Spielberg--the talent behind huge blockbuster hits including Schindler's List, E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Saving Private Ryan--topped a poll commissioned by Britain's Empire movie magazine.
Empire's associate editor Ian Freer says, "Steven Spielberg is the closest thing in movies to resemble the impact of The Beatles.
"A cultural phenomenon, his adventures with sharks, UFOs, whip-crackin' archaeologists and E.T.'s, plus searching historical dramas like Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan have defined the movie-going life of an entire generation."
The top ten is as follows:
5. Ridley Scott
9. Orson Welles
10. Woody Allen
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