Famous 21st Century Film Directors

Right IconThis ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Find out more about the greatest 21st Century Film Directors, including Sylvester Stallone, Keanu Reeves, Quentin Tarantino, Steven Spielberg and Natalie Portman.
Vote for Your Favourite 21st Century Film Directors
 1 
Quentin Tarantino
(One of the Most Influential Directors of His Generation)
Quentin Tarantino
8
Birthdate: March 27, 1963
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Knoxville, Tennessee, United States

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."

 2 
Christopher Nolan
(Film Director - Known for His Ambitious & Visually Impressive Films)
Christopher Nolan
6
Birthdate: July 30, 1970
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Westminster, London, England

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.

 3 
Martin Scorsese
(Director, Producer and One of the Major Figures of the 'New Hollywood' Era)
Martin Scorsese
7
Birthdate: November 17, 1942
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Flushing, New York, United States

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.

Recommended Lists:
 4 
Ron Howard
(Director, Producer and Former Child Actor)
Ron Howard
8
Birthdate: March 1, 1954
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Duncan, Oklahoma, United States

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.

 5 
George Lucas
(Filmmaker Known for Creating the 'Star Wars' & 'Indiana Jones' Franchises)
George Lucas
7
Birthdate: May 14, 1944
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Modesto, California, United States
National Medal of Arts-winner George Lucas is best known for his iconic movie series Star Wars and Indiana Jones. He wished to the join the U.S. Air Force but was rejected, following which he studied film production at USC. He is also a Science Fiction Hall of Fame inductee.
 6 
James Cameron
(Canadian Filmmaker Best Known for His Films: 'The Terminator', 'Titanic' and 'Avatar')
James Cameron
7
Birthdate: August 16, 1954
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Kapuskasing, Canada

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.

 7 
Mel Brooks
(Actor, Comedian And Filmmaker)
Mel Brooks
6
Birthdate: June 28, 1926
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States

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.

 8 
Hayao Miyazaki
(One of the Most Accomplished Filmmakers in the History of Animation)
Hayao Miyazaki
5
Birthdate: January 5, 1941
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Bunkyo City, Tokyo, Japan

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.

 9 
Francis Ford Coppola
(One of the Best and Most Infulential Filmmakers of the 20th-Century)
Francis Ford Coppola
4
Birthdate: April 7, 1939
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, United States

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.

 10 
David Lynch
(Director Known for His Academy Award Nominated Films: ‘Blue Velvet’, ‘The Elephant Man' and 'Mulholland Drive')
David Lynch
5
Birthdate: January 20, 1946
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Missoula, Montana, United States

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.

 11 
Wes Anderson
(Filmmaker Best Known for His Movies 'The Royal Tenenbaums','Moonrise Kingdom' and 'The Grand Budapest Hotel')
Wes Anderson
6
Birthdate: May 1, 1969
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Houston, Texas, United States

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.

Richard Attenborough
5
Birthdate: August 29, 1923
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Cambridge, England
Died: August 24, 2014

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.

 13 
Peter Jackson
(Director, Writer and Producer of the 'Lord of the Rings' Trilogy & the 'Hobbit' Trilogy)
Peter Jackson
7
Birthdate: October 31, 1961
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Pukerua Bay, New Zealand

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

 14 
Ridley Scott
(Film Producer, Director)
Ridley Scott
6
Birthdate: November 30, 1937
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: South Shields, England

British film director, Ridley Scott,is hailed as a master of his craft and his movies are known for their visual style and intricate details. Alien, Blade Runner, Thelma & Louise, Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, American Gangster, Prometheus, Alien: Covenant and The Martian are some of his acclaimed and successful films. He was knighted in 2003.

 15 
Clint Eastwood
(Among the World's Best Known and Most Successful Movie Stars)
Clint Eastwood
8
Birthdate: May 31, 1930
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: San Francisco, California, United States
The quintessential Western man in the Hollywood movies, Clint Eastwood is regarded as the cultural icon of masculinity. Eastwood’s brilliant portrayal of tough, rugged, ruthless guy in the Western movies endeared him to the masses and brought him international fame.
 16 
Rob Reiner
(Actor)
Rob Reiner
5
Birthdate: March 6, 1947
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: The Bronx, New York, United States
 17 
Steven Spielberg
(One of the Most Influential Personalities in the History of Cinema & Hollywood's Best Known Director)
Steven Spielberg
8
Birthdate: December 18, 1946
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

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.

 18 
Spike Lee
(Film director)
Spike Lee
8
Birthdate: March 20, 1957
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia, United States

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.

 19 
Werner Herzog
(German Film Director Regarded as a Pioneer of 'New German Cinema')
Werner Herzog
5
Birthdate: September 5, 1942
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Munich, Germany
Werner Herzog, one of the prominent figures of the New German Cinema era, has directed films such as Fitzcarraldo and Aguirre, and documentaries such as Grizzly Man. Named to TIME 100, he has written countless books and directed many operas. He was also seen playing The Client in The Mandalorian.
 20 
Ben Affleck
(Actor, Director, Producer & Screenwriter Known for the Portrayal of 'Batman' in Superhero Films)
Ben Affleck
5
Birthdate: August 15, 1972
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Berkeley, California, United States

Ben Affleck is actor, director, producer and screenwriter. He started as a child actor and attained fame after winning the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for writing ‘Good Will Hunting’ in 1997. He has been involved in a number of successful and critically acclaimed films. He’s had issues with alcoholism and has been accused by women of inappropriate behaviour.

 21 
Oliver Stone
(Film Director and Producer Known for His Films "Platoon," "Born on the Fourth of July" and "JFK")
Oliver Stone
5
Birthdate: September 15, 1946
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States

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.

 22 
Danny DeVito
(Actor, Director, Producer)
Danny DeVito
4
Birthdate: November 17, 1944
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Neptune Township, New Jersey, United States

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.

 23 
Morgan Freeman
(One of the Best Actors of His Generation Noted for His Distinctive Deep Voice)
Morgan Freeman
5
Birthdate: June 1, 1937
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Memphis, Tennessee, United States

Prominent character actor, Morgan Freeman, has appeared in a range of film genres playing versatile roles. He is known for his distinctive deep voice. In a career spanning over half a century, he has received various accolades, including an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award. Besides acting, he is an advocate of environmental causes.

 24 
Sam Raimi
(Known for the cult horror comedy Evil Dead films and the original Spider-Man trilogy)
Sam Raimi
4
Birthdate: October 23, 1959
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Royal Oak, Michigan, United States
 25 
Bradley Cooper
6
Birthdate: January 5, 1975
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Abington Township, Pennsylvania, United States

One of the highest-paid actors in the world, Bradley Cooper has been active in Hollywood for over two decades, playing roles ranging from comedic to dramatic. He was named on Time's list of 100 most influential people in the world in 2015. He supports the charity, Hole in the Wall Gang Camp.

 26 
Taika Waititi
(Filmmaker Best Known for His Films: 'Boy', 'Hunt for the Wilderpeople' and 'What We Do in the Shadows')
Taika Waititi
6
Birthdate: August 16, 1975
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Raukokore, Waihau Bay, New Zealand

Taika Waititi is an actor, filmmaker, and comedian. One of the most popular New Zealand film personalities of all time, Waititi is renowned for directing films like Thor: Ragnarok and Boy. He has won prestigious awards including a BAFTA Award, an Academy Award, and a Grammy Award. In 2022, Waititi was included in Time magazine's 100 most influential people list.

 27 
Terry Gilliam
(Film director, Screenwriter, Actor, Animator, Film actor)
Terry Gilliam
5
Birthdate: November 22, 1940
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Minneapolis
 28 
Jason Bateman
(Actor and Director)
Jason Bateman
5
Birthdate: January 14, 1969
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Rye, New York, United States

The son of a popular actor, Jason Bateman was exposed to Hollywood at a young age and decided to follow in his father’s footsteps. He began acting as a teenager and matured as an actor over the years, taking up a variety of roles. He made his feature film directorial debut in 2013.

 29 
Gary Oldman
5
Birthdate: March 21, 1958
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New Cross, London, England

Gary Oldman is an English actor who can be best described as a chameleon, for his remarkable ability to imbibe the traits and mannerisms of the character he portrays. Whether playing a Cold War spy or a Sci-fi villain or Winston Churchill, this acting genius has earned the praise of millions of fans around the world.

 30 
Bryce Dallas Howard
5
Birthdate: March 2, 1981
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States

Bryce Dallas Howard is an American actress and filmmaker, who attained fame after starring in the psychological thriller, The Village. Some of her other notable films are Lady in the Water, As You Like, Spiderman 3, Terminator Salvation, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, Jurassic World and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. She is the daughter of famous and celebrated director and producer, Ron Howard.

 31 
Ralph Fiennes
(English Actor Best Known for His Films: 'Schindler's List', and 'The English Patient' )
Ralph Fiennes
5
Birthdate: December 22, 1962
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Ipswich, England

A Tony Award recipient, Ralph Fiennes is one of the most respected English actors of the current generation. He is known for playing important roles in notable films, such as the Harry Potter and James Bond film series. A Stanislavsky Award recipient, he is also known for his work behind the camera.

 32 
Anthony Hopkins
(Known for His Role as ‘Hannibal Lector’ in Jonathan Demme's ‘The Silence of the Lambs’)
Anthony Hopkins
5
Birthdate: December 31, 1937
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Margam, Wales, United Kingdom

Highly renowned Welsh actor, Anthony Hopkins is best known for his portrayal of a cannibalistic serial killer in the movie The Silence of the Lambs. The portrayal earned him prestigious awards and also a place in the list of best villains of all time. Other notable films of the celebrated character actor include Remains of the Day, Nixon and Amistad.

 33 
Gene Wilder
(Actor, Comedian)
Gene Wilder
6
Birthdate: June 11, 1933
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
Died: August 29, 2016

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.

 34 
Tim Burton
(Film Director Known for His 'Gothic Fantasy' & 'Horror' Films)
Tim Burton
5
Birthdate: August 25, 1958
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Burbank, California, United States

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.

 35 
Ethan Hawke
(Famous For His Role in 'Before Trilogy')
Ethan Hawke
5
Birthdate: November 6, 1970
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Austin, Texas, United States

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.

 36 
Alejandro Gonzalez Inãrittu
(Director, Best Known for Making Psychological Drama Films)
Alejandro Gonzalez Inãrittu
5
Birthdate: August 15, 1963
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Mexico City, Mexico

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.

 37 
Sean Penn
(Best Known for His Roles in the Films: 'Mystic River' and 'Milk')
Sean Penn
5
Birthdate: August 17, 1960
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Santa Monica, California, United States

Academy Award winner actor, Sean Penn, is known for his powerful and passionate performances. His work in Mystic River and Milk won him tremendous appreciation as an actor while Into the Wild and The Crossing Guard earned him positive review as a director. Sean Penn has also attracted media attention for his personal life, political views and humanitarian work.

 38 
Russell Crowe
(Actor Best Known for His Roles in the Films 'Gladiator', 'The Insider' and 'A Beautiful Mind')
Russell Crowe
5
Birthdate: April 7, 1964
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Wellington, New Zealand

Active in the film industry for over 35 years, Russell Crowe is an actor, film producer, director, and musician. Gaining international fame with his role in the epic historical film Gladiator in 2000, he is the recipient of several awards, including an Academy Award and a Broadcast Film Critics Association Award.

 39 
Tyler Perry
(Creator and Performer of 'Madea' Character & Developer of the Sitcom 'Tyler Perry's House of Payne')
Tyler Perry
5
Birthdate: September 13, 1969
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

The amazingly talented, Tyler Perry, is an American actor who topped Forbes list of highest-paid man in entertainment in 2011. Perry is most known as the creator of the boisterous, African-American grandmother character, Madea, which he himself performs with great skill and artistry. From a homeless playwriter to having his own studio, Perry has surely achieved the evasive American dream.

 40 
Guillermo del Toro
(Film Director Best Known For Movies 'Pan's Labyrinth' & 'The Shape of Water')
Guillermo del Toro
4
Birthdate: October 9, 1964
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Guadalajara, Mexico

Guillermo del Toro is one of the most popular Mexican filmmakers of all time. Along with Alejandro Iñárritu and Alfonso Cuarón, he is known as one of the Three Amigos of Cinema. He also played a major role as a former special effects makeup artist. In 2018, he was named in Time's 100 most influential people in the world list.

 41 
Tony Scott
(Director Known for His Successful Thriller Films: ‘Top Gun’, ‘Beverly Hills Cop II’ and ‘Days of Thunder')
Tony Scott
4
Birthdate: June 21, 1944
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Tynemouth, England
Died: August 19, 2012

Tony Scott was an English actor, film director, and producer. He directed several highly successful action and thriller films including Top Gun and Beverly Hills Cop II. He graduated from the Royal College of Art and began his career directing commercials. He soon shifted to films and enjoyed tremendous success. He died by suicide in 2012.  

 42 
David Cronenberg
(Film Director Known for Body Horror Genre Films Such as 'Shivers', 'Scanners' and 'Videodrome')
David Cronenberg
4
Birthdate: March 15, 1943
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Toronto, Canada

David Cronenberg is a Canadian actor, film director, and screenwriter. He is considered a pioneer in what is known as the body horror genre. His films have earned numerous awards, and he has both earned critical acclaim and sparked controversy due to the nature of his work. He often collaborates with fellow actor Viggo Mortensen. 

 43 
Banksy
(Graffiti Artist)
Banksy
5
Birthdate: 1974 AD
Birthplace: Bristol, England

Speaking to world through his spray paints and stencils, Banksy is a popular, though anonymous, graffiti artist. He has a unique style that includes stenciling technique and is known for delivering satirical political and social messages. With fans all over the world, this mysterious artist’s works are worth millions of pounds.

 44 
Edward Norton
5
Birthdate: August 18, 1969
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Amongst the most talented actors of his generation, Edward Norton won a Golden Globe Award for his debut film Primal Fear. The formidable actor later went on to work in movies like The Illusionist, The Incredible Hulk, The Birdman and American History X. Norton ventured into film direction with Keeping the Faith. He also supports various environmental and social causes.

 45 
Jensen Ackles
(Best Known for His Role of 'Dean Winchester' in the TV Series 'Supernatural')
Jensen Ackles
4
Birthdate: March 1, 1978
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Dallas, Texas, United States

Known for his Emmy-nominated performance as Eric Brady in Days of Our Lives, Jensen Ackles had initially wished to study sports medicine. He appeared in the series Supernatural, Dark Angel, and Smallville, and the film My Bloody Valentine 3D. He also voiced Jason Todd in Batman: Under the Red Hood.

 46 
M Night Shyamalan
(American Filmmaker Known for His Contemporary Supernatural Plots and Twist Endings)
M Night Shyamalan
4
Birthdate: August 6, 1970
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Mahé, Puducherry, India

M Night Shyamalan is a filmmaker who is known for making original films with twist endings and supernatural plots. Born in India to a doctor couple, he moved to USA with his parents when he was a baby. He was expected to pursue medicine like his parents, but he chose a different path and became a filmmaker, finding success in his chosen profession.  

 47 
Dax Shepard
(Known for His Role in NBC Comedy Series 'Parenthood' & Host of the Podcast 'Armchair Expert')
Dax Shepard
4
Birthdate: January 2, 1975
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Michigan, United States
 48 
Sidney Poitier
(Director and the First African-American to Win an Academy Award for Best Actor)
Sidney Poitier
5
Birthdate: February 20, 1927
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Miami, Florida, United States
Died: January 6, 2022

Sidney Poitier was a Bahamian-American actor who became the first Afro-Bahamian and Black male actor to receive an Oscar for Best Actor in 1964. In 2009, he was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His life and work inspired a couple of documentary films, including the 2008 film Sidney Poitier, an Outsider in Hollywood.

 49 
Tommy Lee Jones
5
Birthdate: September 15, 1946
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: San Saba, Texas, United States

Veteran actor and filmmaker, Tommy Lee Jones, has had a career spanning over half a century.  he has played many notable roles onscreen and is especially known for portraying real-life characters like businessman Howard Hughes. He has won an Academy Award for his performance in the movie, The Fugitive. Tommy Lee Jones is an inductee to the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame.

 50 
Brian De Palma
(Film director, Screenwriter)
Brian De Palma
4
Birthdate: September 11, 1940
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Newark, New Jersey, United States