Directors You've Heard Of
Here's a list of more than a hundred film directors you've heard of.  Some are household names; most are at least well-known among movie buffs.  This includes everyone from artists to bubblegum, both good and bad anywhere along that spectrum.

Use this list to guide your cinematic explorations.  For example, hone in on specific directors to do a study of their body of work, or simply use it to target your favorites and stay on the alert for upcoming projects.




Caveats

The movies listed are a representative sampling of mostly their better-known works.  I used the IMDb's suggested titles to save time, and didn't always get to include my favorite films in the listing without going out of my way.  This isn't a "top films" list, just a list of well-known directors.  In some cases, listing the best films would neglect well-known artistic failures, so please regard the titles purely as memory jogs and nothing more.

The order of the films listed is neither chronological (in most cases; there are some instance where this happened to be the case) nor by any ranking.  Conversely, the directors are listed in alphabetical order by first name, simply because that was easiest to automate when I generated this list from many "best of" compilations.  The only exceptions are in the few teams of directors mentioned, all of whom are siblings, so I just filed them under their last name.

Additionally, it should be noted that many of these directors are also noted screenwriters, and in made cases their scripts have been filmed by other directors, so it is worth seeking those out as a comparison of approaches on otherwise similar projects.

Finally, no actors-turned-directors.  There are plenty directors who made their names as actors before using their clout to helm later films.  I'm not including many of them here.  Many of the directors below have appeared in front of the camera, usually in their own films, but this is a list of people best remembered as filmmakers rather than actors or even as writers.  Clint Eastwood will probably be equally remembered as a director and actor, but that's about as close to this line as I was willing to go on this list.

Many of the "hot" directors of the day are excluded.  I know you're hearing a lot about them right now, but that's simply because they're "hot."  As with the actors-turned-director, I've tried to stick to folks with an established body of work, not just a few blockbusters.



Akira Kurosawa - Yôjinbô (1961), Seven Samurai (1954), Ran (1985), Rashomon (1950)

Alan Parker - Evita (1996), Mississippi Burning (1988), Angela's Ashes (1999), Pink Floyd The Wall (1982)

Alex Proyas - Dark City (1998), I, Robot (2004), Knowing (2009), The Crow (1994)

Alfonso Cuarón - Gravity (2013), Children of Men (2006), And Your Mother Too (2001), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

Alfred Hitchcock - Psycho (1960), Rear Window (1954), Vertigo (1958), North by Northwest (1959)

Andrei Tarkovsky - Solaris (1972), Stalker (1979), The Sacrifice (1986)

Ang Lee - Life of Pi (2012), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), Brokeback Mountain (2005), Hulk (2003)

Barry Levinson - Sleepers (1996), Toys (1992), Wag the Dog (1997), Donnie Brasco (1997)

Barry Sonnenfeld - Men in Black (1997), Wild Wild West (1999), Get Shorty (1995), The Addams Family (1991)

Baz Luhrmann - Moulin Rouge! (2001), The Great Gatsby (2013), Australia (2008), Romeo + Juliet (1996)

Billy Wilder - Some Like It Hot (1959), Sunset Blvd. (1950), The Apartment (1960), Double Indemnity (1944)

Blake Edwards - Victor Victoria (1982), S.O.B. (1981), 10 (1979), The Pink Panther (1963)

Brian De Palma - Scarface (1983), Mission: Impossible (1996), The Untouchables (1987), Carlito's Way (1993), Carrie (1976)

Bryan Singer - The Usual Suspects (1995), X-Men 2 (2003), X-Men: First Class (2011), Superman Returns (2006)

Charles Chaplin - Modern Times (1936), The Great Dictator (1940), City Lights (1931), The Gold Rush (1925)

Chris Columbus - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001), Bicentennial Man (1999), Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), Adventures in Babysitting (1987)

Christopher Nolan - The Dark Knight (2008), Inception (2010), Memento (2000), The Prestige (2006)

Clive Barker - Lord of Illusions (1995), Nightbreed (1990), Hellraiser (1987)

Clint Eastwood - Million Dollar Baby (2004), Gran Torino (2008), Unforgiven (1992)

The Cohen Brothers (Joel and Ethan Coen) - No Country for Old Men (2007), True Grit (2010), The Big Lebowski (1998), Fargo (1996)

Danny Boyle - Slumdog Millionaire (2008), Trainspotting (1996), 127 Hours (2010), 28 Days Later... (2002)

Dario Argento - Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), Phenomena (1985), Opera (1987), Suspiria (1977)

Darren Aronofsky - Requiem for a Dream (2000), Pi (1998), The Fountain (2006), Black Swan (2010)

David Cronenberg - The Fly (1986), eXistenZ (1999), Eastern Promises (2007), A History of Violence (2005), Naked Lunch (1991), Videodrome (1983)

David Fincher - Fight Club (1999), Se7en (1995), The Social Network (2010), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

David Lean - Lawrence of Arabia (1962), The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), A Passage to India (1984), Doctor Zhivago (1965)

David Lynch - Mulholland Drive (2001), Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992), The Elephant Man (1980), Blue Velvet (1986), Eraserhead (1977), Dune (1984)

Edgar Wright - Shaun of the Dead (2004), Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010), Hot Fuzz (2007), The World's End (2013)

Ed Wood - Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959), Jail Bait (1954), Bride of the Monster (1955), Glen or Glenda (1953)

Eli Roth - Grindhouse (2007), Cabin Fever (2002), Hostel (2005), Hostel: Part II (2007)

Elia Kazan - On the Waterfront (1954), A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), East of Eden (1955), Gentleman's Agreement (1947)

The Farrelly Brothers (Bobby and Peter Farrelly) - There's Something About Mary (1998), Me, Myself & Irene (2000), Dumb & Dumber (1994), Kingpin (1996)

Federico Fellini - 8½ (1963), La Dolce Vita (1960), Amarcord (1973), Juliet of the Spirits (1965)

Francis Ford Coppola - The Godfather: Part II (1974), The Godfather (1972), Apocalypse Now (1979), The Godfather: Part III (1990)

Franco Zeffirelli - Hamlet (1990), The Champ (1979), Romeo and Juliet (1968), The Taming of the Shrew (1967)

François Truffaut - The 400 Blows (1959), The Last Metro (1980), Jules and Jim (1962), Shoot the Pianist (1960)

Frank Capra - It's a Wonderful Life (1946), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), It Happened One Night (1934), Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)

Frank Darabont - The Shawshank Redemption (1994), The Green Mile (1999), The Mist (2007)

Fritz Lang - M (1931), Metropolis (1927), Fury (1936)

Garry Marshall - Pretty Woman (1990), Beaches (1988), Overboard (1987), The Flamingo Kid (1984)

George A. Romero - Night of the Living Dead (1968), Dawn of the Dead (1978), Creepshow (1982)

George Lucas - Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977), American Graffiti (1973), THX 1138 (1971)

George Miller - Lorenzo's Oil (1992), The Witches of Eastwick (1987), Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981), Mad Max (1979)

Guillermo del Toro - Pan's Labyrinth (2006), Hellboy (2004), Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008), Pacific Rim (2013)

Gus Van Sant - Good Will Hunting (1997), Milk (2008), Finding Forrester (2000), My Own Private Idaho (1991)

Guy Ritchie - Snatch. (2000), Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998), RocknRolla (2008), Sherlock Holmes (2009)

Harmony Korine - Spring Breakers (2012), Trash Humpers (2009), Mister Lonely (2007), Gummo (1997)

Hayao Miyazaki - Spirited Away (2001), Princess Mononoke (1997), Howl's Moving Castle (2004), Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)

Howard Hawks - The Big Sleep (1946), His Girl Friday (1940), Rio Bravo (1959), Bringing Up Baby (1938)

Ingmar Bergman - The Seventh Seal (1957), Wild Strawberries (1957), Persona (1966), Fanny and Alexander (1982)

JJ Abrams - Super 8 (2011), Mission: Impossible III (2006), Star Wars: Episode VII (2015), Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), Star Trek (2009)

James Cameron - Aliens (1986), Titanic (1997), Avatar (2009), Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

James L. Brooks - Spanglish (2004), As Good as It Gets (1997), Broadcast News (1987), Terms of Endearment (1983)

James Whale - Frankenstein (1931), The Invisible Man (1933), Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Jason Reitman - Up in the Air (2009), Thank You for Smoking (2005), Juno (2007)

Jean-Luc Godard - Breathless (1960), Alphaville (1965)

Jean-Pierre Jeunet - Amélie (2001), The City of Lost Children (1995), A Very Long Engagement (2004), Delicatessen (1991)

Jim Jarmusch - Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999), Dead Man (1995), Broken Flowers (2005), Down by Law (1986)

Joe Dante - Gremlins (1984), Small Soldiers (1998), Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990), Innerspace (1987), Explorers (1985), The Howling (1981)

Joel Schumacher - The Phantom of the Opera (2004), Batman & Robin (1997), The Lost Boys (1987), St. Elmo's Fire (1985)

John Carpenter - The Thing (1982), Halloween (1978), Escape from L.A. (1996), Escape from New York (1981), They Live (1988)

John Cassavetes - Gloria (1980), The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976), A Woman Under the Influence (1974), Faces (1968)

John Ford - The Searchers (1956), The Grapes of Wrath (1940), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), Stagecoach (1939)

John Huston - Prizzi's Honor (1985), Annie (1982), The Night of the Iguana (1964), Moulin Rouge (1952), The African Queen (1951), The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), The Maltese Falcon (1941)

John Landis - The Blues Brothers (1980), Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), An American Werewolf in London (1981), Coming to America (1988)

John Lasseter - Cars (2006), Toy Story 2 (1999), A Bug's Life (1998), Toy Story (1995)

John Waters - Pecker (1998), Cry-Baby (1990), Hairspray (1988), Pink Flamingos (1972)

John Woo - Face/Off (1997), Red Cliff (2008), Mission: Impossible II (2000), The Killer (1989)

Jon Favreau - Cowboys & Aliens (2011), Iron Man 2 (2010), Iron Man (2008), Zathura: A Space Adventure (2005), Elf (2003)

Joseph L. Mankiewicz - All About Eve (1950), Cleopatra (1963), Guys and Dolls (1955), The Barefoot Contessa (1954)

Joss Whedon - Much Ado About Nothing (2012), The Avengers (2012), Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (TV Mini-Series) (3 episodes) (2008), Serenity (2005)

Kathryn Bigelow - The Hurt Locker (2008), Zero Dark Thirty (2012), Point Break (1991), Strange Days (1995)

Ken Russell - Tommy (1975), Altered States (1980), The Lair of the White Worm (1988), The Devils (1971)

Kevin Smith - Dogma (1999), Clerks II (2006), Chasing Amy (1997), Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008)

Kenneth Branagh - Thor (2011), Hamlet (1996), Frankenstein (1994), Much Ado About Nothing (1993), Dead Again (1991), Henry V (1989)

Lasse Hallström - Chocolat (2000), What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993), The Cider House Rules (1999), Hachi: A Dog's Tale (2009)

Lawrence Kasdan - Grand Canyon (1991), The Accidental Tourist (1988), The Big Chill (1983), Body Heat (1981)

Luc Besson - The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999), The Fifth Element (1997), Léon: The Professional (1994), La Femme Nikita (1990), The Big Blue (1988), Subway (1985)

M. Night Shyamalan - The Sixth Sense (1999), Signs (2002), Unbreakable (2000), The Village (2004)

Martin Scorsese - Taxi Driver (1976), The King Of Comedy (1982), After Hours (1985), Cape Fear (1991), Shutter Island (2010)

Mel Brooks - The Producers (2005), Spaceballs (1987), Blazing Saddles (1974), History of the World: Part I (1981)

Michael Apted - The World Is Not Enough (1999), The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010), Nell (1994), Gorillas in the Mist (1988)

Michael Bay - Transformers (2007), Armageddon (1998), Pearl Harbor (2001), The Rock (1996), Bad Boys (1995)

Michael Mann - Heat (1995), Public Enemies (2009), The Insider (1999), The Last of the Mohicans (1992)

Michael Moore - Bowling for Columbine (2002), Sicko (2007), Roger & Me (1989), Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)

Michel Gondry - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), Be Kind Rewind (2008), The Science of Sleep (2006), The Green Hornet (2011)

Michelangelo Antonioni - Blow-Up (1966), L'Avventura (1960), La Notte (1961), Zabriskie Point (1970)

Milos Forman - One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), Amadeus (1984), Man on the Moon (1999), The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996)

Nora Ephron - Julie & Julia (2009), Bewitched (2005), You've Got Mail (1998), Sleepless in Seattle (1995)

Oliver Stone - Platoon (1986), JFK (1991), Natural Born Killers (1994), Any Given Sunday (1999)

Orson Welles - The Trial (1962), Touch of Evil (1958), Confidential Report (1955), Macbeth (1948), Citizen Kane (1941)

Paul Thomas Anderson - There Will Be Blood (2007), Magnolia (1999), Boogie Nights (1997), The Master (2012), Punch Drunk Love (2002)

Paul Verhoeven - Total Recall (1990), Starship Troopers (1997), RoboCop (1987), Basic Instinct (1992)

Pedro Almodóvar - Talk to Her (2002), Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988), Volver (2006), The Skin I Live In (2011)

Penelope Spheeris - The Decline of Western Civilization (1981), Black Sheep (1996), The Little Rascals (1994), The Beverly Hillbillies (1993), Wayne's World (1992)

Peter Jackson - The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

Quentin Tarantino - Pulp Fiction (1994), Reservoir Dogs (1992), Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003), Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004)

Richard Donner - Scrooged (1988), Lethal Weapon (1987), The Goonies (1985), Ladyhawke (1985), The Toy (1982), Superman (1978), The Omen (1976)

Richard Linklater - Before Sunset (2004), Before Midnight (2013), Before Sunrise (1995), Dazed and Confused (1993)

Ridley Scott - Blade Runner (1982), Alien (1979), Prometheus (2012), Hannibal (2001)

Rob Reiner - Ghosts of Mississippi (1996), A Few Good Men (1992), Misery (1990), When Harry Met Sally... (1989), The Princess Bride (1987), Stand by Me (1986), This Is Spinal Tap (1984)

Rob Zombie - The Lords of Salem (2012), Halloween (2007), The Devil's Rejects (2005), House of 1000 Corpses (2003)

Robert Altman - Gosford Park (2001), MASH (1970), Short Cuts (1993), The Player (1992)

Robert Rodriguez - Sin City (2005), Grindhouse (2007), Planet Terror (2007), Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003)

Robert Wise - The Sound of Music (1965), West Side Story (1961), Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

Robert Zemeckis - Flight (2012), Cast Away (2000), Contact (1997), Forrest Gump (1994), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), Back to the Future (1985), Romancing the Stone (1984), Used Cars (1980)

Roger Corman - The Masque of the Red Death (1964), X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes (1963), The Raven (1963), The Little Shop of Horrors (1960), Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957)

Roland Emmerich - The Day After Tomorrow (2004), Independence Day (1996), Godzilla (1998), 2012 (2009)

Roman Polanski - The Pianist (2002), Rosemary's Baby (1968), Chinatown (1974)

Ron Howard - The Da Vinci Code (2006), Cinderella Man (2005), A Beautiful Mind (2001), How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), Apollo 13 (1995), Far and Away (1992), Willow (1988), Cocoon (1985), Splash (1984)

Russ Meyer - Up! (1976), Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965), Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970), Cherry, Harry & Raquel! (1970)

Sam Mendes - American Beauty (1999), Skyfall (2012), Road to Perdition (2002), Revolutionary Road (2008)

Sam Peckinpah - The Wild Bunch (1969), Straw Dogs (1971), Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974), Convoy (1978)

Sam Raimi - Spider-Man (2000), The Evil Dead (1981), The Gift (2000), A Simple Plan (1998), Army of Darkness (1992), Darkman (1990), Evil Dead II (1987)

Sergio Leone - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), For a Few Dollars More (1965), A Fistful of Dollars (1964)

Sidney Lumet - 12 Angry Men (1957), Dog Day Afternoon (1975), Network (1976)

Sofia Coppola - Somewhere (2010), Lost in Translation (2003), The Virgin Suicides (1999), Marie Antoinette (2006)

Spike Jonze - Her (2013), Where the Wild Things Are (2009), Adaptation. (2002), Being John Malkovich (1999)

Spike Lee -
Inside Man (2006), Malcolm X (1992), 25th Hour (2002), Do the Right Thing (1989)

Stanley Kramer - Judgment at Nuremberg (1961), Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), Inherit the Wind (1960)

Stanley Kubrick - A Clockwork Orange (1971), The Shining (1980), Full Metal Jacket (1987), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Steven Soderbergh - Ocean's Eleven (2001), Traffic (2000), Erin Brockovich (2000), Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989)

Steven Spielberg - Saving Private Ryan (1998), Schindler's List (1993), A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001), Catch Me If You Can (2002), Jurassic Park (1993), The Color Purple (1985), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Jaws (1975)

Stuart Gordon - Dagon (2001), Castle Freak (Video) (1995), From Beyond (1986), Re-Animator (1985)

Sydney Pollack - Tootsie (1982), Out of Africa (1985), The Firm (1993), The Interpreter (2005)

Terrence Malick - The Thin Red Line (1998), The Tree of Life (2011), The New World (2005), Badlands (1973)

Terry Gilliam - Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), Life of Brian (1979), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), Brazil (1985), Twelve Monkeys (1995), The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988)

Terry Jones - Erik the Viking (1989), Personal Services (1987), The Meaning of Life (1983), Life of Brian (1979), Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

Tim Burton - Edward Scissorhands (1990), Corpse Bride (2005), Batman Returns (1992), Ed Wood (1994)

Terence Fisher - The Curse Of Frankenstein (1957), Dracula (1958), The Revenge Of Frankenstein (1959), The Mummy (1959), The Brides Of Dracula (1960), The Devil Rides Out (1968)

Tobe Hooper - The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), Poltergeist (1982), Invaders from Mars (1986), Lifeforce (1985)

Tod Browning - Dracula (1931), Freaks (1932), The Unknown (1927), London After Midnight (1927)

Todd Solondz - Happiness (1998), Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995), Storytelling (2001), Palindromes (2004)

Tom Hooper - The King's Speech (2010), Les Misérables (2012)

Tom Tykwer - Run Lola Run (1998), Cloud Atlas (2012), Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006), Paris, je t'aime (2006)

Tony Scott - Domino (2005), Man on Fire (2004), Enemy of the State (1998), Crimson Tide (1995), True Romance (1993), Top Gun (1986)

The Wachowskis (Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski) - The Matrix (1999), The Matrix Reloaded (2003), Cloud Atlas (2012), Bound (1996)

Werner Herzog - Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010), Encounters at the End of the World (2007), Grizzly Man (2005), Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979)

Wes Anderson - The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), Moonrise Kingdom (2012), The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

Wes Craven - Scream (1996), The People Under the Stairs (1991), A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Swamp Thing (1982), The Hills Have Eyes (1977), The Last House on the Left (1972)

William Castle - I Saw What You Did (1965), Mr. Sardonicus (1961), 13 Ghosts (1960), The Tingler (1959), House on Haunted Hill (1959)

William Friedkin - The Exorcist (1973), The French Connection (1971), Killer Joe (2011), Rules of Engagement (2000)

Wim Wenders - Wings of Desire (1987), Buena Vista Social Club (1999), Pina (2011), Until the End of the World (1991)

Wolfgang Petersen - Troy (2004), Das Boot (1981), The NeverEnding Story (1984), Air Force One (1997)

Woody Allen - Annie Hall (1977), Midnight in Paris (2011), Sweet and Lowdown (1999), Manhattan (1979)
 
Zack Snyder - 300 (2006), Sucker Punch (2011), Man of Steel (2013), Watchmen (2009)


Are there are well-known directors whose names I've missed?  I'm sure there are.  I've pored over many lists of "top directors" (including by genre) and even some "worst directors" lists, but there are always ommissions.  I'm sure I've failed to include even a few obvious names.  If so, please email me.




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