Tuesday, June 23, 2009

200 Great Directors' Best Films

These are the top rated films of each director listed by a consensus of critics polls, I’ve included my choices below those if they differ. I included some directors who only had one great picture, such as Laughton, Beatty, Attenborough, if I considered that one film important enough. [Updated: 8.28.09*] Allen, Woody: Manhattan (1979) US (photo rt) – I prefer Hannah and Her Sisters Almodóvar, Pedro: All About My Mother (1999) Spain-France Altman, Robert: Nashville (1975) US – My pick: McCabe and Mrs. Miller Anderson, Paul Thomas: Boogie Nights (1997)* Angelopoulos, Theo: The Travelling Players (1975) Greece Antonioni, Michelangelo: L’Avventura (1960) Italy-France Aronofsky, Darren: Requiem for a Dream (2000) US - many prefer Pi, not me Ashby, Hal: Harold and Maude (1972)US Attenborough, Richard: Gandhi (1982) UK - worth the two decades he spent Beatty, Warren: Reds (1981) US Beresford, Bruce: Driving Miss Daisy (1989) US - many prefer Breaker Morant Bergman, Ingmar: Persona (1966) Sweden Bertolucci, Bernardo: The Conformist (1969) Italy-France-Germany Bogdanovich, Peter: The Last Picture Show (1971) US Bondarchuk, Sergei: War and Peace (1968) Russia Boyle, Danny: Trainspotting (1995) UK – mine: Slumdog Millionaire Bresson, Robert: Au hasard Balthazar (1966) France Brest, Martin: Midnight Run (1988) US – good, but I like Going in Style Brooks, Mel: The Producers (1968) US Buñuel, Luis: Viridiana (1961) Spain – I prefer The Discrete Charm of the Bourgeousie Burton, Tim: Edward Scissorhands (1990) - I like Big Fish better Cameron, James: The Terminator (1984) US – I like Aliens and Terminator 2 Camus, Marcel: Black Orpheus (1959) Brazil-France Capra, Frank: It's a Wonderful Life (1946) US – I prefer Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Carné, Marcel: Les Enfants du paradis (1945) France Cassavetes, John: A Woman Under the Influence (1974) US Cavani, Liliana: The Night Porter (1973) Italy Chaplin, Charles: City Lights (1931) US – I guess I’d pick Modern Times Chen Kaige: Farewell, My Concubine (1993) Hong Kong-China Cimino, Michael: The Deer Hunter (1978) US – he did another film? Clément, René: Forbidden Games (1951) France Clouzot, Henri-Georges: The Wages of Fear (1952) France-Italy Cocteau, Jean: La Belle et la bête (1946) France Cooper, Merian C./Ernest B. Schoedsack: King Kong (1933) US - admirable effects, stupid story Coen, Joel and Ethan Coen: Fargo (1995) US – close, I’ll go with Raising Arizona Coppola, Francis: The Godfather (1972) US – I like Godfather II best (photo rt) Cukor, George: The Philadelphia Story (1940) US – close, I’ll take My Fair Lady Curtiz, Michael: Casablanca (1942) US Darabont, Frank: The Shawshank Redemption (1994) US De Palma, Brian: Carrie (1976) US De Sica, Vittorio: Bicycle Thieves (1948) Italy Demme, Jonathan: The Silence of the Lambs (1991) Deren, Maya: Meshes of the Afternoon (1943) US Dieterle, William: Portrait of Jennie (1948) US Donen, Stanley/Gene Kelly: Singin' in the Rain (1952) US Dovzhenko, Alexander: Earth (1930) Russia Dreyer, Carl: The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) France Eastwood, Clint: Unforgiven (1992) US – Good, but I prefer Mystic River Egoyan, Atom: The Sweet Hereafter (1997) Canada Eisenstein, Sergei: Battleship Potemkin (1925) Russia Fassbinder, Rainer Werner: Ali - Fear Eats the Soul (1974) Germany Fellini, Federico: 8½ (1963) Italy Fincher, David: Fight Club (1997) US - I still prefer The Game Flaherty, Robert: Nanook of the North (1922) US Fleming, Victor: Gone with the Wind (1939) US – gimme the giant girl in Wizard of Oz Ford, John: The Searchers (1956) US – argh, I’ll take Mister Roberts Forman, Milos: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) US – I like Amadeus Fosse, Bob: Cabaret (1972) US – I think All That Jazz was more interesting Frankenheimer, John: The Manchurian Candidate (1962) - my pick: The Train Frears, Stephen: Dangerious Liaisons (1988) US Friedkin, William: The Exorcist (1973) US – yuck, French Connection is far better Gance, Abel: Napoléon (silent, 1927) France Gilliam, Terry: Brazil (1985) UK (photo rt) Godard, Jean-Luc: Breathless (1959) France Griffith, D.W.: Intolerance (1916) US Hallström, Lasse: My Life as a Dog (1985) Sweden Hamer, Robert: Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) UK Hawks, Howard: Rio Bravo (1959) US – r.u. kidding? His Girl Friday Herzog, Werner: Aguirre - The Wrath of God (1972) Germany – I like Fitzcarraldo Hitchcock, Alfred: Vertigo (1958) US Howard, Ron: A Beautiful Mind (2003) US - my pick: Parenthood Hughes, John: Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986) US Huston, John: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) US - mine: The Maltese Falcon (42)* (photo bottom) Ivory, James: A Room With a View (1986) US Jackson, Peter: The Lord of the Rings (trilogy, 2001) US-New Zealand Jewison, Norman: In the Heat of the Night (1967) US Kaufman, Philip: The Right Stuff (1983) US Kazan, Elia: On the Waterfront (1954) US (photo rt) Keaton, Buster/Clyde Bruckman: The General (1926) US Kiarostami, Abbas: Close-Up (1989) Iran Kieslowski, Krszystof: Dekalog (Decalogue, 1988) Poland Kubrick, Stanley: 2001 - A Space Odyssey (1968) UK Kurosawa, Akira: The Seven Samurai (1954) Japan Lang, Fritz: M (1931) Germany Laughton, Charles: Night of the Hunter (1955) UK - his only film as director Lean, David: Lawrence of Arabia (1962) UK Lee, Ang: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2002) China-Taiwan-US - he's underrated Lee, Spike: Do the Right Thing (1989) US Leone, Sergio: Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) Italy-US – I much prefer Once Upon a Time in America, the long version LeRoy, Mervyn: Goldiggers of 1933 (1933) Lester, Richard: A Hard Day's Night (1964) UK Levinson, Barry: Diner (1982) US Losey, Joseph: The Servant (1963) UK Lubitsch, Ernst: To Be or Not to Be (1942) US – give me Trouble in Paradise Lucas, George: Star Wars (1977) US Lumet, Sidney: Network (1976) US Lynch, David: Blue Velvet (1986) US Mackendrick, Alexander: The Sweet Smell of Success (1957) US (photo rt) Malick, Terrence: Days of Heaven (1978) US Malle, Louis: Lacombe, Lucien (1974) France – my pick: Atlantic City Mankiewicz, Joseph L.: All About Eve (1950) US Marker, Chris: La Jetée (1962) France Mazursky, Paul: Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969) US - never liked this, loved Enemies-A Love Story McCarey, Leo: Duck Soup (1933) US McLeod, Norman Z.: It's a Gift (1934) US Meirelles, Fernando: City of God (2002) Brazil-Germany-France Mendes, Sam: An American Beauty (1999) I like 2008's Revolutionary Road Milestone, Lewis: All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) US Miller, George: The Road Warrior (aka Mad Max 2) (1981) Australia Minghella, Anthony: The English Patient (1996) US Minnelli, Vincente: The Band Wagon (1953) US – I like Meet Me in St. Louis Mizoguchi, Kenji: Ugetsu monogatari (1953) Japan Morris, Errol: The Thin Blue Line (1988) US - I prefer the pure documentary Fast, Cheap and Out of Control Mulligan, Robert: To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) US Murnau, F.W.: Sunrise (silent, 1927) US *Best Silent* Nair, Mira: Salaam Bombay! (1988) India Nichols, Mike: The Graduate (1967) US (photo rt) Nolan, Christopher: Memento (2000) US Ophüls, Max: Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948) US Ozu, Yasujiro: Tokyo Story (1953) Japan Pabst, G.W.: Pandora's Box (silent, 1928) Germany Pakula, Alan J.: All the President's Men (1976) US Pasolini, Pier Paolo: The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964) France-Italy Peckinpah, Sam: The Wild Bunch (1969) US Penn, Arthur: Bonnie and Clyde (1967) US Pennebaker, D.A.: Don't Look Back (1967) US Polanski, Roman: Chinatown (1974) US Pollack, Sydney: Tootsie (1982) US Pontecorvo, Gillo: The Battle of Algiers (1965) Algeria-Italy (photo rt) Powell, Michael/Emeric Pressburger: A Matter of Life and Death (1946) UK – I think I prefer The Red Shoes, and A Canterbury Tale Rafelson, Bob: Five Easy Pieces (1970) US Ramis, Harold: Groundhog Day (1993) US Ray, Nicholas: Johnny Guitar (1954) US – easily In a Lonely Place Ray, Satyajit: Pather Panchali (1955) India Reed, Carol: The Third Man (1949) UK – I actually prefer Outcast of the Islands Reiner, Rob: This Is Spinal Tap (1984) – my pick: When Harry Met Sally Reisz, Karel: Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960) - I love Morgan! Renoir, Jean: The Rules of the Game (1939) France – like many others, I prefer La Grande Illusion; they’re close in the poll Resnais, Alain: Last Year at Marienbad (1961) France-Italy – not a big fan, but Hiroshima, Mon Amour over this Richardson, Tony: Tom Jones (1963) UK Riefenstahl, Leni: Triumph of the Will (1935) Germany (Nazi) Ritt, Martin: Hud (1963) US - although Norma Rae is more inspirational Rivette, Jacques: Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974) France Roeg, Nicolas: Don't Look Now (1973) UK – I vastly prefer Walkabout, even Performance Roehmer, Eric: My Night at Maud's (1969) France Rossellini, Roberto: Voyage in Italy (1953) Italy Rossen, Robert: The Hustler (1961) US Salles, Walter: Central Station (1998) Brazil-France - a tossup, or: The Motorcycle Diaries Sandrich, Mark: Top Hat (1935) US - I prefer the hilarious The Gay Divorcee Sayles, John: Lone Star (1995) US Schlesinger, John: Midnight Cowboy (1969) US Scorsese, Martin: Raging Bull (1980) US – right, but Taxi Driver is close Scott, Ridley: Blade Runner (1982) US – yes, but Gladiator is close Sharpsteen, Ben: Fantasia (1940) US Siegel, Don: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) US Singer, Bryan: The Usual Suspects (1995) US Sirk, Douglas: Written on the Wind (1956) US Sjöström, Victor: The Wind (1928) US Spielberg, Steven: Jaws (1975) US – over E.T., Close Encounters, Schindler’s List? I even liked Minority Report, Raiders/Lost Ark, Pvt. Ryan more.. Stanton, Andrew: Wall-E (2008) US - not listed yet, I added him for this and Finding Nemo Stevens, George: Shane (1953) US Stone, Oliver: JFK (1991) US - me and Oscar prefer Platoon Sturges, John: The Magnificent Seven (1960) US Sturges, Preston: The Lady Eve (1941) US Szabó, István: Mephisto (1981) Hungary Tarantino, Quentin: Pulp Fiction (1994) US – inspired by Wong Kar-Wai Tarkovsky, Andrei: Andrei Rublev (1966) Russia (photo rt) Tati, Jacques: Playtime (1967) France Tornatore, Giuseppe: Cinema Paradiso (1988) Italy-France Tourneur, Jacques: Out of the Past (1947) US Truffaut, François: Jules et Jim (1961) France Vidor, King: The Crowd (1928) US Vigo, Jean: L’Atalante (1934) France Visconti, Luchino: The Leopard (1963) Italy – not a fan of this, give me Death in Venice von Sternberg, Josef: The Blue Angel (1930) Germany von Stroheim, Erich: Greed (1924) US von Trier, Lars: Breaking the Waves (1996) Denmark-Sweden Wajda, Andrzej: Ashes and Diamonds (1958) Poland Washowski Brothers, Andy and Larry: The Matrix (1999)* Weir, Peter: Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) Australia – I like Fearless, many like Witness Welles, Orson: Citizen Kane (1941) US Wertmuller, Lina: Seven Beauties (1976) Italy - first woman director nominated for best directing Oscar® Wilder, Billy: Some Like it Hot (1959) US – good but mine: Sunset Boulevard (photo rt) Wise, Robert: West Side Story (1960) US - co-dir w Jerome Robbins Wong Kar-Wai: Chungking Express (1994) Hong Kong – and the sequel Fallen Angels Wyler, William: The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) US Zemeckis, Robert: Back to the Future (1985) US Zhang Yimou: Raise the Red Lantern (1991) Hong Kong – my pick: Hero, one of my favorite films, China’s top grossing Zinnemann, Fred: High Noon (1952)US Note: Currently at 182, I intend to add to this list until I have at least 200 directors The Maltese Falcon (Huston, 42)


Marcia Bell, MPA:HA said...

How about,

Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 'Fear Eats the Soul'.

Fritz Lange, 'M'. Still thinking. I was on the PSU Film Committee all through college.


Anonymous said...

Readers with an interest in Cavani's film on this list may find the following worth a look: http://www.lilianacavani.com/

José Coelho said...

Nice list. I have a couple of suggestions. I love sci-fi so I loved Dark City by Alex Proyas. Also, I love the work of Baz Luhrmann, his Moulin Rouge was simply divine. Also, The Warshowski Brothers for The Matrix, this is a sci-fi classic to be mentioned. :)
Also I suggest a 200 list of the best soundtracks. I've got a couple in mind. :) Please check out the 50 most beautiful women in Hollywood. Leave a suggestion also. Thanx.

Jose Sinclair said...

Thanks for comments - I'll answer all in this reply
1. Marcia, don't know Fassbinder's work well enough; I'll have to watch more. Fear is his highest ranked film, #186.. then they errantly list "Berlin Alexanderplatz" at #213(a 16 hr miniseries, boring-I stopped after 4 hrs) - not a film, a tv show. Marriage of Maria Braun is next, a forgettable movie..

2. McK - Cavani's "The Night Porter" is a brilliant expose of Nazi sadism as related to sexuality and romance. Both Dirk Bogarde and Charlotte Rampling are excellent, Bogarde's best work, and Cavani's - rated X? are you kidding? R at most. not as bad as slasher films! Warning: do not try the broken glass at home!

3. Jose - nice name! but Dark City is a bore to me, not much there to recommend other than good effects and a nice dark vision. As for Baz Luhrmann, Moulin Rouge with Nicole Kidman singing Elton John songs? Holy cow, I want some of what he was toking up! I normally like risk taking but other than the look of Moulin, it was a confusing bore, imo. but, Ewan McGregor can sing, witness "Down With Love" - talented guy. (and Nicole has a world-class derriere, doesn't she? see "Dead Calm" and "Eyes Wide Shut", both boring otherwise but her body is always worth seeing!)

re Washowski Bros: loved Matrix, but V for Vendetta even more, which they only produced.. I'll probably add Matrix - thanks!

"Thats just my opinion, I could be wrong" (Dennis Miller)

ps - I first only took directors with TWO films on the top 1000, then added some with one.. some they skipped entirely, like Beresford and Mazursky - am I still too commercial?

.. the Jman, el presidente..

Jose Sinclair said...

Science Fiction:
anyone really interested should check out my "Top 125" SciFi-fantasy books at:

The literature is FAR better than the films, sadly.. only Lord of the Rings approached its novels (was really better than those). The world of SF litererature is creating the "New Mythos" for our time! Even scientists read it to see what's feasible for current work and to get new ideas. Some even write, like Gregory Benford - I think he's won awards as a writer and as a scientist. Created the word "tachyon" for time particles; he's working on sending messages back in time! (warning Columbus NOT to go to America and kill all the natives?)

lionmother said...

You left out Eric Rohmer. His films are French classics.

Jose Sinclair said...

Thanks, Lionmother!
Good catch w Roehmer - I overlooked him, he has 7 films in the critics 1000: My Night at Maud's, Claire's Knee, La Collectioneuse, Marquis of O, Green Ray, Sign of Leo, Chloe in the Afternoon. I added him, with MAUD'S.

Of these I've seen Maud's, Claire's, Chloe... and liked Maud's best as well. They're interesting, perhaps a little slowly paced. I need to see the others now, never heard of some of those. Thanks for the catch!

Jinz said...

Don't see any anime movies despite several great directors and their works being of the format.
Hayao Miyazaki is a given - Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke are masterpieces. 'Howl's Moving Castle' is a beautiful anti-war movie. And his earlier works are similarly spectacular.
Isao takahashi's 'Hotaru no Haka' is a testament to war.
Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira is beautifully made and a masterpiece.
Mamoru Oshii has a philosophical overture to his movies (Kokaku Kidotai) which rings of poetry.

Jose Sinclair said...

Re anime: I don't watch them, can't get into that style, sorry. Maybe one day.. it's just a bit simplistic and un-artistic to me.