Behind the Lens Genius: The Directorial Icons Inspiring Film Enthusiasts Worldwide


Film has always been a medium that captivates audiences and inspires passionate discussion. However, in recent years, there has been a rise of a particular breed of movie fans who are commonly known as “film bros.”

These individuals are known for their love of arthouse cinema, their pretentiousness, and their tendency to dismiss anything mainstream or popular. They often idolize a select group of directors whom they believe to be the epitome of cinematic genius.

Lucky for us, they also love to hang out in internet forums and share their opinions. Here are 15 film bro-approved directors for you to look into before your next movie marathon.

1. Alfred Hitchcock

Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

The king of horror movies, Alfred Hitchcock's movies are the reason why we have so many of the most beloved horror movies and horror tropes nowadays. From Frenzy to Psycho to Vertigo, he was known for his mystery and great scares. You can't be a horror fan if you've never seen a Hitchcock movie.

2. Quentin Tarantino

Pulp Fiction Samuel L. Jackson, John Travolta Most Memorable Quentin Tarantino Characters
Image Credit: Miramax Films.

Unsurprisingly, Quentin Tarantino received several mentions. But almost none of the respondents could agree on which violent and brilliantly written movie of the director was his best. One said Django Unchained, another said Inglourious Basterds, a third said Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and the iconic Pulp Fiction only received one vote.

Perhaps most shocking was that the only film in Tarantino’s filmography was his feature debut Reservoir Dogs. 

3. David Fincher

Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman in Se7en (1995)
Photo Credit: New Line Cinema.

David Fincher was also well agreed upon as a favorite director for many respondents, and unlike Tarantino, there was much more agreement on Fincher’s best film: Se7en. But even then, several respondents highlighted that they were naming him as their favorite because of his consistency overall with his movies.

Fincher’s penchant for a stable camera seems to have led to great filmography.

4. David Lynch

Image Credit: Universal Pictures

Not to be confused with “the other David,” David Lynch has been making features since the 1970s (and shorts since the 1960s). Many commenters agreed upon him as a favorite film bro.

So, it makes sense, too, that the two films mentioned most, Mulholland Drive and Blue Velvet highlight the director’s surreal, visually stunning, and atmospheric style. However, one fan suggested The Elephant Man as an accessible entry point into the sometimes enigmatic filmmaker’s work.

5. Paul Thomas Anderson

There Will Be Blood e1692064622283
Photo Credit: Miramax Films

Like David Lynch, one user (whose comment received significant upvotes) named Paul Thomas Anderson their favorite director and There Will Be Blood as their favorite of his films but suggested Boogie Nights to those unfamiliar with his work. It’s a suggestion that makes sense as some of PTA’s work, including There Will Be Blood, can be incredibly formal and seem to lack humor, even though he’s clearly capable of delivering chaotic fun in movies like Boogie Nights and Inherent Vice.

6. Christopher Nolan

heath ledger the dark knight
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Christopher Nolan pulled off a nearly impossible task when he made The Dark Knight. He made a Batman movie that’s equally a Christopher Nolan movie. It’s a film that perfectly highlights the filmmaker’s skill for deftly combining big ideas with big action scenes that augment instead of distract from the ideas.

That said, none of the respondents to the thread named The Dark Knight as their favorite from Nolan, instead calling out Interstellar, Inception, and Dunkirk, which just goes to show the filmmakers’ range.  

7. Hayao Miyazaki

Princess Mononoke
Image Credit: Studio Ghibli

The only director of animated films widely agreed upon, Hayao Miyazaki was voted one of the greatest directors of all time by many. One respondent called the filmmaker “the animation king,” while another highlighted that he did a lot of work to change the anime industry.

Within the filmmaker's often environmentally and spiritually conscious films, users called out two films in particular: Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away.

8. Akira Kurosawa

Seven Samurai 1 Toho MSN
Image Credit: Toho.

Akira Kurosawa was the only director without films made in the 21st century to receive significant support. Kurosawa’s stories about mythic heroes clearly still resonate today as two of his most well-agreed-upon films were Seven Samurai and Sanjuro.

9. Denis Villeneuve

Image from the movie Dune
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Many respondents were enthusiastic about their love for Canadian director Denis Villeneuve. One called the director “brilliant,” while another said that he is one of the best directors in recent generations.

It’s not surprising that the filmmaker behind movies like Dune and Blade Runner 2049 received such emphatic support, but what was surprising was one user highlighting his 2010 Arabic and French language film Incendies

10. Danny Boyle

Photo Credit: Miramax.

Danny Boyle received several mentions and many upvotes, with one user highlighting that he’s one of the greatest genre-hopping directors calling out his work in horror (28 Days Later), sci-fi (Sunshine), drama (Slumdog Millionaire), and thriller (Shallow Grave). Plus he's able to direct a  movie like Trainspotting, which combines a lot of genres altogether.

I do count Boyle among my favorite filmmakers as well so I won’t argue with it.

11. Coen Brothers

The Big Lebowski 1998 1 e1677366733125
Photo Credit: Working Title Films

Making the list are the Coen Brothers with acclaimed works such as Fargo (1996), The Big Lebowski (1998), and O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000). Joel Coen and Ethan Coen have been making films together since the 1980s when they wrote and directed Blood Simple, their first feature film.

12. Steven Spielberg

the bfg
Image Credit: Disney.

Spielberg is hailed as the King of Hollywood. He’s known for open-hearted and diverse iconic films such as E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), The BFG (2016), Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), and so many more.

13. Stanley Kubrick

The Shining (1980)
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Kubrick is known for a number of horror films and movies that leave viewers thinking about the film for a long time. Kubrick is responsible for The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, Full Metal Jacket, and many others.

14. Martin Scorcese

Goodfellas, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Ray Liotta
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Many fans know Scorcese's work because of his hits like Goodfellas and The Wolf of Wall Street, but he's also the director behind hits such as Shutter Island, Taxi Driver, and The Irishman.

15. Guillermo del Toro

pan's labyrinth
Image Credit: New Line Cinema.

While Tim Burton is often credited as a dark, fantastical director, Guillermo del Toro has a lot of wonderfully dark, creative films that film buffs love. From his most memorable film Pan's Labyrinth to his recent adaptation of Pinocchio, he is truly the master of making dark, beautiful movies.

Source: Reddit.

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Film and TV Critic, Pop Culture Writer

  • Expertise: Horror, Animation, Queer Film
  • Education: Master's Degree in Philosophy from Boston College, Dual Bachelor's Degree in Philosophy and Political Science from Boston College
  • Organizer of Queer Film Challenge on Letterboxd
  • Over 200 reviews, essays, articles, and lists across various sites

Experience: Kyle Logan has been writing about film since studying film and philosophy as an undergraduate at Boston College. Kyle began writing about film professionally in 2020 and has written for many sites including Screen Anarchy, Film Stories, and Fangoria. Kyle has also organized the Queer Film Challenge on Letterboxd since 2020, highlighting the queer history of film and bringing attention to rising queer filmmakers. Kyle now works full time with Wealth of Geeks, contributing lists, reviews, and podcast appearances on topics as varied as film, travel, and Halloween candy.