Many film snobs say that the golden age of “The Big Director” is over. Everyone is complaining about all the remakes, all the sequels, and all the cookie-cutter movies being made today. However, there are still directors (both contemporary and from the past) that are still widely known. Bring their name up in conversation, and 99 times out of 100, people will know who you’re talking about.
Here are the 10 most famous movie directors.
Alfred Hitchcock made so many classic movies. South by Southwest, Vertigo, Rear Window, Birds. But most famous is his movie Psycho. Practically every person alive today can picture the infamous shower scene. Hitchcock still inspires thriller and horror movie directors of today!
Here’s another director who is extremely skilled at creating tension in his moves. He directed Fight Club, Seven, The Social Netwok, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. He is famous for shooting multiple takes of every scene in his films, getting the absolute best performances from each of his actors. And make no mistake, when I say “multiple” I don’t mean two or five. More like at least twenty takes.
Pretty much up until last week, James Cameron was the director of the top grossing movie of all time (Avatar). It only got beaten by Avengers: End Game recently. Nevertheless, James Cameron is still a director everyone knows (or has at least heard of). After all, he made Titanic, and absolutely everyone knows about Titanic.
Here’s every male film student’s first favorite film director! Quentin Tarantino is what people call an “auteur”. He’s someone who controls every aspect of their films, from the writing, to casting, to directing, and even choosing the soundtrack. Quentin Tarantino is a very skilled writer-director, and many of his films have become cult classics.
When people realize that Quentin Tarantino is problematic, they often shift their attention to Wes Anderson. He has a very recognizable style, very meticulously composed and framed shots, and adorable movies. His best movies (in my humble opinion) are The Royal Tenenbaums, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Grand Budhapest Hotel.
Here’s a director whose movies you might recognize less from their visual style and more from their subject matter. Many of Scorsese’s movies are about the “underworld” of our lives, the mafia, the gangsters, the people who don’t draw too much attention to themselves, but nevertheless shape the worlds that we live in. His famous movie Taxi Driver is about a (you guessed it) taxi driver who decides to become a vigilante. And Wolf of Wall Street tells the story of a person who really took financial scams to the next level. If you’re going to watch Scorsese movies, I recommend starting with these two!
Here’s someone who has managed to make movies that are simultaneously creepy and heartwarming (in their own, unusual way). With hits like Nightmare Before Christmas and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, everyone knows what a Tim Burton movie looks like, even if they’ve never seen one before.
You might argue that Charlie Chaplin is famous for his roles and for the character of The Tramp more than he is for his work as I director, but I would argue that these characters and films come as a package deal, and that doing visual comedy well requires really advanced skills as both an actor and a director!
Steven Spielberg is like the Volkswagen of film directors. Maybe not the best metaphor, but let me explain. He makes quality movies. They’re always good, he’s a very skilled director, and he consistently manages to use his skills to make compelling, memorable movies.
Think about it! Jurassic Park, Big Friendly Giant, Saving Pirate Ryan, Schindlers List! There is so much range to Spielberg as a director, and he always makes great movies.
They might not be flashy, but they’re great and you can rely on being satisfied with the experience. Just like driving a Volkswagen car.
Here’s someone who also doesn’t have a single bad movie in their filmography. They might not all be your cup of tea. They might not be the best movies ever made. But you can’t argue that each of Christopher Nolan’s movies isn’t good.
From his early start with Memento and his latest Dunkirk, Nolan’s signature “move” is to play with the concept of time.