The best British director of all time?

A simple question, but one that may generate many answers. In your opinion who is/was the best British director of all time and why? 

Vote on your favourite.  

Have your say below in our comments.

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23 Replies to “The best British director of all time?”

  1. Has to be David Lean. Anyone who can go from ‘Great Expectations’ , ‘Oliver Twist, ‘Hobson’s Choice’; then ‘Bridge on The River Kwai,’ to ‘Lawrence of Arabia’, followed by ‘Doctor Zhivago’ and ‘Ryan’s Daughter’, must get my vote. Hard though, so many good ones. Best three perhaps?
    Regards, Pete.

  2. Jesus. Tough question. I’d put Lean up there, although I am not a huge fan of big empty widescreen Lean. I think Michael Powell needs to be included, but even that has a caveat, for how memorable was Powell without Pressburger? And then of course there’s Alfred Hitchcock. And Carol Reed. And more recently, and at the other end of the spectrum, Derek Jarman and Peter Greenaway. Shit: I can’t pick.

  3. Controversial but…Danny Boyle?! I only say that because I have never seen the old, old classics!

  4. Boyle is a possibility for a best living director. I agree with some that Hitchcock was the most important. However I think the best for me personally will always be Chaplin. For comedy he did a great deal, but it goes unnoticed how much he did for filmmaking.

  5. If it had to be one you would go for Lean? I know it’s very hard.
    I think just having one really gets you thinking about it.

  6. Chaplin. Influenced everyone, worked for decades, films still iconic. If not the greatest director, certainly the greatest auteur.

  7. i wouldn’t pick Lean, only because I think that big, epic widescreen Lean is far less interesting than earlier, wonderful, black and white Lean. Perhaps it should be Hitchcock: even though some of his films were only so-so, he deserves credit for at least trying to always push the form and do something different with each of his films. I think Jarman is sadly underrated (or at least pushed into a niche of “arty”/”gay” director), but I think that some of his work is remarkable, and will be watched in decades to come when others have been forgotten.

  8. Chaplin undoubtedly has to be there, he changed the face of film making forever – but I’d have to go with Hitchcock for number 1, just no doubt really. If we’re talking potential for the future, then I’d actually go for Christopher Nolan – every single one of his movies is gripping and psychologically intriguing, and I feel he will keep getting better.

  9. I think it has to be him, if just one. The sheer body of work over the years, diversity of subjects, and that widescreen emptiness that Niall doesn’t like, but I love.
    Cheers WOF, Pete.

  10. I would say Hitchcock, but can’t forget about Chaplin, as you know he did most the stuff himself!

  11. My favorite is Richard Lester (I like “A Hard Day’s Night”). Least favorite is Ken Russel.

  12. Like Danny Boyle, I’d never say this guy is in the league of Lean and Hitchcock etc. But also like Boyle, I’d say he’s a contender for most exiting and entertaining English director working today… Edgar Wright.

  13. Hitchcock and Chaplin they both have such different voices that it would be hard to rank one over the other. Danny Boyle in still to young in his career for anyone to place him on a list like this. I think seeing his influence on other filmmakers and his authenticity will get him eventually on here. I don’t think Boyle is big on being the greatest I think he just makes great films.

  14. There can’t be a best because everyone mentioned here has their own niche and specialty. There will never be a true “best” because of the subjective nature of the poll.

  15. Shane Meadows. His movies are just fabulous. He’s the only one to have two movies (“Dead Man’s Shoes” & “A Room for Romeo Brass”) that got five stars from me.

  16. As documentaries are my thing, I would like to put in a vote for Humphrey Jennings and his poetic and humane homefront World War II films, like “London Can Take It”, “Listen to Britain” and “Fires Were Started.” And a nod to John Grierson, father of the British documentary movement, who he got his start with.

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