Film director, producer, and screenwriter Steven Spielberg is one of the most popular directors and producers in film history. A pioneer of the New Hollywood era, he popularized the genre of escapist films. As of 2020, he is the highest-grossing film director in history. He has won the Academy Award for Best Director twice.
Popular film director, screenwriter, and producer, Quentin Tarantino, first rose to fame as an independent filmmaker in the early 1990s. His films are known for their nonlinear story-lines and neo-noir elements and have garnered both critical and commercial success. He is the winner of two Academy Awards and has been called "the single most influential director of his generation."
Martin Scorsese is widely considered one of the most influential and significant film directors in the history of the American film industry. One of the most decorated film directors, Scorsese has nine Oscar nominations, the most for any living director. He has also founded many non-profit organizations like The Film Foundation and World Cinema Foundation.
British-American writer and director, Christopher Nolan is known for his distinctive kind of films which are often intelligent, deep and nonlinear. He gained international recognition with Memento and further reached greater heights with big budget movies like The Dark Knight film series, Inception, Interstellar and Dunkirk. The multiple award winning director began shooting short films at the age of seven.
Ron Howard started his career in the show business as an actor, but it was in direction that he found his true calling. He is highly respected for his craft and films like Solo: A Star Wars Story, Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind. He won the Academy Award for the Best Director for A Breautiful Mind.
The quintessential filmmaker of gothic fantasy films in Hollywood, Tim Burton's contribution to the long list of American film industry's quirky movies is immense. Since he is also an artist and animator, he is perhaps best-suited for making the kind of films that he has made so far - Edward Scissorhands, Planet of the Apes, and Alice in Wonderland.
Regarded as one of the greatest American filmmakers, Stanley Kubrick was the maker of acclaimed movies like Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Barry Lyndon. Stanley Kubrick was known for his exceptional visual style and artistic expression. He began his career as a magazine photographer and subsequently began directing short films. His first big break came with the hit movie Spartacus.
10 Mel Brooks
Mel Brooks is the director of iconic comedy films and spoofs like The Producers, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, Silent Movie, High Anxiety and Spaceballs. He is also an actor and a writer and has written for many films. He has received many awards and accolades and won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for the film. The Producers, in 1969.
Considered one of the most prominent filmmakers in the history of animated films, Hayao Miyazaki is a Japanese animator and manga artist. A co-founder of Studio Ghibli, Miyazaki has gained worldwide acclaim as a maker of animated films and a masterful storyteller. Miyazaki has served as an inspiration to several world-renowned animators and directors, including James Cameron and Wes Anderson.
Popularly known as the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock pioneered the Hitchcockian style of filmmaking. One of the most studied filmmakers in the world, Hitchcock is also one of the most influential in the history of cinema. In his career, that spanned six decades, he directed some of the greatest films of all time, such as Psycho and Vertigo.
13 Orson Welles
American filmmaker, Orson Welles, acted in and directed the 1941 film, Citizen Kane, which is considered to be one the greatest movies ever made. Though hailed as a genius, many of his films didn’t work at the box office. The Stranger, Macbeth, Chimes at Midnight, Touch of Evil and The Trial are some of the other films that he directed.
14 Wes Anderson
Wes Anderson’s movies mostly have eccentric narratives. BBC named his films The Royal Tenenbaums, Moonrise Kingdom, and The Grand Budapest Hotel to their list of the greatest films made since 2000. He owns a production company and has won a Silver Bear for the animation film Isle of Dogs.
15 David Lynch
American filmmaker David Lynch is widely regarded as one of the most influential and accomplished directors of the modern era. Eraserhead, The Elephant Man, Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart, The Straight Story, Lost Highway, Mulholland Drive and Inland Empire are some of his acclaimed films. He was given an honorary Oscar in 2019. He is also a painter and a musician.
16 Spike Lee
Spike Lee is a celebrated and one of the most decorated American filmmakers of his generation. Most of his critically acclaimed films explore political issues, such as urban crime and poverty, colorism in the African-American community, and race relations. Four of his films have been selected for conservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.
Richard Attenborough is credited with making one of the greatest films of all time - Gandhi. Also an actor, Richard served as the president of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Apart from being honored by the British royalty, he was also honored with India's third-highest civilian award, The Padma Bhushan.
Canadian film director, producer, and screenwriter James Cameron is best known for making science fiction and epic films. He is the co-founder of the production companies Lightstorm Entertainment and Digital Domain. Time magazine named him as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2012. He is also an environmentalist.
Francis Ford Coppola is an American filmmaker. Widely regarded as one of the greatest filmmakers ever, Francis Ford Coppola was a prominent figure in the Hollywood Renaissance filmmaking movement of the 1960s and 1970s. A much revered and celebrated filmmaker, he is credited with directing some of the greatest films of all time, including The Godfather movie series.
New Zealand director/producer Peter Jackson is best known for his three-time Academy Award-winning work in The Return of the King, the third part of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The third-highest-grossing director ever, he is also the man behind The Hobbit trilogy and the 2005 film King Kong.
22 Adam Sandler
Actor, comedian, and filmmaker, Adam Sandler, is best known for his comedic roles in Hollywood movies. Despite being a popular actor he also has the ignominious distinction of having appeared in numerous widely panned movies and is the holder of three Golden Raspberry Awards! He has released a few comedy albums as well.
Called a sex symbol, Burt Reynolds was one of the most charismatic actors to rule the silver screen. The star of movies like The Longest Yard, Boogie Nights and Best Friends was a massive box-office attraction from 1978 to 1982, with Smokey and the Bandit being his biggest hits. However, he really did not get thumbs up from movie critics.
Beginning his career as a child star, actor Michael J. Fox went on to play more mature roles as a young adult and established himself firmly in Hollywood. His thriving career suffered a setback when he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease at just 29. Despite his health issues, he continues to act and advocates for Parkinson's disease research.
25 Danny DeVito
An award-winning actor, Danny DeVito overcame a rare genetic disorder called Fairbank's disease to become an influential figure in the American film industry. Along with Michael Shamberg, he founded a production company called Jersey Films, which went on to produce films like Pulp Fiction. He was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2011.
26 Rob Reiner
An actress, director, writer, and producer, Rashida Jones is a multi-talented woman who first gained prominence as a TV actress. A Harvard University graduate, the bright young woman entered the entertainment industry in the mid-1990s and has since made a name for herself. She is the recipient of several awards including a Grammy.
Actor, film director, and producer, Kevin Costner, is a much-decorated Hollywood with two Academy Awards and two Golden Globe Awards to his name. Even though he never dreamed of a career in films as a youngster, fate ultimately led him to Hollywood where he made a successful career. He is also a singer in a country rock band.
30 Rob Lowe
An actor, producer, and director who first rose to fame as a teenage star in the late 1970s, Rob Lowe has been active in both TV shows and films. His public image and film career declined after a sex tape scandal in the late 1980s, but he has been able to resurrect his career successfully.
32 Paul Newman
One of the most celebrated actors of the 1960s and 1970s, Paul Newman was a multi-faceted man. Apart from winning acting accolades, such as the Academy Award, he had also won many championships as a driver as part of the Sports Car Club of America. Also known for his philanthropy and political activism, Newman founded many nonprofit organizations.
33 Jon Favreau
Best known for directing movies like the Iron Man, Chef, The Jungle Book and The Lion King, Jon Favreau began by performing at improvisational theatre and later made his acting debut with film Rudy. As an actor, he has appeared in numerous films and television shows but it is his work as a filmmaker that has brought him much fame.
35 Oliver Stone
Oliver Stone is a filmmaker best known for his trilogy of war films, which he made based on his own experience in the Vietnam War, where he served as an infantry soldier. Known for making controversial films based on political issues, he is often criticized for misrepresenting real-world events and promoting conspiracy theories in his films.
37 Gene Wilder
Perhaps the most loved Willy Wonka of them all, Gene Wilder was one of the main reasons for the popularity of the iconic character, which he played in the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Apart from acting and writing, Gene was also instrumental in promoting cancer awareness through his organization Gilda Radner Ovarian Cancer Detection Center.
David Schwimmer is best known for portraying the role of Ross Geller in the hugely popular and successful American television series, Friends, which ran for 10 seasons from 1994 to 2004. He has also worked in films like Kissing a Fool, Apt Pupil, Picking up the Pieces and The Iceman.
Charles Robert Redford Jr. is a retired actor, activist, and director. He is credited with founding the Sundance Film Festival and was named in Time magazine's list of 100 most influential people in the world in 2014. For his contributions to arts, Charles Robert Redford Jr. was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016.
Akira Kurosawa was a Japanese filmmaker. Widely considered one of the most influential and important filmmakers of all time, Kurosawa's works opened up Western film markets to the products of the Japanese entertainment industry, enabling other Japanese filmmakers to achieve international recognition. Such is his impact as a filmmaker that he is credited with contributing to the development of Asia.
41 Ben Stiller
One of the most popular comedic actors of his generation, Ben Stiller is part of the famous group The Frat Pack – he has been described as the leader of the group, which involves names like Will Ferrell, Owen Wilson and Steve Carell. A popular and successful actor, his movies have grossed over $2.6 billion in the USA and Canada.
Christopher Reeve had a flying start to his acting career as he played the iconic Superman in four films. Unfortunately, he became a quadriplegic after suffering an accident at an equestrian competition. Despite the setback, he continued contributing to the film industry and also founded the Christopher Reeve Foundation as part of his charitable work.
Canadian actor, William Shatner, is best known for his roles in the television series Boston Legal, a legal drama for which he won two Emmy Awards and Star Trek, a science fiction adventure. He has also worked in many other sitcoms and films and has authored a number of science fiction novels. He is a singer and a spoken-word artist too.
Mexican filmmaker, Alejandro Gonzalez Inãrittu, is known internationally for his films about the human condition. Beginning his entertainment career as a radio host, he started composing music and producing films as the years went by. The recipient of many prestigious awards, he is the first Mexican filmmaker to win an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
Emilio Estevez is known for acting in movies like The Mighty Ducks, The Breakfast Club and Repo Man as well as Bobby and The Public, the last two of which he also wrote and directed. One of the members of 1980s Brat Pack group of actors, he has also directed television shows like CSI: NY and appeared in music videos.
46 Sally Field
An acclaimed American actress, Sally Field has won prestigious awards, such as Academy Awards and Emmy Awards. Apart from being a popular actress, Sally Field has also played an important role as an activist, advocating for gay rights and women's rights. She has been part of the board of directors of an international women's NGO called Vital Voices Global Partnership.
47 Ethan Hawke
American actor, Ethan Hawke, is an acclaimed artist and has had a successful career. His breakthrough role was of a school student in the 1989 film Dead Poets Society. Training Day, First Reformed, Boyhood, Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight are some of his critically appreciated movies. He has also directed several films and acted in many stage productions.
48 Sean Astin
Sean Astin became a widely recognized actor after portraying Samwise Gamgee in one of the most popular film trilogies of all time - The Lord of the Rings. The film series played such an important role in his life that Sean decided to get a tattoo of the word nine in the Tengwar script, commemorating his involvement in the series.
49 Satyajit Ray
Satyajit Ray was an Indian film director, music composer, and writer. Considered one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, Ray became the first Indian to be honored with an Academy Honorary Award in 1992. Apart from Indian filmmakers, international directors like Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Francis Ford Coppola, Wes Anderson, and Christopher Nolan have been influenced by Satyajit Ray.