Top 100 Directors

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32 Responses

  1. Dayne says:

    Not bad, but damn. Any list where Fellini and Ford are beaten out by Nolan, Edgar Wright, and David Fincher is seriously flawed. Shame on us, guys. That’s just…painful.

  2. Kyle Anderson says:

    I would not have put Danny Boyle so high or Rian Johnson on there at all, but that’s a pretty solid top ten. Wouldn’t be my personal top ten, but still a good list.

  3. Franco says:

    It’s official. Most listeners of Battleship Pretension are teenage boys!

  4. snallygaster says:

    Not quite what I expected, but not too unreasonable for a voter-generated list. I didn’t vote myself because I didn’t trust my ability to distinguish between “greatest” and “favourite”, and I suspect that’s a common problem here. Think of the list as a hybrid of the two and it makes a lot more sense.

  5. Mladen says:

    I like this list, its got a schizophrenic quality about it which suggests that BP has a pretty diverse listenership. Lots of surprises here, both pleasant and disappointing (depending who you ask), but because of that manages to be more interesting, and encourages discussion.

    It certainly beats a circle-jerk any day of the week (except circle-jerk-tuesdays).

  6. sacha says:

    …. Edgar Wright at 16? That must be a joke. I really like his films, but putting him ahead of Ford, Fellini, Bunuel, Ozu, Antonioni or even more contemporary masters like Wong Kar Wai & Lars Von Trier is a mockery. But the biggest joke of all is the inclusion of Rian Johnson. The man made 2 decent movies and that’s it.

    The top 10 is pretty representative though. I’d replace the Coen brothers with Ingmar Bergman, probably the most important European director of all time, but that would just be nitpicking.

  7. Andy says:

    I really regret voting for Spike Jonze.

  8. Robert H. says:

    Edgar Wright at 16 makes me automatically dismiss the entire ranking. I checked myself and I don’t think this is me being heady or smug. It’s a natural reaction to seeing him among the ranks of actual master craftsmen like Bergman, Kurosawa and Kubrick. 100+ years of world cinema and C. Nolan is 20? 14 places higher than A. Tarkovsky? Hmm. Luckily, I’d reckoned the validity of the order before I saw that Arnonofsy is FOLLOWED BY Ozu, or else I’d have spilled coffee on my computer.

  9. Battleship Pretension says:

    I think this list serves as an interesting, and largely accurate, snapshot of film fandom at this moment in time. That’s the benefit of doing these lists the way we do. A larger sample group makes for results that reflect where we are as a film-loving community right now. In a few decades, Edgar Wright might not be as high as he is on this list now but there’s no denying that people love him a lot right now and they’re right to do so.

    – David

  10. Jan says:

    I like this list. It’s a mixture of classics and “newcomers”. In some cases, the director’s inclusion may only be justified by their potential but I don’t think this is invalid.
    This seems to be a great snapshot of cinematic artists of the last 80-90 years. The order is not that important but the list is more of an invitation to explore the creative output of a group of very talented individuals.

  11. Brandon says:

    I agree: I love the diversity of the list, even if it’s pretty western male-centric. At least it covers a wide range of eras and movements.

    The only one I voted for that didn’t make it was Anthony Mann. In fact a lot of the ’50s American directors got passed over in favor of Rian Johnson and his contemporaries: Mann, Nicholas Ray, Douglas Sirk, Otto Preminger, Vincente Minnelli, Robert Aldrich, Budd Boetticher, Elia Kazan. I am thrilled, however, that Samuel Fuller made the cut, if barely! I eventually picked Mann over him for my ’50s genre guy, but it was close.

    I was one of the votes for Assayas, certainly helped by Summer Hours and Carlos, but Demonlover, Boarding Gate, Irma Vep…it’s like he’s making one big film about the impact of globalized, bureaucratic superpowers on the lives of individuals, and he’s doing it with such stylistic control: elliptical editing, fluid & maximalist camerawork, isolating focus. Eli Roth wishes Hostel had the integrity and provocation of Demonlover.

    Overall I really like the list in spite of heavily weighting the last fifteen years. I see why Quentin Tarantino, PTA, Wes Anderson, David Fincher, Sofia Coppola, etc. made the cut, and they’d certainly make good representatives for this era. Their films scream formal control. It’s just that there are so many new directors (even ones I love…and nearly Zack Snyder) at the expense of both foreign contemporaries (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Tsai Ming-liang, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Bela Tarr, and my non-Assayas fave, Claire Denis) and major figures from other decades.

    Other exclusions:

    Josef von Sternberg
    Carl Theodor Dreyer
    Jean Vigo
    Marcel Carne/Julien Duvivier/Jean Gremillon
    Leo McCarey
    Roberto Rossellini
    Jacques Tourneur
    Claude Chabrol/Jacques Rivette/Agnes Varda
    Monte Hellman
    Chantal Akerman
    Manoel de Oliveira
    Todd Haynes
    Guy Maddin

    P.S. Count me in the Joe Dante camp!

  12. Patrick says:

    So I screened “Night OF The Hunter” a couple weeks ago as part of my film festival. The question has to be asked, is it possible that this is the greatest film ever made? The narrative themes and the audacity of the imagery would have justified his inclusion in my mind. I would have loved to see Charles Laughton on this list. Also, I don’t know if you know this, but that film is based on a true story. We premiered a documentary about the true story at my film festival called “Romeo Must Hang”

    Filmmakers I would have liked to see on here:
    John Sayles
    Mike Nichols
    Pedro Almodovar

    Names that are underrated on the list:
    Sydney Lumet
    Francois Truffaut

    Great list though. It is sure to start a lot of conversations.

  13. Steve C. says:

    I like the list, it’s eclectic and like you wrote above, is a snapshot of listeners’ tastes. I really like the episode, it had a certain “Wellsian Tomfoolery” feel to it. Love that you guys are fans of Tom Scharpling/Best Show on ‘FMU (“Would you take this away and bring me the steak au poivre, thanks a lot” -Orson “F for Fake”). Two filmmakers I forgot to vote for is Frederick Wiseman- the doc. director best known for “Titicut Follies”, “High School”, and “Hospital”, and Agnes Varda (“Cleo from 5 to 7”, “Vagabond” and “The Gleaners and I”. I hope my forgetfulness didn’t cause them a spot on the list.

  14. Nick S. says:

    By my count there are 56 directors on this list who have either made a film in the last five years or are slated to in the near future.
    Granted, that includes such directors as Robert Altman and Sidney Lumet, who are thought of as ‘older’ directors, but that’s still a pretty heavy skew towards the present.

    • Battleship Pretension says:

      It also includes Scorsese, The Coen Brothers, Spielberg, Coppola, Allen, Herzog, Miyazaki, Polanski, Lee, Stone, Wenders, and Leigh.
      It’s entirely possible that these directors would show up on a top directors list, no matter who made it.
      “Present” doesn’t negate quality any more than “past” assumes it.

      • Nick S. says:

        I wholeheartedly agree that ‘present’ doesn’t automatically equal ‘bad’. I just thought it was interesting and odd enough to mention. There are a ton of ways to interpret this tidbit of information.

        If we looked at the list by, say, date of birth or date of feature debut etc, that skew I thought I saw might evaporate. I’m just too lazy to pick through the data myself.

        It is a thought-provoking list, though, and I’m enjoying the discussion so far.

        • Battleship Pretension says:

          Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of directors on the list that I don’t think belong there, even if I like their work. I know that, if David and I made the list ourselves, there are several contemporary directors that wouldn’t have made it.
          However, if we did that, there are plenty of older directors that wouldn’t have made it, either.
          That is a good thing about opening it up to the listeners. You wind up with a lot of different sensibilities on the list.
          Still a little disappointed about the lack of documentary filmmakers on the list, though.

          • Nick S. says:

            This is a far more interesting list than would have been possible from only one or two people.

            It’s also a far more frustrating list. But that just gets back to what you and David said about having a film school education vs being self taught, that it’s rewarding to get out of you own head now and then.

  15. Nick S. says:

    *your own head*.

  16. Rick says:

    I kinda knew in my guy when I put Woo and Verhoven on my list that they wouldn’t make the cut but still was hoping. No one before or since has ever shot gun fights quite like Woo and while there are great satirists on the list Verhoven does it so so well.

  17. Andy says:

    I think Jonathan Demme deserves a place on the list, on the strength of Melvin and Howard, Something Wild, Rachel Getting Married, and Silence of the Lambs.

  18. DJ says:

    Love the list. Thanks BP! My favorites are Woody Allen, Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Tarkovsky.

    The only one I wish was on the list is Gaspar Noe. At the very least, his films are unforgettable. I also find them to be thought provoking and socially challenging, but I can understand why people wouldn’t vote for him, and perhaps even think that he doesn’t belong on the list.

    Thanks again for all of the hard work! You help to make scholarly thought about film cool.

  19. Nick says:

    No Brian De Palma?

  20. Meghan Long says:

    The lack of women on this list really bums me out (Am I counting right…2 women and 98 men?). It’s a good list, but it’s revealing as to how male-centric the world of film is.

    • Battleship Pretension says:

      Yeah, we men are pretty great. It’s kind of awesome.
      That was your point, right?

      • Battleship Pretension says:

        But, yes, I felt the same way when there was only one African American filmmaker on the list. My first instinct was that perhaps we were all both sexist and racist.
        As I thought more about it, I realized that while, yes, there is some sexism and racism going on, it is not necessarily the listeners’ so much as the filmmaking machine.
        And, when you actually look at the women on the list, I think they’re remarkable filmmakers. But it’s worth noting that one of them is from another country while the other is part of a proven Hollywood dynasty. It somehow seems that those are the only ways in which a woman will be able to fully express herself as a film director.
        Give it some time and I feel like Kathryn Bigelow would wind up on the list. Maybe Jane Campion, too.

  21. Sasa says:

    Yasujiro Ozu should be top 5 or at least top 10. Spielberg and Fincher higher than Ozu. Who ever made this list doesn’t understand cinema. Why? I don’t get it. Do you really belive what you wrote?

    • Battleship Pretension says:

      This list was compiled by our listeners/readers, who were asked to send in ten filmmakers that absolutely belong on the list. We then put those lists together and the directors that were submitted the most wound up at the top. There are several things we’re not thrilled about on the list, but one needs to be careful about saying that people don’t “understand cinema,” especially when one looks at the list as a whole. If people were to go through the list director by director, watching one or two of each director’s films, I think one would wind up with a pretty solid film education.

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