20 Underappreciated Directors Who Deserve More Respect on Their Names

Just drop these names to sound like a real film buff.
20 Underappreciated Directors Who Deserve More Respect on Their Names

Now, we don’t mean to brag or anything, but we’re big fans of directors you might not have heard of, like Kubrick, Tarantino, Nolan, or Fincher. What’s that? Everybody knows them? Well, OK, then we’re also fans of more obscure creators like Argento, Jonze, Jarmusch, and early John Woo. Oh, you’re also very familiar with them? We’re hacks for even suggesting Jim Jarmusch is an obscure filmmaker? Damn. OK, first, that’s way too mean. But second, yeah, we get the challenge. Let’s go geekier, then.

In this Pictofact, we take a look at underrated directors whose names should carry way more respect. Take Richard Donner, for example. Some may know him as the Superman director, others as the Lethal Weapon guy, and that is already awesome. Superman and Lethal Weapon? Sheesh, dude was made of talent. But he also directed The Goonies and The Omen. The friggin’ Omen! All the love to him. Or take also Rian Johnson, who has gained mainstream recognition, although we’re still bigger fans of his first two movies. Whatever, we feel like talking about underappreciated directors, in case you haven’t noticed. Let’s go!

Robert Wise

CRACKED.COM THE SOUND OF MUSIC UNDERAPPRECIATED DIRECTORS ROBERT WISE Do kids these days know who Robert Wise was? We're just gonna let the list of bangers speak for itself. Ready? (Trust us: you're not ready). Wise directed The Day the Earth Stood Still, West Side Story, The Haunting, The Sound of Music, The Andromeda Strain, and friggin' Star Trek: The Motion Picture. See what we mean? STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE

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Image Credits: 20th Century Studios, Paramount Pictures

Mary Harron

UNDERAPPRECIATED DIRECTORS MARY HARRON Harron's direction in American Psycho is just perfect, but she has also honed her intense feminist vision in her filmography: I Shot Andy Warhol is an indie staple, The Notorious Bettie Page a great biopic of the pin-up legend, her Charles Manson movie Charlie Says is psychologically haunting, and her upcoming film about Salvador Dalí should be fascinating. AMERICAN PSYCHO CRACKED.COM

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Image Credit: Lionsgate Films

Paul Schrader

CRACKED.COM FIRST REFORMED UNDERAPPRECIATED DIRECTORS PAUL SCHRADER In some parallel dimension, Schrader is as respected as Martin Scorsese. Schrader wrote Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and The Last Temptation of Christ, and has also directed cult classics like Hardcore, Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters, Affliction, and Adam Resurrected. One of his latest films, 2017's First Reformed, is pretty much a masterpiece.

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Image Credit: A24

Wong Kar-wai

IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE UNDERAPPRECIATED DIRECTORS WONG KAR-WAI Wong has dabbled in Hong Kong action and art house films - and they're usually one and the same. Even his lesser movies are interesting, but his classics should make everyone a fan: Chungking Express, Happy Together, In The Mood for Love, and 2046 (and The Grandmaster, for the martial arts enjoyer). CRACKED.COM

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Image Credit: Block 2 Pictures, Océan Films

Nicolas Roeg

THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH UNDERAPPRECIATED DIRECTORS NICOLAS ROEG Starting under Roger Corman and in classy British films, Roeg's filmography was soon full of classics. The Man Who Fell to Earth is peak David Bowie, Bad Timing had non-linear narrative before it was cool, The Witches is the children's classic we all love, and Don't Look Now took a few decades, but is currently being reconsidered as a horror masterpiece. THE WITCHES CRACKED.COM

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Image Credits: British Lion Films, Warner Bros.

Sydney Pollack

TOOTSIE UNDERAPPRECIATED DIRECTORS SYDNEY POLLACK Pollack helmed so many flicks that the classics get buried under the generic stuff. The former are all worth another look as Hollywood legends, though: They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, The Way We Were, The Yakuza, Three Days of the Condor, Tootsie, and The Firm. Legend even has it that he ghost-edited Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut, which kinda makes sense. CRACKED.COM

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Image Credit: Columbia Pictures

Martin McDonagh

UNDERAPPRECIATED DIRECTORS MARTIN McDONAGH Two words: In Bruges. McDonagh then used his classy playwright background to again explore the black comedy crime genre, and the result was the underrated Seven Psychopaths. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is interesting but politically misguided, but we still bet the In Bruges reunion, The Banshees of Inisheerin, will be amazing. IN BRUGES CRACKED.COM

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Image Credits: Focus Features, Universal Pictures

Lynne Ramsay

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN UNDERAPPRECIATED DIRECTORS LYNNE RAMSAY While everybody was praising Joaquin Phoenix for Joker, movie buffs were still reeling from his performance in 2017's You Were Never Really Here. Ramsay's first film, 1999's Ratcatcher, was already a respected indie classic, 2002's Morvern Callar is a moody, haunting road movie-and then came her masterpiece, 2011's We Need to Talk About Kevin. CRACKED.COM

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Image Credits: Oscilloscope Laboratories, BBC Films

Lucrecia Martel

UNDERAPPRECIATED DIRECTORS LUCRECIA MARTEL Wanna surprise that cute movie buff you have a crush on? Tell them you're super into Martel. The Swamp, The Holy Girl, The Headless Woman, and Zama are all masterpieces. Plus, she was offered the MCU's Black Widow, but turned it down because they wouldn't let her direct the action sequences. Yup, she's that cool. THE SWAMP CRACKED.COM

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Image Credit: Lider Films

Sidney Lumet

CRACKED.COM 73 79 3 85 91 DOG DAY AFTERNOON UNDERAPPRECIATED DIRECTORS SIDNEY LUMET We all love Scorsese and Coppola, but Lumet's '70s output is just as iconic: Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, and Network. Lumet also made almost classics like Fail Safe, Murder on the Orient Express, and his last film, 2007's Before the Devil Knows You're Dead. The forgotten gem? 1965's The Pawnbroker. Oh, and he also directed 12 Angry Men. Come on.

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Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Lucky McKee

MAY UNDERAPPRECIATED DIRECTORS LUCKY MCKEE While everybody was swooning for Amélie, horror buffs had their own messed-up manic pixie dream girl in 2002's May. The rest of McKee's horror output is just as fascinating: The Woods is a giallo homage, the upcoming Old Man looks intense, and his two Jack Ketchum adaptations, Red and The Woman, are horror treats. CRACKED.COM

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Image Credit: Lionsgate Films

Takeshi Kitano

UNDERAPPRECIATED DIRECTORS TAKESHI KITANO American fans might know Kitano from the iconic Battle Royale, or even Johnny Mnemonic and Ghost in the Shell, but he's actually a directing legend (and a gameshow host, but whatever). His later films are for fans only, but you can't go wrong with Zatoichi or A Scene at the Sea, or his crime masterpieces, Violent Сор, Sonatine, or Fireworks. ZATOICHI CRACKED.COM

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Image Credit: Bandai Visual

Barry Jenkins

UNDERAPPRECIATED DIRECTORS BARRY JENKINS Moonlight is absolutely essential, but Jenkins' few other movies are staggering as well. 2008's Medicine for Melancholy and 2018's If Beale Street Could Talk deserve a look, and Jenkins is now directing the Lion King prequel about Mufasa's early life. Considering the low bar set by the 2019 remake and Jenkins' own talent, it should be a fascinating story. MOONLIGHT CRACKED.COM

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Image Credit: A24

Walter Hill

UNDERAPPRECIATED DIRECTORS WALTER HILL Hill is the modern action movie incarnate. Не wrote The Getaway, co-wrote Alien, and remained as a producer in the latter franchise, but has also directed such testosterone classics as The Warriors, Southern Comfort, 48 Hrs., Red Heat, Geronimo: An American Legend, and Wild Bill. His new film, 2022's Dead for a Dollar, looks like a return to classic Hill. THE WARRIORS CRACKED.COM

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Image Credit: Paramount Pictures

Michael Haneke

CRACKED.COM THE PIANO TEACHER UNDERAPPRECIATED DIRECTORS MICHAEL HANEKE The original Funny Games is a rite of passage for Internet horror buffs, and Amour won an Oscar for Best Foreign Film, so casual viewers might indeed know Haneke's work. Still, older movies like Benny's Video, The Piano Teacher, or Caché are all unsettling masterpieces as well. If you're into Cronenberg or Lynch, then Haneke is the next logical step.

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Image Credit: MK2

Andrew Dominik

CRACKED.COM B BLONDE UNDERAPPRECIATED DIRECTORS ANDREW DOMINIK While imperfect, Blonde is still close to the Marilyn Monroe-based work her complex inner life deserves. It's also a great showcase of Dominik's unique vision, as seen in his previous films: Chopper is an Australian classic, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is a post-Malick wonder, and Killing Them Softly is a refreshing crime noir

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Image Credit: Netflix

Martin Campbell

THE MASK OF ZORRO UNDERAPPRECIATED DIRECTORS MARTIN CAMPBELL In a sea of Bays and Snyders, Campbell truly knows how to direct action blockbusters. No Escape is fun, The Mask of Zorro is awesome, and The Foreigner is a great Jackie Chan drama. Не also brought gritty James Bond back from the campy trend twice, with 1995's Goldeneye and 2006's Casino Royale. CASINO ROYALE CRACKED.COM

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Image Credit: Sony Pictures

Mario Bava

UNDERAPPRECIATED DIRECTORS MARIO BAVA Between Hitchcock and Argento, there's Bava. Kill, Baby, Kill and Shock are horror classics, Bay of Blood pretty much invented the slasher, and Blood and Black Lace perfected it four years before Halloween. You can even see Bava's evolution in his first and last films: 1960's Black Sunday is highly-styled gothic horror, and 1974's Rabid Dogs is a gritty crime drama. BLOOD AND BLACK LACE CRACKED.COM

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Image Credits: Unidis, Gloria Film, Les Films Marbeuf

Jack Arnold

CRACKED.COM CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON UNDERAPPRECIATED DIRECTORS JACK ARNOLD Arnold's later output is mostly mediocre (even though there's interesting stuff like 1959's western No Name on the Bullet). Still, his true legacy was making some of the best representatives of '50s American sci-fi: It Came From Outer Space, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Tarantula! and The Incredible Shrinking Man.

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Image Credit: Universal Pictures

Brad Anderson

CRACKED.COM THE MACHINIST UNDERAPPRECIATED DIRECTORS BRAD ANDERSON For a while now, Anderson has done quirky rom-coms like Next Stop Wonderland and Happy Accidents, but also intense genre flicks like Fractured, Stonehearst Asylum, and Transsiberian. Still, his true gems are the cult horror classic Session 9 and the psychological thriller The Machinist. Skinny Christian Bale? Yup, Anderson's the director behind the meme.

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Image Credit: Paramount Classics

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