The 50 Greatest Directors of All Time’s Tim Dirks spotlights the top 50 directors in Hollywood history. This is the list from

1. Alfred Hitchcock- August 13, 1899-Leo

A master of suspense and gallows humor, he turned out classic after classic, including Vertigo, Psycho, and The Birds.

2. Stanley Kubrick- July 26, 1928-Leo

He made science trippy in 2001, Cold War politics slapstick in Dr. Strangelove, and Roman slaves au courant in Spartacus.

3. Martin Scorsese- November 17, 1942-Scorpio

You talkin’ to him? No one captures alienated men on the edge the way he’s done in Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and The Departed.

4. Steven Spielberg- December 18, 1946-Sagittarius

He reworked the genre crowd-pleasers of his youth into the modern blockbusters Jaws, E.T., and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

5. Francis Ford Coppola- April 7, 1939-Aries

Part of the first generation of film-school directors, he went from Dementia 13 to epics (The Godfather) and small gems (Rumble Fish).

6. Orson Welles- May 6, 1915-Taurus

Larger than life, he debuted with the dazzling Citizen Kane, then he saw studios hack up The Magnificent Ambersons and Touch of Evil.

7. Quentin Tarantino- March 27, 1963-Aries

A brilliant pop-culture collagist, he thrilled movie lovers with Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, and the Kill Bill series.

8. Charlie Chaplin- April 16, 1889-Aries

He was a genius of silent comedy and one of its first stars. The Tramp and Modern Times are still comic icons.

9. Joel Coen- November 29, 1954-Sagittarius

Joel and Ethan Coen are smart alecks with heart, combining dark humor, violence, and potent themes in movies like Fargo and True Grit.

10. Woody Allen- December 1, 1935-Sagittarius

In Sleeper, Annie Hall, and Manhattan, he invited moviegoers to laugh at urban neurotics, then got serious in Interiors.

11. Clint Eastwood- May 31, 1930-Gemini

The TV actor turned spaghetti-Western star became an A-list director with Unforgiven, Mystic River, and Million Dollar Baby.

12. Ridley Scott- November 30, 1937-Sagittarius

A TV-commercial star turned stylish auteur, he made the cool, slick Alien, Blade Runner, and Thelma & Louise.


13. John Ford- February 1, 1894-Aquarius

The quintessential Westerner, he made icons of Monument Valley and John Wayne in the classics Stagecoach and The Searchers.

14. Billy Wilder- June 22, 1906-Cancer

His wit and unflinching eye for hypocrisy produced Sunset Blvd. and Ace in the Hole along with the gender-bending Some Like It Hot.

15. David Lynch- January 20, 1946-Capricorn

His nightmarish Eraserhead paved the way for increasingly surreal movies in mainstream-thriller guises, from Blue Velvet to Mulholland Dr.

16. Roman Polanski- August 18, 1933-Leo

In Repulsion and Rosemary’s Baby, this international moviemaker probed dark passions and destructive desires.

17. Frank Capra- May 18, 1897-Taurus

Sentimental but not sappy, his best movies (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, It’s a Wonderful Life) wrap dark themes in happy endings.

18. Peter Jackson- October 31, 1961-Scorpio

This New Zealand-born movie buff started small with the low-budget Bad Taste and worked his way up to the epic Lord of the Rings trilogy.

19. Fritz Lang- December 5, 1890-Sagittarius

Metropolis still defines the future, and thrillers like The Woman in the Window and The Big Heat probed America’s past.


20. David Lean- March 25, 1908-Aries

From Lawrence of Arabia to Doctor Zhivago, his movies proved that no desert is as deep or wide as the landscape of the human heart.

21. John Huston- August 5, 1906-Leo

Artistic, macho, and intellectual, Huston had a career spanning four decades, from The Maltese Falcon to Prizzi’s Honor.

22. James Cameron- August 16, 1954-Leo

He escaped the low-budget likes of Piranha Part Two to make the sci-fi spectacles Terminator, Aliens, and Avatar.

23. Tim Burton- August 25, 1958-Virgo

Inspired by Halloween and Johnny Depp, this visual stylist made Beetle Juice, Batman, and The Nightmare Before Christmas.


24. Oliver Stone- September 15, 1946-Virgo

Provocative, bombastic, and politically contrarian, he’s courted controversy in Midnight Express, Natural Born Killers, and JFK.

25. Elia Kazan- September 7, 1909-Virgo

In A Streetcar Named Desire and On the Waterfront, this controversial director made gritty psychological dramas with resonance.

26. Mel Brooks- June 28, 1926-Cancer

Never sacrificing a laugh to good taste, Brooks made the sublimely rude Blazing Saddles, Producers, and Young Frankenstein.

27. Howard Hawks- May 30, 1896-Gemini

Funny, tough, and funny-tough, he went from Scarface to His Girl Friday and from To Have and Have Not to Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.


28. Robert Altman- February 20, 1925-Pisces

Countercultural attitudes, intersecting stories, and overlapping dialogue distinguish his movies, notably MASH and Nashville.

29. Brian De Palma- Sptember 11, 1940-Virgo

A seventies film-school prodigy, he made Carrie and Scarface but specialized in Hitchcockian thrillers like Dressed to Kill and Body Double.

30. Terrence Malick- November 30, 1943-Sagittarius

Malick’s brooding, intellectual anti-Hollywood masterpieces include Badlands, Days of Heaven, and The Thin Red Line.

31. Robert Zemeckis- May 14, 1951-Taurus

He used new technologies to seamlessly combine reality and fantasy in movies like Back to the Future and Who Framed Roger Rabbit.


32. George Lucas- May 14, 1944-Taurus

Not only did he create the Star Wars mythos, but he drove the development of widely used sound and special-effects technology.

33. William Wyler- July 1, 1902-Cancer

His elegant storytelling made dramas (The Best Years of Our Lives), romances (Roman Holiday), and epics (Ben-Hur) sparkle.

34. Michael Powell- September 30, 1905-Libra

The U.K. screenwriter-director team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger made popular art movies like Black Narcissus and Peeping Tom.

35. Cecil B. DeMille- August 12 1881-Leo

He was the first master of big-budget event movies, with two Ten Commandments films and The Greatest Show on Earth.


36. Michael Curtiz- December 24, 1886-Capricorn

He made Casablanca and Elvis Presley’s King Creole, along with dozens of movies in every genre, from action to horror to melodrama.

37. Mike Nichols- November 6, 1931-Scorpio

Trained in improv theater, he specializes in character-driven comedies and dramas — The Graduate, Silkwood, and Closer.

38. George Cukor- July 7, 1899-Cancer

Wit and class distinguish his sophisticated pictures, which star Katharine and Audrey Hepburn and Greta Garbo.

39. Otto Preminger- December 5, 1905-Sagittarius

After the film noir Laura, he challenged movie censors with drug abuse, in The Man With the Golden Arm, and rape, in Anatomy of a Murder.


40. Preston Sturges- August 29, 1898-Virgo

His witty, sophisticated comedies — The Lady Eve, Sullivan’s Travels, The Palm Beach Story — are still sharply funny, six decades later.

41. Sam Peckinpah- February 21, 1925-Pisces

He upped onscreen violence in his controversial Westerns and dramas, including The Wild Bunch and Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia.

42. Ernst Lubitsch- January 28, 1892-Aquarius

Ninotchka, The Shop Around the Corner, and To Be or Not to Be have a unique Continental style that defies remaking.

43. John Cassavetes- December 9, 1929-Sagittarius

An actor turned pioneering moviemaker, he paved the way for cinema verite with Shadows and A Woman Under the Influence.


44. D.W. Griffith- January 22, 1875-Aquarius

The father of modern moviemaking, he pioneered film language in such milestones as The Birth of a Nation and Intolerance.

45. Joseph L. Mankiewicz- February 11, 1909-Aquarius

From the weepie A Letter to Three Wives to the bitch-fest All About Eve, his movies are articulate and wickedly entertaining.

46. Sam Raimi- October 23, 1959-Scorpio

The cult-movie king from Michigan gave us the Evil Dead trilogy (and Bruce Campbell), A Simple Plan, and the blockbuster Spider-Man movies.

47. Arthur Penn- September 27, 1922-Libra

After the Freudian Western The Left Handed Gun, he made New Hollywood classics Bonnie and Clyde, Little Big Man, and Night Moves.


48. Spike Lee- March 20, 1957-Pisces

This African-American filmmaker provoked discussion via Do the Right Thing, Mo’ Better Blues, and Summer of Sam.

49. Vincente Minnelli- February 28, 1903- Pisces

He dissected show business in both musicals (An American in Paris) and melodramas (The Bad and the Beautiful.

50. Douglas Sirk- April 26, 1897-Taurus

He brought a European darkness to the American melodramas Magnificent Obsession, All That Heaven Allows, and Imitation of Life.




















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