Top 10 Greatest Directors of All Time (Part 2: 5-1)

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5. Paul Thomas Anderson 

Favorite Film by Paul Thomas Anderson: There Will Be Blood (2007)

Another lesser known director to the average film goer. However, Paul Thomas Anderson is a name you should never take lightly. Anderson crafts films that can only be described as experiences. This is because the scope of his films are always grand. This ranges from Magnolia (1999) where there are more characters than the latest Marvel movie to the luscious landscapes and environments of There Will Be Blood (2007). Even when Anderson has a more intimate character study, as in The Master (2012) to Phantom Thread (2017), you can rely on Anderson the pull the most out of his legendary actors, as his common collaborators include Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix, and even three time Oscar winner, Daniel Day-Lewis.

4. Wes Anderson 

Favorite Film by Wes Anderson: The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

The most idiosyncratic director on my list is the one and only Wes Anderson. While Anderson’s films are an acquired taste, once you get into his films there is no turning back! A couple things are sure to be seen in Wes’s with colorful characters, even more colorful costumes, and maybe a Wilson brother or two. While his titles may sound a bit pretentious with The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), and Moonrise Kingdom (2012) being the titles of a few, his films always tell very human stories in incredibly quirky and quintessentially Anderson way. So play your acoustic 60s and 70s records, put on a track suit, and watch a lackadaisical, yet powerful film by Wes Anderson!

3. Damien Chazelle 

Favorite Film by Damien Chazelle: La La Land (2016)

With only three theatrically released films, if you don’t include Guy and a Madeline on a Park Bench (2009), Chazelle is the youngest director on my list. However, Chazelle has proven himself as a real heavyweight in film. With La La Land (2016) and Whiplash (2014), Chazelle deals with many of the same themes of determination and accomplishing your dreams, but in two completely unique ways. The later is a grittier film showing the darker sides of determination with the former being a love letter to the forgotten Hollywood musical. Even when Chazelle isn’t dealing with jazz, he is able to craft visually stunning human stories that gives a new perspective of Neil Armstrong in First Man (2018). I cannot wait to see what he does next!

2. Quentin Tarantino 

Favorite Film by Quentin Tarantino: Pulp Fiction (1994)

Tarantino’s films can be best summed up in three common trends. Early into his career Tarantino specialized in putting a spin on the crime film genre with Reservoir Dogs (1992), Pulp Fiction (1994), and Jackie Brown (1997). Later on, he worked on alternative history projects with Inglourious Basterds (2009), Django Unchained (2012), and Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (2019). He also put his spin on a lot of B-genres with Kill Bill (2003), Kill Bill Volume 2 (2004), The Hateful Eight (2015), and Death Proof (2007). Regardless of what genre he is working in, you will be in store for a lot of violence, quippy dialogue, and feet, lots and lots of feet. 

1. Martin Scorsese 

Favorite Film by Martin Scorsese: The Irishman (2019)

Let’s finish this list with the father of The New Hollywood Era, Martin Scorsese. For over fifty years, Scorsese has rarely missed a beat crafting some of the best films in cinematic history. Scorsese changed the crime film landscape with Who’s That Knocking at My Door (1967), Mean Streets (1973), Goodfellas (1990), Casino (1995), Gangs of New York (2002), The Departed (2006), and The Irishman (2019) all building upon similar themes. As Scorsese has aged and matured as a filmmaker, he is able to tackle the complex themes in different and more nuanced ways. Even when he is not dealing with organized crime, Scorsese is a master at the character studies that add a human side to some of the most despicable people in films such as Taxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1982), and The Wolf of Wall Street (2013).

Even when he goes against type as a director, with such films as Hugo (2011), The Age of Innocence (1993), New York, New York (1977),  and The Color of Money (1986), he is able to add his trademark tracking shots and genius framing and camera work to make any film of his worth watching. Scorsese is at his best though when working with frequent collaborators Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio, Harvey Keitel, and Joe Pesci. All and all, regardless of if he is exploring crime, religion, love, family, or something in between, you know a film will be nothing short of great when “a Martin Scorsese picture” washes across the screen… except for Boxcar Bertha (1972). Can we make a constitutional amendment expunging Boxcar Bertha (1972) from history? 

Here we are… over 1700 words later. What is your favorite director? Comment Below!