ByDonald Nolan, writer at


Note: Don't be surprised when you can't find iconic names like George Lucas, Quentin Tarantino or James Cameron on this list. To make the list, the directors need to have at least 10 full-length films that prove their worth.

10. JOHN MCTIERNAN - Born : 1951 in Albany, New York

One of the few directors in film history to have created 3 successful franchises (Predator, Die Hard and The Hunt For Red October) that are still running today and have future films announced. His entire filmography, excluding his first directorial debut with the supernatural thriller Nomads in 1986, boasts action-packed excellence and unforgettable lead roles by his A-list actors. If it wasn't for the unfavorable Rollerball remake he attempted in 2002, he would have an entire lifetime of kick-ass flicks under his belt. (I chose to leave out Rollerball and include Nomads, even though more people have probably seen the former over the latter, it doesn't come close to the quality of his first film). I included the star of each film, just in case you haven't had the pleasure of seeing them.

1. 1986 - Nomads - Pierce Brosnan 2. 1987 - Predator - Arnold Schwarzenegger 3. 1988 - Die Hard - Bruce Willis 4. 1990 - The Hunt For Red October - Sean Connery

5. 1992 - Medicine Man - Sean Connery 6. 1993 - Last Action Hero - Arnold Schwarzenegger 7. 1995 - Die Hard: With A Vengeance - Bruce Willis

8. 1999 - The 13th Warrior - Antonio Banderas 9. 1999 - The Thomas Crown Affair - Pierce Brosnan 10. 2003 - Basic - John Travolta

Despite being absent for over 13 years now, he is listed as the director for Killing The Butcher, a World War II tale involving two soldiers that parachute into the heart of war torn Europe in an attempt to assassinate a dreaded Nazi SS killer.

9. Paul W. S. Anderson - Born : 1965 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England

Most people would recognize Mortal Kombat as the first film by Paul W. S. Anderson but it was actually a film starring modern day heavyweights Jude Law, Sean Pertwee, Sean Bean, Jonathan Pryce and Jason Isaacs. Despite only being allowed in the U.S. as an edited, direct to video release, Shopping will most likely be remembered as Jude Law's first major role and not much else. Regarding Anderson's directorial debut, many critics view it as a failure, while others beg to be taken back to the style which started his career. I will be leaving Shopping off the list since the others that I chose to include are better films, in my humble opinion. Lead actors are named next to the title of the film also.

1. 1995 - Mortal Kombat - Christopher Lambert 2. 1997 - Event Horizon - Sam Neill 3. 1998 - Soldier - Kurt Russell 4. 2002 - Resident Evil - Milla Jovovich

5. 2004 - AVP : Alien vs. Predator - Sanaa Lathan 6. 2008 - Death Race - Jason Statham 7. 2010 - Resident Evil: Afterlife - Milla Jovovich

8. 2011 - The Three Musketeers - Logan Lerman 9. 2012 - Resident Evil: Retribution - Milla Jovovich 10. 2014 - Pompeii - Kit Harington

Post-production on Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is underway with a release date for 2017. It will be the fourth film in the series that he's directed.

8. David Fincher - Born : 1962 in Denver, Colorado

While employed at Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Fincher worked as Assistant Cameraman on Star Wars: Episode VI - Return Of The Jedi (1983), Matte Photographer on Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom (1984) and also as Matte Photographer Assistant on The NeverEnding Story (1984). After leaving ILM, he directed several music videos for Madonna (Express Yourself, Vogue and Oh, Father) and also directed the music video for Jermaine Stewart's hit song, "We Don't Have To Take Our Clothes Off" before he began his prolific career as a film director. Throughout the years, however, he has returned to the music video world, directing videos for mega-stars Michael Jackson, Aerosmith, George Michael, Sting, Paula Abdul and most recently for Justin Timberlake's "Suit And Tie", featuring Jay-Z in 2013. While these accomplishments are quite impressive, Fincher has created a far better resume in the film world, creating the mythos of a modern day King Midas, in that everything he touches turns to gold.

1. 1992 - Alien 3 - Sigourney Weaver 2. 1995 - Se7en - Brad Pitt 3. 1997 - The Game - Michael Douglas 4. 1999 - Fight Club - Edward Norton

5. 2002 - Panic Room - Jodie Foster 6. 2007 - Zodiac - Jake Gyllenhaal 7. 2008 - The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button - Brad Pitt

8. 2010 - The Social Network - Jesse Eisenberg 9. 2011 - The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo - Daniel Craig 10. 2014 - Gone Girl - Ben Affleck

David Fincher's next big thing he's currently lined up for is directing "Mindhunter", a TV series thriller starring Charlize Theron.

7. Robert Zemeckis - Born : 1951 in Chicago, Illinois

Known for creating zany comedies and being a whiz in the special effects arena, Robert Zemeckis has directed many unforgettable movies over the past 30 years. His directorial debut came in 1978 with "I Wanna Hold Your Hand", a comedy inspired by the Beatles influence on American teenage girls. His next attempt in the director's chair led to "Used Cars" in 1980, with Kurt Russell in the lead role as a hot-shot salesman at a failing dealership. Both of the aforementioned films showed glimpses into the genius that is Robert Zemeckis and led to the next decade being dominated by his work. Consistently working alongside Steven Spielberg and chief writer Bob Gale allowed for cinematic greatness in the majority of his works and unlike the previous directors listed, Zemeckis leaned more towards dramatic comedies rather than heavy-handed action flicks. I put the Back To The Future (BTTF) series into one slot instead of showcasing all three individually to allow for more of his films to be represented. I left off The Polar Express, Beowulf and A Christmas Carol due to the fact that all three films grossed far less than the budget given to create them.

1. 1984 - Romancing The Stone - Michael Douglas 2. 1985 - Back To The Future, 1989 - BTTF II, 1990 - BTTF III - Michael J. Fox

3. 1988 - Who Framed Roger Rabbit - Bob Hoskins 4. 1992 - Death Becomes Her - Bruce Willis 5. 1994 - Forrest Gump - Tom Hanks

6. 1997 - Contact - Jodie Foster 7. 2000 - What Lies Beneath - Michelle Pfeiffer 8. 2000 - Cast Away - Tom Hanks

9. 2012 - Flight - Denzel Washington 10. 2015 - The Walk - Joseph Gordon-Levitt

An untitled WWII romantic thriller is already in pre-production with Zemeckis on board to direct with Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard cast as the leads.

6. Tim Burton - Born : 1958 in Burbank, CA

One of the biggest issues concerning Tim Burton's illustrious career is his self-reliance, particularly with his attention to details. He introduced us to his amazing skill of creating fascinating visuals and settings, while also providing semi-interesting story lines way back in the mid-eighties. Although he has always had the knack for transporting his viewers into the landscape he molded, while still holding our attention with the plot and characters, arguably the last decade has seen the slow decline of his storytelling ability and an increase in the abstract and obscure way he showcases his films. His early works still resonate with many fans to this day and a demand for more of the same is desired by the masses. Some of his success is attributed to the classic stories that inspired his films, but without his unparalleled vision, those stories would have been presented in a completely different manner altogether. I chose to include him on this list instead of other obvious choices due to the overall success of his films, regardless of my feelings for his later works. That speaks volumes about his craft considering I chose him rather than Oscar winners like Clint Eastwood and Ang Lee. Some may disagree with it and I welcome all comments about who you think should dethrone him.

1. 1985 - Pee-wee's Big Adventure - Paul Reubens 2. 1988 - Beetlejuice - Michael Keaton 3. 1989 - Batman - Michael Keaton

4. 1990 - Edward Scissorhands - Johnny Depp 5. 1992 - Batman Returns - Michael Keaton 6. 1999 - Sleepy Hollow - Johnny Depp

7. 2001 - Planet Of The Apes - Mark Wahlberg 8. 2003 - Big Fish - Ewan McGregor 9. 2005 - Charlie And The Chocolate Factory - Johnny Depp

10. 2010 - Alice In Wonderland - Johnny Depp

Tim Burton's next film "Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiars" starring Eva Green as the titular lead is due out in 2016. If that doesn't appeal to you, perhaps "Beetlejuice 2", which is currently being scripted, will. Both the director and lead are reported to be returning for the sequel.

5. Sir Ridley Scott - Born : 1937 in South Shields, Tyne and Wear, England

Known for his atmospheric, highly concentrated visual style, Sir Ridley Scott showcases memorable imagery of urban environments while spanning different time periods and settings. He is a godfather of cinema, creating multiple franchises and cult classics with his innovative approach towards storytelling and character structure. The worlds he introduces his viewers to are breath-taking and unlike any other seen among his peers. The fact that he hasn't won an Oscar for his directing is ludicrous, especially considering that his "Gladiator" was beaten out by the political crime drama "Traffic" in 2000. Perhaps his fourth nomination for "The Martian" will land him a win, although the competition is stiff for the upcoming Oscars. Even if he never wins one, he will go down in history as one of the greatest ever to embrace the role of director. With all of the controversy surrounding the racially biased Academy Awards show recently (which I think is hilarious), mixed with his age, it's sad to say that this might be his last attempt at such a prize. Although his debut in directing full-length features came with the historical film "The Duellists" in 1977, it was his next movie that brought him into the spotlight. For lack of space, I had to leave out certain films which are just as deserving as the ones listed below, but I felt compelled to include them here because of my love for them - Legend, Black Rain, Matchstick Men, Kingdom Of Heaven, and The Counselor.

1. 1979 - Alien - Sigourney Weaver 2. 1982 - Blade Runner - Harrison Ford 3. 1991 - Thelma & Louise - Susan Sarandon & Geena Davis

4. 2000 - Gladiator - Russell Crowe 5. 2001 - Hannibal - Anthony Hopkins 6. 2007 - American Gangster - Denzel Washington

7. 2010 - Robin Hood - Russell Crowe 8. 2012 - Prometheus - Michael Fassbender 9. 2014 - Exodus: Gods And Kings - Christian Bale

10. 2015 - The Martian - Matt Damon

Besides the fifty some projects he is on board to produce within the next two years, the most anticipated of all is his return to his roots, directing "Alien: Covenant", a direct sequel to Prometheus and prequel to the original Alien, which is currently in pre-production and is set to be released in 2017, with both Michael Fassbender and Noomi Rapace set to revive their roles.

4. Oliver Stone - Born : 1946 in New York City, New York

A veteran of the Vietnam War, Oliver Stone has incorporated varying points of view about the war into three of his films and consistently makes politically-based movies that shed light on controversial topics and personalities. A winner of three Oscars, two of which are for directing (Platoon and Born On The Fourth Of July) and another for Best Adapted Screenplay (Midnight Express), Stone has a knack for creating masterpieces and usually has a hand in writing whatever he directs. That separates him from most of the others in the pack and allows for his unique filmmaking to shine more often than not. Even when he doesn't direct the films that he pens, in most instances whatever he offers up is magical. A few examples of his writing skills in which he did not direct are these popular films: Conan The Barbarian, Scarface, Year Of The Dragon, 8 Million Ways To Die and Evita. He is known for using multiple film formats and camera angles, sometimes doing so in single scene shots, like in JFK and Natural Born Killers. However he chooses to tell his story, fans eagerly await anything scheduled to be released that has his name on it.

1. 1986 - Platoon - Charlie Sheen 2. 1987 - Wall Street - Charlie Sheen 3. 1988 - Talk Radio - Eric Bogosian

4. 1989 - Born On The Fourth Of July - Tom Cruise 5. 1991 - The Doors - Val Kilmer 6. 1991 - JFK - Kevin Costner

7. 1994 - Natural Born Killers - Woody Harrelson 8. 1999 - Any Given Sunday - Al Pacino 9. 2004 - Alexander - Colin Farrell

10. 2006 - World Trade Center - Nicholas Cage

Perhaps one of the most thought-provoking and scandalous films of the 21st century, "Snowden", is confirmed for release on May 13, 2016 with Oliver Stone billed as director and screenplay co-writer and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Edward Snowden.

3. Martin Scorsese - Born : 1942 in New York City, New York

The most nominated living director, Martin Scorsese has over 45 years in the business and a plethora of fantastic films to show for it. Many of his films are notable for their depiction of violence and liberal use of profanity, surrounded by A-list actors. He won the Academy Award for Best Director for "The Departed", his only win out of eight nominations. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential directors of all-time and his filmography boasts significant landmarks in cinematic history. The themes that dominate his works usually encompass religious concepts of guilt and redemption, modern crime and gang conflicts. He became friends with other top-notch directors like George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola and Brian De Palma in the 1970's and coincidentally it was De Palma that introduced Scorsese to Robert De Niro, who became a lifelong friend and lead actor in many of his films. These ten films listed below only scratch the surface into his body of work, so I recommend to any seeking more information on his films to look up the rest on your own.

1. 1973 - Mean Streets - Robert De Niro 2. 1976 - Taxi Driver - Robert De Niro 3. 1980 - Raging Bull - Robert De Niro 4. 1990 - Goodfellas - Ray Liotta

5. 1995 - Casino - Robert De Niro 6. 2002 - Gangs Of New York - Leonardo DiCaprio 7. 2004 - The Aviator - Leonardo DiCaprio

8. 2006 - The Departed - Leonardo DiCaprio 9. 2010 - Shutter Island - Leonardo DiCaprio 10. 2013 - The Wolf Of Wall Street - Leonardo DiCaprio

"Silence", a film about two Jesuit priests that face persecution and violence in Japan after they move there to find their mentor and propagate Christianity, stars Liam Neeson and is directed by Martin Scorsese. It is currently in post-production and is expected out some time in 2016.

2. Ron Howard - Born : 1954 in Duncan, Oklahoma

Before leaving the television series "Happy Days", Ron Howard cut a deal with famed director Roger Corman that allowed him to direct a film in exchange for Howard's participation in an action flick titled "Eat My Dust!". He agreed and in 1977 he debuted as a director in the low-budget comedy/action film "Grand Theft Auto". His big theatrical break came in 1982 with "Night Shift" starring Michael Keaton and Henry Winkler. Since that time he has created a slew of high-visibility films, departing from his acting roles and focusing on production and direction instead. He has two Oscar wins for "A Beautiful Mind", one for Best Director and another for Best Picture. He and Brian Grazer are co-chairmen of the film and television production company Imagine Entertainment, which has produced several movies including 8 Mile and Friday Night Lights, not to mention multiple t.v. series such as Arrested Development and 24. Regarding acting, his daughter Bryce Dallas Howard has followed in his footsteps, debuting in his film "Parenthood" as an uncredited extra. I chose to exclude "Splash" and "Coccoon" but included "Gung Ho". The reasoning behind this is that all three are good films but most of "Gung Ho" was filmed in Pittsburgh and not to mention the lead actor, Michael Keaton, is a native Pittsburgher, just like me.

1. 1986 - Gung Ho - Michael Keaton 2. 1988 - Willow - Warwick Davis, Val Kilmer 3. 1989 - Parenthood - Steve Martin 4. 1995 - Apollo 13 - Tom Hanks

5. 1996 - Ransom - Mel Gibson 6. 2000 - How The Grinch Stole Christmas - Jim Carrey 7. 2001 - A Beautiful Mind - Russell Crowe

8. 2006 - The Da Vinci Code - Tom Hanks 9. 2009 - Angels & Demons - Tom Hanks 10. 2015 - In The Heart Of The Sea - Chris Hemsworth

The third installment in the Robert Langdon series is entitled "Inferno" and is due out October 2016. Also, Ron Howard is signed up to produce the most anticipated movie of my lifetime - " The Dark Tower". The release date is set for January 13, 2017 with Matthew McConaughey rumored to play the Man In Black and Idris Elba rumored as Roland Deschain. I pray for the latter to change otherwise the integrity of the story will be lost. No disrespect to the fantastic actor but you can't fit the role of a honky ma'fah in this story. Simple as that.

1. Steven Spielberg - Born : 1946 in Cincinnati, Ohio

It's probably no surprise to most people that Spielberg sits at the top of this list. Besides his three Oscar wins, his co-creation of DreamWorks Studios and being the highest- grossing director in history, Spielberg is the most influential filmmaker as well. His early science-fiction and adventure movies are considered archetypes of modern Hollywood blockbusters by many and his later works began addressing humanistic issues while still captivating audiences. Several of his films have broken box-office records and his unwavering knowledge and ambition cinematically can not be rivaled. Without Spielberg, so many of the beloved movies that we cherish, whether he directed them or not, would be swept under the rug. His influence on other directors and producers is stronger than ever and the best part of all is that he is showing no signs of slowing. I grouped the Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park installments together to save space.

1. 1975 - Jaws - Roy Scheider 2. 1977 - Close Encounters Of The Third Kind - Richard Dreyfuss

3. 1981 - Raiders Of The Lost Ark, 1984 - Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom, 1989 - Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, 2008 - Indiana Jones And The

Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull - Harrison Ford 4. 1982 - E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial - Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore 5. 1991 - Hook - Robin Williams

6. 1993 - Jurassic Park - Sam Neill, 1997 - The Lost World: Jurassic Park - Jeff Goldblum 7. 1993 - Schindler's List - Liam Neeson 8. 1998 - Saving Private Ryan - Tom Hanks

9. 2005 - War Of The Worlds - Tom Cruise 10. 2012 - Lincoln - Daniel Day-Lewis

The BFG (Big Friendly Giant) is already in post-production and will be released in July of 2016. Rumors of a fifth "Indiana Jones" movie are swirling, as well as a third "Gremlins" and a fifth "Jurassic Park" too. Whether or not he directs these films, his inclusion in any way will make them all blockbusters.

I hope you enjoyed the list. Please comment below any questions, concerns or compliments.


Latest from our Creators