A lot goes into the production of a movie. Most people believe writing the script is a difficult task. Admittedly it is. But so too is interpreting the words on the script and creating scenes according to the director's imagination.
Some directors were born to direct movie sets. Their vision, alone, can elevate a film from "wanna-be" contender to an award-winning flick which breaks records at the box office. Other similarly-talented directors have directed numerous highly-acclaimed films but weren't awarded accordingly. The name of Alfred Hitchcock comes to mind; he only won two golden globes but failed to win any Oscars at the Academy Awards. He was also nominated for awards at the Cannes Film Festival three times.
These are the directors whose work was and is appreciated not only by the public's praise, but also by the number of awards they've won.
10 Oliver Stone
The American director, screenwriter and producer became famous through his films about the Vietnam War. In fact, he was actually there as a soldier and received a Purple Heart with Oak Leaves commendation medal. His most significant works focus on the political and social issues of contemporary America, receiving two Academy Awards for Best Director for his films Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July. Some of his most significant works are JFK, Natural Born Killers and Nixon. Over the course of his career, he received significant awards like two Golden Globes for Best Director, the BAFTA Award for Best Direction and the Honorary Golden Berlin Bear, to name just a few.
9 Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola's career spans half a century with his first feature film released in 1963. It was only when he directed The Godfather that he rose to stardom. The popular movie's sequel garnered Coppola an Academy Award for Best Picture. The Conversation brought him international acclaim with a Palme d’Or Award and he won a second one when he released Apocalypse Now in 1979. In the category of Best Director he won a single Academy award, two Golden Globes and a BAFTA Film award. He's also the recipient of several lifetime achievement awards honoring his outstanding career.
8 Elia Kazan
The American director was born in Istanbul to Cappadocian Greek parents and studied at Yale as an actor. He was the one who discovered actors Marlon Brando and James Deen, introducing them to the public through impressive, award-winning performances. This made him known as an actor’s director due to the performances he managed to bring out of his actors. He received two Academy Awards for Best Director and an Honorary Lifetime Achievement, but his works were highly appreciated at other Awards ceremonies as well, receiving four Golden Globes for Best Director, the Honorary Golden Bear in Berlin, the Best Dramatic Film at the Cannes Film Festival with East of Eden and many other awards.
7 John Ford
We have to include the great American director John Ford on this list since he set the record for most Academy Awards for Best Director with four wins. His film How Green Was My Valley also won the Best Picture award. His career spanned over 50 years in which he directed over 140 films so he is clearly counted among the most important and influential filmmakers of the century. He directed a lot of "Westerns" like Stagecoach, The Searchers and put The Grapes of Wrath on film. He won two Oscars for Best Documentary and was the first recipient of the American Film Institute's Life Achievement Award in 1973 when he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work.
6 Billy Wilder
The Polish-born American filmmaker stands out thanks to an outstanding career lasting over 50 years in which he made 60 films that mark him as one of the most versatile directors with comedies, 'noir' films, book adaptations and dramas. Some of his most remarkable movies are Double Indemnity, Sunset Blvd. and The Apartment. He received two Academy Awards and two Golden Globes for Best Director and the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award. He has two BAFTA Film Awards and more importantly he has made a lasting impression in Hollywood.
5 Michael Haneke
The Austrian film director and screenwriter generally directs films exploring societal issues of the modern world. He received two Palme d’Or awards, a feat managed only by six other directors so far and it was for his works Amour and The White Ribbon. The Cannes Festival also awarded him with other prizes for his films Cache, La pianiste and Code inconnu. Throughout his career, he's won 93 awards in total, including an Oscar for Best Foreign Film.
4 Ang Lee
Ang Lee received two Academy Awards for Best Director with his works Life of Pi and Brokeback Mountain. His films are widely acclaimed, bringing in a total of $1.45 billion worldwide. He is actually the first person of Asian descent to win an Oscar. Lee has added two Golden Globes, four BAFTA Awards, the AFI Movie of the Year award, two Golden Bears and two Golden Lions in Venice to his repertoire. The diversity of his work is quite astounding and he proved his skill for action films as well as for highly-dramatic works. He is currently working on Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk which is the story of an infantryman’s last hours before returning to Iraq.
3 Martin Scorsese
Despite being awarded a single Academy Award for Best Director, Martin Scorsese has had a long lasting career of successful films. The film Taxi Driver of 1976 is probably his greatest work and he received the Palme d’Or for it. He is one of the most prolific and influential directors of his generation and currently he is working on a historic film taking place in the 17th century entitled Silence. Even with the Oscars snubs, he still received a large array of awards, including three Golden Globes, 2 Emmy awards, the BAFTA Film Award, three AFI Awards and a Career Golden Lion, to name a few.
2 Clint Eastwood
Clint Eastwood is an icon, notable for his performances in the "western" genre. But he's made his mark in the directing game as he's received most of his awards for his work as a director. He received two Academy Awards of Best Director for Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby. He won three awards at the Cannes Film Festival and he has earned 156 awards throughout his prolific career. His last works were Jersey Boys and American Sniper and currently he is rumored to be working on a drama about an American pilot who landed an aircraft full of passengers on the Hudson River.
1 Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg is not only the most well-known director in Hollywood, but also the most awarded one, receiving 175 awards during his career as well as 140 nominations. He grossed over $9 billion with his films, making him one of the wealthiest filmmakers in the world. His most notable films are Schindler’s List, Amistad, Empire of the Sun, Saving Private Ryan and E.T. The Extraterrestrial, to name but a few. His future projects include Indiana Jones 5 as well as a miniseries on Napoleon, based on the script written by Stanley Kubrick.