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Discuss: Are These Top 25 Greatest Working Directors?

Posted: February 23rd, 2011 by WorstPreviews.com Staff
Discuss: Are These Top 25 Greatest Working Directors?Submit Comment
Entertainment Weekly put together a list of 25 greatest directors working today. Topping the list is David Fincher, followed by Christopher Nolan. I'm sure that no one will deny that these two men deserve to be on the list.

Looking at the rest, I would argue against Roman Polanski, Spike Lee, Mike Leigh and David Lynch. They were great at one point, but haven't done all that much lately. And JJ Abrams making the list is simply unfair to Jason Reitman, Sam Mendes, Mark Romanek and many other great directors who didn't make the list.

Take a look at the list below and let us know which changes you would make to it. Who should be higher? Who should be on the list? Who shouldn't?

25. Wes Anderson

24. Mike Leigh

23. Brad Bird

22. J.J. Abrams

21. Spike Lee

20. Edgar Wright

19. Peter Jackson

18. James Cameron

17. David Lynch

16. David O. Russell

15. Kathryn Bigelow

14. Danny Boyle

13. Roman Polanski

12. Guillermo del Toro

11. Paul Thomas Anderson

10. Pedro Almodovar

9. Clint Eastwood

8. Terrence Malick

7. Quentin Tarantino

6. Joel and Ethan Coen

5. Darren Aronofsky

4. Martin Scorsese

3. Steven Spielberg

2. Christopher Nolan

1. David Fincher


Source: EW


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Displaying 80 comment(s) Profanity: Turn On
Whitta writes:
on February 23rd, 2011 at 7:42:22 PM

This list is fine. Just take away the numbers so there isn't a rank because they've all made movies just as good as the next guy on the list.


Disappointed Ewe Boll didn't make the cut though. Probably needs to box some more people.
Crazyhorse writes:
on February 23rd, 2011 at 7:45:28 PM

Spike Lee really what great movie of his did I miss

Not a Cameron Fan but Spike Lee 3 places behind him

this list is a joke

Cameron should at least be in the top 3

Nolan should be #1

By the way what movies did Fincher do?
Damon242 writes:
on February 23rd, 2011 at 7:53:00 PM

Agree with who is on the list (except maybe Wes Anderson) but I don't necessarily agree with the placement.

You'll also notice that it's very recent achievement - as in, most of those in the higher parts have only had recent success.
jdl107 writes:
on February 23rd, 2011 at 7:53:25 PM

Martin Scorsese is below David Fincher? Dave's a f*cking awesome director, one of the best out there, but... to be above Scorsese? That's just crazy.
Bigcheese writes:
on February 23rd, 2011 at 7:56:29 PM

Kathryn Bigelow hasn't done anything since Hurt Locker, she should be lower or not on the list.

Wes Anderson, Edgar Wright, Danny Boyle and Peter Jackson should be higher.

Oh, and J.J Abrams should definatly not be there.

Michael Bay should be first (joke).

Jojotocujo writes:
on February 23rd, 2011 at 7:58:17 PM

Take out JJ Abrams and James Cameron and it's a good list.
Rodan writes:
on February 23rd, 2011 at 8:05:38 PM

Seeing how this is weighted more toward their recent work, it's hard for me to make a case for Michael Mann, but I am confident he'll be back to form soon enough.

@Crazyhorse, 25th Hour. Spike Lee ticks me off a lot, but that was an amazing film. Probably too old to be admissible for this "best directors based on recent works" list but seriously, see it if you haven't.
Rodan writes:
on February 23rd, 2011 at 8:08:12 PM

Also, I think Alfonso Cuaron is a very talented director. He needs something to give him that giant step forward, and maybe "Gravity" will be it.
velocityknown writes:
on February 23rd, 2011 at 8:09:12 PM

Ang Lee is the most glaring omission here. Other than that, pretty acceptable list.
The Skippy Spartan writes:
on February 23rd, 2011 at 8:16:18 PM

@ Crazyhorse

Fight Club
Se7en
Social Network
Benjimen Button
Zodiac

a few more
Amanda_Young writes:
on February 23rd, 2011 at 8:20:28 PM

My No.1 will always be Neil Marshall :p
ShizPaf writes:
on February 23rd, 2011 at 8:20:30 PM

@Crazyhorse I agree on Lee but as for Fincher I think you jest. Se7en, Fight Club, Benji Button, Zodiac, Panic Room...in no particular order.
Rodan writes:
on February 23rd, 2011 at 8:28:45 PM

Damn it, I miss John McTiernan. Get your ass out of jail so you can be on this list.
ShizPaf writes:
on February 23rd, 2011 at 8:29:09 PM

I might add PT Anderson to that list.
Crazyhorse writes:
on February 23rd, 2011 at 8:31:15 PM

Skippy The Spart and Shiz

Thanks

I remember now, just dont here much about him lately
Frank4969 writes:
on February 23rd, 2011 at 8:34:14 PM

Take spike (racist) lee off the list. What supposed great film did he make?
PirateDave128 writes:
on February 23rd, 2011 at 8:34:23 PM

Hilarious that James Cameron has been beaten by Kathyrn Bigelow xD
Nolan should, by far, be number 1!!
coldplayesence writes:
on February 23rd, 2011 at 8:40:17 PM

In what universe Quentin is below Spilberg? I mean, any recent movies by spilberg? ... What about Quentin? Inglorious Basterds!!! And @shiz: PT is right there man. 11.
Trip Maverick writes:
on February 23rd, 2011 at 8:40:18 PM

If it wasnt for Hurt Locker Bigalow woudlnt be on the list. Same with ORussell and the fighter.

Also Malick as only made like 3 movies his whole career.
ismokerocks writes:
on February 23rd, 2011 at 8:46:48 PM

nolan should definitely be #1
ShizPaf writes:
on February 23rd, 2011 at 9:06:29 PM

@coldplayesence Holy hell, I gotta get my specs checked!
Ranger writes:
on February 23rd, 2011 at 9:34:23 PM

I can't believe Kevin Smith isn't on this list.




Oh wait... yes I can.

That fu*kin', fat, whiny, bounced off aircraft, back-stabbin', washed-up, son-of-a-bitch!
ShizPaf writes:
on February 23rd, 2011 at 9:50:24 PM

Cries at the drop of a hat too Ranger!
May actually be a lesbian, a hairy one. Also his butt is populated by space aliens.
triggax writes:
on February 23rd, 2011 at 9:57:04 PM

Terrence Malick should be numero uno. That is all.
Mister Pickles writes:
on February 23rd, 2011 at 10:09:07 PM

A lot of great names on this list. Every type of list like this is debatable. Though, I have to ask, when's the last time Spike Lee made a good movie? Or Spielberg for that matter.
Also, no Uwe Boll?
velocityknown writes:
on February 23rd, 2011 at 10:16:45 PM

@Frank

Do the Right Thing
Malcolm X
Inside Man

Those three alone are better than some director's career, definitely enough to earn Spike a spot on this list.

And while Terrence Mallick is just brilliant I think they're also looking at who's been working a lot more recently. Fincher has been churning out quality films quite frequently for years now. Mallick has been taking long breaks, though I am very much looking forward to Tree of Life.
kmccarney88 writes:
on February 23rd, 2011 at 10:21:00 PM

Are you kidding??? You put people like Pedro Almodovar, Spike Lee and even Kathryn Bigelow (who has made one decent film......and decent at best) and you forget directors like Ridley Scott and Robert Zemeckis????

Whoever put this list together is a f*cking idiot.

Mel Gibson and Bryan Singer deserve to be on there before about a quarter of the one's listed.

So the answer is No...... this list sucks, it's leaving out some major players and putting in some seriously weak links.
Ajjb21 writes:
on February 23rd, 2011 at 10:26:28 PM

Am I really the only one that thinks its f*ckin ridiculous that Guy Ritchie didn't make this list and garbage ass spike lee did
velocityknown writes:
on February 23rd, 2011 at 10:29:14 PM

@MisterPickles

I don't know that they take into consideration last time they made a good movie. Spike had Inside Man in 2006 but some have been absent for a while. I think as long as they're still technically working they can be included.
velocityknown writes:
on February 23rd, 2011 at 10:30:20 PM

And you're crazy, Alex, for arguing against Polanski. He's done well this decade with The Pianist and The Ghost Writer.
BadChadB33 writes:
on February 23rd, 2011 at 10:32:29 PM

Who was the crackhead at EW that came up with this list? Some I agree with and others hell no!!
adamXmarshall writes:
on February 23rd, 2011 at 10:35:59 PM

why the f*ck is steven speilberg on there?
secondbest writes:
on February 23rd, 2011 at 10:40:18 PM

Abrams needs to leave the list. I do think Polanski deserves to be on there though.
secondbest writes:
on February 23rd, 2011 at 10:42:03 PM

Also, where the hell is Jonathan Demme on this list?
boogiel writes:
on February 23rd, 2011 at 11:04:33 PM

I'm glad George Lucas is not in the list
ikleesdekrant writes:
on February 23rd, 2011 at 11:13:10 PM

kmccarney88:

Regarding to Bigelow.. she did make Point Break. That was more than decent IMO. Still I agree she shouldn't be on there. Abrams shouldn't be either, but he's well on his way. I seriously enjoyed M:I 3 and Star Trek. Pretty sure Super 8 will not disappoint either.
Rodan writes:
on February 23rd, 2011 at 11:19:10 PM

@velocityknown, I just watched "The Pianist" for the first time on Sunday. Unbelievable movie. I agree, he definitely belongs on the list. And I am looking forward to seeing "The Ghost Writer".
ikleesdekrant writes:
on February 23rd, 2011 at 11:36:33 PM

And where the F is Woody Allen?
ZenShark writes:
on February 23rd, 2011 at 11:38:42 PM

not gonna go into the entire list, but nolan should definitely be be above fincher. every movie nolan has done has been interesting in some manner.
coldplayesence writes:
on February 23rd, 2011 at 11:50:02 PM

WP always trash Polansky playing the 'rapist!' card, but the man is a great director, and fits on the list because he IS working.
AshTrey writes:
on February 24th, 2011 at 12:09:53 AM

i'm sorry.... but who the HELL ARE SOME OF THESE DIRECTORS... FOREIGN DIRECTORS IM ASSUMING...

PEDR ALMOOVAR, TERRANCE MALICIK, AND BRAD BIRD?!?!?
MAYBE I GOTTA STEP MY MOVIE GAME UP. I THINK MENDEZ, GUY RICHIE , AND ANG LEE DESERVE A SPOT UP THERE.

billow needs to be kicked down from her high horse, and scorses/nolan should be number 1

oh and can MICHAEL MANN GETS SOME LOVE.... that is all
JohnZee writes:
on February 24th, 2011 at 12:22:57 AM

Wow you mean people still give a sh*t about what Entertainment Weekly says about anything? Been a long time since I've seen an article written for EW that wasn't originally written by a publicist or a talent agency.

Honestly I thought the second that Stephen King stopped writing his occasional articles that EW was only fit for use as backup toilet paper in case you run out.

I think the general rule is that if you don't know sh*t about movies, directors, actors, or anything else for that matter but you are obsessed with kissing the ass of the famous, almost famous, and maybe one day could be famous...then that instantly qualified you for a job as an article writer for EW.

...And if you know the difference in the usage of to, two, and too then they make you an editor.
mustardayonnaise writes:
on February 24th, 2011 at 1:07:09 AM

nobody cares
kmccarney88 writes:
on February 24th, 2011 at 1:22:23 AM

@ikleesdekrant - In my opinion, Point Break was a mediocre movie at best and it certainly wouldn't earn her a spot on the top list. Again, thats just my opinion.

However, I have to disagree with many of you who say that J.J. Abrams doesn't deserve to be on this list.....because he absolutely does. The guy has shown more potential than just about any "upcoming" directors and, thus far, everything he has made is above average. Super 8 is going to put him on everyone's top list, I guarantee it.

Wes Anderson, Mike Leigh, Brad Bird, Spike Lee, Edgar Wright, David Lynch, Roman Polanski, Pedro Almodovar and Terrence Malick all DO NOT deserve to be on this list.

In their place I would put Ridley Scott, Robert Zemeckis, Bryan Singer, Mel Gibson, Michael Mann, Guy Ritchie, Marc Foster, Paul Greengrass and Ed Zwick.

But that's just me.
rocketman writes:
on February 24th, 2011 at 1:35:01 AM

Spielberg has slipped a few places further down than that IMO,not made a great film in years.
And where the f*ck is Ridley Scott?
masht7 writes:
on February 24th, 2011 at 1:39:23 AM

This isn't a bad list. But I have to say, I'm actually a big Fincher fan, I've enjoyed all of his films (yes, I liked 'The Social Network', and 'Alien 3' being the only exception).
Captain Bennett writes:
on February 24th, 2011 at 1:57:39 AM

Really? I had to look up Brad Bird, he has never done a live action movie. They could've thrown Darabont on the list in his place.
Syriph writes:
on February 24th, 2011 at 1:58:32 AM

This is a bad list... some are perfect choices... Nolan, Fincher, scorsese...... and many others. But seriously, people need to stop with the ridiculous obsessions with people who make one good movie, or people who have not made good movies in years. Spielbergs last decent movie was Minority Report. Polanski, Bigelow,and lee can all go kill each other. I mean come on, im not a huge fan of Cameron, but at least the man deserves to be called a great director over these people for nothing more than making movies masses love to see... f*ck I hate unthoughtful lists of ignorance by ignorant writers who think just toss people on the list. If you are not going to take the time to work on the list then do not do it. Go suck each otehr instead and talk about how great you are with some hack directors
Ranger writes:
on February 24th, 2011 at 2:42:11 AM

Yeah... how the hell did Ridley Scott get overlooked? Or worse... replaced by some on this list?!

Where's Woody Allen? Slippin' the woody to his step-daughter (don't care what anyone says... that's HAWT!).
Mickael writes:
on February 24th, 2011 at 3:50:24 AM

Terrence Malick is one of the most overrated directors of all time. I'd rather have seen Michael Bay's name on this list.

And as far as J.J. Abrams is concerned, he should be in the top 3 EASILY. Yes, he's only directed 2 films so far but that man has shown more talent in any given 10 minutes of his films than most of these people have in their entire career.
J.J. Abrams is the new Spielberg, take that how you want. And after Indiana Jones 4, it's obvious that there's room for a much needed replacement.
And a shout out to Wes Anderson. I'm glad to see him at least make the list.
Cinemaisdead writes:
on February 24th, 2011 at 4:15:48 AM

It seems like they got lazy towards the end, definetly think The Coen brothers should be higher than Scorses and Spielberg as this list IS a modern film directors list like people have said based on the past few years. If you're talkin about all time then Kubrick, Hitchc*ck etc. would be gettting involved. I think Danny Boyle deserves a higher up place than Tarantino aswell and James Cameron can just get off the list altogether.

I agree with Ajj that Guy Ritchie deserves a place as he's definetly more talented than Peter Jackson f*ck Winters Bone. If we're gonna include directors like Bigelow based on recent success then surely Ben Affleck deserves a place.Edgar Wright needs to be higher and Lee Unkrich nneds to be there
Zeroguy writes:
on February 24th, 2011 at 5:05:03 AM

Lack of foreign directors and Soderbergh and the almighty Werner Herzog makes this list a fail.
Zeroguy writes:
on February 24th, 2011 at 5:10:10 AM

And the person who wrote this article is a twat.
Polanski, Lynch and Leigh are questionable because they haven't made a lot of films in recent years? Idiot.
Quality over quantity.
Hell, Malick is near the top and he's only made 6 (2 unreleased) films so far.
And these are directors who made Chinatown, Blue Velvet, and Naked. These trump American Beauty, Up in the Air and Never Let Me Go. Hands down.
filmaddict24 writes:
on February 24th, 2011 at 5:15:08 AM

James Cameron at #18 is just atrocious. Even though I didn't appreciate Avatar that much, he deserves to be at least top five. Where's the Zach Snyder love?
johnny_boy writes:
on February 24th, 2011 at 5:23:01 AM

What the f*ck!!!!! Tyler Perry ain't on that list. Oh this crazy world. EW, how dare you you racists.
beepboop writes:
on February 24th, 2011 at 5:44:11 AM

Where is Sylvester Stallone on that list?
Kurskij writes:
on February 24th, 2011 at 5:44:15 AM

Alex, being a fan of Romanek's work I can see no point in you arguing against Polanski and in favor of Romanek. Ghost Writer was very good. And Romanek has made only 3 movies in his entire career. I haven't seen Static, but the others are good, but no masterpieces.

And come on - Jason Reitman?

Good point on Lee and Abrams though.

Where's Alfonso Cuaron?


Kurskij writes:
on February 24th, 2011 at 5:50:54 AM

Where's Ridley Scott?

Where's Guy Richie?

Where's Jean-Pierre Jeunet?

Where's Oliver f*cking Stone? Even Wall-Street 2 was decent.

Why is David O. Russell on this list?

Why's Spike Lee #21? "Damn white people always keeping black brodas down!"
Kill-the-director writes:
on February 24th, 2011 at 6:35:41 AM

hmm wouldn't give david fincher top spot.


fight club and seven are overrated in my opinion.

Eastwood should be much higher. Nolan would be No.1 in my opinion. Scorsese should be higher and del toro should come before paul t anderson.


and where the f*ck is michael bay??? (JUST KIDDING)
velocityknown writes:
on February 24th, 2011 at 7:55:54 AM

I'm guessing they included Bigelow just so they didn't seem sexist by excluding any women from their list. Still if they need a token woman I think Sofia Coppola is a much more proven director than Bigelow with films like Lost in Translation and Somewhere.

Okay I say you take out David Lynch, Kathryn Bigelow, and JJ Abrams (maybe later, but I think he is a great director) and add Ang Lee, Sam Mendes and Jason Reitman.

Spike Lee deserves to be on this list. I hate that guy for being a huge douchbag but he can absolutely direct.

And sorry to keep harping on your lists Alex, but Mike Leigh has been doing great work as of late (Happy-Go-Lucky and Another Year). And I would argue that Mark Romanek doesn't work nearly enough or provide outstanding enough films in the times he does work.

And to say that Spike Lee and Mike Leigh haven't done that much lately when they've each done a number of films in the past decade alone whereas Romanek has done 3 films in over 30 years is just plain illogical.
RobertHolik writes:
on February 24th, 2011 at 8:17:58 AM

Werner Herzog and Ben Affleck are missing. Herzog is epic. Ben Affleck has directed 2 feature films, both over the top. Milos Forman should be there, but he hasn't been around much, but he isn't a sellout, he thinks his projects through before making them, therefore he is not a sellout.
ministe2003 writes:
on February 24th, 2011 at 8:50:31 AM

When you consider Nolan has only directed 5 big budget Hollywood blockbusters, for him to be number 2 is an outstanding achievement. Number 1 for me though!
happileperkon writes:
on February 24th, 2011 at 9:04:01 AM

i think peter jackson should be on the list.
happileperkon writes:
on February 24th, 2011 at 9:04:43 AM

*higher on
SACdaddy writes:
on February 24th, 2011 at 9:20:55 AM

OK haven't read any post yet so forgive if I repeat someone, but there are some huge problems with the list. Where is Zach Snyder? He is simply keeps raising the bar of what you can visually do with a camera while not having to resort to cheap parlor tricks like 3D conversion for profit. He also has taken old floundering genres (like the superhero, zombie, and barbarian genres) and breathed new life into them using his own completely unique stlye. Simply put there is NO other director like him on the market right now.

Why the hell is Terence Malik on this list? He's easily one of the WORST directors of the modern era. His films look pretty decent but who gives a sh*t after the 200th minute of the most boring material ever put on screen?

David Lynch is an old favorite but if you're not on some serious drugs or just a little f@#$ed in the head, his movies don't carry much weight anymore.

Spike hasn't done much lately but he's still deserves to be on the list for his new doc*mentary swing. When the Levies Broke was simply amazing. Now with the heated political and social climate of Obama's America I bet we can expect a lot more from Spike in the near future. Bring it on my little guy.

As for JJ Abrams, he's very much earned his way on this list. He, like Snyder, has carved out his own niche in the industry by put his own unique brand on everything he brings to the table. Whether its on the small scene with LOST or on the big screen with MI3, Star Trek, and Cloverfield you know JJ's work when you see it. He is also one of very few directors who has successfully found a way to place the audience in the action on screen without giving them a headache. Michael Bay and Paul Greengrass should take notes. Anyway, JJ will keep pushing the bar higher for the action and sci-fi genres whether Alex likes it or not.

Finally, I love the girl but K Bigs hasn't exactly cranked out very many films over the last 15 years. Say what you want about her latest Oscar winner, but look at her releases before The Hurt Locker. The hits are few and far between. She needs to work a little harder and put more product on the screen. If she can manage to increase her volume without reducing the quality of her product, then she will have earned her rightful place on this list. Releasing one film every 20 years just doesn't cut it unless your last name is Cameron or Polanski.

In the future, hopefully we'll be able to add directors like Neil Blumkamp and Jason Reitman to the list.
asylum writes:
on February 24th, 2011 at 9:23:03 AM

I'm happy to see Nolan up there at the 2 spot. He is definitely the Spielberg of today's Hollywood.

Would like to have seen Edward Zwick somewhere in there though. AT least over Spike Lee Mike Leigh.
SACdaddy writes:
on February 24th, 2011 at 9:54:29 AM

Ok after reading the comments I can't believe EW and I left Guy Ritchie off the list. He's easily one of the best director's the UK has ever produced, which is saying a lot IMO. Hopefully he and Matt Vaughn will make the list in the near future.

I don't know what to make of Ridley Scott anymore, he's so up and down nowadays that I feel I can't trust him like I used to. One minute he's producing gems like Body of Lies and American Gangster and the next he's taking a sh*t with Robin Hood and this Prometheus crap. What a manic motherf*cker!
nuttie30xx writes:
on February 24th, 2011 at 10:33:01 AM

13. Roman Polanski

HE SHOULD NOT BE IN THIS LIST
more like in jail

i think James Cameron should have been a bit higer
nuttie30xx writes:
on February 24th, 2011 at 10:34:20 AM

higher* 8-)
WilliamJust writes:
on February 24th, 2011 at 11:46:19 AM

Wait, against Mike Leigh? The man has made loads of films recently, Happy Go Lucky won loads of awards in 2009 and Another Year was nominated for the Palm D'or!? Both films are excellent. Shame on WP for dismissing him so easily however do agree that Spike Lee isn't quite as current as he could be and Sam Mendes and Jason Reitman should be in this list.

McG anyone!?!?! Haha!!!
sjardimt writes:
on February 24th, 2011 at 2:16:50 PM

paul thomas anderson and the coen brother are definitely 1 and 2, with scorsese and nolan 3 and 4. There are ALOT of overrate directors on this list
MYVAGHURTZ writes:
on February 24th, 2011 at 4:56:04 PM

This list is ok, but the order is an abortion.
My top 5 directors are

5.Coen Brothers
4.Quentin Terantino
3.Clint Eastwood
2.Christopher Nolan
1.Martin Scorsese

You cant go wrong with any of these directors. They're masters of their craft and never dissapoint.
Carl Erik Rinsch writes:
on February 25th, 2011 at 3:57:30 AM

Quentin before Clint Eastwood, im fan of the guy but hes not that good...
b4icu writes:
on February 26th, 2011 at 2:05:57 AM

Good list.

But David Fincher is not #1. He certainly is the most technically brilliant one but besides The Social Network, his films are style over substance.

Kathryn Bigelow and J.J. Abrams should not be on that list.

Christopher Nolan is great, but not better that the Coen Brothers, Paul Thomas Anderson, Martin Scorsese, and Stephen Spielberg. They are the best ones.
b4icu writes:
on February 26th, 2011 at 2:06:02 AM

Good list.

But David Fincher is not #1. He certainly is the most technically brilliant one but besides The Social Network, his films are style over substance.

Kathryn Bigelow and J.J. Abrams should not be on that list.

Christopher Nolan is great, but not better that the Coen Brothers, Paul Thomas Anderson, Martin Scorsese, and Stephen Spielberg. They are the best ones.
Aaron writes:
on February 27th, 2011 at 7:28:01 AM

-Spike Lee, James Cameron
+Sam Mendes, Alfanso Couron
Aaron writes:
on February 27th, 2011 at 7:31:48 AM

Second Ang Lee.
Aaron writes:
on February 27th, 2011 at 7:39:39 AM

And Jean Pierre Junettresszqcxr
KM579 writes:
on March 1st, 2011 at 2:34:03 AM

Where the hell is Tim Burton!?
seveltoto writes:
on November 7th, 2017 at 5:13:11 AM


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