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Top 50 directors of all time
(updated January 2013) 
1.  Roberto Rossellini   
Rossellini is the cinema's most enigmatic director - a dilettante who strayed in its path and applied a curiosity and expansiveness to it that left everyone bamboozled. Rigorous yet "amateur", his films are open and mysterious - and therefore inexhaustible. Best films: Viaggio in Italia, Paisa, Roma Città Aperta.

2.  Robert Bresson   
Taking his cue from painting rather than theatre, Bresson created a stylised cinema that evaded dramatic affectation and captured the human spirit in its pure state. The despair and suffering that dominate the films are overrided by beauty and grace. Best films: Au Hasard Balthazar, Pickpocket, Mouchette

3.  Jean-Luc Godard   
Cinematic post-modernist, intellectual trouble-maker and elegiac solitaire, Godard is a wonderful figure, still actively working away, counfounding his audiences. His films are jazzy and excited, sometimes great fun, and sometimes truly sublime. Best films: Je vous salue Marie, Sauve qui peut (la vie), Soft and Hard.

4.  Frank Borzage   
Not fully appreciated in his time, Borzage now stands as the cinema's one great exponent of transcendental love. Directed with a light touch (the performances are often very natural), Borzage's films are surprising and moving, and sometimes downright surreal. Best films: Seventh Heaven, Little Man What Now?, The River.

5.  Chantal Akerman   
Akerman is a dream auteur, the way she crosses from experimental narrative to essay film to documentary to big-budget spectacular. If not quite a feminist, the passion of women has been an abiding theme for her, resulting in some difficult but ecstatic films. Best films: Toute une nuit, Jeanne Dielman, Golden Eighties.

6.  Pier Paolo Pasolini  
Pasolini packed a punch in his brief 15-year film career, bringing to it his experience as a writer, journalist, communist, homosexual. But he respected cinema as a medium in its own right, and with great intuition created some astonishingly brutal and poetic works. Best films: Salò, Teorema, Il Vangelo Secondo Matteo.

7.  Jean Renoir   
Struggling in the late '20s, Renoir then produced the greatest body of work from a director in the space of a decade the cinema has known. He was a humanist with a large heart, but he was also a free spirit - a gorgeous combination. Best films: La Règle du Jeu, Le Crime de Monsieur Lange, Boudu sauvé des eaux.

8.  Michelangelo Antonioni   
Antonioni's greatest attributes are his intelligence and his eye, marking even his most despairing films with a nobility and beauty. He also constructs narrative brilliantly, with wonder, often upsetting conventional structures. Best films: Identificazione di una donna, L'Eclisse, L'Avventura.

9.  John Cassavetes   
A chronicler of pain and joy, Cassavetes often neglected even basic technical fundamentals, let alone broader formal matters. But in the face of the tremendous feeling he created, this criticism is beside the point. Best films: Love Streams, A Woman Under the Influence, Minnie and Moskowitz.

10Yasujiro Ozu   
Ozu's work is as eternal as the sky and as deep as the ocean. There are early genre pieces, but his mature work is all about the everyday - and you will not see more compassionate or tender studies of people and their lives anywhere else. Best films: Tokyo Story, An Autumn Afternoon, Late Spring.

11.  Luis Buñuel
12.  Philippe Garrel
13.  Eric Rohmer
14.  Frank Capra
15.  Wong Kar-wai
16.  Abbas Kiarostami
17.  Jean Eustache
18.  Carl Theodor Dreyer
19.  Martin Scorsese
20.  Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
21.  Jacques Rivette
22.  Orson Welles
23.  Theo Angelopoulos
24.  Alfred Hitchcock
25.  Jacques Demy
26.  Alan Clarke
27.  Andrei Tarkovsky
28.  Ingmar Bergman
29.  Bruno Dumont
30.  Claude Chabrol
31.  Max Ophüls
32.  Mike Leigh
33.  Ken Loach
34.  John Ford
35.  Jean-Marie Straub
36.  Charles Chaplin
37.  Douglas Sirk
38.  R. W. Fassbinder
39.  Tony Gatlif
40.  Jerry Lewis
41.  Chris Marker
42.  Werner Herzog
43.  Abel Ferrara
44.  Ermanno Olmi
45.  Kenji Mizoguchi
46.  Jacques Tati
47.  Jean Vigo
48.  Claire Denis
49.  Michael Haneke
50.  Wim Wenders

See also     Top 50 films of all time