Top Films by Favourite Directors

Adrian Țofei, October 2021

Latest update: November 2021

These are the films that impressed and/or influenced me the most from some of my favourite directors (ordered alphabetically). They’re not necessarily the films I consider to be their best, it’s a highly subjective list of those that marked my life from childhood till recently. I mainly included directors with multiple films that impressed/influenced me, except for a couple that had one film which was highly influential/impressive. Colored green are the newly-added directors/films and those that climbed in the top at the latest updates.

I also loved numerous other films and directors (see my other film lists), so if you don’t see a certain director listed here it doesn’t mean I didn’t like their films, it’s just that I had to make a selection for the purpose of this list, otherwise I’d have to include hundreds.

Update: I’ve added ratings on a scale from 1 to 10 so you can also have my current “objective” opinion of these films for a more balanced understanding. My ratings’ meaning:

  • 10 – perfect
  • 8 – great
  • 6 – good
  • 4 – so so
  • 2 – bad

Alexandru Tatos 

  1. Sequences (1982) – 7/10
  2. The House Between the Fields (1980) – 6/10

Alfred Hitchcock 

  1. Psycho (1960) – 6/10
  2. Strangers on a Train (1951) – 7/10
  3. Vertigo (1958) – 7/10
  4. Notorious (1946) – 6/10
  5. Rebecca (1940) – 6/10
  6. Frenzy (1972) – 6/10
  7. The Birds (1963) – 6/10
  8. Rope (1948) – 6/10
  9. North by Northwest (1959) – 6/10
  10. Lifeboat (1944)

Andy Warhol 

  1. Empire (1964) – 9/10

Arthur Penn 

  1. Bonnie and Clyde (1967) – 8/10

Bong Joon Ho

  1. Memories of Murder (2003) – 8/10
  2. Parasite (2019) – 5/10

Brad Bird

  1. The Iron Giant (1999) – 8/10
  2. The Incredibles (2004) – 6/10
  3. Ratatouille (2007) – 6/10

Brian De Palma

  1. Carrie (1976) – 8/10
  2. The Untouchables (1987) – 7/10
  3. Casualties of War (1989) – 6/10
  4. Scarface (1983) – 6/10
  5. Body Double (1984)
  6. Mission to Mars (2000) – 5/10

Charles Chaplin

  1. The Gold Rush (1925) – 10/10
  2. The Great Dictator (1940) – 8/10
  3. Modern Times (1936) – 7/10
  4. The Circus (1928) – 6/10
  5. Monsieur Verdoux (1947) – 6/10

Christopher Nolan

  1. Interstellar (2014) – 7/10
  2. Memento (2000) – 6/10
  3. Batman Begins (2005) – 6/10
  4. The Dark Knight (2008) – 6/10
  5. The Dark Knight Rises (2012) – 5/10

Chuck Jones

  1. One Froggy Evening (1955 short) – 9/10
  2. For Scent-imental Reasons (1949 short) – 8/10
  3. Feed the Kitty (1952 short) – 7/10
  4. Duck Amuck (1953 short) – 7/10
  5. Hair-Raising Hare (1946 short) – 6/10
  6. Bully for Bugs (1953 short) – 6/10
  7. Bear Feat (1949 short) – 6/10
  8. Don’t Give Up the Sheep (1953 short) – 6/10

Clint Eastwood 

  1. The Bridges of Madison County (1995) – 7/10
  2. Changeling (2008) – 6/10
  3. A Perfect World (1993) – 6/10
  4. Gran Torino (2008) – 6/10
  5. Invictus (2009) – 5/10

David Cronenberg 

  1. Videodrome (1983) – 7/10
  2. Eastern Promises (2007) – 6/10
  3. A History of Violence (2005) – 6/10
  4. A Dangerous Method (2011) – 5/10
  5. The Dead Zone (1983) – 5/10

David Fincher 

  1. Gone Girl (2014) – 8/10
  2. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) – 6/10
  3. The Social Network (2010) – 6/10
  4. Panic Room (2002) – 6/10
  5. Zodiac (2007) – 5/10
  6. The Game (1997) – 5/10

David Lynch

  1. Mulholland Drive (2001) – 7/10
  2. The Straight Story (1999) – 8/10
  3. Twin Peaks: Pilot (1989 episode) – 7/10
  4. Eraserhead (1977) – 6/10

Don Bluth

  1. The Land Before Time (1988) – 8/10
  2. All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989) – 6/10

Eduardo Sanchez / Daniel Myrick 

  1. The Blair Witch Project (1999) – 6/10
  2. V/H/S/2: A Ride in the Park (zombie segment) (2013, Eduardo Sanchez / Gregg Hale) – 6/10

Emerald Fennell 

  1. Promising Young Woman (2020) – 7/10

Ernst Lubitsch 

  1. The Shop Around the Corner (1940) – 7/10
  2. To Be or Not to Be (1942) – 6/10

Frank Darabont

  1. The Walking Dead: Season 1 (2010 series) – 7/10
  2. The Mist (2007) – 6/10
  3. The Green Mile (1999) – 6/10

Fritz Lang 

  1. M (1931) – 9/10
  2. The Big Heat (1953) – 6/10

Guillermo del Toro 

  1. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) – 9/10

Ingmar Bergman 

  1. The Seventh Seal (1957) – 8/10
  2. Cries & Whispers (1972) – 7/10
  3. Autumn Sonata (1978) – 6/10
  4. Wild Strawberries (1957) – 6/10

James Cameron

  1. Titanic (1997) – 7/10
  2. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) – 6/10
  3. The Terminator (1984) – 6/10
  4. The Abyss (1989) – 6/10
  5. Aliens (1986) – 5/10

James Whale 

  1. Bride of Frankenstein (1935) – 8/10
  2. Frankenstein (1931) – 5/10

Jean-Marc Vallée

  1. Big Little Lies: Season 1 (2017 mini-series) – 7/10
  2. Sharp Objects (2018 mini-series) – 6/10
  3. Wild (2014) – 6/10

Joe Berlinger / Bruce Sinofsky 

  1. Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory (2011 doc) – 7/10
  2. Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (1996 doc) – 6/10
  3. Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel (2021 doc mini-series) – 5/10

Joe Dante

  1. The Howling (1981) – 7/10
  2. Piranha (1978) – 6/10
  3. Small Soldiers (1998) – 6/10
  4. Innerspace (1987) – 6/10
  5. Gremlins (1984) – 5/10
  6. Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990) – 5/10

Joel Coen / Ethan Coen 

  1. No Country for Old Men (2007) – 8/10
  2. A Serious Man (2009) – 7/10
  3. The Big Lebowski (1998) – 6/10
  4. Raising Arizona (1987) – 6/10
  5. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)

John Carpenter 

  1. Halloween (1978) – 8/10
  2. Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) – 7/10
  3. Starman (1984) – 6/10
  4. Christine (1983) – 6/10
  5. Masters of Horror: Cigarette Burns (2005 episode) – 6/10
  6. They Live (1988)

Kirby Dick 

  1. Twist of Faith (2004) – 8/10
  2. The Invisible War (2012) – 7/10
  3. This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006) – 6/10
  4. The Hunting Ground (2015) – 6/10

Lee Unkrich 

  1. Toy Story 3 (2010) – 7/10
  2. Coco (2017) – 7/10

M. Night Shyamalan

  1. The Village (2004) – 6/10
  2. Signs (2002) – 6/10
  3. Devil (2010, produced by) – 6/10
  4. The Sixth Sense (1999) – 6/10
  5. The Visit (2015) – 5/10

Martin Scorsese

  1. Taxi Driver (1976) – 9/10
  2. My Voyage to Italy (1999 doc) – 8/10
  3. The Irishman (2019) – 8/10
  4. GoodFellas (1990) – 7/10
  5. Casino (1995) – 6/10
  6. A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies (1995 doc) – 6/10
  7. Hugo (2011) – 6/10
  8. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) – 6/10
  9. The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) – 6/10

Mel Gibson 

  1. Apocalypto (2006) – 7/10
  2. Braveheart (1995) – 6/10
  3. The Passion of the Christ (2004) – 5/10

Michael Moore

  1. Roger & Me (1989 doc) – 8/10
  2. Where to Invade Next (2015 doc) – 7/10
  3. Sicko (2007 doc) – 7/10
  4. Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004 doc) – 6/10
  5. Fahrenheit 11/9 (2018 doc) – 6/10
  6. Bowling for Columbine (2002 doc) – 5/10

Michael Powell 

  1. Peeping Tom (1960) – 8/10

Mike Flanagan 

  1. Absentia (2011) – 7/10
  2. Doctor Sleep (2019) – 7/10
  3. Hush (2016) – 7/10
  4. Midnight Mass (2021 mini-series) – 6/10
  5. The Haunting of Hill House (2018 mini-series) – 6/10
  6. Oculus (2013) – 6/10
  7. Before I Wake (2016) – 5/10

Oliver Stone

  1. The Untold History of the United States (2012 doc mini-series)  – 7/10
  2. Snowden (2016) – 6/10
  3. Wall Street (1987) – 6/10
  4. Comandante (2003 documentary) – 5/10

Paul Greengrass

  1. Bloody Sunday (2002) – 7/10
  2. United 93 (2006) – 6/10

Pete Docter 

  1. Up opening sequence: Married Life (2009 short) – 8/10
  2. Inside Out (2015) – 7/10
  3. Up (2009) – 7/10
  4. Monsters, Inc. (2001) – 6/10

Peter Weir

  1. Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) – 8/10
  2. The Truman Show (1998) – 7/10
  3. Dead Poets Society (1989) – 7/10
  4. The Year of Living Dangerously (1982)
  5. Fearless (1993) – 6/10
  6. The Last Wave (1977) – 5/10
  7. The Plumber (1979) 

Richard Donner 

  1. Superman (1978) – 7/10
  2. The Omen (1976) – 6/10
  3. Superman II (1980) – 6/10
  4. Assassins (1995) – 5/10

Ridley Scott

  1. Blade Runner (1982) – 8/10
  2. Thelma & Louise (1991) – 7/10
  3. Alien (1979) – 6/10
  4. American Gangster (2007) – 6/10
  5. The Duellists (1977) – 5/10

Robert Eggers 

  1. The Witch (2015) – 8/10

Robert Wise

  1. The Haunting (1963) – 8/10
  2. The Sound of Music (1965) – 7/10
  3. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) – 6/10
  4. Audrey Rose (1977) – 5/10

Robert Zemeckis

  1. Forrest Gump (1994) – 7/10
  2. Contact (1997) – 6/10
  3. The Polar Express (2004) – 6/10
  4. Back to the Future (1985) – 6/10
  5. Back to the Future Part III (1990) – 6/10
  6. Tales from the Crypt: And All Through the House (1989 episode) – 6/10
  7. Cast Away (2000) – 6/10

Ron Howard

  1. Apollo 13 (1995) – 7/10
  2. A Beautiful Mind (2001) – 6/10
  3. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) – 5/10
  4. Cocoon (1985) – 5/10

Ryan Murphy

(as creator)

  1. American Horror Story: Asylum (2012 mini-series) – 7/10
  2. Feud: Bette and Joan (2017 mini-series) – 7/10
  3. American Horror Story: Murder House (2011 mini-series) – 6/10
  4. Hollywood (2020 mini-series) – 6/10
  5. American Horror Story: Red Tide (2021 mini-series) – 6/10
  6. American Horror Story: Freak Show (2014 mini-series) – 5/10

Sidney Lumet 

  1. 12 Angry Men (1957) – 7/10
  2. Dog Day Afternoon (1975) – 6/10
  3. Murder on the Orient Express (1974) – 6/10
  4. Network (1976) – 6/10
  5. Serpico (1973)

Spike Lee

  1. BlacKkKlansman (2018) – 6/10
  2. Malcolm X (1992) – 6/10

Stanley Kubrick

  1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) – 10/10
  2. Paths of Glory (1957) – 8/10
  3. Barry Lyndon (1975) – 8/10
  4. Eyes Wide Shut (1999) – 7/10
  5. The Shining (1980) – 5/10
  6. A Clockwork Orange (1971) – 6/10

Steven Spielberg

  1. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) – 6/10
  2. Poltergeist (1982) (directed together with Tobe Hooper) – 7/10
  3. Duel (1971) – 7/10
  4. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) – 6/10
  5. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) – 6/10
  6. Jaws (1975) – 5/10
  7. Schindler’s List (1993) – 6/10
  8. The Color Purple (1985) – 6/10
  9. The Post (2017) – 6/10
  10. Saving Private Ryan (1998) – 5/10
  11. The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) – 5/10
  12. Hook (1991) – 5/10
  13. The Terminal (2004) – 5/10
  14. The Sugarland Express (1974)

Terrence Malick

  1. The Tree of Life (2011) – 8/10
  2. The Thin Red Line (1998) – 7/10
  3. A Hidden Life (2019) – 6/10
  4. Days of Heaven (1978)

Thomas Vinterberg

  1. The Celebration (1998) – 8/10
  2. The Hunt (2012) – 6/10

Tod Browning

  1. Freaks (1932) – 9/10

Vittorio De Sica 

  1. Bicycle Thieves (1948) – 8/10
  2. Umberto D. (1952) – 6/10

Werner Herzog 

  1. Grizzly Man (2005 doc) – 8/10
  2. Into the Abyss (2011 doc) – 6/10
  3. Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010 doc)
  4. Lessons of Darkness (1992 doc)

Wes Craven

  1. The Last House on the Left (1972) – 7/10
  2. Deadly Friend (1986) – 4/10
  3. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) – 6/10
  4. The Hills Have Eyes (1977) – 6/10
  5. Swamp Thing (1982)

William Hanna / Joseph Barbera 

  1. The Night Before Christmas (1941 short) – 7/10
  2. Heavenly Puss (1949 short) – 6/10
  3. The Cat Concerto (1947 short) – 6/10
  4. Dog Trouble (1942 short) – 6/10
  5. Cat Fishin’ (1947 short) – 6/10
  6. Fraidy Cat (1942 short) – 5/10
  7. Various other Tom & Jerry cartoons (1940-1958 shorts) – 4/10 to 6/10
  8. Wacky Races (1968-1970 series) – 4/10
  9. Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines (1969-1970 series) – 4/10

Listing these directors and films doesn’t mean acceptance of the potentially illegal, unethical or immoral behaviour of any director or star, neither that I agree with their opinions on any subject matter. It also doesn’t mean approval of the ideas expressed in the films or of the ways they were made.