Straight Ignorance at Its Finest
1. Steven Spielberg
2. Alfred Hitchcock
3. Martin Scorsese
4. Stanley Kubrick
5. Ridley Scott
6. Akira Kurosawa
7. Peter Jackson
8. Quentin Tarantino
9. Orson Welles
10. Woody Allen
Now, let's not even get started on the sentence in the IMDb clip that says, "Surprisingly, acclaimed film-makers such as Star Wars director George Lucas, Charlie Chaplin, and Tim Burton, fell short of inclusion." And let's not even deal with the "Sir" I'm apparently s'posed to affix to Ridley Scott's name. (Surely they'll rescind that in the wake of Kingdom of Heaven?)
What is the point of publishing a list like this? I know I'm up on my high horse, but seriously, this is like me making a list of the 10 Greatest Basketball Players of all time, i.e., the 10 Basketball Players I Have Heard Of, Because Everyone Has Heard of Them. I can only judge based on celebrity, 'cuz I have no sense of basketball history, the finer techniques of the game, or how to discern an excellent player who isn't a spotlighter or a showboater. I have no grasp of subtlety or tradition, much less of women basketball players, or of basketball players outside the USA. What I know about basketball players is about a fraction more than I knew in the delivery room.
As I tell my students often, just because I know how to turn on a light-switch doesn't make me an electrician.
I'm'a take this list over to the Cinemarati Roundtable and see if we can come up with some ballots that are at least a li'l bit respectable. I'm not saying none of the 10 names above should qualify, but for all of them to qualify is just kind of embarrassing, and they fill such obvious quotas (#6 = "Foreign Director We Have Heard Of," #7 = "Man of the Moment," #9 = "He Directed Citizen Kane"...)
I don't know how you make a list like this without factoring in historical importance and factors of influence, but even leaving out the gigantic innovators (Porter, Melies...), the 'experimental' and avant-garde pioneers of different eras (Brakhage, Deren, the Vertov group...), the documentarians (Flaherty, Wiseman, Kopple...), the animators.... since the Empire list doesn't even pretend to cover any of that, I'll stick to the stated parameters and propose:
10 Great(est?) Directors of All Time...
1. Ingmar Bergman
2. Robert Bresson
3. Orson Welles
4. Alfred Hitchcock
5. Charlie Chaplin
6. F.W. Murnau
7. Andrei Tarkovsky
8. Max Ophüls
9. Howard Hawks
10. Luis Buñuel
Josef von Sternberg, Robert Altman, D.W. Griffith, Fritz Lang, Buster Keaton, Chantal Akerman, Ousmane Sembene, Douglas Sirk, Abbas Kiarostami, Shohei Imamura, Vittorio De Sica, Stanley Kubrick, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Terrence Malick
My Bad That I Haven't Seen Enough...
Jean Renoir, Satyajit Ray, Carl-Theodor Dreyer, Sergei Eisenstein, Theo Angelopoulos, Alain Resnais, John Ford, Michael Powell, Victor Erice, Eric Rohmer
Bigger Bad That I Haven't Seen Any...
Kenji Mizoguchi, Yasujiro Ozu, Roberto Rossellini, Luchino Visconti, Jacques Rivette
10 Directors Who Still Need To Convince Me...
1. Jean-Luc Godard (though I could change my mind about him)
2. Akira Kurosawa
3. Federico Fellini
4. Martin Scorsese (he's made some masterpieces, but he's too inconsistent)
5. Francis Ford Coppola (ditto)
6. Billy Wilder (ditto again)
7. John Cassavetes (keep on ditto'ing)
8. Hou Hsiao-hsien
9. Krzysztof Kieslowski
49. Um, Sir Ridley Scott (he's an admirable visualist, but c'mon)
10 Working Directors I Am Most Excited About...
(Excluding the living members of above lists)
1. Claire Denis
2. David Lynch
3. Todd Haynes
4. Aleksandr Sokurov
5. Jane Campion
6. David Cronenberg
7. Samira Makhmalbaf
8. Lynne Ramsay
9. Pedro Almodóvar
10. Michael Winterbottom
Obviously, there are second-guessable inclusions and wack omissions all over these lists. Plenty of people know way better than me, but I'm not running scared of Empire magazine. I'd still like to believe I can tell the difference between Andrei Rublev and Amistad, or Persona and Gladiator. Meanwhile, the AFI has got the next affront to good film sense already in the hopper.