The Rosenbaum Test: The Greatest Living Narrative Filmmakers

A little while ago Jonathan Rosenbaum, in whose direction myself and most other critics genuflect, reposted an article of his on the master director Michelangelo Antonioni he wrote in the early 90s. The interesting thing is that he starts his article with a quick list of who he thinks might be the 12 greatest living narrative filmmakers, and of course the director of Red Desert and The Passenger made the cut. He'd have made mine too at the time. This got me and many others thinking about how to answer that question today. Kevin B. Lee got a discussion going and Richard Brody posted his own list with a complete set of guidelines. I cribbed a bit from those guidelines and tried to make my own list, which proved sensationally difficult. I love a lot of directors, but are they "the greatest"? Can their work never be equaled? Could anyone else even pretend to their style? It took some incredible concentration to get it down just to 16. Never one to suffer alone, I asked everyone else to throw their two cents in and here's what we came up with.

Scout Tafoya

1. Marco Bellocchio
2. Terence Davies
3. Claire Denis
4. Philippe Grandrieux
5. Terrence Malick
6. Chantal Akerman
7. Tsai Ming-Liang
8. Agnès Varda
9. Wes Anderson
10. Alain Resnais
11. Francis Ford Coppola
12. PT Anderson

Honorable Mentions: Manoel De Oliveira (who'd be in my top 12 but I don't want to jinx him - I want him to live forever), Léos Carax, Tomas Alfredson, Catherine Breillat, Dan Sallitt, David Lynch, Werner Herzog, Jim Jarmusch, David Cronenberg, Jean-Luc Godard, Jacques Rivette, Matteo Garrone, Paolo Sorrentino, Takashi Miike, Richard Lester, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Terry Gilliam, Volker Schlöndorff, William Klein, Roman Polanski, Sofia Coppola, & Gene Wilder.

Noah Lyons 

1. David Lynch
2. Jean-Luc Godard
3. Lars von Trier
4. Michel Haneke
5. Woody Allen
6. Werner Herzog
7. Roman Polanski
8. Alejandro Jodorowsky
9. PT Anderson
10. Steven Soderbergh
11. Yorgos Lanthimos

Dan Khan

1. Steven Soderbergh
2. P.T. Anderson
3. Lars Von Trier
4. Agnès Varda
5. Jim Jarmusch
6. Mike Leigh
7. Wong Kar-Wai
8. Terrence Mallick
9. Jean-Luc Godard
10. David Cronenberg
11. Michael Mann
12. Alejandro Jodorowsky

Gifford Elliott

1. Lars Von Trier
2. Wong Kar-Wai
3. PT Anderson
4. Jean Luc-Godard
5. Werner Herzog
6. Woody Allen
7. Roman Polanski
8. Martin Scorsese
9. Jane Campion
10. The Coen Brothers
11. Wes Anderson
12. Alfonso Cuarón

Honorable Mentions: Mel Brooks, Sofia Coppola, Terrence Malick, Steven Soderbergh, Steven Spielberg, Hayao Miyazaki, David Cronenberg, Francis Ford Coppola & Agnès Varda.

Tim Earle

1. Pedro Almodóvar
2. Park Chan Wook
3. Hayao Miyazaki
4. Steven Soderberg
5. Wes Anderson
6. Terence Malick
7. Joel and Ethan Coen
8. Steven Spielberg
9. Martin Scorsese
10. Terry Gilliam
11. Edgar Wright
12. Tomas Alfredson

Fox Johnson

1. David Fincher
2. PT Anderson
3. Joel & Ethan Coen
4. David Cronenberg
5. Ridley Scott
6. Martin Scorsese
7. Michael Mann
8. Steven Spielberg
9. Terrence Malick
10. Wes Anderson
11. Roman Polanski
12. Steven Soderbergh

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