A director can make or break your film. They are the centerpiece of the film. They create the atmosphere. They create the world. They bring the characters to life. It's their job to see that a screenplay becomes a film in the best way possible. Well, these ten directors do the best job of that. My list has changed slightly from last year. There may be some hot takes on this ranking. Anyways, here are my top ten favorite directors of all time.
10. Rian Johnson (Knives Out, Looper)
One of the worst things about the Star Wars sequel trilogy is that it alienated tons of people from Rian Johnson. Yes, The Last Jedi is a bad movie, but Rian Johnson is actually a great director. Knives Out is one of the best murder mysteries in years. Looper is one of the coolest and most underrated sci-fi movies I've ever seen. People also forget that before Star Wars, Johnson directed a few episodes of Breaking Bad, including Ozymandias, which is the best episode of TV...ever! He's a fantastic director who I hope eventually escapes from his Star Wars cage.
9. John Carpenter (The Thing, Halloween)
John Carpenter was a primarily 80s director who, alongside Wes Craven, kickstarted the modern horror genre. Halloween was an essential slasher that all scary movie fans are thankful for. The Thing is one of the greatest horror films of all time. Carpenter is able to give you charming characters, terrifying villains, and a memorable 70s/80s aesthetic that you don't often find in movies today, which is why he had to make this list. This is the man that created Michael Myers. Enough said.
8. Jordan Peele (Get Out, Nope)
Jordan Peele is the Alfred Hitchcock of my generation. The new master of suspense always brings something extra to his movies. They're fun and intense, but they all have a deeper meaning and tackle an allegorical message as well. While Get Out is eons better than both Us and Nope, Peele was able to bring his signature style to all three of his movies, and I cannot wait to see that style in future films.
7. Alfred Hitchcock (Rear Window, Psycho)
You cannot make a best directors list without Alfred Hitchcock. Hitchcock was the first film director to be truly iconic, and there's a reason for that. His movies are incredible. All of them keep you on the edge of your seat. Sure, I'm not the biggest fan of Vertigo or North by Northwest, but Hitchcock brings his A-game to everything. His films are often listed among the greatest ever made, and that's because he brings such a distinct sense of tension and uncertainty to the stories he tells.
6. Mike Flanagan (Doctor Sleep, The Haunting of Hill House)
Mike Flanagan needs to be talked about more. He's primarily known for his TV work. The Haunting of Hill House, is, for my money, the best horror series of the last twenty years. It's directed flawlessly. Couple that with Doctor Sleep, which is, in my opinion, way better than The Shining, and you've got one of the best working directors today. I'm always excited to see how Flanagan is going to transcend the normal tropes of the horror genre, and I really hope he gains more recognition in the future.
5. Martin Scorsese (Goodfellas, The Departed
Scorsese is another one of these just iconic filmmakers. He got his start with Taxi Driver, which I haven't seen yet even though I really want to, and moved forward with Raging Bull. He really made a name for himself with Goodfellas, which is one of the best crime films ever made. If you look through this man's filmography, there are just so many fantastic films. If Hitchcock is the master of suspense, Scorsese is the master of crime. He takes these mobster epics or street-level criminals and packs them into these intricately told stories that put the viewer right in the middle of all the action. His work is phenomenal.
4. Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Inglorious Basterds)
While Scorsese and Hitchcock and Peele are all great, there is no other movie maker like Quentin Tarantino. From the insane amount of violence to the snappy dialogue to the non-linear stories, Tarantino just spills his guts over every movie he makes. Pulp Fiction is, obviously, one of the greatest and most unique movies ever made. His other films, like Inglorious Basterds or Django Unchained, take normal tropes of a movie and just toss them out the window. Everyone gets excited when there's a new Tarantino movie, and that's because his films are experiences like no other.
3. David Fincher (The Game, Fight Club)
David Fincher is one of the most under-appreciated directors ever. This dude made Seven. He made Fight Club. He made The Social Network. He can put you on the edge of your seat with a gripping thriller...or he can make an introspective drama that makes you think. His thrillers are pulse-pounding. I think that The Game is one of the most intense movies I've ever seen, and I absolutely love it. I'm super excited for his new movie, The Killer, because I know he will bring that crazy tension-building talent to whatever story he decides to tell next.
2. Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight, Interstellar)
When someone sets out to make a movie, their goal is just to make a good movie. When Christopher Nolan sets out to make a movie, his goal is to make a puzzle box for the viewer to slowly unlock as they watch until he eventually blows their mind with whatever crazy tricks he's hidden inside of his film. Nolan just knows how to play on expectations and play on genre to the point where you get a different, mind-blowing experience for all of his movies. He's made a movie that's told backwards. He's made a gritty, superhero crime thriller that just so happens to be my favorite movie of all time. He's made a space epic that has way more heart than you'd expect. He's made a movie about dreams inside of dreams inside of dreams. All of his films are just nuts. I love his style and his stories. I cannot wait for Oppenheimer.
1. Steven Spielberg (Jaws, West Side Story)
While I think I like Nolan's filmography more than Spielberg's, no one will ever top Steven Spielberg for me. He is just the best. No matter what genre you throw at him, he will thrive. No matter the story, no matter the characters, no matter the actors, he will make a great movie. He can give you child-like wonder and nostalgia with films like E.T. or Hook. He can make your heart beat out of its chest with films like Jaws or Jurassic Park. He can make sweeping epics that are tragic or hopeful, like Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List. He can make adventure movies. He can make musicals. He can make literally any movie...and it will be good. That's why I admire him. Is he as stylized as Tarantino or Scorsese? No. Are his movies consistently great, like Nolan or Fincher? No. But he's still made a bunch of great movies across genres, and that's what's so impressive, so be