A list of most influential directors of all time? That’s easy. Greatest directors country-wise? That’s easy too. Making a list titled the greatest directors of all time? Well, damn. That’s real tough. But we at Crizic decided to have a centralized, proper list for that. Here are the 10 greatest directors of all time:
10. Francis Ford Coppola:
The man who gave us the seminal gangster movie in The Godfather, and arguably the greatest war movie in Apocalypse Now, Coppola belongs to the new age of film-making. Standing shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Spielberg and Scorcese, Coppola is known for his character driven dramas and intense dialogue.
The nearest approximation in a line: The master of human pathos.
9. Steven Spielberg:
Modern Hollywood would lose a large chunk of its identity if it weren’t for Steven Spielberg. He practically invented the action-blockbuster, with movies like Indiana Jones, ET, Jaws and Jurassic Park(!) to name a few. Characterized by a style that focuses more on action and awe, Spielberg is known for meticulous set construction and incredible action. Truly one of the giants of the New Hollywood Era.
The nearest approximation in a line: Spielberg means awesome.
8. Ingmar Bergman:
A Swedish virtuoso, Bergman is widely considered to be one of the great film-making auteurs. His filmography includes classics like Wild Strawberries and The Seventh Seal. A master of human emotions, Bergman’s films primarily dealt with overarching themes of death, faith and bleakness.
The nearest approximation in a line: Cinema’s existential prodigy.
7. Quentin Tarantino:
Know that bright, playful kid who is almost exploding with expression? Quentin Tarantino is that kid. Tarantino made what is probably the greatest indie debut with Reservoir Dogs, and went only from strength to strength after that, with films like Pulp Fiction(!!), Inglourious Basterds and Kill Bill in his bag. The greatest of his generation, Tarantino is known for movies that explode with colour and as the undisputed master of dialogue (Pulp Fiction being the prime example).
The nearest approximation in a line: Tarantino means style.
6. Martin Scorcese:
Of all the directors of the New Era of Hollywood, Scorcese is the second greatest due to films like Taxi Driver(!), Goodfellas and Raging Bull. Dealing primarily with male potency and the mob, Scorcese’s films have inspired almost every gangster movie ever made after the 70s. Critical and commercial successes, Scorcese’s films continue to be landmarks in Hollywood film-making.
The nearest approximation in a line: Cinema’s most refined gangster.
5. Akira Kurosawa:
Akira Kurosawa inspired every war film to ever come after the fifties with his depiction of war and honour in Seven Samurai, regarded by critics as his best and one of the greatest war movies ever made. Kurosawa’s films primarily dealt with the human condition, commenting on everything from war to love.
The nearest approximation in a line: Kurosawa summed up humanity.
4. Federico Fellini:
Few directors match the skill of Federico Fellini as far as visual storytelling is concerned, with films like La Dolce Vita and 81/2 setting the standard for visual sequences (e.g. dream sequences) for decades to come. Fellini’s style of cinema used surreal imagery blended with grounded elements to create an almost psychoactive effect that only served to further the plot-lines of his meticulously crafted masterpieces.
The nearest approximation in a line: The master of synaesthesia.
3. Alfred Hitchcock:
Hitchcock, at his very core, was a master at manipulating the human psyche. All of his films were carefully edited and made with pristine precision to extract singular emotions such as fear, empathy or confusion from his audience.
A master at keeping his audience at the edge of their seats, Hitchcock immortalized himself by giving Hollywood movies such as North By Northwest, Psycho and the unforgettable Vertigo.
The nearest approximation in a line: Hitchcock means thriller.
2. Orson Welles:
If directors were judged on a scale of influence, Orson Welles would be number 1. Hollywood can be distinctly divided into two neat ages: Before, and after Orson Welles.
Debuting with what is probably the greatest film ever, Citizen Kane, Welles ushered in a new era of film-making, bettering, and consequently revolutionizing every aspect of it. Incorporating techniques such as chiaroscuro and deep focus, Orson Welles is one of the two true giants of cinema.
The nearest approximation in a line: Film-making’s ultimate auteur.
1. Stanley Kubrick:
Calling Stanley Kubrick as the greatest director of all time isn’t really a matter of strenuous critical consideration, so to speak. It’s a matter of common sense more than anything else. While other directors excelled by picking a genre and excelling within it (Welles with character driven dramas; Scorcese with the mob), Kubrick, belonging to the New Era of Hollywood, excelled by making de-facto masterpieces and thereafter setting the standard, in widely varying genres.
He made what is arguably the greatest horror movie ever (The Shining), the greatest Sci-Fi movie ever (2001: A Space Odyssey), the greatest political comedy ever (Dr Strangelove), the second greatest war movie ever (Full Metal Jacket), the greatest neo-commentary ever (A Clockwork Orange) – you get the idea.
Most directors dedicate their entire life in order to make a single masterpiece. Kubrick made ten.
A self-taught film-maker, Kubrick was a true perfectionist who used ground-breaking techniques (using lens acquired from NASA to shoot candle scenes in Barry Lyndon, for example) to accomplish cinematographical feats which have never been matched. With a deep understanding of music and his formidably massive intellect, Kubrick was a genius who truly cannot be summed up.
The nearest approximation in a line: The Da Vinci of cinema.