Rules of the Game (or how we came up with this list):

Criteria for eligibility were as follows: only directors not previously well established as actors would be eligible, so out went Welles, Cassavetes, and Sjöström. Cameo and walk-on appearances were also excluded—so no Don Siegel in Play Misty for Me or Dario Argento in Innocent Blood. Lists ranked in order of preference were cajoled from a dozen game Film Comment contributors and esteemed colleagues: Gavin Smith, Kent Jones, Dave Kehr, Amy Taubin, Nathan Lee, Chuck Stephens, and Michael Chaiken in the U.S.; Geoff Andrew, Jonathan Romney, and David Thompson in London; Alexander Horwath in Vienna; and Nicolas Saada in Paris. Points for each mention were allotted in the time-honored manner: 20 points for a number one choice, 19 for number two, etc.

Fritz Lang Contempt

1. Fritz Lang, Contempt

Grand Illusion von stroheim

2. Erich von Stroheim, Grand Illusion

Hou Hsiao-hsien Taipei Story

3. Hou Hsiao-hsien, Taipei Story

Erich von Stroheim, Sunset Boulevard

4. Erich von Stroheim, Sunset Boulevard

John Huston, Chinatown

5. John Huston, Chinatown

David Cronenberg, To Die For

6. David Cronenberg, To Die For

Sydney Pollack Husbands and Wives

7. Sydney Pollack, Husbands and Wives

Jerzy Skolimowski Eastern Promises

8. Jerzy Skolimowski, Eastern Promises

Roger Corman The Godfather Part II

9. Roger Corman, The Godfather Part II

François Truffaut Close Encounters of the Third Kind

10. François Truffaut, Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Nicholas Ray, The American Friend

11. Nicholas Ray, The American Friend

Mark Rydell The Long Goodbye

12. Mark Rydell, The Long Goodbye

spike jonze three kings

13. Spike Jonze, Three Kings

Garry Marshall Lost in America

14. Garry Marshall, Lost in America

R.W. Fassbinder, The Bridegroom, the Comedienne and the Pimp

15. R.W. Fassbinder, The Bridegroom, the Comedienne and the Pimp

James L. Brooks Modern Romance

16. James L. Brooks, Modern Romance

Raoul Walsh Birth of a Nation

17. Raoul Walsh, Birth of a Nation

Otto Preminger Stalag 17

18. Otto Preminger, Stalag 17

Roman Polanski A Pure Formality

19. Roman Polanski, A Pure Formality

Sam Fuller Return to Salem’s Lot

20. Sam Fuller, Return to Salem’s Lot

Sydney Pollack in Eyes Wide Shut

21. Sydney Pollack, Eyes Wide Shut

Maurice Pialat in Que la bête meure aka Killer!

22. Maurice Pialat, Que la bête meure aka Killer!

Martin Scorsese in Guilty by Suspicion

23. Martin Scorsese, Guilty by Suspicion

Ken Russell in The Russia House

24. Ken Russell, The Russia House

Martin Scorsese in Quiz Show

25. Martin Scorsese, Quiz Show

Waking Life Caveh Zahedi

26. Caveh Zahedi, Waking Life

We’re All Still Here Jean-Luc Godard

27. Jean-Luc Godard, We’re All Still Here

 Preston Sturges in Paris Holiday

28. Preston Sturges, Paris Holiday

Nanni Moretti in The Second Time

29. Nanni Moretti, The Second Time

Boris Barnet in The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr. West in the Land of the Bolsheviks

30. Boris Barnet, The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr. West in the Land of the Bolsheviks

Benjamin Christensen in Michael

31. Benjamin Christensen, Michael (1924, Carl Theodor Dreyer)

Maurice Pialat in Mes petites amoureuses

32. Maurice Pialat, Mes petites amoureuses

Jerzy Skolimowski in White Nights

33. Jerzy Skolimowski, White Nights

George Kuchar in Thundercrack!

34. George Kuchar, Thundercrack!

Patrice Chéreau The Last of the Mohicans

35. Patrice Chéreau, The Last of the Mohicans

Sharunas Bartas in Pola X

36. Sharunas Bartas, Pola X

Claude Berri in Va savoir

37. Claude Berri, Va savoir

Kenneth Anger A Midsummer’s Night Dream

38. Kenneth Anger, A Midsummer’s Night Dream*

Tian Zhungzhung in South of the Clouds

39. Tian Zhuangzhuang, South of the Clouds

Woody Allen in The Front

40. Woody Allen, The Front

Larry Fessenden in River of Grass

41. Larry Fessenden, River of Grass

John Cromwell in A Wedding

42. John Cromwell, A Wedding

Richard C. Sarafian Songwriter

43. Richard C. Sarafian, Songwriter

Werner Schroeter in Beware of a Holy Whore

44. Werner Schroeter, Beware of a Holy Whore

Barbet Schroeder in The Darjeeling Limited

45. Barbet Schroeder, The Darjeeling Limited

Elia Kazan in City for Conquest

46. Elia Kazan, City for Conquest

William Dieterle  Faust

47. William (Wilhelm) Dieterle, Faust

48. Peter Bogdanovich, Mr. Jealousy

49. Robert Downey Sr., To Live and Die in L.A.

50. Sydney Pollack, Death Becomes Her

*Although the maker of such avant-garde milestones as Scorpio Rising and Fireworks once claimed he played the child prince in William Dieterle and Max Reinhardt’s 1935 film (at age 7), Warner Bros.’ production reports and casting sheets conclusively document that a little girl, child actress Sheila Brown, actually played the role. Nevertheless, three participants voted for him.