Even at the end of Bergman's The Seventh Seal, life can find a way.

My Top 10:

  1. The Seventh Seal
  2. Touch of Evil
  3. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
  4. The Defiant Ones
  5. Vertigo
  6. Death of a Cyclist
  7. Pather Panchali
  8. Mon Oncle
  9. The Bravados
  10. Therese Raquin (more…)

My Top 10:

Sullivan's Travels

  1. Sullivan’s Travels
  2. Bambi
  3. Yankee Doodle Dandy
  4. The Magnificent Ambersons
  5. Kings Row
  6. To Be or Not To Be
  7. The Palm Beach Story
  8. Pride of the Yankees
  9. Now Voyager
  10. Woman of the Year (more…)
4 of the Top 100 in one picture: Martin Scorsese receiving his Oscar from three close friends: Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg

4 of the Top 100 in one picture: Martin Scorsese receiving his Oscar from three close friends: Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg

THIS LIST IS NOW SUPERSEDED BY THE 2.0 VERSION OF THE LIST, WHICH YOU CAN FIND HERE.

With only one director left to go (and if you haven’t figured out who it is, you’re not paying attention), this is a good time to throw up the complete list.  I’ve gone ahead and provided links to all the directors, as well as listing what particular film I decided to focus on.  It was not always necessarily their best film, but rather the one I wanted to write about.

The first thing is, if there is a director here you were expecting to see and didn’t see them, you can go back to my Introduction, where I mention various directors who didn’t make the list and why.

Second, I will probably do a revision of this list sometime after the Oscars.  Because cumulative awards points are one of the categories I have used to make this list, I will re-calculate everyone after the awards season has concluded.  Also, in December, TSPDT re-does their list (they do it annually) and I will also be changing some point totals based on those re-calculations.

Third, almost certainly at some point, some younger directors will start to make the list.  Sofia Coppola finally has a fourth film in post-production, and unless it’s a complete disaster, she will be making a future version of the list.  Several other directors who were mentioned in the Intro still haven’t made a fourth film and at least three of them have just come out with their third films this year, but they will probably make a future version (those include Joe Wright, Stephen Daldry, Rob Marshall and Spike Jonze).  If I have someone who moves up the list, I will do an individual post for that director, with whatever rank they have acheived, and then will re-list all the ranks in the next February re-calculation.

But that’s it for now.  Here’s the complete initial list: The 100 Greatest Directors of All-Time.

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Orson Welles

Orson Welles and Charlton Heston in Touch of Evil (1958)

Orson Welles and Charlton Heston in Touch of Evil (1958)

  • Born:  1915
  • Died:  1985
  • Rank:  16
  • Score:  735.30
  • Nominations:  Oscar
  • Feature Films:  10
  • Best:  Touch of Evil
  • Worst:  Mr. Arkadin

Top 5 Films:

  1. Touch of Evil – 1958
  2. Citizen Kane – 1941
  3. Chimes at Midnight – 1965
  4. The Magnificent Ambersons – 1942
  5. Othello – 1952

Top 10 Best Director Finishes  (Nighthawk Awards):

  • 1941 – 1st – Citizen Kane
  • 1942 – 2nd – The Magnificent Ambersons
  • 1946 – 9th – The Stranger
  • 1948 – 4th – Macbeth
  • 1948 – 5th – The Lady from Shanghai
  • 1955 – 9th – Othello
  • 1958 – 1st – Touch of Evil
  • 1967 – 2nd – Chimes at Midnight

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David Lean directing Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

David Lean directing Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Best Director: Rise of the Foreign Films and Writers-Directors

Billy Wilder was, hands down, king of the writer-directors. With 2 Oscars and 6 other nominations, there is no one else who is even close. Oddly enough, Wilder was nominated 5 times in the 50’s, but both his Oscars came outside that decade (in 45 and 60). (more…)

John Huston directing Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

John Huston directing Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

If you’re interested in Great Directors, for the next year, every few days or so I will be covering the 100 Greatest Directors of Alltime.  Check back starting a few days after the Oscars.  (Yeah, that whole series was finished back in October and you can see the complete list here which links to all the individual posts).

There was a loose connection between Best Director and Best Picture right from the start, with at least two of the Best Picture nominees getting a Best Director nomination, but it took off in 1932.

From 1932 to 1943 (the era of the 10 Best Picture nominations) only two films were nominated for Best Director but not Best Picture, both of them oddities. One was Angels with Dirty Faces, which was one of two nominations for Michael Curtiz that year. According to Inside Oscar (on page 1015), the next year they changed the rule to only allow one nomination for a director in any given year (so I do what I do with the acting and if a Director has two worthy films, I list it as “also for”). (more…)

Spencer Tracy, Gary Cooper and Tom Hanks all have two Oscars. Neither Richard Burton or Orson Welles won an acting Oscar. They seemed to like the underplaying.

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Max Von Sydow and Bibi Andersson in Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal (1957).

Max Von Sydow and Bibi Andersson in Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal (1957).

In 1957, Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster introduced the Best Actor nominees with a song called “It’s Great Not to Be Nominated.” And if you look at this list, you might agree, because this is a great list of films and none of them received even a single Academy Award nomination. They all were completely shut out.

To show how much the Academy got it wrong I list each film, complete with the year it was eligible, and then list all the awards I would have nominated them for (I put the category in bold if I would have given them the Oscar). I played fair to the Academy and only list categories that existed in the respective year to each film. I also only include films that I have been able to verify were eligible (either through official lists, or counting on the research of Inside Oscar). And I give them the nominations I thought they deserved that year – which is why some films lower on the list I nominate for Best Picture, and others that are higher are not — some years are tougher than others.

2010 Update:  (1 Feb)  I am going to type everything I update in green, which for this is not much, but will be hopefully quite a bit with all the History of the Academy Awards series starting tomorrow.  For most of the last year, I have tried to see more of the Oscar nominees that I haven’t seen, so there aren’t very many truly great films I’ve seen that I hadn’t seen before and weren’t nominated for any Oscars, but there are three that I want to mention.  I’m not revising the list, just adding these three as an addendum.  This is also a dry run to see how well it works to re-post things at the top.  So, click on through.

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The #1 Romantic Drama (#3 overall).

The #1 Romantic Drama (#3 overall).

Here it is: the final AFI list. It is also the sparsest, for a variety of reasons, including the fact that I’ve been busy trying to get my Academy Award posts ready for later this month, because it takes forever to do the links for a list this long, and because I’ve been working at Borders a lot to make up for the fact that my job for AAS no longer exists. So, with no links or quotes or descriptions, I simply give you the 100 best dramas.

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Orson Welles in Chimes at Midnight (1965)

Orson Welles in Chimes at Midnight (1965)

“Welles never approached such posterity again, although ‘Touch of Evil’ (1958) is a fine example of the then-fading film noir genre.”
Steve Persall ST. PETERSBURG TIMES (as syndicated in the San Diego Union Tribune)

First of all, when you’ve just explained that Citizen Kane is widely regarded as the greatest film ever made, obviously he never approached such posterity again. Neither did anyone else. That’s kind of the point. But in Persall’s article, he dismisses Welles among other directors that “once were giants.” What that misses is that Welles may have been forced out of the studio system, but he hardly failed to continue to be a giant (fat jokes not withstanding). (more…)