The 100 best directors of the last 25 years, ranked according to thousands of critics’ reviews

Richard Linklater just might be the greatest modern movie director.
Richard Linklater just might be the greatest modern movie director.
Image: Sony Pictures Classic
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Richard Linklater, the man behind the movies BoyhoodBefore Sunrise, Dazed and Confused, and School of Rock is the greatest director of the last 25 years. He is followed in excellence by the British realist Mike Leigh and the Iranian new wave master Jafar Panahi.

That’s according to one way of ranking directors, based on critical reviews.

To rank the greatest modern directors, Quartz analyzed data from the website Metacritic. Metacritic takes movie reviews and converts them into a numerical score, and then combines those scores to give movies a 0-100 overall rating. For example, 2017 Oscar frontrunner La La Land has a Metacritic rating of 93, based on 53 different reviews. Passengers, the panned movie starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt, received a rating of 44.

A few caveats: The vast majority of the reviews come from American critics, so the movies included also skew American—though many foreign films with distribution in the US also receive ratings. To filter out one- or two-hit-wonder directors, we stuck to directors who had made six or more movies. We took each director’s six highest-scoring movies since 1992 and averaged their scores. (As a measure of up-and-coming relative newcomers, the highest-rated director with three feature movies under his belt is La La Land director Damien Chazelle.)

Hate his work or love it, Richard Linklater topped our list. His cause is helped tremendously by the fact that Boyhood is one of the three movies ever to receive a perfect rating of 100—the others are Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather and Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Red.

This table shows the top 100 directors, based on our methodology: