois Truffaut
    24. Woody Allen

    1 - Hitch needs no introduction in this forum, quite simply no other filmmaker is as good as he was, as consistent as he was, with as many films as rich and textured (no matter their pulp or 'low' sources) as he was. The man possessed craft in spades, and I"ve seen most of his films and the only misfires for me are Topaz and I Confess.

    2 - Ford was a master in the form of cinema almost equal to Hitchcock, what he lacked was the sophistication of insane control that Hitch exercised over his films. In terms of influence, only Ford can also rank so highly because he showed so many other filmmakers, like Kurosawa and Spielberg how things were done, even if those others do it better than him. Ford was an inconsistent craftsman and his works are flawed, but despite the debate of 'perfect' artistic pleasure/aesthetics, his films are delicious.

    3 - Kurosawa is every bit the equal of Hitchcock and a better artist than Ford, his craft was more refined and his shadow is one of the longest cast by any director ever. His influence, in my opinion, on cinema craft, cinema language, cinema style and cinema quality is simply uncontestable.

    4 - Every single filmmaker who is younger than Spielberg, and every filmmaker of his generation who began in the seventies sits in Spielberg's shadow, perhaps only Scorsese and Eastwood are free of it, and I'd argue against Scorsese. No contemporary filmmaker has more influence than him, his command of technique and craft are impeccable, his film scholarship is brilliant, when he swims in familiar genre waters he does astonishingly innovative work. Spielberg doesn't just analyze and apply cinematic technique or understand intuitively its inner workings and use them better than almost anyone (as Scorsese does), Spielberg develops and writes new cinematic language in the way that Hitchcock did and Ford occasionaly would allow(he follows more in Ford's footsteps than Hitch's). Spielberg is like having a living, working, prolific Tolkien-of-the-cinema with us today; he's giving us new language. The full impact of what he's doing has barely begun to make itself clear.

    5. Eisenstein the theorist. And incredibly dense filmmaker. His thought level is so high you can barely wrap your head around some of his films with multiple viewings. But his influence is so massive you can't possibly avoid it.
    5. Kubrick is perhaps the cinema's greatest pure artist in the traditional snooty nose-in-the-air manner. However, his films are accessible and rewarding to watch (and re-watch). His influence in every genre is unavoidable.

    7. One film can get someone this high, but Welles never matched his peak. (In my opinion a better placement here would be Walt Disney but he didn't direct, despite having more control over his films than Thalberg, Selzick, Goldwyn, and Mayer put together). Still, Citizen Kane's influence is undeniable and the film gets richer and more rewarding every time I watch it.

    8. Charlie Chaplin - This man was so damn good he was still making money making silents 8 years after silents went the way of the dodo. Brilliant at every level. Whether or not Keaton is funnier, Chaplin has had more influence, is more remembered and had a larger impact on the history of cinema than any other silent filmmaker (Eisenstein was more successful as a theorist).

    9. Billy Wilder - No one has yet matched Wilder in comedy, and he's only had two peers in the history of cinema, Lubitsch and Sturges, and in my opinion Wilder was better than both. Wilder owns the comedy genre like Ford owns the western and Hitch the suspense thriller. On a personal level I can't stand ranking Wilder this low but the above directors really have had a slight edge in the impact department. Besides, everyone but George would probably squawk at placing him in the top three. (My personal preference is Spielberg, Wilder, Lean, Ford, & Hitch)

    10 - Hawks was a man whose genius seems to have been overshadowed by directors that get more publicity. Discovering another Hawks film is like getting handed a geode, you may not know what it looks like inside, but you can't wait to crack it open and see. He's so consistent, brilliant, funny and surehanded his films are a delightful experience.

    11 - Bergman made so many movies that are so intense to experience.

    12 - Fellini made so many movies that are almost always as intense an experience

    13 - Lubitsch is just incredibly gifted. He could make a stodgy early talkie like The Love Parade come alive and dance. He can make Jimmy Stewart into the most convincing romantic lead ever (no mean feat since no one else successfully managed Stewart in a romantic role), and so on and on and on. My comments about Hawks apply to Lubitsch--I think he's ranked so low in the main list because "after all, its just comedy! we nodded to Chaplin and dropped Wilder randomly in the middle, what more do you want?!"

    14 - Fritz Lang managed the transistion from silent to sound, from country to country, language to language, genre to genre to genre and his storytelling never lagged. Metropolis, M, Mabuse, Fury, the man was incredible.

    15 - Keaton is a comic genius who is not at the level of influence of Chaplin but who showed us how supremely rubber and malleable the medium of a human being is when they're on celluloid (not actual flesh and blood). Chuck Jones took notes.

    16 - Scorsese has made consistently brilliant films and three towering works of art in my opinion--Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and Last Temptation of Christ (been too long since Goodfellas). His influence and command of the medium is almost unparalleled.

    17 - Renoir, how can one of my favorite directors be so low? perhaps because he didn't succeed as much after the thirties and three great films there (grand Illusion, Crime of Monsieur Lange, and Rules of the Game) are about all I can attribute to his credit, however at least two of these films are mammothly influential in wildly different ways. Another artist along the lines of Kubrick.

    18 - Griffith took credit for a lot of innovations but he was an incredibly brilliant editor and storyteller. Sensationalist, yes, but he could tell a story much more effectively and much better than the filmmakers behind Cabiria. He was quickly surpassed as his intuitions only went so far, his prejudices ran too deep, and his inability to adapt (once he rose to the top) left him at the bottom of the pecking order. He did what he did but he couldn't maintain it; his influence, skill, and manner of storytelling is duly noted.

    19 - John Huston is a damned good filmmaker who I have not seen enough of.

    20 - Bunuel is the sort of filmmaker who I can only handle in small doses. I usually need to mull over a film of his for a long time discovering new things about the film as I do so.

    21 - Godard is an influential filmmaker who I don't care for; I think he is overrated anyways--his inclusion would be like including Mike Nichols, I understand his innovations and writings and supposed influence, but I see his star fading faster than Griffith's as cinema history sorts itself out.

    22 - Coppola made two Godfather films and a Vietnam flick and gets a spot on this list, they're powerful incredible films but I don't think he has a distinctive style that has influenced the craft of filmmaking in a particularly lasting way. His best three films are incredible to watch, but when he gets arty (The Conversation) he's even more pointlessly pretenious than Godard.

    23. Truffaut is a favorite filmmaker and I've not seen enough of his films, but his influence is much less than that of Godard and despite liking his films a lot more, it's clear to see that distinction.

    24 - Woody Allen has made a bunch of funny movies but he's more of a writer than a filmmaker, I respect what he does and tend to enjoy his films and I definitely need to see more of them. But I think he has about the same merit to be on this list as Coppola and Truffaut.
  17. Adam_S

    Adam_S Producer

    Feb 8, 2001
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    These 24 in personal preference (how I prefer their films)
    • [​IMG]
    • Steven Spielberg
    • Billy Wilder
    • Alfred Hitchcock
    • John Ford
    • Akira Kurosawa
    • Stanley Kubrick
    • Jean Renoir
    • Howard Hawks
    • Ernst Lubitsch
    • Martin Scorsese
    • Ingmar Bergman
    • Fritz Lang
    • Francis Ford Coppola
    • Buster Keaton
    • Luis Bunuel
    • Francois Truffaut
    • lukewarm
    • Orson Welles
    • John Huston
    • Sergei Eisenstein
    • Woody Allen
    • Federico Fellini
    • Jean Luc Godard
    • D.W. Griffith
  18. Rob Tomlin

    Rob Tomlin Producer

    Jan 8, 2000
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    And I feel like a complete idiot for not even noticing that omission.

    :b :b :b
  19. Rob Tomlin

    Rob Tomlin Producer

    Jan 8, 2000
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    Well said, and I completely agree.
  20. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

    May 19, 2002
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    As always you have made some very well thought out comments Adam. But I do think that you are letting your viewing preference show in a couple of areas: D.W. Griffith may well have taken (and been given credit) for the innovations of others. The fact remains that generations of filmmakers were influenced by him and not by those who may (or may not) have developed specific techniques. I would suggest that you go back and read what you wrote about Spielberg--and then consider that Griffith has had an additional 50 years of similar influence.

    As for Godard (and Truffaut) regardless of your feelings on their movies and fading stars, the theories behind the French New Wave were copied by a generation of filmmakers and were partly (perhaps largely) responsible for moving film from the studios to the streets (among other things).

    Both wrote about what was wrong with then current movie-making practices and then went out and did something about it.

    Impressive (to me at least) and to filmmakers worldwide.

    In short, even if you don't like the movies of Griffith and Godard, their very real influence seems hard to challenge.

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