1. Alfred Hitchcock (1899 – 1980)
Alfred Hitchcock did not invent modern cinema, but for much of the past century he has defined it. Inarguably the most imitated motion picture artist of all time, a slew of spine-tingling hits including Rebecca, Rear Window, Vertigo and North by Northwest brought international acclaim to the London-born director, earning him the moniker “The Master of Suspense.”
While Hitchcock’s work certainly tended toward the thrilling, it was not as much his ability to keep audiences on the edge of their seats as it was to pull them out of their chairs that made him a legend—drawing moviegoers into his films and challenging the role of viewer as detached spectator. Widely hailed as his masterpiece, 1960’s Psycho took audiences into the recesses of a disturbed mind, making use of a fast-paced, adrenaline-inducing editing style and a succession of POV shots. With a perfectly measured combination of style and innovation and seamlessly blended bits of humor and romance throughout his work, Hitchcock’s films are a whole experience, usually playing upon a variety of human emotions.
Though he was considered a legend in his own time, making more than 65 films in a career that spanned over half a century, the only Academy Award Hitchcock ever won for directing was an honorary one given in 1976, when he made history once again by uttering the briefest speech in Oscar history: “Thank you.”