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20 Greatest Directors of all time (by EMPIRE readers)

There was a poll not so long ago which asked EMPIRE magazine readers to vote for who they thought were the greatest directors. Here’s the list…

20) Sam Peckinpah

19) Billy Wilder

18) John Ford

17) Sergio Leone

16) Oliver Stone

15) Francis Ford Coppola

14) James Cameron

13) The Coen Brothers

12) Sir David Lean

11) Clint Eastwood

10) Woody Allen

9) Orson Welles

[size=130]8) Quentin Tarantino[/size]

7) Peter Jackson

6) Akira Kurosawa

5) Sir Ridley Scott

4) Stanley Kubrick

3) Martin Scorsese

2) Alfred Hitchcock

1) Steven Spielberg

It’s interesting to see Peter Jackson beat Tarantino. A lot of people were unhappy that Tarantino even made it on the list over at the EMPIRE forums but then again they really do hate him. I would like to have seen Scorcese come first.

PS. It’s funny that when I previewed this post the number 8 besides Quentin Tarantino’s name turned into the 8) smilie, and it’s very relevant so I won’t change it. I guess it was meant to be ;D

wow that a bullshit list, as far as i see it theres really only ONE non-american director in this list, being Akira Kurosawa. Maybe some of these guys are from England, i dunno but this is bullshit.

where is takeshi kitano?

Yep, you’d be right. The majority of people that would have voted would be British

Sergio Leone isnt american


wtf, bullshit

17) Sergio Leone ?????? fuckin seventeen? make that nr 1

2) hitchcock

go on from there

lol at putting The Coen Brothers over Sergio Leone, a joke

this list is crap imo

Wong Kar-Wai should be there. And maybe Terrence Malick, too. And how about french directors like Jean-Pierre Melville (I haven’t seen his movies yet, so I can’t be sure, but he has quite a reputation)

there are 13 american directors or so, there are stacks of other directors. Just not most of the ones that matter. For e.g. Wong Kar Wai, Takeshi Kitano, Jim Jarmusch, Robert Rodriguez, Terence Malick, etc

oh, and i forgot Jean-Pierre Jeunet. MASTER!

[quote=“Seb (admin)”]
this list is crap imo

No need to abbreviate in my opinion Sebastian. It is a crap list. Where are Carl Dreyer, Fritz Lang, Jean Renoir, Powell and Pressburger, F.W. Murnau, Erich Von Stroheim, Josef Von Sternberg, Luis Bunuel, Howard Hawks, Sergei Eisenstien, D.W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, Yasujiro Ozu amongst many others? Most Empire readers have a limited taste in all things cinematic, they go for what is ‘cool’, what ‘kicks ass’ and then talk like they’re an expert on the subject.

Fucking Ridley Scott! The favourite director of the lazy film fan. Go and watch F.W. Murnau’s ‘Faust’ and shut the fuck up about Blade Runner: The Directors Cut*

I want to do a new project for ‘Empire’. " We took three twenty something male movie geeks who champion Martin Scorcese, Quentin Tarantino and The Coen Brothers whilst not understanding what makes these film makers tick, sat them in a room and made them watch ‘Sunrise: A Song Of Two Humans’, ‘Ordet’ and ‘A Canterbury Tale’. Afterwards we asked them what they thought, if they came up with a stupid answer then we’d batter them about the face with a cricket bat."

Lists are always silly. Who is to say that Orson Welles is a better film maker than Akira Kurosawa or the other way round?

[size=70]*Incidentally I am of the opinion that Blade Runner: The Director’s Cut is a better film that Fritz Lang’s Metropolis[/size]

Billy Wilder was German.

I think the list is relatively accurate. Maybe not Ridley Scott.

Yeah sure, that commercial damn we-want-you-dead Spielberg is first. Impossible.

[quote]Most Empire readers have a limited taste in all things cinematic, they go for what is ‘cool’, what ‘kicks ass’ and then talk like they’re an expert on the subject. [/quote]

I’m afraid I don’t agree with you on that one.

I find the results of the poll surprising actually because a lot of the Empire readers aren’t mainstream, and appreciate film makers from all walks of life. They don’t actually go for all things cool, and in fact hate on people who do precisely that. If you visit the Empire forum where the majority of them are Empire readers, you will see that they watch and have a taste for all sorts of films. They talk such extensively about the art form, as do many people here.

[quote]Yeah sure, that commercial damn we-want-you-dead Spielberg is first. Impossible.[/quote]

Spielberg is the most performing director of all. It’s not that I don’t like him, but Tarantino does not deserve the

eighth position. He just do fourth films(all brilliant but) and he camps the list. I believe well that Spielberg deserves the first places more than

whoever.Think to Duel, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind , Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Color Purple, Empire of the Sun, Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, Artificial Intelligence: AI , Catch Me If You Can and The Terminal, all good movies between '71 and, I think, '01. Steven always has a project at the head, just to look at its future projects, Indiana Jones 4, Tintin and a biographical movie on Abraham Lincoln. All that deserves all the honors well.

I’m afraid I don’t agree with you on that one.[/quote]

Fair enough.
I find the results of the poll surprising [/quote]

I found it predictable.

[quote=“Ify”]If you visit the Empire forum where the majority of them are Empire readers, you will see that they watch and have a taste for all sorts of films. They talk such extensively about the art form, as do many people here.[/quote]

Really? (Goes to search engine and types in the names of the following directors)

Carl Dreyer (No matches)

Yasujiro Ozu (No matches)

Herschell Gordon Lewis (No matches)

Michael Powell ( "recommend a movie we might not know about… " Oh fucking hurrah! Though he should really have “one hundred matches”) Film mentioned is ‘Peeping Tom’ which is excellent.

Ted V Mikels (No matches)

Jean Cocteau (No matches)

Josef Von Sternberg (No matches)

F.W. Murnau (No matches)

[size=70]I read Empire 'cause I wanna be a film director![/size]

Erich Von Stroheim (No matches)

Russ Meyer (No matches) NO MATCHES!?!?!?! (I tried typing ‘Faster, Pussycat! Kill, Kill!’ and got bugger all for that too)

Kenji Mizoguchi (No matches)

Howard Hawks (Two matches. BUT NOT ENOUGH!)

Jean Renoir (No matches. Haven’t these yo-yos ever seen La Grande Illusion)

Jean Vigo (No matches)

Dario Argento (No matches. Surely the forum should be called ‘CUNTS WHO KNOW FUCK ALL ABOUT CINEMA’?)

Roberto Rossellini (No matches)

Andrei Tarkovsky (No matches. I want to cry)

Robert Bresson (No matches. Boo Hoo!)

Martin Scorsese (Two matches. Bloody Hell, you might be onto something Ify)

Quentin Tarantino (Ten matches.)

and for a joke Guy Ritchie (One match. Perhaps not so cunty as I thought they were. But still…)

Just a short list of (mostly) outstanding film makers and most of them end up with “no matches”. Are Empire readers really qualified for voting who is the best director? I don’t think so.

As for ‘not being mainstream’ I don’t care. I don’t care if a film is Hollywood, arthouse or grindhouse. All I care is if it is any good and does it have that extra something that you cannot put your finger on. Quentin Tarantino is mainstream, oh yes he is, his films (in Britain at least) are number one at the box office and he appears on chat shows like ‘Tonight With Jonathan Ross’. It’s not a bad thing to be mainstream. It’s not a bad thing to be a cultist rarity. It is a bad thing to produce mediocre work and get paid for it.

Now go and watch

Au hasard Balthazar (Bresson)

Sunrise: A Song Of Two Humans (Murnau)

Tokyo Story (Ozu)

A Canterbury Tale (Powell and Pressburger)

and The Scarlett Empress (Sternberg)

[size=80]"for a lot of kids film history begins with Pulp Fiction and for the more ciné-literate begins with Raging Bull."

Gilbert Adair

"And consider a recent talk I gave to 30 teenage media students. “Why did you choose so many old films?”, I was asked at question time. “Because there were rather more great directors then than there are now, like John Ford and Orson Welles. Hands up who has heard of either?” No hand went up for Ford, and only one for Welles. Their teacher then hurriedly borrowed the book."

Derek Malcom[/size]

Fair enough, but that doesn’t mean that the Empire readers have limited taste and just go for what is cool. Just out of curiosity, do you read Empire??

this list is insanely retarded. What about Bergman, Fellini, de Sica, Visconti, Antonioni, Tarkovsky, Paul Thomas Anderson, Brian De Palma, Almodovar, Roman Polanski, Milos Forman, Kubrick, Von Trier, Rivette, Jeunet, Sidney Lumet, Robert Altman, Yimou, Terry Gilliam. Add Tarantino and Scorsese to that and you got a much better list

Many things to argue but not enough time. One thing, scorese or whatever his fuckin name is, is crap. All his movies blow. Two, Jackson only did lord of the rings, so he needs to get a fuckin clue. Three, if anyone who did a trilogy should be on there, it should be the wachowski brothers for the matrix. four, david fincher (he did fight club) should be on there, fight club kicks ass. five, clint eastwood is easily 2 or 3, mystic river was ingenious. six, despite how much i hate star wars, lucas should be on there for episode 4: a new hope (the only good one for all you fuckin star wars fans). seven, rodreguiz is a fuckin pussy, he uses kids to gain money so he can make shit like sin city. eight, if rodreguiz made it, i would committ suicide. nine, who ever did american history x should be on there because that movie was so goooooooooooood! even though i adore pulp fiction, reservoir dogs, kill bill, etc. and thats that for now, if you want to comment on my comment, email me, don’t write here because i won’t look for like a week so email me at

-huge fan of tarantino-

I have read Empire and I have a few back issues but on the whole (with some exceptions) it is a terrible magazine* (albeit slightly better than Total Film). There was only one good movie magazine and that was called ‘Movie Collector’ and that died out some ten years ago and dealt not only with collecting videos and laserdiscs but also 8mm prints. On the letters page a collector of prints wrote how he would play ‘2001’ with Alex North’s intended score on his CD player saying that the film “made a lot more sense”. There was also an article about the making of ‘Zulu’ which was quite interesting plus another on censorship.

Many years B.R.D. (before Reservoir Dogs) a friend of mine (who was studying computer studies) with a mate met up with some film students and both of them convinced the film students that they were film students themselves. How? By talking about this film and that film**. In short all the predictable films that a teenage movie fan raves about.

[size=80]Not the fault of the editor or the writers. They have to create a magazine that sells. The majority of Empire readership is very similar to the Moviewatch generation. Moviewatch being a ghastly television programme presented by Johnny Vaughn where two late teens/early twenties girls and two late teens/early twenties boys reviewed the latest movies. One girl did not like ‘Bandit Queen’ because it had subtitles. Pleb. Pleb. Plebbity. Pleb.[/size]

* Taxi Driver, Blue Velvet, Goodfellas, Blade Runner, Brazil, Easy Rider…[/size]

Well, the Empire magazine was released today, and it came, amongst other things with a cool, neat feature mini-mag entitled “The 20 greatest movie directors of all time” which was the reason for the poll, obviously.

Well it opens with the words…

Listen, before you get your blood up, we understand… You’re probably going to fulminate, to scream and holler over the following results. Indeed, various departments of the Empire office are still not talking to one another (although, forming a picket line over Paul Verhoeven’s absence was taking things a little far)…

Amongst all the other information it has about the directors and other things film-related, it had listed the next 20. If you’re curious, here are numbers 21 through 40…

21. Howard Hawks

22. Robert Zemeckis

23. Michael Mann

24. David Lynch

25. Spike Lee

26. Francois Truffaut

27. Brian De Palma

28. Tony Scott

29. Fritz Lang

30. Tim Burton

31. George Lucas

32. Anthony Minghella

33. Ron Howard

34. Sam Raimi

35. Charlie Chapman

36. Ingmar Bergman

37. M. Night Shyamalan

38. Peter Weir

39. Terry Gilliam

40. Robert Altman