The Ten Best Directors of All Time [Relay Race]

A couple months ago I had the pleasure of taking part in a great blogathon known as the Ten Best Actors of All Time Relay Race. That meme is still alive and kicking, but Nostra at My Film Views has added a couple more features, with the most recent one being a version specifically for directors. Dan from Public Transportation Snob sent the baton my way, and now it is my turn to join in on the festivities. Here is Nostra’s description of the relay race for those who haven’t been keeping up with it:

So what’s the idea behind the relay? I’ve created a list of what I think are the ten best directors. At the end of the post I, just like in a real relay race, hand over the baton to another blogger who will write his own post. This blogger will have to remove one director (that is an obligation) and add his own choice and describe why he/she did this. At the end the blogger chooses another blogger to do the same. We will end up with a list (not ranked in order) which represents a common agreement of the best directors.
If you are following the relay race it is also a great way to be introduced to new blogs!

And here are the other entries so far:
My Film Views (The originator of the list, and the ten that he began with were: Alfred Hitchcock, Quentin Tarantino, Stanley Kubrick, Steven Spielberg, Hayao Miyazaki, Darren Aronofsky, Martin Scorsese, The Coen Brothers, Akira Kurosawa, and Christopher Nolan)
Southern Vision (Replaced Christopher Nolan with Krzysztof Kieslowski)
And So It Begins… (Replaced Darren Aronofsky with Ingmar Bergman)
Surrender To The Void (Replaced Steven Spielberg with Lars Von Trier)
Cinematic Paradox (Replaced Lars Von Trier with Paul Thomas Anderson)
Defiant Success (Replaced Krzysztof Kieslowski with Sidney Lumet)
“…Let’s Be Splendid About This…” (Replaced Quentin Tarantino with Abbas Kiarostami)
1001Plus (Replaced Paul Thomas Anderson with Billy Wilder)
Cinema Sights (Replaced Billy Wilder with F.W. Murnau)
Bill’s Movie Emporium (Replaced Martin Scorsese with Werner Herzog)
Public Transportation Snob (Replaced Sidney Lumet with John Ford)

Here is the current list:

Alfred Hitchcock

Stanley Kubrick

Hayao Miyazaki

Werner Herzog

The Coen Brothers

Akira Kurosawa

Ingmar Bergman

Abbas Kiarostami

F.W. Murnau

John Ford

My Removal:

This is always the hard part with these blogathons. With such a great and diverse list this time around, it was even more difficult to remove one of these legends. I dismissed the idea of removing those I am unfamiliar with — in this case, Kiarostami and Murnau — and immediately skipped over the “untouchables” — Hitchcock, Kurosawa, Kubrick. After much deliberation, I decided on removing Werner Herzog. Perhaps this isn’t entirely fair since I am only familiar with his more contemporary work, but I have yet to see something from him that absolutely blew me away. I know he has a lot of devout fans in the blogging world, but I have a feeling he will make a reappearance at some point. I will say this, though — I could listen to that man talk all day long.

My Addition:

Speaking of reappearances, I have decided to enter Billy Wilder back into the race with the hopes that he will get a longer run this time around. I have been on a huge Wilder kick lately (thanks in part to the local theater doing a summer marathon dedicated to his work), and I have fallen in love with a number of his films. I don’t give out 10/10s too often, but he has two films that I would easily go all the way for — Sunset Boulevard and The Apartment. Quite a few of his films are not far off, including Double Indemnity, Ace in the Hole and The Lost Weekend. He is one of the all-time great directors, and I believe he is a worthy addition to this list.

Now I am passing this on to Kristen over at Journeys in Classic Film. Good luck!

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27 thoughts on “The Ten Best Directors of All Time [Relay Race]

  1. Nostra says:

    I understand your addition, but I’m a bit sad to see Herzog removed, have seen a lot of his stuff the last two years and he’s a great director of both movies and documentary films.

  2. Karl Weller says:

    I thought the original list was fairly spot on. Though I would argue that David Fincher or Roman Polanski could replace a couple on that list. Difficult to decide who though?!

    • Eric says:

      Yeah, I think Nostra did a terrific job with the original top ten. But you’re right, Fincher and Polanski would be great additions at some point. Hopefully they get their turns in the race.

  3. Castor says:

    Interesting list especially the fact that there are so many non-contemporary directors when these kinds of lists usually are too heavy on them. I would totally have removed Herzog as well.

  4. jackdeth72 says:

    Hi, Eric:

    Tough decision as to whom to drop. Less tough decision as to Herzog’s replacement. I’ve been waiting awhile to see Billy Wilder make it onto the Big Board.

    Well done!

  5. ruth says:

    I guess I really should see Sunset Boulevard and The Apartment. I’m sure a lot of people are glad to see Mr. Wilder back on the race, I’ve heard only great things about him.

  6. SDG says:

    Really Happy that Wilder is back in the list if nothing else for the diversity he showed throughput his career. I am yet to see a movie that he made that I did not like and I have seen around 15. Definitely one of my favorites. Hope he shays a little while longer this time.

    • Eric says:

      Thanks SDG, I hope so, too. I also have yet to see a film from Mr. Wilder that I didn’t enjoy. He really is one of the all-time greats.

  7. Dan says:

    Nice job, Eric. I passed the baton to capable hands! I thought about Herzog but didn’t feel I’d seen enough of his movies (especially the documentaries) to give him a fair shake. I also thought seriously about putting Wilder back in, so he’s definitely a worthy pick.

    • Eric says:

      Thanks Dan. I really had to think about who to remove, but there were two directors I had in mind that I wanted to enter: Wilder, of course, and also David Lynch. I’m hoping the latter makes an appearance at some point.

  8. Chris says:

    Werner Herzog certainly has a unique voice, I agree he hasn’t blown me away yet either (I found the classics Aguirre (1972), and Fitzcarraldo (1982) quite slow). I thought his most recent doc Into the Abyss (2011) was well-made, though

    Billy Wilder, I see is your new poll, I haven’t seen enough of his work to comment here or vote. Some Like It Hot, Double Indemnity, Stalag 17, etc are on my list of shame…

    • Eric says:

      I have Aguirre coming next from Netflix, and that one seems to be Herzog’s most highly regarded work. Looking forward to it, although I have seen others mention it being slow as well.

      Wilder is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. Looking forward to seeing how this poll turns out, although I have a good idea of what’s going to win already. 🙂

  9. The Blog of Big Ideas says:

    I wasn’t a part of this either! Damn!
    I support your removal of Herzog even though I think his documentary “Encounters at the End of the World” is absolutely brilliant. I remember it left me in a weird state of mind, in fact, I almost convinced myself I needed to escape somewhere remote, like those guys in Antarctica, and become one with nature…haha

    As for Billy Wilder, his body of work speaks for itself, a true master.
    I would be interested to know more about what you’ve seen by Kurosawa whose work is so challenging and different I think, and there aren’t many that talk about him in the blogging world. I was specially impressed with “Ikiru” and I just watched “Ran” which I will review in the coming weeks.

    • Eric says:

      Wow, now you have me intrigued by the sounds of this Herzog documentary. Haven’t seen that one, but I’m definitely interested now.

      From Kurosawa I have seen Seven Samurai, Rashomon and Yojimbo. The ‘big ones’, I suppose. I have been meaning to see Ikiru and Ran for a long time but just haven’t got around to ’em yet. Looking forward to your review — maybe that will inspire me to bump it up in the queue!

  10. Alex Withrow says:

    Oh man, ol’ Zog got the cut. Rough stuff. Ha, but it seems like it wasn’t an easy choice for you so fair enough. Plus, Wilder deserves to remain on this list – he was one of the best, no doubt!

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