Best American Film Directors

Thursday, April 7 by Peter Matthews

With so much talent in the Hollywood hills, any list of the best American film directors is sure to highlight some of the most well-known names in cinema history. For viewers seeking a memorable movie experience, choosing a DVD directed by one of these visionaries is an excellent place to start.  

  1. Alfred Hitchcock. Born in England and naturalized as an American citizen in 1956, Alfred Hitchcock could legitimately appear on best director lists on either side of the Atlantic Ocean. His many achievements, including classics like “Psycho” and “Rear Window,” assure his place in the Hollywood pantheon.

  2. Steven Spielberg. An Academy Award winner and phenomenally successful at the box office, Steven Spielberg is probably the best known American director of all time. In addition to his work behind the camera, Spielberg is also a producer with an eye for choosing projects loved by the public and critics alike.

  3. Tim Burton. Burton's films are always distinctive for their quirky aesthetic and dark feel. While he experiments with claymation in films like “The Corpse Bride” and “Coraline,” his live action features are also a theatrical treat.

  4. Frank Capra. In Hollywood's golden age, the name Frank Capra appeared often in the credits of some of the era's most memorable films. Most viewers are already familiar with his work through the holiday classic, “It's a Wonderful Life,” but “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” and “It Happened One Night,” are two other films that have aged very well indeed.

  5. Stanley Kubrick. Though he had already been making films for a nearly a decade, Stanley Kubrick came into prominence as a director in the 1960's. With such classics as “Spartacus,” “Dr. Strangelove,” “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and the “The Shining” to his credit, it is sad that his career ended with the less-than-stellar “Eyes Wide Shut.”

  6. Spike Lee. One of the greatest African-American directors in recent years, Spike Lee's quick dialogue and gritty storytelling make his films instantly recognizable. The Brooklyn native is known for movies such as “Do the Right Thing,” “Mo' Better Blues,” and the mesmerizing Denzel Washington vehicle, “Malcolm X.”

  7. Martin Scorsese. An American director with a flair for intense and immersive films, Scorsese is known for such classics as “Taxi Driver” and “Goodfellas.” More recently, Scorsese directed Leonardo DiCaprio in “Shutter Island.”

  8. Oliver Stone. Not everyone is a fan of Oliver Stone, a director whose name is often closely associated with controversy. While fans will always remember “JFK” and “Natural Born Killers,” Stone's Vietnam classics “Platoon” and “Born on the Forth of July” are some of his best work.

  9. Francis Ford Coppola. Legendary filmmaker talent must run in the family. His daughter Sofia was nominated for a Best Director Oscar in 2004. While Francis Ford Coppola has worked on many fine films, he will forever be known for his work on "The Godfather."

  10. Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino came to prominence with his early 1990s films, “Reservoir Dogs” and “Pulp Fiction.” A great talent behind the camera and the word processor, Tarantino is also an often lauded screenwriter.