Famous 21st Century Film Directors

Find out more about the greatest 21st Century Film Directors, including Sylvester Stallone, Keanu Reeves, Quentin Tarantino, Steven Spielberg and Natalie Portman.

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

Vote for Your Favourite Directors

 1 Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood.
6
Famous As: Actor
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.

 2 Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg.
6
Famous As: film director
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.

Recommended Lists:

 3 Quentin Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino.
4
Famous As: Fimmaker
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."

 4 Christopher Nolan

Christopher Nolan.
4
Famous As: Director
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.

 5 Ron Howard

Ron Howard.
4
Famous As: Actor
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.

 6 Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese.
4
Famous As: Film director
Birthdate: November 17, 1942
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Queens, New York City, 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.

 7 Tim Burton

Tim Burton.
4
Famous As: Director
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.

You May Like

 8 George Lucas

George Lucas.
4
Famous As: Filmmaker
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.

 9 Mel Brooks

Mel Brooks.
4
Famous As: Director
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.

 10 James Cameron

James Cameron.
6
Famous As: Filmmaker
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.

 11 David Lynch

David Lynch.
4
Famous As: Filmmaker
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.

 12 Wes Anderson

Wes Anderson.
4
Famous As: Producer
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.

 13 Spike Lee

Spike Lee.
4
Famous As: Film director
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.

 14 Richard Attenborough

Richard Attenborough.
4
Famous As: British Politician
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.

 15 Francis Ford Coppola

Francis Ford Coppola.
4
Famous As: FilmMaker
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.

 16 Rob Reiner

Rob Reiner
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: March 6, 1947
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: The Bronx, New York, United States

 17 Danny DeVito

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.

 18 Alejandro Gonzalez Inãrittu

Alejandro Gonzalez Inãrittu.
4
Famous As: Film Director
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.

 19 Taika Waititi

Taika Waititi
4
Famous As: Actor, Film director, Screenwriter
Birthdate: August 16, 1975
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Raukokore, Waihau Bay, New Zealand

 20 Oliver Stone

Oliver Stone.
4
Famous As: Film Director, Screenwriter, Producer
Birthdate: September 15, 1946
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: New York City, 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.

 21 William Shatner

William Shatner.
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: March 22, 1931
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Montreal, Canada

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.

 22 Emilio Estevez

Emilio Estevez.
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: May 12, 1962
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Staten Island, New York, United States

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.

 23 Banksy

Banksy.
4
Famous As: Graffiti Artist
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.

 24 Ethan Hawke

Ethan Hawke.
4
Famous As: Actor
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.

 25 Guillermo del Toro

Guillermo del Toro.
4
Famous As: Filmmaker, Screenwriter
Birthdate: October 9, 1964
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Guadalajara, Jalisco

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.

 26 Christoph Waltz

Christoph Waltz.
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: October 4, 1956
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Christoph Waltz is best known for his Academy Award-winning performances as Colonel Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds and Dr. King Schultz in Django Unchained, both by Quentin Tarantino. Waltz had begun as a stage and TV actor in Germany. Some of his other notable projects are Spectre and Big Eyes.

 27 Tommy Lee Jones

Tommy Lee Jones.
4
Famous As: Actor
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.

 28 Lilly Wachowski

Lilly Wachowski
4
Famous As: Film director
Birthdate: December 29, 1967
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States

 29 Donnie Yen

Donnie Yen
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: July 27, 1963
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Guangzhou, Guangdong, China

Donnie Yen is a Hong Kong martial artist, actor, stuntman, action choreographer, director, and producer. He has won several wushu tournaments and is credited for introducing mixed martial arts to mainstream Asian cinema. He is also credited with introducing UFC champion Zhang Weili to MMA. Donnie Yen has won several awards like Hong Kong Film Awards and Golden Horse Awards.

 30 Rob Schneider

Rob Schneider.
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: October 31, 1963
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: San Francisco, California, United States

A multifaceted personality, Rob Schneider is an actor, comedian, screenwriter, and director. Beginning his career with the NBC sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live, he proceeded to act in films, first appearing in supporting roles and then graduating to starring roles. He is an outspoken critic of childhood vaccinations. His daughter, Elle King, is a popular musician.

 31 Fran Drescher

Fran Drescher.
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: September 30, 1957
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Kew Gardens, New York, United States

Fran Drescher is an American actress and comedian. Characterized by her thick New York accent and nasal voice, Fran Drescher serves as an inspiration to many cancer patients as she successfully fought off the disease after suffering from uterine cancer. She is also an outspoken LGBT rights activist and healthcare advocate.

 32 Anjelica Huston

Anjelica Huston
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: July 8, 1951
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Santa Monica, California, United States

Born to actor-director John Huston and ballerina Enrica Soma, Anjelica Huston was no stranger to the world of entertainment as a child. Initially a model, she later became full-time actor and won an Academy Award for her role in Prizzi's Honor. She later became a regular in Wes Anderson’s films.

 33 S. S. Rajamouli

S. S. Rajamouli
4
Famous As: Film director
Birthdate: October 10, 1973
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Raichur,Karnataka, India

 34 Jennette McCurdy

Jennette McCurdy.
4
Famous As: Actress & Singer
Birthdate: June 26, 1992
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Long Beach, California, United States

An American actress, singer, songwriter, filmmaker, writer, and YouTuber, Jennette McCurdy is truly an inspiration to several young girls and women; despite suffering from conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorder, anorexia, and bulimia, McCurdy has managed to establish herself as a successful entertainer. As a writer, she has contributed immensely to publications like The Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and Seventeen.

 35 David Thewlis

David Thewlis.
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: March 20, 1963
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Blackpool, Lancashire, England, United Kingdom
David Thewlis gained fame with his role in Naked, a film that won him a Cannes Film Festival Award. Fans loved him as Remus Lupin in the Harry Potter film franchise and Sir Patrick Morgan/Ares in Wonder Woman. He has also written a novel and directed a BAFTA-nominated short film. 

 36 Rob McElhenney

Rob McElhenney
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: April 14, 1977
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

 37 Penny Marshall

Penny Marshall
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: October 15, 1943
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: The Bronx, New York, United States
Died: December 17, 2018

 38 Martin Fitzgerald Lawrence

Martin Fitzgerald Lawrence.
4
Famous As: Actor and Comedian
Birthdate: April 16, 1965
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Frankfurt, Germany

Martin Fitzgerald Lawrence is a German-born American actor, stand-up comedian, producer, and writer. Renowned for his comedy roles in popular film series like Bad Boys and Big Momma's House, Lawrence's journey from being a Golden Gloves boxer to becoming one of Hollywood's most-loved comedic actors is quite inspirational. Over the years, he has also had a brush with the law.

 39 Johnny Sins

Johnny Sins
4
Famous As: Adult Film Star
Birthdate: December 31, 1978
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Pennsylvania, USA

 40 Pedro Almodovar

Pedro Almodovar.
3
Famous As: Filmmaker, Director
Birthdate: September 25, 1949
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Calzada de Calatrava, Spain

Pedro Almodovar is a Spanish screenwriter, filmmaker, and former actor. Regarded as one of the most successful Spanish filmmakers of all time, Almodovar has two Academy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, and five British Academy Film Awards under his belt. His films are characterized by complex narratives, irreverent humor, and great music.

 41 Sofia Coppola

Sofia Coppola.
4
Famous As: Director
Birthdate: May 14, 1971
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States

The daughter of the popular filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, Sofia Coppola followed in her father's footsteps to become a screenwriter and filmmaker. Sofia became only the second woman to win the Best Director award in the history of Cannes Film Festival when she won the award at the 2017 Festival.

 42 Diego Luna

Diego Luna
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: December 29, 1979
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Toluca, Mexico

 43 Louis Theroux

Louis Theroux.
4
Famous As: Filmmaker & Journalist
Birthdate: May 20, 1970
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Singapore

Renowned British-American documentary filmmaker, Louis Theroux began his career as a journalist with Metro Silicon Valley, Spy magazine and TV Nation series. He gained recognition with his documentary series When Louis Met..., and Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends. The two time BAFTA Award winner has also received appreciation for his documentaries The Most Hated Family in America and My Scientology Movie.

 44 Jake Johnson

Jake Johnson.
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: May 28, 1978
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Evanston, Illinois, United States

As a huge fan of the Second City improv troupe during his growing up days, Jake Johnson aspired to become a comedian. It was this aspiration that made him achieve what he has achieved today as an actor and comedian in the American film industry.

 45 Paul Dano

Paul Dano.
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: June 19, 1984
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: New York City

Popular American stage and screen actor, Paul Dano is recognised for his performances in films like Little Miss Sunshine, L.I.E., There Will Be Blood and Love & Mercy as well as television miniseries Escape at Dannemora. The versatile actor, who began his career on stage as a child artist, has also ventured into direction and scriptwriting with the movie Wildlife.

 46 Alan Arkin

Alan Arkin.
4
Famous As: Actor and Director
Birthdate: March 26, 1934
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Alan Arkin is best known for his Academy Award-winning role in Little Miss Sunshine. Fans also loved him in the movies Argo, The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming, and The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. He has also written several books and directed an Oscar-nominated short film.

 47 M Night Shyamalan

M Night Shyamalan.
4
Famous As: Film Director
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.  

 48 Duncan Jones

Duncan Jones.
4
Famous As: Film Director
Birthdate: May 30, 1971
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Beckenham, United Kingdom
Director, screenwriter, and producer Duncan Jones, son of rockstar David Bowie, is best known for his BAFTA-winning directorial debut, Moon. His other notable works include Source Code and Warcraft. He has also co-written a graphic novel. He married his fiancée, Rodene Ronquillo, the day she was diagnosed with breast cancer. 

 49 Matt Dillon

Matt Dillon.
4
Famous As: Actor, Director
Birthdate: February 18, 1964
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New Rochelle, New York, United States

Matt Dillon is an American actor whose performance in movies like My Bodyguard and Little Darlings established him as a teen idol during the early-1980s. In the early-1990s, he was regarded as one of the best young actors along with Sean Penn. In the 2000s, he shifted his attention towards direction and remains active as an actor and director.

 50 Josh Radnor

Josh Radnor.
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: July 29, 1974
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Columbus, Ohio
Josh Radnor is best known as Ted Mosby from How I Met Your Mother. He wrote and directed the Sundance Audience Award-winning movie HappyThankYouMorePlease. A seasoned theater artist, he was also seen in the Tony-nominated Broadway play Disgraced. He also appeared in the series Hunters, Rise, and Mercy Street.