Throughout the course of cinema, there have been a few actors that have managed to make the transition to directing. Some choose to move behind the camera permanently, while others choose to act in their own films. These are some of the most successful films that have been directed by their stars.

 

5. Clint Eastwood in “Unforgiven” – This film is probably the best western to be released in the last 25 years, and Eastwood performs admirably in both of his roles. With Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, and Richard Harris in supporting roles, and a fantastic script by David Peoples, “Unforgiven” is Eastwood’s most successful work.

 

4. Ben Affleck in “The Town” – Affleck’s “Argo” may have been the one to win Best Picture, but “The Town” is the actor-turned-director best film. A pulpy, intense crime thriller, this is one massively entertaining film.

 

3. Kenneth Branagh in “Henry V” – Of the few Shakespeare adaptations that have succeeded, Branagh’s “Henry V” is the best and most impressive. His “Hamlet” is also incredible, but there is one monologue by Branagh in this film that is worthy of the term masterpiece all on its own.

 

2. George Clooney in “Good Night, and Good Luck” – A fantastic journalism film, this black and white picture by Clooney centers on legendary newsman Edward R. Murrow and his take down of Joseph McCarthy. Clooney’s direction is as precise and efficient as the work done by the great journalists who the film celebrates.

 

1. Woody Allen in “Annie Hall” – How could number one be any other film? This 1977 classic by Allen remains a delight upon repeated viewings. To this day, “Annie Hall” is the best romantic-comedy of all time, and maybe the best comedy period. If you (somehow) missed this one, please seek it out. You owe it to yourself.

 

Honorable Mentions: Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing,” Branagh’s “Hamlet,” Eastwood’s “Million Dollar Baby,” Shane Carruth’s “Primer,” and every movie in which Woody Allen has directed himself.

 

What are your favorite movies directed by their stars? Let me know in the comments below, or find me on Twitter @TuckerPoikonen.