Best French Movie Directors

Tuesday, April 5 by Elizabeth Nelson

Who are the best French movie directors? The best French movie directors range from the avante-garde artists of the French New Wave in the 1960s to French directors known for their innovative video work in the late 20th and early 21st century. If you haven't yet seen a film or two by any of these French movie directors, drop what you're doing and watch one today.

  1. Francois Truffaut. In 1959, French movie director Truffaut's debut film "The 400 Blows," a haunting tale of a boy who steals a typewriter, started what became known as the French New Wave. He continued to make movies until his death in 1982. Popular Truffaut films include "Jules and Jim," "Shoot the Piano Player" and "Day For Night." He was nominated for a number of awards throughout his career, including three Oscars.
  2. Michel Gondry. French movie director Gondry has made a lot of films for American audiences. Gondry got his start making creative music videos for artists such as the Sugarcubes and the Chemica Brothers. His films, including "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and "The Science of Sleep," feature a creative, innovative visual style which have won him awards including the best screenplay Oscar for "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind."
  3. Claude Chabrol. French movie director Claude Chabrol, another founder of the French New Wave, made over 80 films in his life, the last one released the year before his death in 2010. His films were suspenseful and critical of the bourgeois way of life. Chabrol has been called the "best film maker" and has won praise for his films from the likes of Alfred Hitchcock, who supposedly said he wished he'd made Chabrol's film "The Butcher."
  4. Jean Luc Godard. If Truffaut's "The 400 Blows" started the French New Wave, then French movie director Godard's "Breathless," also released in 1959, changed the way films were made forever. As a director, Godard changed the way film narrative is structured and altered the rules of sound, light and continuity. In 2010, Godard was awarded an honorary Oscar for his accomplishments as a director. In his typical provocateur style, Godard refused to fly to the United States for the ceremony and said the award meant nothing to him.
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