The 80 Best-Directed Films by Directors Guild of America (DGA)

"As the DGA celebrates its 80th anniversary this year, we decided to poll our members to see what they consider the 80 greatest directorial achievements in feature films since the Guild’s founding in 1936. (Features directed by nonmembers were eligible.) Many organizations and critics groups have compiled similar lists, but this was an opportunity for the people who actually do the job to focus specifically on the work of the director and his or her team. Members participating totaled 2,189 (13.7 percent of all Guild members). As in any poll of this nature, there are bound to be choices you disagree with, and other films you would have included—that’s part of the fun. But we think you’ll find this list thought-provoking and a fitting tribute to the timeless work of our great directors.top ten favorite movie titles to collectively build our list of the 100 best movies of all time. Now it's time to see how you compare. Have you seen The Turin Horse, which falls in the top three of Oscar winner Juliette Binoche's list? Do you agree with Michael C. Hall's favorites To Kill a Mockingbird or the modern classic Goodfellas? Find out how high you score in the below checklist—and get to watching the movies you've been missing out on!"

- Directors Guild of America (DGA)


Weight: 80


Detractions

  1. Voted on by industry employee(s) (-20)

Films (80)

1. The Godfather

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola | Rated R | 175 min | 1972

The aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son.


2. Citizen Kane

Directed by Orson Welles | 119 min | 1941

Following the death of a publishing tycoon, news reporters scramble to discover the meaning of his final utterance.


3. Lawrence of Arabia

Directed by David Lean | Rated PG | 216 min | 1962

The story of T.E. Lawrence, the English officer who successfully united and lead the diverse, often warring, Arab tribes during World War I in order to fight the Turks.


4. 2001: A Space Odyssey

Directed by Stanley Kubrick | Rated G | 149 min | 1968

Humanity finds a mysterious, obviously artificial object buried beneath the Lunar surface and, with the intelligent computer H.A.L. 9000, sets off on a quest.


5. Casablanca

Directed by Michael Curtiz | Rated PG | 102 min | 1942

In Casablanca, Morocco in December 1941, a cynical American expatriate meets a former lover, with unforeseen complications.


6. The Godfather: Part II

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola | Rated R | 202 min | 1974

The early life and career of Vito Corleone in 1920s New York is portrayed while his son, Michael, expands and tightens his grip on his crime syndicate stretching from Lake Tahoe, Nevada to pre-revolution 1958 Cuba.


7. Apocalypse Now

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola | Rated R | 153 min | 1979

During the Vietnam War, Captain Willard is sent on a dangerous mission into Cambodia to assassinate a renegade colonel who has set himself up as a god among a local tribe.


8. Schindler's List

Directed by Steven Spielberg | Rated R | 195 min | 1993

In German-occupied Poland during World War II, Oskar Schindler gradually becomes concerned for his Jewish workforce after witnessing their persecution by the Nazi Germans.


9. Gone with the Wind

Directed by Victor Fleming, George Cukor, Sam Wood | Rated G | 238 min | 1939

A manipulative Southern belle carries on a turbulent affair with a blockade runner during the American Civil War.


10. Goodfellas

Directed by Martin Scorsese | Rated R | 146 min | 1990

Henry Hill and his friends work their way up through the mob hierarchy.


11. Chinatown

Directed by Roman Polanski | Rated R | 130 min | 1974

A private detective hired to expose an adulterer finds himself caught up in a web of deceit, corruption and murder.


12. The Wizard of Oz

Directed by Victor Fleming, George Cukor, Mervyn LeRoy, Norman Taurog, King Vidor | 102 min | 1939

Dorothy Gale is swept away to a magical land in a tornado and embarks on a quest to see the Wizard who can help her return home.


13. Raging Bull

Directed by Martin Scorsese | Rated R | 129 min | 1980

An emotionally self-destructive boxer's journey through life, as the violence and temper that leads him to the top in the ring destroys his life outside it.


14. Jaws

Directed by Steven Spielberg | Rated PG | 124 min | 1975

When a gigantic great white shark begins to menace the small island community of Amity, a police chief, a marine scientist and a grizzled fisherman set out to stop it.


15. It's a Wonderful Life

Directed by Frank Capra | Rated PG | 130 min | 1946

An angel helps a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman by showing what life would have been like if he never existed.


16. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Directed by Stanley Kubrick | Rated PG | 95 min | 1964

An insane general triggers a path to nuclear holocaust that a war room full of politicians and generals frantically try to stop.


17. The Shawshank Redemption

Directed by Frank Darabont | Rated R | 142 min | 1994

Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency.


18. The Graduate

Directed by Mike Nichols | 106 min | 1967

A disillusioned college graduate finds himself torn between his older lover and her daughter.


19. Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope

Directed by George Lucas | Rated PG | 121 min | 1977

Luke Skywalker joins forces with a Jedi Knight, a cocky pilot, a wookiee and two droids to save the galaxy from the Empire's world-destroying battle-station, while also attempting to rescue Princess Leia from the evil Darth Vader.


20. Blade Runner

Directed by Ridley Scott | Rated R | 117 min | 1982

A blade runner must pursue and try to terminate four replicants who stole a ship in space and have returned to Earth to find their creator.


21. On the Waterfront

Directed by Elia Kazan | 108 min | 1954

An ex-prize fighter turned longshoreman struggles to stand up to his corrupt union bosses.


22. Pulp Fiction

Directed by Quentin Tarantino | Rated R | 154 min | 1994

The lives of two mob hit men, a boxer, a gangster's wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption.


23. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

Directed by Steven Spielberg | Rated PG | 115 min | 1982

A troubled child summons the courage to help a friendly alien escape Earth and return to his home-world.


24. Annie Hall

Directed by Woody Allen | Rated PG | 93 min | 1977

Neurotic New York comedian Alvy Singer falls in love with the ditzy Annie Hall.


25. Saving Private Ryan

Directed by Steven Spielberg | Rated R | 169 min | 1998

Following the Normandy Landings, a group of U.S. soldiers go behind enemy lines to retrieve a paratrooper whose brothers have been killed in action.


26. Seven Samurai

Directed by Akira Kurosawa | 207 min | 1954

A poor village under attack by bandits recruits seven unemployed samurai to help them defend themselves.


27. A Clockwork Orange

Directed by Stanley Kubrick | Rated X | 136 min | 1971

In future Britain, charismatic delinquent Alex DeLarge is jailed and volunteers for an experimental aversion therapy developed by the government in an effort to solve society's crime problem - but not all goes according to plan.


28. Raiders of the Lost Ark

Directed by Steven Spielberg | Rated PG | 115 min | 1981

Archaeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones is hired by the U.S. government to find the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis.


29. Vertigo

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock | Rated PG | 128 min | 1958

A San Francisco detective suffering from acrophobia investigates the strange activities of an old friend's wife, all the while becoming dangerously obsessed with her.


30. Sunset Boulevard

Directed by Billy Wilder | 110 min | 1950

A hack screenwriter writes a screenplay for a former silent-film star who has faded into Hollywood obscurity.


31. To Kill a Mockingbird

Directed by Robert Mulligan | 129 min | 1962

Atticus Finch, a lawyer in the Depression-era South, defends a black man against an undeserved rape charge, and his kids against prejudice.


32. Psycho

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock | Rated R | 109 min | 1960

A Phoenix secretary steals $40,000 from her employer's client, goes on the run and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother.


33. The Searchers

Directed by John Ford | 119 min | 1956

A Civil War veteran embarks on a journey to rescue his niece from an Indian tribe.


34. Forrest Gump

Directed by Robert Zemeckis | Rated PG-13 | 142 min | 1994

Forrest Gump, while not intelligent, has accidentally been present at many historic moments, but his true love, Jenny Curran, eludes him.


35. Singin' in the Rain

Directed by Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly | 103 min | 1952

A silent film production company and cast make a difficult transition to sound.


36.

Directed by Federico Fellini | 138 min | 1963

A harried movie director retreats into his memories and fantasies.


37. The Third Man

Directed by Carol Reed | 93 min | 1949

Pulp novelist Holly Martins travels to shadowy, postwar Vienna, only to find himself investigating the mysterious death of an old friend, Harry Lime.


38. The Best Years of Our Lives

Directed by William Wyler | 172 min | 1946

Three World War II veterans return home to small-town America to discover that they and their families have been irreparably changed.


39. Rear Window

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock | 112 min | 1954

A wheelchair-bound photographer spies on his neighbours from his apartment window and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder.


40. The Bridge on the River Kwai

Directed by David Lean | Rated PG | 161 min | 1957

After settling his differences with a Japanese PoW camp commander, a British colonel co-operates to oversee his men's construction of a railway bridge for their captors - while oblivious to a plan by the Allies to destroy it.


41. North by Northwest

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock | 136 min | 1959

A hapless New York advertising executive is mistaken for a government agent by a group of foreign spies, and is pursued across the country while he looks for a way to survive.


42. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Directed by Milos Forman | Rated R | 133 min | 1975

A criminal pleads insanity after getting into trouble again and once in the mental institution rebels against the oppressive nurse and rallies up the scared patients.


43. The Sound of Music

Directed by Robert Wise | Rated G | 174 min | 1965

A woman leaves an Austrian convent to become a governess to the children of a Naval officer widower.


44. Taxi Driver

Directed by Martin Scorsese | Rated R | 113 min | 1976

A mentally unstable Vietnam War veteran works as a night-time taxi driver in New York City where the perceived decadence and sleaze feeds his urge for violent action, attempting to save a preadolescent prostitute in the process.


45. Titanic

Directed by James Cameron | Rated PG-13 | 194 min | 1997

A seventeen-year-old aristocrat falls in love with a kind but poor artist aboard the luxurious, ill-fated R.M.S. Titanic.


46. The Shining

Directed by Stanley Kubrick | Rated R | 146 min | 1980

A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where an evil and spiritual presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from the past and of the future.


47. Amadeus

Directed by Milos Forman | Rated R | 160 min | 1984

The incredible story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, told by his peer and secret rival Antonio Salieri - now confined to an insane asylum.


48. Doctor Zhivago

Directed by David Lean | Rated PG-13 | 197 min | 1965

The life of a Russian physician and poet who, although married to another, falls in love with a political activist's wife and experiences hardship during the First World War and then the October Revolution.


49. West Side Story

Directed by Jerome Robbins, Robert Wise | 152 min | 1961

Two youngsters from rival New York City gangs fall in love, but tensions between their respective friends build toward tragedy.


50. Some Like It Hot

Directed by Billy Wilder | 120 min | 1959

When two musicians witness a mob hit, they flee the state in an all-female band disguised as women, but further complications set in.


51. Ben-Hur

Directed by William Wyler | Rated G | 212 min | 1959

When a Jewish prince is betrayed and sent into slavery by a Roman friend, he regains his freedom and comes back for revenge.


52. Fargo

Directed by Joel Coen, Ethan Coen | Rated R | 98 min | 1996

Jerry Lundegaard's inept crime falls apart due to his and his henchmen's bungling and the persistent police work of the quite pregnant Marge Gunderson.


53. The Silence of the Lambs

Directed by Jonathan Demme | Rated R | 118 min | 1991

A young F.B.I. cadet must confide in an incarcerated and manipulative killer to receive his help on catching another serial killer who skins his victims.


54. The Apartment

Directed by Billy Wilder | 125 min | 1960

A man tries to rise in his company by letting its executives use his apartment for trysts, but complications and a romance of his own ensue.


55. Avatar

Directed by James Cameron | Rated PG-13 | 162 min | 2009

A paraplegic marine dispatched to the moon Pandora on a unique mission becomes torn between following his orders and protecting the world he feels is his home.


56. The Hurt Locker

Directed by Kathryn Bigelow | Rated R | 131 min | 2008

During the Iraq War, a Sergeant recently assigned to an army bomb squad is put at odds with his squad mates due to his maverick way of handling his work.


57. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

Directed by John Huston | 126 min | 1948

Fred Dobbs and Bob Curtin, two Americans searching for work in Mexico, convince an old prospector to help them mine for gold in the Sierra Madre Mountains.


58. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu | Rated R | 119 min | 2014

Illustrated upon the progress of his latest Broadway play, a former popular actor's struggle to cope with his current life as a wasted actor is shown.


59. All About Eve

Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz | 138 min | 1950

An ingenue insinuates herself into the company of an established but aging stage actress and her circle of theater friends.


60. The Deer Hunter

Directed by Michael Cimino | Rated R | 183 min | 1978

An in-depth examination of the ways in which the U.S. Vietnam War impacts and disrupts the lives of people in a small industrial town in Pennsylvania.


61. There Will Be Blood

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson | Rated R | 158 min | 2007

A story of family, religion, hatred, oil and madness, focusing on a turn-of-the-century prospector in the early days of the business.


62. The Sting

Directed by George Roy Hill | Rated PG | 129 min | 1973

In Chicago in September 1936, a young con man seeking revenge for his murdered partner teams up with a master of the big con to win a fortune from a criminal banker.


63. The Wild Bunch

Directed by Sam Peckinpah | Rated R | 145 min | 1969

An aging group of outlaws look for one last big score as the "traditional" American West is disappearing around them.


64. Alien

Directed by Ridley Scott | Rated R | 117 min | 1979

After a space merchant vessel perceives an unknown transmission as distress call, their landing on the source moon finds one of the crew attacked by a mysterious lifeform. Continuing their journey back to Earth with the attacked crew having recovered and the critter deceased, they soon realize that its life cycle has merely begun.


65. Rocky

Directed by John G. Avildsen | Rated PG | 120 min | 1976

Rocky Balboa, a small-time boxer, gets a supremely rare chance to fight the heavy-weight champion, Apollo Creed, in a bout in which he strives to go the distance for his self-respect.


66. The Conformist

Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci | Rated R | 111 min | 1970

A weak-willed Italian man becomes a fascist flunky who goes abroad to arrange the assassination of his old teacher, now a political dissident.


67. Gandhi

Directed by Richard Attenborough | Rated PG | 191 min | 1982

Gandhi's character is fully explained as a man of nonviolence. Through his patience, he is able to drive the British out of the subcontinent. And the stubborn nature of Jinnah and his commitment towards Pakistan is portrayed.


68. Bicycle Thieves

Directed by Vittorio De Sica | 89 min | 1948

Set in Post-WWII Italy, a working class man's bicycle is stolen. He and his son set out to find it.


69. Cinema Paradiso

Directed by Giuseppe Tornatore | Rated R | 155 min | 1988

A filmmaker recalls his childhood, when he fell in love with the movies at his village's theater and formed a deep friendship with the theater's projectionist.


70. Brazil

Directed by Terry Gilliam | Rated R | 132 min | 1985

A bureaucrat in a retro-future world tries to correct an administrative error and himself becomes an enemy of the state.


71. The Grapes of Wrath

Directed by John Ford | 129 min | 1940

A poor Midwest family is forced off of their land. They travel to California, suffering the misfortunes of the homeless in the Great Depression.


72. All the President's Men

Directed by Alan J. Pakula | Rated PG | 138 min | 1976

"The Washington Post" reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein uncover the details of the Watergate scandal that leads to President Richard Nixon's resignation.


73. Barry Lyndon

Directed by Stanley Kubrick | Rated PG | 184 min | 1975

An Irish rogue wins the heart of a rich widow and assumes her dead husband's aristocratic position in 18th-century England.


74. Touch of Evil

Directed by Orson Welles | Rated PG-13 | 95 min | 1958

A stark, perverse story of murder, kidnapping, and police corruption in a Mexican border town.


75. Once Upon a Time in America

Directed by Sergio Leone | Rated R | 229 min | 1984

A former Prohibition-era Jewish gangster returns to the Lower East Side of Manhattan over thirty years later, where he once again must confront the ghosts and regrets of his old life.


76. Unforgiven

Directed by Clint Eastwood | Rated R | 131 min | 1992

Retired Old West gunslinger William Munny reluctantly takes on one last job, with the help of his old partner and a young man.


77. The Usual Suspects

Directed by Bryan Singer | Rated R | 106 min | 1995

A sole survivor tells of the twisty events leading up to a horrific gun battle on a boat, which begin when five criminals meet at a seemingly random police lineup.


78. Network

Directed by Sidney Lumet | Rated R | 121 min | 1976

A television network cynically exploits a deranged former anchor's ravings and revelations about the news media for its own profit.


79. Rashomon

Directed by Akira Kurosawa | 88 min | 1950

A heinous crime and its aftermath are recalled from differing points of view.


80. Once Upon a Time in the West

Directed by Sergio Leone | Rated PG-13 | 175 min | 1968

Epic story of a mysterious stranger with a harmonica who joins forces with a notorious desperado to protect a beautiful widow from a ruthless assassin working for the railroad.