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Consecutive Films by Great Directors that Changed Film Forever

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The mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find directors who directed three or more of the GREATEST FILMS OF ALL TIME. We’re not talking about just simply great movies. We’re not talking about two great movies and then a pretty good, or bad movie. We’re talking about three or four or more consecutive films that altered the landscape of film and/or changed the language of film forever.

It all started with Kubrick. A friend and I were discussing whether anyone has ever matched this run:

Stanley Kubrick
Lolita
Dr Strangelove
2001: A Space Odyssey
A Clockwork Orange

You could add Barry Lyndon and take out Lolita out of it if you wanted to really be pure about GREATEST FILMS OF ALL TIME but I would keep in Lolita, myself.   You could also add Spartacus, Paths of Glory and The Killing.  It is, ultimately, a matter of preference.

Kubrick set the bar. No question about it. But could anyone equal that level of greatness? Here are the ones we came up with:

David Lean
The Bridge on the River Kwai
Lawrence of Arabia
Dr. Zhivago

Stanley Kubrick and David Lean. Got it. Now who else? How about Elia Kazan, whose absolutely brilliant A Face in the Crowd has the rare distinction of being one of the few films to get zero Oscar nominations – watch it and you will see what an Oscar fail that really was.

Elia Kazan, not even counting Streetcar:
On the Waterfront
East of Eden
Baby Doll
A Face in the Crowd

Kazan fits. Big time. But what about the Master of Suspense himself, the man who really did rewrite film language, Alfred Hitchcock? He had many pockets of greatness throughout, like a Notorious here, a Rope there, Strangers on a Train and I Confess together but Dial M for Murder follows next before Rear Window and that breaks the count. But you do have:

Alfred Hitchcock
Vertigo
North by Northwest
Psycho

That more than fits. Hitch gets to stay. Now, what about Francis Ford Coppola?

Francis Ford Coppola
The Godfather
The Conversation
The Godfather Part II
Apocalypse Now

Oh yeah. Coppola is in.

I don’t think you can talk about changing the language of film without the great Fellini — so you’d have:

Federico Fellini
La Dolce Vita
8 1/2
Juliet of the Spirits

Our top tier pantheon is: Kubrick, Coppola, Lean, Kazan, Hitchcock, Fellini.

Perhaps we can talk about Ingmar Bergman, with:

Ingmar Bergman
Smiles of a Summer Night
The Seventh Seal
Wild Strawberries

Or:
Through a Glass Darkly
Winter Light
The Silence

Then our pantheon becomes: Kubrick, Coppola, Lean, Kazan, Hitchcock, Fellini, Bergman.

Billy Wilder is a good contender but his films were paired in twos: Double Indemnity and the Lost Weekend; and Some Like it Hot and The Apartment.

These are the borderline picks:

Nicolas Roeg
Don’t Look Now
The Man Who Fell to Earth
Bad Timing: A Sensual Obsession

Mel Brooks
Blazing Saddles
Young Frankenstein
Silent Movie
High Anxiety

Hal Ashby
Harold and Maude
The Last Detail
Shampoo
(You could add Bound for Glory, Coming Home and Being There too if you wanted)

Robert Altman
MASH
Brewster McCloud
McCabe and Mrs. Miller
Images
The Long Goodbye

David Cronenberg
Scanners
Videodrome
The Dead Zone
The Fly
Dead Ringers

Roman Polanski
Chinatown
The Tenant
Tess

Howard Hawks
To Have and Have Not
The Big Sleep
Red River

Or you could go:
Bringing Up Baby
Only Angels Have Wings
His Girl Friday
Sergeant York
Ball of Fire

Sergio Leone
A Fistful of Dollars
For a Few Dollars More
The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
Once Upon a Time in the West

Orson Welles
Citizen Kane
The Magnificent Ambersons
The Stranger

Francois Truffaut
The 400 Blows
Shoot the Pianist
Jules and Jim

Martin Scorsese
Mean Streets
Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
Taxi Driver
New York, New York (only one that doesn’t fit)
The Last Waltz
Raging Bull

Woody Allen
Annie Hall
Interiors
Manhattan

Pedro Almodovar
All About My Mother
Talk to Her
Bad Education

Joel and Ethan Coen
Blood Simple
Raising Arizona
Miller’s Crossing

or you could go:
No Country for Old Men
Burn After Reading
A Serious Man

David Fincher
Se7en
The Game
Fight Club
Panic Room
Zodiac

Or you could go:
Zodiac
Benjamin Button
Social Network

Steven Spielberg
Jaws
Close Encounters
1941
Raiders
E.T.

William Wyler
The Little Foxes
Mrs. Miniver
The Best Years of Our Lives

Jane Campion
Sweetie
An Angel at My Table
The Piano

Quentin Tarantino
Reservoir Dogs
Pulp Fiction
Jackie Brown

Paul Thomas Anderson
Boogie Nights
Magnolia
Punch-Drunk Love
There Will Be Blood
The Master

Alfonso Cuaron
Y Tu Mama También
Harry Potter Prisoner of Azkaban (doesn’t fit)
Children of Men
Gravity

Ang Lee
Eat Drink Man Woman
Sense and Sensibility
The Ice Storm

Peter Weir
Gallipoli
The Year of Living Dangerously
Witness

So, readers, whom did we leave off this fine list? Let us know in the comments.