Special Report

The Best Movies Directed by Actors

Source: Courtesy of Warner Independent Pictures

32. Good Night, and Good Luck. (2005)
> Composite index score: 2.52
> IMDb user rating: 7.4/10 (96,071 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 83% (142,741 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 93% (226 reviews)
> Directed by: George Clooney
> Starring: David Strathairn, George Clooney, Patricia Clarkson

Director George Clooney followed the erratic “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” with this minimalist historical drama. Presented in black and white, it goes behind the scenes at CBS News as they grapple with Senator Joseph McCarthy and the Red Scare. Empire Magazine critic Simon Crook called it “provocative, principled and richly detailed.”

Source: Courtesy of Geffen Pictures

31. Defending Your Life (1991)
> Composite index score: 2.54
> IMDb user rating: 7.2/10 (18,207 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 83% (9,995 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 97% (35 reviews)
> Directed by: Albert Brooks
> Starring: Albert Brooks, Meryl Streep, Rip Torn

This Albert Brooks comedy sends a recently deceased man (Brooks) into a bureaucratic purgatory, where he’s asked to defend his life choices. With the introduction of a love interest (Meryl Streep) comes an unexpected romance and more choices to make. “I think the most interesting thing about the movie is what it says about Earth,” Brooks once said in a 1991 interview with the Chicago Tribune.

Source: Courtesy of Embassy Pictures

30. The Producers (1967)
> Composite index score: 2.54
> IMDb user rating: 7.6/10 (54,073 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 85% (56,153 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 90% (73 reviews)
> Directed by: Mel Brooks
> Starring: Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder

While Mel Brooks is best known as a director, he’s also no stranger to acting. He stays behind the camera for this Oscar-winning comedy, about two Broadway producers (Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder) who set out to make history’s biggest flop. It was later adapted as a stage musical, which inspired a second film version.

Source: Courtesy of Orion Pictures

29. Dances with Wolves (1990)
> Composite index score: 2.54
> IMDb user rating: 8.0/10 (250,448 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 87% (213,805 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 83% (76 reviews)
> Directed by: Kevin Costner
> Starring: Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, Graham Greene

Kevin Costner was at the height of his fame when he delivered this sweeping historical epic, his directorial feature debut. It famously beat out Scorsese’s “Goodfellas” at the Academy Awards, winning Best Picture along with six other Oscars. The story takes place during the Civil War and chronicles the relationship between a Union Army officer (Costner) and Native American tribe.

Source: Courtesy of RKO Radio Pictures

28. The Stranger (1946)
> Composite index score: 2.54
> IMDb user rating: 7.4/10 (25,473 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 81% (5,317 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 97% (29 reviews)
> Directed by: Orson Welles
> Starring: Orson Welles, Edward G. Robinson, Loretta Young

Orson Welles is another talent who’s acting career was arguably outshined by his status as an iconic director. He often appeared in his own films, including this noirish thriller about the hunt for an elusive Nazi (Welles). Slant Magazine critic Fernando F. Croce called it “as distinctively Wellesian as “Citizen Kane.””

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