Best Movies of All Time + [top 25]

The Best: DIRECTORS

So here it is, my list of favorite directors of all time! With each director, I've listed some of my favorites from their collections of work as well as how many of their films have made it into my list of "Top 250" films of all time. I've also included the average grade I've given their films. Now, to make this process a little quicker, I only used directors of whom I had seen three or more of their films. However, if a certain individual directed more than one film in a particular franchise, then I only counted the entire franchise as one film (i.e., Peter Jackson directing the Lord of the Rings trilogy counts as one "film," not three). That being said, here's my list of favorite directors!

25. Ron Howard
My Fave Films: APOLLO 13 | BACKDRAFT | A BEAUTIFUL MIND | FROST/NIXON

My Average Grade: B
Films in My Top 250: 2Despite the fact that I'll always smirk a little bit whenever I see Ron Howard - just the look of him takes me back to watching reruns of "Happy Days" as a child - I'll have to admit that he's given us quite the resumé throughout his directing career. Although some of his work may not pop out like the collections from other directors, Howard has proven himself to be a solid and steady force on the Hollywood scene, epitomized by his Academy Award win for 2001's A Beautiful Mind.
Next Project: THE DARK TOWER (2013)

24. Guy Ritchie
My Fave Films: LOCK, STOCK & TWO SMOKING BARRELS | ROCKNROLLA | SHERLOCK HOLMES | SNATCH.

My Average Grade: B+
Films in My Top 250: 1
Sure, this Brit's biggest claim to fame here in the States might be the fact that he was married to Madonna, but that doesn't take away the fact that he's brought a slew of great films to our theaters over here. He finally garnered some big-name success with the release of 2009's Sherlock Holmes, and the upcoming sequel should once again thrust him name into the fray. However, his earlier work (namely, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch.) prove to be his most effective films, in my opinion. As good as he's been since, he hasn't quite been able to match those two, but hopefully he will someday.
Next Project: SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS (2011)

23. Francis Ford Coppola
My Fave Films: APOCALYPSE NOW | THE GODFATHER | THE GODFATHER PART II | JACK

My Average Grade: A-
Films in My Top 250: 2
Although I know that Francis Ford Coppola had established himself as a directing force before he met George Lucas, I think I'll always see him as the mentor to the Star Wars creator before anything else. That being said, Coppola does have the Godfather franchise on his side, so that alone should put him in the discussion of one of the greatest directors of all time. I haven't seen a ton of his work - I think the four listed above round out what I've seen - but I have greatly enjoyed every once of his films that I've had the pleasure and opportunity to view.
Next Project: TWIXT NOW AND SUNRISE (2011)

22. Ridley Scott
My Fave Films: ALIEN | AMERICAN GANGSTER | BLACK HAWK DOWN | GLADIATOR

My Average Grade: B
Films in My Top 250: 3
Ridley Scott has been a little bit hit-or-miss for me in the past ten years or so, with the releases of films like 2010's Robin Hood and 2003's Matchstick Men throwing me a little off. However, this is the man who brought us the original Alien film - one of the only movies that has ever caused me to scream - and effectively made Russell Crowe a legitimate force in the acting world with 2000's Gladiator. Scott directs with a strong hand and has an eye for realism and a visceral nature. As much as I've scratched my head over his latest choices in film, I'd have to say that I would still head to a theater to see a movie with his name on it.
Next Project: PROMETHEUS (2012)

21. Rob Reiner
My Fave Films: FLIPPED | THE PRINCESS BRIDE | WHEN HARRY MET SALLY...

My Average Grade: A-
Films in My Top 250: 3
Had you asked me a year ago whether I would've placed Reiner on this list, I probably would've responded with a resounding "no." To be fair, I had only seen The Princess Bride by that point, but I personally thought it had been a one-hit wonder for him (at least in terms of my viewing pleasure). All that changed when I saw 2010's Flipped and 1989's When Harry Met Sally... a few weeks ago. Reiner has a deft hand at crafting romance, but the romance is a little bit different than the standard bits we get in other comedies today. They're more realistic, and the fact that that realism has conveyed through a number of his films has to be chalked up to his direction.
Next Project: THE THIRD ACT (2012)

20. James Cameron
My Fave Films: ALIENS | THE TERMINATOR | TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY | TITANIC

My Average Grade: B+
Films in My Top 250: 2
It took a lot for me to put James Cameron onto this list because I'm definitely not a fan of him as a person. I'm sure he was a tolerable individual pre-Titanic, but massive amounts of success can do wonders for a person's personality (read: sarcasm). However, when I took a step back, I realized that he has brought a number of fantastic films to the world, and no, I'm not including Avatar in that conversation. The simple fact that he crafted the Terminator franchise would be enough for a mention on this post, but his continuation of the Alien franchise and the sappy romance Titanic are also some of my personal favorites. Will I see Avatar 2 and 3 when they're released? Probably, if only because I know Cameron's direction will be stellar.
Next Project: AVATAR 2 (2014)

19. Clint Eastwood
My Fave Films: CHANGELING | INVICTUS | LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA | MYSTIC RIVER | UNFORGIVEN

My Average Grade: B
Films in My Top 250: 3
I know what you're thinking: Why is the fantastic Clint Eastwood so low on this list? Well in all this confusion, I've found an answer myself. While Clint has directed some of the better of the last twenty years (see: 1992's Unforgiven and 2003's Mystic River), he's also served some dishes I wish I could've sent back. For example, 2010's Hereafter proved to be rather lackluster, and I personally didn't find 2008's Gran Torino to be all that great (although I realize I'm the minority there). Despite his recent speedbumps, I'd have to say that Eastwood is one of the premiere filmmakers in Hollywood today, and whenever I see his name attached to a film, I get a little giddy with excitement. Do you (punk)?
Next Project: J. EDGAR (2011)

18. Robert Zemeckis
My Fave Films: BACK TO THE FUTURE | CAST AWAY | FORREST GUMP | WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT

My Average Grade: B+
Films in My Top 250: 3
Like Eastwood, Zemeckis has had a little bit of trouble as of late in his career, bringing forth some films that don't quite match his earlier work. However, his earlier work is stellar enough to make me keep watching them over and over, so a lot has to be said about his overall level of direction. This is the guy who brought one of the most beloved films of the '80s to the screen in Back to the Future, then less than a decade later crafts the beloved - and highly quotable - Forrest Gump. I'd say that's enough to get him a spot on this list, don't you?
Next Project: YELLOW SUBMARINE (2012)

17. Oliver Stone
My Fave Films: THE DOORS | NATURAL BORN KILLERS | PLATOON | WALL STREET

My Average Grade: B-
Films in My Top 250: 2
You can say what you want about Oliver Stone. I realize he's a little bit of a polarizing figure who makes movies that are a little bit edgier than most. That's put him on the bad side of many an individual, and I myself have shaken my head at some of his endeavors (here's looking at you, Alexander). But when Stone is on his game, then he's one of the best directors out there. My personal favorites are the ultra-violent Natural Born Killers - a trippy look into the life of a pair of serial killers - and the Academy Award-winning Platoon which chronicles an outfit in the Vietnam War. They're both stellar films, in my opinion, and they've helped Stone leave his mark on film history.
Next Project: SAVAGES (2012)

16. Quentin Tarantino
My Fave Films: DEATH PROOF | INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS | PULP FICTION | RESERVOIR DOGS

My Average Grade: C+
Films in My Top 250: 1
For the longest time, I wasn't much of a fan of Mr. Tarantino. The Kill Bill movies came out while I was in high school, and it seemed like everyone absolutely loved them, so I had to go against the grain and dislike them for the sake of my own individuality. As a result, I forced myself to be turned off by any Tarantino fare, until 2009's Inglourious Basterds came around. It's utter brilliance led it to six wins in my personal films awards, but more importantly, it opened my eyes to how good Tarantino actually is. I'm still going back through his filmography, but with every movie I watch (or re-watch), I'm more and more impressed by his work.
Next Project: DJANGO UNCHAINED (2012)

15. Baz Luhrmann
My Fave Films: AUSTRALIA | MOULIN ROUGE! | ROMEO + JULIET

My Average Grade: A
Films in My Top 250: 2
Now, I've only seen three of Luhrmann's films (to be fair, his list of directorial features is small), but I've loved every single one of them. He brings a certain flare to his films that I can only see him bringing, and it gives each of his movies a certain degree of originality that's not often seen in today's cinematic world. My first introduction to a Luhrmann film was his contemporary telling of the age-old tale of Romeo and Juliet, and the freshness of the screenplay automatically drew me into the story. But the real seller of Luhrmann's effectiveness was his 2001 film Moulin Rouge! which mixed an older tale with contemporary music to create a magical story of love. Simply brilliant work, I must say.
Next Project: THE GREAT GATSBY (2012)

14. Darren Aronofsky
My Fave Films: BLACK SWAN | REQUIEM FOR A DREAM | THE WRESTLER

My Average Grade: A
Films in My Top 250: 3
If you would've asked me six months ago, I'm not sure whether Darren Aronofsky would have made this list. I had enjoyed his films in the past, but I still felt like he was teetering between being good and being great. With the release of Black Swan, however, my entire perspective on his body of work changed. Because my most recent memory of Aronofsky fare was The Wrestler - a film that went away from his normal type - I had almost forgotten about his deft dealing into the trippy and insane. Black Swan reminded me of Aronofsky's skill behind the camera, and it ultimately pushed him to this point on the list.
Next Project: MACHINE MAN (2012)

13. Wes Anderson
My Fave Films: BOTTLE ROCKET | FANTASTIC MR. FOX | THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS

My Average Grade: B+
Films in My Top 250: 1
I'm not sure whether I've found any director to have a quirkier sense of humor than Anderson, and I think that's what I love about him. He brings an alternative style of comedy to the screen, and the fact that he has found a group of actors who can fit into that vein of comedy has served him incredibly well throughout his career. That offbeat humor has set him apart in Hollywood, and he has consistently made successful films simply because he doesn't go down the already beaten path. Kudos, Mr. Anderson, and keep up the good work.
Next Project: MOONRISE KINGDOM (2012)

12. Sam Mendes
My Fave Films: AMERICAN BEAUTY | AWAY WE GO | ROAD TO PERDITION

My Average Grade: B+
Films in My Top 250: 3
Like Guy Ritchie, I feel like Mendes was partially well-known because of his marriage to Oscar-winner Kate Winslet. I realize he had his own success, but while they were together, I feel like that was the only time I ever heard his name. That shouldn't take away from his own personal stamp on Hollywood, however. I mean, his debut feature (American Beauty) nabbed the Academy Award for Best Picture and gave him his first - and to date, only - Oscar statuette. And Mendes has been going strong ever since. He's even been tapped to direct the next James Bond film, showing the amount of respect he has received through his career.
Next Project: BOND 23 (2012)

11. Tim Burton
My Fave Films: BATMAN | BEETLE JUICE | BIG FISH | CORPSE BRIDE | SWEENEY TODD

My Average Grade: B+
Films in My Top 250: 2
If Wes Anderson was the king of quirky, then Tim Burton must be off-the-charts out there. When you've got a guy directing films like Beetle Juice, Edward Scissorhands and Corpse Bride, you've got to think there's something a little off. But his offbeat approach has garnered him quite the cult following, and there's a huge faction of people who would probably follow Burton to the ends of the earth. Add the fact that he's married to Oscar-nominee Helena Bonham Carter, and you've got the makings of a deeply dark but always hysterical pair that could take over Hollywood if they so desired.
Next Project: DARK SHADOWS (2012)

10. David Fincher
My Fave Films: THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON | FIGHT CLUB | SE7EN | THE SOCIAL NETWORK

My Average Grade: A-
Films in My Top 250: 4
Earlier in his career, David Fincher appeared to be the man to create some go-to cult films, directing films like 1995's Se7en and 1999's Fight Club. By making a name for himself with those films, he had the opportunity to push himself even further into the limelight here in the 21st century. He strayed away from his normal fare with 2008's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but his most well-received film to date is 2010's The Social Network for which he came moments away from nabbing an Oscar for Best Director. He'll win one eventually because a man as talented as him won't let that opportunity slip past him again.
Next Project: THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (2011)

9. Sergio Leone
My Fave Films: THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY | ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA | ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST

My Average Grade: A
Films in My Top 250: 3
Now, I haven't seen much of Leone's filmography, but of the three films I've seen, I think I have a bit of a grasp on his style of directing. As you can see, the three films I've seen (listed above) have all landed in my list of top films of all time, so that should say something about Leone's effectiveness as a director. Yes, the films are a bit on the longer side, but they never find a way to be dull in the slightest. His spaghetti westerns are superb, and his gangster flick (Once Upon a Time in America) is so in-depth and detailed that you'll stay riveted throughout.

8. Joel & Ethan Coen
My Fave Films: BURN AFTER READING | FARGO | NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN | O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?

My Average Grade: A-
Films in My Top 250: 4
In the past few months, I've been hearing more and more than the Coen brothers aren't all that great of people, in that they're a tad bit snobby and think they're better than the people who surround them. If that's true, I might not actually want to meet them as I had previously wanted, but that doesn't take away from the fact that they're fantastic filmmakers. It must be difficult to be a co-director on nearly all of your films, but because they're brothers, they must be directing in the same vein. Sure, they've had their misfires, but for the most part, their films are simply fantastic, if a tad bit confusing. You can sense the "holier-than-thou" attitude in their films, but they're still stunningly spectacular.
Next Project: Unknown

7. Kevin Smith
My Fave Films: CLERKS. | CLERKS II | DOGMA | JAY & SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK | MALLRATS

My Average Grade: B
Films in My Top 250: 2
The king of New Jersey (no, I don't mean Snooki or the Situation) had to make an appearance on this at some point. When you've got a guy whose films are essentially interrelated, and he's been successful in doing so for nearly twenty years, then you've gotta give him a little bit of credit. Add the fact that Smith makes acting appearances in nearly all of those Jersey-centric films as Silent Bob, and you can imagine how difficult it must be to keep everything linear and in context. He splashed onto the scene with cult favorite Clerks., and he's just continued to roll ever since then. I'm ecstatic for his upcoming Red State, where he takes a break from the comedy and delves into horror. I'm curious as to see how it will go.
Next Project: RED STATE (2011)

6. Mel Brooks
My Fave Films: BLAZING SADDLES | ROBIN HOOD: MEN IN TIGHTS | SPACEBALLS | YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN

My Average Grade: B+
Films in My Top 250: 2
The king of spoofs also had to merit mention here. Mel Brooks has done it all: screenwriting, directing, acting - you name it, he's probably done it! While some of his earliest spoofs (i.e., Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein) are some of his best work, he still draws audiences in to see his slightly-less-marvelous films like Spaceballs and History of the World: Part I (of which I'm still waiting to see Part II...). He's the epitome of a Hollywood funnyman, crafting interesting characters and scenarios, all the while making fun and making light of past entries into the Hollywood legend.
Next Project: Unknown

5. Christopher Nolan
My Fave Films: THE DARK KNIGHT | FOLLOWING | INCEPTION | MEMENTO | THE PRESTIGE

My Average Grade: A
Films in My Top 250: 5
I think this seems like a little bit of a trendy pick right now, but I think Christopher Nolan has done enough with his relatively short career to have already thrown his name into the mix as one of the best directors of the 21st century (I wouldn't quite say "of all time" just yet, but he could be getting close). Now, most people will be familiar with his work on the Batman franchise and his 2010 brainchild, Inception, but his brilliance actually started with his debut feature, 1999's Following. The only film I have yet to see from Nolan's filmography is 2002's Insomnia, but the rest of his films have all received a grade of "A-" or higher from me. There's very few directors who can boast such an honor. I'll be interested to see what Nolan produces after his Batman trilogy ends next year.
Next Project: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (2012)

4. Martin Scorsese
My Fave Films: CASINO | THE DEPARTED | GOODFELLAS | TAXI DRIVER

My Average Grade: A-
Films in My Top 250: 6
When Three 6 Mafia won an Oscar in 2006, Jon Stewart came onto the stage and said that the official Oscar rankings now read, "Three 6 Mafia 1, Martin Scorsese 0." Now, it only took him until the following year to nab his first - and only - Oscar statuette, but he probably should've won it many times over throughout his illustrious career. The man is one of the premiere directors in all of Hollywood, and for him to have gone that long before being recognized by the Academy is nothing short of shocking. Everyone already knew how impressive a director he was, so the Oscar was just the icing on the cake. A Scorsese picture is viewed unlike any other, and his films should be treated with the utmost respect.
Next Project: HUGO (2011)

3. Stanley Kubrick
My Fave Films: 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY | A CLOCKWORK ORANGE | DR. STRANGELOVE | FULL METAL

JACKET
My Average Grade: A-
Films in My Top 250: 4
Of all the directors on this particular list, Stanley Kubrick is probably the most misunderstood, at least in terms of the films he has directed. I mean, when you've got a film like 2001 on your resumé, you're going to garner a lot of questions. Add the fact that he's directed other brilliant films like A Clockwork Orange and Dr. Strangelove, and you've got the makings of a Hollywood legend. I'm not quite sure if I should go so far as to say the man was a directorial genius, but he's about as close as they come.

2. Alfred Hitchcock
My Fave Films: THE BIRDS | NORTH BY NORTHWEST | PSYCHO | VERTIGO

My Average Grade: A-
Films in My Top 250: 3
How could the Master of Suspense ever be left off a list like this? In fact, how could the man who directed the film I consider to be the greatest of all time ever be left off this list? Hitchcock is a name synonymous with brilliant classic films, and it's for good reason. He had a knack for upping the level of suspense in his films to the point where it became almost unbearable. Sure, by today's "standards" his fare is rather tame, but at the time of their release, some of his movies shocked and horrified audiences beyond anything they had ever seen. The man was a genius in his own right, but despite having this desire to craft films of a macabre nature, he had a rather jovial personality and a wonderful sense of humor. If I could travel back in time and meet anyone I wanted, Hitchcock would definitely be near the top of the list.

1. Steven Spielberg
My Fave Films: JAWS | JURASSIC PARK | RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK | SAVING PRIVATE RYAN | SCHINDLER'S LIST

My Average Grade: B+
Films in My Top 250: 9
Who else could have topped this list? Well actually, I'm sure there were many other directors who could've topped this list, but none has had more of a lasting effect on my life than Steven Spielberg. The man has given life to some of favorite films of all time, and for that reason alone, he deserves the top spot here. However, I think it's his range and ability to move between genres that makes him a truly great director. He started with a summer-time action thriller with Jaws then moved to a dramatic sci-fi adventure with Close Encounters of the Third Kind. In 1993, he made another thriller in Jurassic Park as well as a wartime drama in Schindler's List. He's taken on D-Day and Martian invasions, and this year, he'll be adding an animated film to the mix. I don't know of many other directors who have so many different styles under there belt and remain successful through them all. Because Spielberg has done so, I crown him my favorite director of all time.
Next Project: THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN (2011)