Famous British Directors

If a film is a tree, directors are the roots of the tree. An idea that buds in a tiny part of the mind is sowed, watered and reaped into a beautiful tree which encapsulates the thought into a 90-minute film that showcases a story, a belief and a conviction that the filmmakers stand by. It is the director who envisions an idea and formulates the same into a film. The entire film unit functions according to the idea envisioned and work collaboratively to come up with a brilliant piece of performance that stands by the idea, thought or story. Since the earliest days of filmmaking, every country has had some ace directors who have given audience some scintillating movies that you just can’t get enough of even after watching it several times. It is to these directors that we owe much of our entertainment. British filmmakers have given world audience some exceptional movies that have been high on content and purely entertaining. The most outstanding quality of British films is that once seen, their work cannot be easily forgotten. Some of the exceptionally talented British directors include Alfred Hitchcock, Ridley Scott, Ken Loach, Mike Leigh, David Lean, Christopher Nolan, Danny Boyle and so on. However, these are just a handful of the truckloads of outstanding directors that Britain has been home to. Check with this segment to know more about famous British directors, their life, profile, works and movies.

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

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 1 Charlie Chaplin

Charlie Chaplin.
4
Famous As: Comic Actor
Birthdate: April 16, 1889
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Walworth, London, England
Died: December 25, 1977

Cinema lovers around the world hold Charlie Chaplin in high esteem. One of the biggest stars of the silent film era and an icon, he left the audience in splits with his comedic performances. Even today, his performances in movies like Modern Times and The Gold Rush are considered classic. The legendary actor was also a writer, director and producer.

 2 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.

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 3 Sam Mendes

Sam Mendes.
4
Famous As: Film Director
Birthdate: August 1, 1965
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Reading

Sam Mendes is an English filmmaker known for his dark re-inventions of popular stage musicals. The recipient of a Tony Award, Mendes received the Academy Award for his film directorial debut American Beauty. In the 2020 New Years Honours, he was knighted for services to drama. He was also featured on the 100 most powerful people in British culture list.

 4 Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock.
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Famous As: Film Director
Birthdate: August 13, 1899
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Leytonstone, London, England
Died: April 29, 1980

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.

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 5 Richard Attenborough

Richard Attenborough.
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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.

 6 Ridley Scott

Ridley Scott.
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Famous As: Film Producer, Director
Birthdate: November 30, 1937
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: South Shields

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.

 7 Banksy

Banksy.
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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.

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 8 Terry Gilliam

Terry Gilliam
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Famous As: Film director, Screenwriter, Actor, Animator, Film actor
Birthdate: November 22, 1940
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Minneapolis

 9 David Thewlis

David Thewlis.
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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. 

 10 Laurence Olivier

Laurence Olivier.
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: May 22, 1907
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Dorking, Surrey, England
Died: July 11, 1989
Four-time Academy Award-winning actor Laurence Olivier began his career with stage, mostly playing Shakespearean characters. He founded London’s National Theatre. Some of his noteworthy films were Wuthering Heights, Rebecca, and the movie version of Hamlet. He had received the knighthood, the Order of Merit, and a life peerage.

 11 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.

 12 Duncan Jones

Duncan Jones.
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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. 

 13 Edgar Wright

Edgar Wright.
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Famous As: Director
Birthdate: April 18, 1974
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Poole
Director Edgar Wright is best known for the film Shaun of the Dead, part of “The Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy." He also directed Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and co-wrote Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin and the Marvel film Ant-Man. His signature style includes tracking shots and zooms. 

 14 Charles Dance

Charles Dance.
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: October 10, 1946
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Redditch, Worcestershire
Charles Dance is best known as Tywin Lannister from Game of Thrones and Lord Mountbatten in Netflix’s The Crown. He started as a Shakespearean actor and has also received the OBE. He has also appeared in Childhood's End, The Jewel in the Crown, and the films Alien 3 and Kabloonak

 15 Jerry O'Connell

Jerry O'Connell
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: February 17, 1974
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Manhattan, New York City, U.S.

 16 Danny Boyle

Danny Boyle.
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Famous As: Film Director, Screenwriter, Film Producer
Birthdate: October 20, 1956
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Radcliffe

Danny Boyle is best known for his Academy Award-winning movie Slumdog Millionaire. He also amazed audiences with his deft direction in Trainspotting, 127 Hours, and 28 Days Later. He won a BAFTA with his debut film, Shallow Grave. He was the artistic director of the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony.

 17 Stan Laurel

Stan Laurel.
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: June 16, 1890
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Ulverston, Lancashire
Died: February 23, 1965

Comedian Stan Laurel entertained audiences as part of the iconic duo Laurel and Hardy, along with Oliver Hardy, in over 100 films. He began his career with music-hall sketch comedy and worked as an understudy of Charlie Chaplin in Fred Karno's Army. He was known for his trademark bowler hat.

 18 Terry Jones

Terry Jones
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: February 1, 1942
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Colwyn Bay, Denbighshire, Wales
Died: January 21, 2020
Starting his career as a comedy writer, actor-director Terry Jones later soared to fame as part of the Monty Python comedy team. An avid historian, too, he wrote several books and presented TV documentaries on the topic. In his later years, the BAFTA Cymru award winner struggled with dementia. 

 19 Bonnie Wright

Bonnie Wright.
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: February 17, 1991
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: London, United Kingdom

Bonnie Wright is an English actress, filmmaker, screenwriter, and activist. She is best known for portraying Ginny Weasley in the popular Harry Potter movie series. Over the years, Wright has been playing a key role in raising awareness about plastic pollution. She also serves as an ambassador for an international non-governmental charity called Lumos.

 20 Tony Scott

Tony Scott
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Famous As: Film director
Birthdate: June 21, 1944
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Tynemouth, Northumberland, 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.  

 21 Warwick Davis

Warwick Davis.
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: February 3, 1970
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Epsom, Surrey, England

Warwick Davis is an English actor, comedian, filmmaker, writer, and TV presenter. He is known for playing important roles in popular film series like Leprechaun, Star Wars, and Harry Potter films. Davis serves as an inspiration to those suffering from dwarfism. As the co-founder of a charity organization called Little People UK, Warwick Davis has touched the lives of many people.

 22 Sophie Hunter

Sophie Hunter.
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Famous As: Theatre Director
Birthdate: March 16, 1978
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Hammersmith, London

Sophie Hunter is an English playwright, opera director, and former performer. She is credited with co-founding and popularizing a theatre company called Boileroom, which was honored with the Samuel Theatre Trust Award in 2007 for its play The Terrific Electric, which marked Sophie Hunter's directorial debut.

 23 Roddy McDowall

Roddy McDowall.
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: September 17, 1928
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Herne Hill, London
Died: October 3, 1998
Roddy McDowall is best remembered as Cornelius and Caesar from the original Planet of the Apes movie series and as Galen from the 1974 spin-off series. His portrayal of Octavian in Cleopatra earned him a Golden Globe nomination. He was also a talented photographer and was associated with several boards.

 24 Peter Serafinowicz

Peter Serafinowicz
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: July 10, 1972
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Liverpool, England

 25 Jonathan Nolan

Jonathan Nolan.
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Famous As: Screenwriter, Director, Producer
Birthdate: June 6, 1976
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: London

Jonathan Nolan is a British-American television producer, director, screenwriter, and author. He is credited with creating the CBS science fiction crime drama Person of Interest. He is also credited with co-creating HBO's popular science fiction Western television series Westworld. Along with his brother Christopher Nolan, Jonathan has co-written popular films, such as The Dark Knight and Interstellar.

 26 Richard Osman

Richard Osman.
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Famous As: Television Presenter
Birthdate: November 28, 1970
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: BBillericay, Essex, England, United Kingdom

Richard Osman is an English writer, television presenter, comedian, and producer. He is credited with creating the popular British TV quiz show Pointless. He is also renowned for his work as creative director of the famous TV production company Endemol UK. Also an influential writer, Richard Osman's novel The Thursday Murder Club is expected to be adapted into a film.

 27 Simon Monjack

Simon Monjack.
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Famous As: Film Director, Screenwriter, Producer
Birthdate: March 9, 1970
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: London Borough of Hillingdon
Died: May 23, 2010

Simon Monjack was an English filmmaker, screenwriter, and make-up artist. Much of his professional life was overshadowed by his personal life, which included his marriage to American actress Brittany Murphy. Monjack's death attracted the attention of media as he died five months after Murphy's death due to complications similar to Murphy's undoing. 

 28 Guy Ritchie

Guy Ritchie.
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Famous As: Filmmaker & Businessman
Birthdate: September 10, 1968
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Hatfield, Hertfordshire, England

As a 15-year-old who left school to take up entry-level jobs in the entertainment industry, Guy Ritchie has turned out pretty well. As a filmmaker, he has made some high-grossing films, such as Aladdin and The Gentlemen. Apart from being a filmmaker and writer, Guy Ritchie also practices Shotokan karate, Judo, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

 29 Victoria Wood

Victoria Wood
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Famous As: Comedian
Birthdate: May 19, 1953
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Prestwich, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, England, UK
Died: April 20, 2016

Multi-talented English comedian, Victoria Wood was also an actress, lyricist, singer, composer, pianist, screenwriter, producer, and director. Wood started her career with the TV show That's Life! and established herself as one of Britain's greatest stand-up comedians. She wrote sketches, dramas, and popular sitcoms and her self-deprecating humor got her 14 BAFTA nominations of which she won four. 

 30 Martin Clunes

Martin Clunes.
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: November 28, 1961
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Wimbledon, London, United Kingdom
Martin Clunes is best known as Martin Ellingham from Doc Martin and as Gary Strang from Men Behaving Badly, winning a BAFTA for the latter. The OBE honoree has also starred in the film Shakespeare in Love, voiced Kipper the Dog in Kipper, and narrated several animal-centric documentaries.

 31 David Morrissey

David Morrissey.
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: June 21, 1964
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Kensington, Liverpool
David Morrissey is best known for his portrayal of The Governor in The Walking Dead. A talented Shakespearean theater actor, he has also delivered an award-winning performance as Macbeth. He has also been seen in films such as Sense and Sensibility and The Reaping, and has directed various projects.

 32 Shaun Evans

Shaun Evans.
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: March 6, 1980
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Liverpool, United Kingdom

Shaun Evans is an English actor best known for playing Endeavour Morse in the popular detective drama TV series, Endeavour. Also known for his skills as a director, Shaun Evans has helmed a couple of episodes of TV series Casualty and Endeavour.

 33 Karen Gillan

Karen Gillan.
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: November 28, 1987
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Inverness, Scotland

Karen Gillan is one of the most popular and successful actresses from Scotland. She is best known for playing Nebula and Ruby Roundhouse in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films and Jumanji film series respectively. Also a filmmaker, she wrote and directed The Party's Just Beginning, apart from acting in the film. She is also a philanthropist.

 34 Graham McTavish

Graham McTavish
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: January 4, 1961
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Glasgow, Scotland, UK

 35 David Soul

David Soul
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: August 28, 1943
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, USA

 36 Peter Ustinov

Peter Ustinov
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: April 16, 1921
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Swiss Cottage, London, England
Died: March 28, 2004

 37 Rupert Sanders

Rupert Sanders.
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Famous As: Film Director
Birthdate: March 16, 1971
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Westminster, London, United Kingdom
Director Rupert Sanders is best known for his work in the blockbuster film Snow White and the Huntsman and the movie adaptation of the sci-fi manga franchise Ghost in the Shell. He also won two Golden Lions for directing the commercial The Life for the video game Halo 3: ODST

 38 Alex Winter

Alex Winter
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: July 17, 1965
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: London, England, UK

 39 Kenneth Branagh

Kenneth Branagh.
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Famous As: Actor, Director
Birthdate: December 10, 1960
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Belfast, Northern Ireland

Northern Irish actor, director, and producer, Kenneth Branagh, is a respected figure in Hollywood. Beginning his career as a theater artist in Northern Ireland, he eventually moved to films. He is famous for starring in several film adaptations of William Shakespeare's plays. He has been nominated for the Academy Awards five times.

 40 Joe Wright

Joe Wright.
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Famous As: Film Director
Birthdate: August 25, 1972
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: London
Joseph Wright is best known for his Golden Globe-nominated direction in Atonement and his BAFTA-winning direction in Pride & Prejudice. Some of his other notable works are Anna Karenina, Hanna, Darkest Hour, and Pan. He is fond of tracking shots and often tries to model his shots on classical paintings.

 41 Alex Garland

Alex Garland.
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Famous As: Novelist, Screenwriter, Film Director
Birthdate: May 26, 1970
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: London

Alex Garland is an English filmmaker and writer best known for penning the critically acclaimed novel, The Beach, which was adapted into a movie after being translated into 25 languages. Apart from writing screenplays of films like 28 Days Later, Garland has also directed movies like Ex Machina, which earned him an Oscar nomination and a couple of BIFA awards.

 42 Delroy Lindo

Delroy Lindo
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: November 18, 1952
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Eltham, London, England, UK

 43 Sean Pertwee

Sean Pertwee.
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: June 4, 1964
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Hammersmith, London

Sean Pertwee is an English actor and narrator. The son of actor, Jon Pertwee, Sean followed in the footsteps of his father to establish himself in the entertainment industry. Apart from playing important roles in films like Dog Soldiers, he is also known for his work as a narrator in TV shows, such as Zero Hour and MasterChef: The Professionals.

 44 Ken Loach

Ken Loach
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Famous As: Director
Birthdate: June 17, 1936
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Nuneaton

 45 Sarah Lancashire

Sarah Lancashire
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: October 4, 1964
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Oldham, Lancashire, England, UK

 46 Mackenzie Crook

Mackenzie Crook
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: September 29, 1971
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Maidstone, Kent, England

 47 Dexter Fletcher

Dexter Fletcher
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: January 31, 1966
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Enfield, London, England, UK

 48 Tracey Ullman

Tracey Ullman
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: December 30, 1959
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Slough, Berkshire, England, UK

British-American actor Tracey Ullman began her career with sketch-comedy shows such as Three of a Kind and later had her own Fox show, The Tracey Ullman Show, which featured 30-second segments of The Simpsons in between, making the latter a hit, too. She rose to become the third-richest comedian from Britain.

 49 Steve McQueen

Steve McQueen
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Famous As: Artist
Birthdate: October 9, 1969
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: London, England

Steve McQueen is a British filmmaker and video artist best known for his film 12 Years a Slave. The film won the Academy Award for Best Picture, making him the first black filmmaker to win the award. He is also a prominent visual artist and a recipient of the Turner Prize, the highest award given to a British visual artist. 

 50 Sam Taylor-Johnson

Sam Taylor-Johnson
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Famous As: Filmmaker
Birthdate: March 4, 1967
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: London, England, UK
Sam Taylor-Johnson, a British filmmaker and photographer, belongs to the Young British Artists group. Her notable works include Nowhere Boy, Fifty Shades of Grey, and Love You More. Her film Nowhere Boy was screened at 53rd annual London Film Festival as its closing presentation in 2009. She is known for directing the famous film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey.