15 Directors that Made me Who I am.

I am not just a computer geek but I am a geek on many levels. I am a beer geek, a music geek, a high-definition geek, a book geek, and I finally a movie geek. Lately I have been admiring the folks that bring the movies I love to life.   The great Sidney Lumet’s passing  made me realize how these films and the men that made them affected my life. I decided to make a list, not of the world’s most influential directors, but instead, a list of the directors that have most influenced my life. Mr. Lumet did not make my list I am sad to say but I will forever remember many of his movies. The list is limited to 15 for brevity’s sake and these are in order of least influential to most. While I do invite all comments, please realize this is not a “best ever” list but instead a list based on my life and opinions.

#15 Rob Reiner
  • This is Spinal Tap
  • When Harry met Sally
  • The Princess Bride
  • A Few Good Men
  • Stand by Me
  • Throw Momma from the Train
  • Misery

When I was researching this list I almost fell out of my chair because I, to my surprise, did not realize how many fo Rob’s movies have affected me.  Just out of high school I can vividly remember watching this This is Spinal Tap. I quote The Princess Bride almost daily.  I have a strange unnerving fear of cast iron frying pans thanks to Throw Momma from the Train.  I wont even get into how bad my ankles hurt any time I see Kathy Bates now.  This guy definitely influenced my life.

#14 Peter Jackson

  • Dead Alive
  • Bad Taste
  • The Frighteners
  • Lord of the Rings Trilogy
  • King Kong

How does a guy get from making strange, amazing, horror comedies to making the Lord of the Rings.  I remember watching  Bad Taste and Dead Alive.They freaked me out as a teenager. The grand, epic scope of the Lord of the Rings films makes Jackson a director I can relate to. I must be one of the few people on the planet that loved his King Kong remake.

#13 Alfred Hitchcock
  • Rear Window
  • The Birds
  • Vertigo
  • Psycho

I can thank Mr. Hitchcock for introducing me to one of my favorite film genres, Horror.  Psycho will for me, like many, always make taking a shower interesting.  The Birds and The Rear Window are also favs of mine.  You have to watch those crazy taxidermists right?

#12 David Cronenberg

  • Videodrome
  • The Incredible Melting man
  • Scanners
  • Naked Lunch
  • M. Butterfly
  • The Fly
  • Eastern Promises

This guy taught me to have a strong stomach.  he also showed me the joys of seeing things that you just can’t believe.  The master of “Body Horror” I cant go more than a week without sitting transfixed watching one of Cronenberg’s movies.

#11 David Lynch

  • Eraserhead
  • Blue Velvet
  • The Elephant Man
  • Dune

This guy made the list for two reasons.  I watched the Elephant man when I was a young adult after I read some things about the person the movie was based on.  I was mesmerized by the direction and, of course the acting.  This movie made me understand that I had and continue to have a LOT to be thankful for.  Dune on the other hand was a wildly fantastical Sci-Fi Epic that it took me 4 viewings to fully understand, but once I did the richness of the movie and the direction sticks with me even now.

# 10 Clint Eastwood

  • High Plains Drifter
  • Sudden Impact
  • Pale Rider
  • Heartbreak Ridge
  • Unforgiven
  • Million Dollar Baby
  • Letters from Iwo Jima
  • Gan Torino

I am pretty jazzed that in my lifetime I have been able to enjoy Clint as both an amazing actor and more recently a timely director.  His movies about the west were my introduction to the western and his direction of Pale Rider and Unforgiven made me realize he was a master of both crafts.

#9 Martin Scorsese

  • Taxi Driver
  • Raging Bull
  • Goodfellas
  • Cape Fear
  • Gangs of New York
  • Aviator
  • The Departed

Scorsese films showed me the seedy and often mentally off sides of life.  I can still relate to these touched individuals thanks to the brilliant direction given.  I remember his films teaching me that odd is OK and for a geek that means a lot.

#8 Ridley Scott

  • The Duelists
  • Alien
  • Blade Runner
  • Legend
  • Gladiator
  • Kingdom of Heaven
  • Robin Hood

What can I say about this man?  His films are both prolific and relevant.  Ridley showed me both as a youth and as an adult that storytelling is without a doubt NOT a lost art form.  I can VIVIDLY remember how scared I was while I watched Alien, how transfixed I was watching Blade Runner, and how amazed at the imagery that existed in Legend.  I STILL to this day watch all these movies over and over and find new things every time.

#7 Terry Gilliam

  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  • Time Bandits
  • Brazil
  • The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
  • The Fisher King
  • 12 Monkeys

I am a huge Monty Python fan.  Lets face it British humor is something you either get or you don’t, but Terry’s films take that quirky oddness to a whole different level.  His movies brought fascination and silliness into my life at a time when I needed it.  I will forever think of how many times I watched Time Bandits to try to understand it.  Now that I get it I LOVE IT.  That’s really the way it is with all these films.

#6 Tim Burton

  • Beetlejuice
  • Edward Scissor Hands
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Batman
  • Batman Returns

Burton ranks pretty high on this list because of my connection to him as an artist.  Being an illustrator first and a computer jockey second I can totally relate to hos he fell into film making.  I have grown up watching Tim’s progress from obscure artistic interpretations, to comedies and then darker fare.  I will always see him when i discuss dark thought-provoking films.

# 5 John Carpenter

  • Assault on Precinct 13
  • Halloween Series
  • The Thing
  • The Fog
  • Escape from New York
  • Star Man
  • Big Trouble in Little China
  • Prince of Darkness
  • They Live
  • Vampires
  • Villiage of the Damned

Carpenter is one of my all time favorite directors.  The list of his movies that I would happily re watch any time is filled with his films.  It does not just stop at his directorial works but his soundtrack talents as well.  I attribute my love of synth music to him.

#4 Mel Brooks

  • Blazing Saddles
  • Young Frankenstein
  • History of the World Part 1
  • Spaceballs
  • Life Stinks
  • Robin Hood Men in Tights

Mel Brooks is a master of the spoof comedy.  When I feel the worst in my life I can ALWAYS flip on one of his films and laugh my blues away.  The dialog of his films while humorous is also clever and smart.  His films make me feel good and I love to share my love of his movies with others.  Sharing them with my kids for the first time I think is one of the greatest moments I ever had as a father.

#3 Stanley Kubrik

  • Spartacus
  • Dr. Strangelove
  • 2001 A Space Odyssey
  • A Clockwork Orange
  • The Shining
  • Full Metal Jacket
  • Eyes Wide Shut

Kubrik’s amazing attention to detail in his films and his tremendous eye for camera work is what I attribute as one of the driving factors in my overall love of film.  Spartacus is an amazing film even after all these years. A clockwork Orange not only made me think about the future but feel it.  2001 is a movie that is as brilliant in execution as it is to look at.  Kubrik is definitely one of the greatest of  filmmakers of all time and one of my favorites too.

#2 George Lucas

  • THX 1138
  • American Graffiti
  • Star Wars series

Now I know what you’re saying, this guy is not a really great director.  Well, that may be true, but I cannot deny that the films Lucas has directed have influenced my life’s fiber in almost every way.  I grew up living and breathing Star Wars.  I had toys.  I ate branded Happy Meals.  I drank out of emblazoned glasses.  I wore clothes with images from the films.  There is not one aspect of my childhood and now my adult life that I can not reference some Star Wars films in.  Nuff Said.

#1 Steven Spielberg 

  • Jaws
  • Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind
  • 1941
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark Series
  • E.T.
  • Twilight Zone
  • The Color Purple
  • Empire of the Sun
  • A.I.
  • Hook
  • Jurassic Park
  • Saving Private Ryan
  • Minority Report

What Can I say?  Spielberg is number one on my list for the most part due to his huge confluence of films and the sheer number of them.  I have enjoyed is films over the course of my entire life.  I can almost note a film of his that I love for every year or so since I started watching movies.  I can quote lines from almost all his films.  I know trivia and details about his films that would blow your mind.  The fact that his movies stand the test of time coupled with the fact that he is STILL making movies blows my mind.  Of all the directors I know of he fits MY definition of what a director is better than any other.  I want to know all the movies he has ever made.

…so that’s  my list.  If you read through all that then I applaud you.  I almost did not think I would finish this as it turned out to be a MUCH larger task than I anticipated.  Cheers.


About JayCooper

Puzzled WebWizard from Mount Juliet Tennessee. Married for 25+ years to a wonderful wife with three grown sons.

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