Telegraph’s Top 21 British Directors of All-Time

The film critics over at The Daily Telegraph have gotten together and selected who they feel are the 21 best British directors of all-time. How they settled on the 21 is a big mystery, although they say “whittling the list down to just 21 was as enjoyable as it was difficult. We have included only those who were raised chiefly in Britain and who focused above all on making feature films.” Here are their top ten choices:

1. Alfred Hitchcock
2. Charlie Chaplin
3. Michael Powell
4. David Lean
5. Nicolas Roeg
6. Carol Reed
7. John Boorman
8. Terence Davies
9. Alexander Mackendrick
10. Stephen Frears

The top ten are pretty hard to disagree with. Mike Leigh should be waaay higher, though. Maybe switch him with Frears. Danny Boyle (No. 14) should be way lower (I haven’t seen the well-reviewed Sunshine, but I always thought Trainspotting was a load of tripe.) The omission of Tony Richardson – director of Look Back in Anger, The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner, and the Oscar-winning Tom Jones – is just inexcusable, especially with the inclusion of upstart Shane Meadows at No. 20.

I’ve never actually seen a Thorold Dickinson film. Nor have I seen a Peter Greenaway film. (He didn’t make the cut, which has sparked major outrage in Telegraph’s comments section.) Better hit up the Netflix.

Also: David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia has been voted the best BAFTA-winning film of all-time by the academy.

Kevin Wicks

Kevin Wicks founded BBCAmerica.com's Anglophenia blog back in 2005 and has been translating British culture for an American audience ever since. While not British himself - he was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri - he once received inordinate hospitality in London for sharing the name of a dead but beloved EastEnders character. His Anglophilia stems from a high school love of Morrissey, whom he calls his "gateway drug" into British culture.

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