But, in a more cut-throat environment, the sensitive Davies has suffered, making only two films in a decade - one of them the international hit The House of Mirth.
So it seems a shame - and somehow scandalous - that his current project, an adaptation of Lewis Grassic Gibbon's Sunset Song, should be facing major funding obstacles.
His 2001 hit Together - about hippies living communally in 1970s Stockholm - was warm, witty and altogether disarming.
Substance 16 Look 17 Craft 18 Originality 16 Intelligence 18 Total 85 More about Solaris Steven Soderbergh at the NFTThe lofty ranking of Terrence Malick just goes to show that it's quality, not quantity, that counts.Renowned as a ghostly, Garbo-style recluse, this fabled figure has made just three films over three decades. Substance 16 Look 18 Craft 17 Originality 17 Intelligence 17 Total 85 More about The Thin Red Line The highest ranking non-American, and one of the most respected film-makers working today - by his peers if not the general public.His recent in-car drama Ten provided a daring Tehran exposé as well as a radical new film-making technique - one that almost does away with the director entirely.Substance 18 Look 15 Craft 16 Originality 17 Intelligence 18 Total 84 Jonathan Rosenbaum on Kiarostami's short films People watching: Interview Morris is the joker in this top 10, in that his position is solely down to his documentaries.Substance 14 Look 18 Craft 18 Originality 18 Intelligence 18 Total 86 Double vision: interview More about: Intolerable Cruelty Steven Soderbergh is a one-off: an independent-minded film-maker who has forged a happy working relationship with Hollywood. Soderbergh soothes the studios with expert, intelligent crowd-pleasers like Erin Brockovich and Ocean's Eleven then shifts gear for more esoteric, personal projects (Solaris, Full Frontal).
His ongoing alliance with George Clooney, moreover, is the most reliable director-star double act since Scorsese found De Niro.Put simply, Morris is the world's best investigative film-maker.He possesses a forensic mind, a painter's eye and a nose for the dark absurdities of American life.Substance 16 Look 17 Craft 16 Originality 18 Intelligence 16 Total 83 Menace to society: interview Our highest-placed British film-maker is here because of his uncompromising and unique cinematic vision; but, with painful irony, it's also made him the highest-profile victim of Britain's commercial film industry revival.Emerging from the state-sponsored art-film sector in the mid-80s, Davies completed a trilogy of short films and two features - Distant Voices, Still Lives and The Long Day Closes.Others worry that the heavyweight champion of American movies is no longer quite punching his weight.