It has been interesting to see how people differ in their view of how many films they need to have seen/liked (or the director to have made) to be considered. Some people are even saying "I've seen four or five which isn't enough to rank" which seems crazy strict. Then again, I included someone who has only made one (Martin McDonough, though I threw in his short film as well) and at least two who have only released two (when I had filled out my ballot anyway). I think greatness can include potential as well for someone whose future is mostly ahead of them.
I go by the James Dean model. 1 great film grabs my interest, 2 great confirms your talent and after 3 I can definitely say you're a great director. So Andrew Stanton is 1 Great Film away. Besides, I know many people who hailed Terrence Malick as a Great Director when he only had Badlands and Days of Heaven.
1. Sergio Leone - Yes, but he made so few movies.The Dollars Trilogy
Once Upon A Time in the West
Duck You Sucker
Once Upon a Time in America
3 of these are in my Top 100 of all time...nuff said!
3. Alfred Hitchcock - Alot of very good and great films, but never anything I would call a masterpiece.
In my Top 100...The Birds
North by Northwest
Strangers on a Train
and Rear Window
to that and I bet most people would call at least 2 of them masterpieces
4. Steven Spielberg - Wouldn't put him this high up, too generic.
This surprised me but he also has 4 in my Top 100Close Encounters
Then there's the half-dozen other great ones. He's not at the top of his game right now, but he's proven his Greatness many times over.
6. Martin Scorsese - Hasn't made a good movie in 20 years, but classics are great.
He's still good, and the classics keep him on the all-time list.
8. John Huston - Need to watch more.
I recommend the Bogart Blu-Rays that just came out. Plus The Man Who Would be King.
11. David Lynch - Great but hasn't made good film in awhile.
Hasn't made a feature in a while, but both of his films from the 00's are in my Top 100 of that decade.
12. George Roy Hill -
4 Great Films...The World According to Garp
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
15. David Fincher - A tad overrated, only 7 and Fight Club are great.
People dismiss The Game, which is excellent. Social Network put him back on top.
22. Mike Nichols - The Graduate
Angels in America
Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf?
24. Francis Ford Coppola - Only on strength of his classics.
Somebody whose reputation is cemented by only 4 films.
26. James Cameron - Deserves his due.
In 3 simple words, you defended this unpopular but very worthy choice better than I could in paragraphs.
28. Christopher Nolan - Projectile vomit.
I debated this one because he feels so new and I know all the young'ins on the boards are going to name him anyways. But he's made 5 great movies now, and his visual style keeps getting better. He's a classic director of the old school of cinema for the big screen that doesn't make us wait 5 years between projects.