The 10 best French directors created movies in a country that has long appreciated putting out something different. The country invented the New Wave style but also allowed filmmakers to work on other areas of individualistic expression, including Film Noir.

  1. Francois Truffaut – Truffaut began his film career as a critic before setting out to create some of French cinema’s greatest films. Some film fans may recognize him from his cameo in Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, but the director created one of the greatest movies in cinema history with “The 400 Blows.”

  2. Roman PolanskiRoman Polanski is one of the most controversial of the French directors thanks to his rape allegations in the early ‘70s. The director is still a fugitive, wanted for crimes in the United States. Over his career, he was nominated for five Oscars, winning for “The Pianist.”

  3. Jean-Luc Godard – Godard is credited with helping develop the French New Wave and mastered the technique in his film “Breathless.” Godard is still making movies in 2011 at the age of 80 and is responsible for films such as “Pierrot le Fou” and “Band of Outsiders.”

  4. Luc Besson – One of the younger choices when talking about the best French directors, Besson is responsible for the movie that made a thirteen-year old Natalie Portman a star in hit-man flick “Leon: The Professional.” He also directed the popular “La Femme Nikita.”

  5. Jean Renoir – Jean Renoit created one of the earliest French masterpieces in “Grand Illusion” in 1937. He was nominated for an Oscar in 1946 for “The Southerner” and received an Honorary Award in 1975. He also directed class conflict movie, “The Rules of the Game” in 1939.

  6. Michel Gondry – One of the more visually dynamic French directors working today, Gondry began his career working in music videos before directing the amazing “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” He has since reached commercial success with the comic book adaptation “The Green Hornet.”

  7. Louis Malle – Louis Malle built an interesting career, refusing to get tied down to a specific genre or form, making many very different movies in different genres. While his more acclaimed movies were Holocaust film “Au Revoir Les Enants,” his best film is the wonderful “The Fire Within.”

  8. Jean-Pierre Jeunet – After creating genre films like “Delicatessen” and “The City of Lost Children,” Jeunet was chosen to take over the “Alien” franchise. With that debacle behind him, he created his masterpiece with the quirky, beautiful “Amelie.”

  9. Jean Cocteau – Jean Cocteau spent most of his film career as an art director, creating many eclectic, yet abstract films. However, he remains one of the best French directors in cinema history thanks to his work on the greatest fairy tale movie ever created, 1946’s “Beauty and the Beast.”

  10. Jean-Pierre Melville – Jean-Pierre Melville is a Noir French director that made movies from 1946 until 1972. The man made some of France’s greatest crime movies, including “Le Samourai,” “Army of Shadows” and “Le Cercle Rouge.”