The form of cinema over the past century has been shaped by countless hands – innovative minds have spent their lives perfecting the art, with each generation improving on the work of their predecessors. While directing isn’t the only relevant aspect of filmmaking, it’s arguably the most important: translating one’s vision into a film requires a remarkably nuanced eye.
Directors come and go, but there are a handful who have inspired and influenced audiences globally. Identifying top filmmakers is an easy task, but ranking their films based on quality is an exercise in subjectivity. Luckily, that’s where IMDb comes in.
ten Jeanne Dielman by Chantal Akerman (1975) is a common thread in the making of cinema — 7.7
Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Brussels is a Belgian arthouse film by Chantal Akerman. The film takes a realistic approach to its titular protagonist, whose life is explored in microscopic detail. Jeanne Dielmann has been called a “masterpiece of the feminine” and quickly became synonymous with the women’s rights movements in 1970s Europe.
Akerman has no interest in being seen as a feminist director because she “[doesn’t] think that women’s cinema exists.” However, Jeanne Dielmann is one of those films that ends up integrating itself into the cultural fabric by leaving itself open to interpretation.
9 David Lynch’s The Elephant Man (1980) was a smash hit and garnered eight Oscar nominations – 8.2
Critic Pauline Kael praised David Lynch’s abstract cinematic aesthetic, calling him “the first populist surrealist”. His films are so dense with information and complex themes that they all merge into “one big puzzle of ideas”.
The Elephant Man is based on the real life of Joseph Merrick, a man whose deformities made him an object of fascination and ridicule in 19th century London. The film was a smash hit, earning eight nominations at the 1981 Academy Awards and ultimately winning none. Interestingly, Lynch downplays his characteristic surrealism in The Elephant Man.
8 The Shining (1980) by Stanley Kubrick is one of the best horror films ever made – 8.4
As a pioneer of the Hollywood new wave, critics recognize Stanley Kubrick’s production as “one of the most important contributions to world cinema of the 20th century”. He almost exclusively adapted his films from short stories and books — the brilliant is based on a novel by Stephen King.
The author did not appreciate the film adaptation of his book, as did Kubrick’s contemporary critics, but modern ratings have reconsidered the brilliant as one of the “greatest horror movies of all time”. Kubrick only made two more films after this one.
seven Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard (1950) kept its freshness for several decades – 8.4
Billy Wilder’s triumphant vision has earned him 21 Oscar nominations and five wins over his long and esteemed career. Many of his films are definitive examples of the golden age of cinema, such as The lost weekend (1945), Some like it hot (1959), and The apartment (1960).
Time magazine describes sunset boulevard like “Hollywood at its worst told by Hollywood at its best”. The film retained its freshness for several decades, an impressive feat for a 1950 film. That said, Sunset Boulevard owes its timeless charm to the commanding presence of Gloria Swanson.
6 Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) is studied by both scholars and filmmakers – 8.5
Alfred Hitchcock has been hailed as “the master of suspense” for his unprecedented directing style. He said his “suspense work just created nightmares for the audience”, adding that viewers would be thrilled “when [they] wake up because [they’re] relieved”.
Hitchcock’s films have won countless prestigious awards, including Oscars, BAFTAs, Golden Globes, and more. psychology, arguably his most popular film, was the subject of a bit of controversy upon its release. However, psychology gradually gained popularity with critics and is now widely studied by scholars and filmmakers.
5 James Cameron’s Terminator 2 (1991) is one of the best sci-fi films out there – 8.6
James Cameron’s oeuvre is filled with blockbusters, aliens (1986) and true lies (1994) at Titanic (1997). Avatar (2009), officially the highest-grossing film of all time, revolutionized the field of visual effects. Cameron’s “genre-spanning work, lofty ambitions and unbridled energy” explain why he is called “the king of high-tech thrillers”.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day was an extremely expensive project, running over $100 million in production costs, but it ended up grossing more than five times its budget at the box office. The juxtaposition between the T-800 and the T-1000 highlights several questions about conscience and morality, especially since the technologically advanced model is described as emotionally stunted.
4 Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai (1954) Never Let Its Audience Lose Interest – 8.6
Akira Kurosawa has influenced dozens of modern filmmakers, including Steven Spielberg, Federico Fellini, Satyajit Ray, Andrei Tarkovsky and Robert Altman. Kurosawa is best known for his epic drama Seven Samuraiwhich he edited and scripted in addition to directing.
The film has been “remade, reworked, referenced” so many times in pop culture that it has become a living entity in its own right. Seven Samurai is a cinematic gem that “never lets the audience lose interest” over its 3.5 hour runtime.
3 David Fincher’s Fight Club (1999) is an era-defining masterpiece – 8.8
David Fincher “challenges the status quo” in virtually every film he makes, from critic Alien 3 (1992) to the critically acclaimed film missing girl (2014). Interestingly, he’s also known for directing iconic music videos — Madonna’s “Express Yourself” and “Vogue.”
Fincher’s fight club “hit a nerve in the male psyche that has been debated in newspapers around the world.” This era-defining film distills the feelings of bitterness felt by 90s men into a deeply satirical dark comedy. To analyse fight club in its constituent parts is unnecessary – the story is inherently greater than the sum of its parts.
2 Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction (1994) defined him as an influential director – 8.9
Quentin Tarantino is famous for wrapping his movies with popular culture references and homages, a tactic that combines spectacularly with non-linear storylines and blood-curdling violence. Filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich called Tarantino “the most influential director of his generation”.
Tarantino is most associated with pulp Fictiona self-referential masterpiece that won Cannes’ Palme d’Or and garnered near-universal praise for its direction, screenplay and cast. pulp FictionThe “scruffy, fanzine” aesthetic of “represents the final triumph of postmodernism”.
1 The Dark Knight (2007) by Christopher Nolan was IMDb #1 for a short time – 9.0
Christopher Nolan’s existentialist perspective is clear in most of his work. Director Guillermo del Toro endorsed Nolan’s unorthodox style, calling the latter an “emotional mathematician” for elegantly conveying the overall narrative without losing sight of individual character arcs.
The black KnightIt is unquestionably Nolan’s highest-reviewed film to date, earning accolades from critics, audiences, and film pundits. In the weeks following its release, The black Knight climbed to the top of the IMDb chart, surpassing The Godfather (1972) and The Shawshank Redemption (1994). The film has since slipped to No. 3.
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