25. Preston Sturges
Preston Sturges broke so many barriers during his career that it's a bit shocking to realize just how few people recognize his name anymore. He was an ahead of his time comedian who had a nihilistic view of the world that was completely contrary to most Hollywood films of his era. He began his career as a screenwriter at a time when they were looked down upon by the rest of the industry, but eventually he gained such prominence that not only did the Academy Awards invent a whole new category for screenplay, which Sturges preceded to win, but he also became the first screenwriter allowed to direct his own scripts. Not only that, but he was also a pioneer of the American "Auteur", someone who waged endless battles with studios over the direction in which his films would take. Eventually, although he was briefly one of the highest paid directors in Hollywood, the studios began to get the better of him and his films became more and more inconsequential. The films that he made in his heyday however have long been considered some of the best comedies Hollywood has ever made and they have had incalculable impact on filmmakers like The Coen Brothers and Woody Allen. Sturges helped lead the way for every modern filmmaker who fights for complete control over their projects and he remains one of American cinema's greatest comedic filmmakers.