THE MASTERS

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

Obsession
Glass
Obsession
Glass

Richard Linklater, the man behind the movies Boyhood, Before 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:

Rank Director Average rating of top six movies
1 Richard Linklater 88.5
2 Mike Leigh 85.7
3 Jafar Panahi 85.5
4 Jean-Pierre Dardenne 85.2
5 The Coen Brothers 84.7
6 Hirokazu Koreeda 83.2
7 Steven Spielberg 82.3
8 Martin Scorsese 81.7
9 Pedro Almodavar 81.5
10 Werner Herzog 81.5
11 Paul Thomas Anderson 80.8
12 Michael Haneke 80.5
13 Clint Eastwood 80.3
14 Steven Soderbergh 80.3
15 Olivier Assayas 80.0
16 Peter Jackson 80.0
17 David O. Russell 79.8
18 Spike Lee 79.2
19 Quentin Tarantino 78.8
20 Michael Winterbottom 78.5
21 Alex Gibney 78.3
22 Stephen Frears 78.3
23 Yimou Zhang 78.2
24 Jia Zhangke 78.2
25 Noah Baumbach 77.8
26 Ridley Scott 77.8
27 Christopher Nolan 77.7
28 Jonathan Demme 77.7
29 Wes Anderson 77.5
30 Guillermo del Toro 77.0
31 Ang Lee 76.8
32 Danny Boyle 76.8
33 David Fincher 76.5
34 David Cronenberg 76.2
35 Kevin Macdonald 76.2
36 Errol Morris 76.0
37 Kar-Wai Wong 75.5
38 Jim Jarmusch 75.3
39 Paul Greengrass 75.3
40 Robert Altman 74.7
41 Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu 74.5
42 Ron Howard 74.2
43 Andre Techine 74.0
44 Denis Villeneuve 74.0
45 Francois Ozon 73.8
46 Ken Loach 73.8
47 Woody Allen 73.3
48 Fatih Akin 73.2
49 Catherine Breillat 72.8
50 Claire Denis 72.5
51 Roger Michell 72.5
52 Bruno Dumont 72.3
53 Nicolas Winding Refn 72.0
54 Tim Burton 72.0
55 Claude Chabrol 71.8
56 David Gordon Green 71.8
57 Michel Gondry 71.8
58 Roman Polanski 71.8
59 Chan-wook Park 71.7
60 Ki-duk Kim 71.5
61 Kirby Dick 71.5
62 Michael Apted 71.0
63 Robert Zemeckis 70.7
64 Michael Mann 70.5
65 Terrence Malick 70.0
66 Darren Aronofsky 69.8
67 David Mamet 69.8
68 Susanne Bier 69.8
69 Kiyoshi Kurosawa 69.7
70 Liz Garbus 69.7
71 Todd Solondz 69.7
72 Jon Favreau 69.5
73 Sam Raimi 69.3
74 Neil Jordan 69.0
75 John Madden 68.7
76 Johnnie To 68.7
77 Lars von Trier 68.7
78 Bryan Singer 68.5
79 David Yates 68.5
80 James Mangold 68.5
81 Michael Almereyda 68.3
82 Shane Meadows 68.3
83 Jean-Pierre Jeunet 68.2
84 Raymond De Felitta 67.8
85 Ben Wheatley 67.7
86 Doug Liman 67.7
87 Walter Salles 67.7
88 Ulrich Seidl 67.5
89 Carl Franklin 67.3
90 David Mackenzie 67.3
91 Alastair Fothergill 66.8
92 Anne Fontaine 66.7
93 Lone Scherfig 66.5
94 Sam Mendes 66.3
95 Bill Condon 66.2
96 Jason Reitman 66.0
97 Mike Newell 65.8
98 Patrice Leconte 65.8
99 Curtis Hanson 65.7
100 Michael Moore 65.7
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