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Best Director - Facts & Trivia
(part 2)

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Best Director Sections
Facts & Trivia (1) | Facts & Trivia (2) | Winners Chart

Best Director - Facts and Trivia (continued):

Best Director and Best Picture Correlations:

There is a direct correlation between the Best Picture and Director awards. Usually, the film voted Best Picture has been directed by the person named (or at least nominated as) Best Director. About a quarter of the time, however, in Academy history, the Best Picture and Best Director winners have been for different films: for example, see years 2005, 2002, 2000, 1998, 1989, 1981, 1972, 1967, 1956, 1952, 1951, 1949, 1948, 1940, 1937, 1936, 1935, 1931/32, 1930/31, 1928/29, 1927/28.

In the first ten years of Oscar awards, seven of the first 10 Best Picture winners didn't include any honor for the directors beyond a nomination. [The exceptions were in the years 1929/30, 1932/33, and 1934, when the Academy honored the director as Best Director for a corresponding Best Picture.] By 1941 and for the next two decades, the Best Picture and Best Director winners were often correlated with each other, except for the year 1948, when director Laurence Olivier's Hamlet (1948) won Best Picture, while John Huston won Best Director for The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Here are some other examples in more recent years:

  • director Norman Jewison's In the Heat of the Night (1967) won Best Picture, but Mike Nichols won Best Director for The Graduate (1967)
  • Francis Ford Coppola's multi-award winning The Godfather (1972) took Best Picture, while Bob Fosse won Best Director for Cabaret (1972) (Cabaret won eight Academy Awards — a record for the most Oscars won by a movie that didn't win Best Picture)
  • director Hugh Hudson's Chariots of Fire (1981) won Best Picture, but Warren Beatty won Best Director for Reds (1981)
  • director Rob Marshall's Chicago (2002) won Best Picture, but Roman Polanski won Best Director for The Pianist (2002)
  • director Paul Haggis' Crash (2005) won Best Picture, but Ang Lee won Best Director for Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Conversely, it has often happened that a Best Director winner is not also honored with a simultaneous Best Picture win, especially in regards to John Ford and George Stevens:

  • John Ford won Best Director for The Informer (1935), while director Frank Lloyd's Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) won Best Picture
  • John Ford won Best Director for The Grapes of Wrath (1940), while director Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca (1940) won Best Picture
  • George Stevens won Best Director for A Place in the Sun (1951), while director Vincente Minnelli's An American in Paris (1951) won Best Picture
  • John Ford won Best Director for The Quiet Man (1952), while director Cecil B. DeMille's The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) won Best Picture
  • George Stevens won Best Director for Giant (1956), while director Michael Anderson Sr.'s Around the World in 80 Days (1956) won Best Picture
  • director Bruce Beresford's Driving Miss Daisy (1989) won Best Picture, while Oliver Stone's Born on the Fourth of July (1989) won Best Director

It is very rare for a film to win the Best Picture Oscar while omitting the film's director from the Best Director nominations - this has happened only three times:

(1) un-nominated director William Wellman's Wings (1927/28) won Best Picture, while the Best Director award went to Frank Borzage for Seventh Heaven (1927/28)
(2) Edmund Goulding, the director of Best Picture winner Grand Hotel (1931/32) wasn't even nominated - that year, Frank Borzage won Best Director for Bad Girl (1931/32)
(3) Bruce Beresford, the director of Best Picture winner Driving Miss Daisy (1989) was not nominated, while Oliver Stone won Best Director for Born on the Fourth of July (1989)

Conversely, director Frank Lloyd was the only person to win the Best Director Oscar for a film not nominated for Best Picture - The Divine Lady (1928/29).

It is also very rare for all the Best Picture nominees and Best Director nominees to correspond. It has only happened five times in Oscar history:

  • 1957
  • 1964
  • 1981
  • 2005
  • 2008

Most Best Picture Nominations: William Wyler - the Winning-est Best Picture Director

Best Picture Nominations
Director
Best Director Nominations
Best Director Awards
Best Picture Awards
13
William Wyler
12
3
3
9
John Ford
5
4
1
8
Mervyn LeRoy
1
0
0
7
Frank Capra
6
3
2
7
George Cukor
5
1
1
7
Henry King
2
0
0
7
Steven Spielberg
6
2
1
7
George Stevens
5
2
0
6
Michael Curtiz
4
1
1
6
David Lean
7
2
2
6
Martin Scorsese
6
1
1
6
Sam Wood
2
0
0
6
Fred Zinnemann
7
2
2
5
Billy Wilder
8
2
2
5
Francis Ford Coppola
4
1
2
5
Norman Jewison
3
0
1
5
Ernst Lubitsch
3
0
0
5
Leo McCarey
3
2
1
5
Lewis Milestone
3
2
1
4
Frank Borzage
2
2
0
4
Clint Eastwood
4
2
2
4
Victor Fleming
1
1
1
4
Alfred Hitchcock
5
0
1
4
John Huston
5
1
0
4
Elia Kazan
5
2
2
4
Henry Koster
1
0
0
4
Stanley Kramer
3
0
0
4
Sidney Lumet
4
0
0
4
Joseph L. Mankiewicz
4
2
1
4
W.S. Van Dyke
2
0
0
4
William Wellman
3
0
1
3
Frank Lloyd
5
2
2
3
Vincente Minnelli
2
1
2
3
Robert Wise
3
2
2
2
Milos Forman
3
2
2

William Wyler holds the record for the most nominations and wins for his films in all categories: 127 nominations and 39 awards. Half of the nominations are in the major categories of Best Picture, Acting, and Directing. Wyler directed more nominated and winning acting performances (35 and 13, respectively) than anyone in history (see below). Wyler also holds the record for directing more Best Picture nominees (13) and more Best Picture winners (3) than anyone else. His nominated and winning films (marked with *):

Directors with the Most Consecutive Best Picture Nominations:

7 Consecutive Years: William Wyler

4 Consecutive Years: Frank Capra

Directors with the Most Acting Nominations and Acting Awards:

Directors with Most Acting Nominations Directors with Most Acting Awards
35 - William Wyler 13 - William Wyler
24 - Elia Kazan 9 - Elia Kazan
21 - George Cukor 6 - Fred Zinnemann
20 - Martin Scorsese 5 - Martin Scorsese
20 - Fred Zinnemann 5 - John Ford
18 - Sidney Lumet 5 - Woody Allen
18 - George Stevens 5 - Clint Eastwood
17 - Mike Nichols 5 - George Cukor

17 - Billy Wilder

4 - Jonathan Demme
16 - Stanley Kramer 4 - Victor Fleming
15 - John Huston 4 - John Huston
16 - Woody Allen 4 - Sidney Lumet
  4 - Hal Ashby
  4 - James L. Brooks

William Wyler also holds the record for directing performers to 35 acting nominations, with 13 performers winning an acting Oscar (in a lead or supporting role):

Elia Kazan directed 24 actors/actresses to Academy Award nominations with 9 performers proceeding on to win Academy Awards, and Fred Zinnemann directed 20 nominated performers to 6 Oscars (Gary Cooper for High Noon (1952), Frank Sinatra and Donna Reed for From Here to Eternity (1953), Paul Scofield for A Man for All Seasons (1966), and Vanessa Redgrave and Jason Robards for Julia (1977)).

To date, Taylor Hackford is the only director to have directed two black actors to Oscar-winning performances: Louis Gossett Jr. in An Officer and a Gentleman (1982) and Jamie Foxx in Ray (2004).

The only two actors/performers to direct themselves in a film and win a Best Actor Oscar are British actor Laurence Olivier as the title character in Hamlet (1948, UK), and Italian actor Roberto Benigni as Guido in Life is Beautiful (1998, It.).

Female Directors: The Only Ones Nominated

Italian film director Lina Wertmuller was the first woman to be nominated for Best Director (for Seven Beauties (1976, It.)). New Zealander Jane Campion was also nominated as Best Director for The Piano (1993), and Sofia Coppola was nominated as Best Director for her Best Picture-nominated Lost in Translation (2003). Sofia Coppola was the first American woman nominated for Best Director and only the third woman ever to be nominated for Best Director. Several films directed by women have been nominated for Best Picture (without corresponding Best Director nominations), including Randa Haines' Children of a Lesser God (1986), Penny Marshall's Awakenings (1990), and Barbra Streisand's The Prince of Tides (1991).

Foreign-Born Director Nominees and Winners:

In 2005, Ang Lee became the first Asian (or non-white) filmmaker to win Hollywood's main filmmaking honor for Brokeback Mountain (2005).

In 2006, Alejandro Gonz�lez I��rritu was the first Mexican director nominated for the top prize, for Babel (2006). The Mexican directing troika of Alejandro Gonz�lez I��rritu, Guillermo del Toro and Alfonso Cuaron took a combined 16 nominations for their films Babel (2006) (with seven nominations), Pan's Labyrinth (2006) (with six nominations) and Children of Men (2006) (with three nominations), respectively.

In 1987, all five of the Best Director nominees were foreign-born:

  • Bernardo Bertolucci (Italy) - the winner
  • Lasse Hallstrom (Sweden)
  • Norman Jewison (Canada)
  • Adrian Lyne (British)
  • John Boorman (British)

The Most Best Director Nominations - Without a Single Win:

  • Clarence Brown - 6 Best Director nominations (from 1929/30 - 1946)
  • King Vidor - 5 Best Director nominations (from 1927/8 - 1956)
  • Alfred Hitchcock - 5 Best Director nominations (from 1940 - 1960)
  • Robert Altman - 5 Best Director nominations (from 1970 - 2001)

Films with Only a Best Director Nomination: (* denotes win)

  • Speedy (1927/28) (comedy, Ted Wilde), Sorrel and Son (1927/28) (drama, Herbert Brenon), Two Arabian Knights (1927/28) (comedy, Lewis Milestone*)
  • Drag (1928/29) (Frank Lloyd)
  • Hallelujah! (1929/30) (King Vidor)
  • The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (1958) (Mark Robson)
  • Woman in the Dunes (1964) (Hiroshi Teshigahara) (also Best Foreign Language Film nominee)
  • Alice's Restaurant (1969) (Arthur Penn)
  • Fellini Satyricon (1970) (Federico Fellini)
  • Blue Velvet (1986) (David Lynch)
  • The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) (Martin Scorsese)
  • Short Cuts (1993) (Robert Altman)
  • Mulholland Dr. (2001) (David Lynch)

Oldest and Youngest Best Directors:

Note: The calculated time is from date of birth to the date of either (1) the nominations announcement, or (2) the date of the awards ceremony.

Youngest Best Director Nominee
Youngest Best Director Winner
Oldest Best Director Nominee
Oldest Best Director Winner
       
24 years (and 44 days)
John Singleton for Boyz N the Hood (1991)
32 years (and 260 days) Norman Taurog for Skippy (1930/31) 79 years (and 184 days)
John Huston for Prizzi's Honor (1985)
74 years (and 272 days)
Clint Eastwood for Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Runner-Ups:
26 years (and 279 days)
Orson Welles for Citizen Kane

29 years (and 66 days) Kenneth Branagh for Henry V (1989)

29 years (and 113 days)
Claude Lelouch for A Man and a Woman (1966)

Note: the youngest woman ever to earn a nomination, 32-year old Sofia Coppola for Lost in Translation (2003)

Runner-Ups:
33 years (and 228 days)
Lewis Milestone for Two Arabian Nights (1927/28)

34 years (238 days)
Sam Mendes for American Beauty (1999)

35 years (and 36 days)
Lewis Milestone for All Quiet on the Western Front (1929/30)

Runner-Ups:
78 years (and 193 days) Charles Crichton for A Fish Called Wanda (1988)

76 years (and 357 days) Robert Altman for Gosford Park (2001)

76 years (and 318 days)
David Lean for A Passage to India (1984)

Runner-Ups:
69 years (and 217 days) Roman Polanski for The Pianist (2002)

65 years (and 272 days) George Cukor for My Fair Lady (1964)

62 years (and 302 days)
Clint Eastwood for Unforgiven (1992)

62 years (and 105 days)
Carol Reed for Oliver! (1968)

Other Notables:

The first (and only) African-American to be nominated as Best Director was John Singleton for Boyz N the Hood (1991). Spike Lee has never been nominated for Best Director.

There are only a handful of directors who have won (or been nominated for) the Best Director Oscar for their film debut:

  • Orson Welles (nominated) for Citizen Kane (1941)
  • Delbert Mann (won) for Marty (1955)
  • Sidney Lumet (nominated) for 12 Angry Men (1957)
  • Jack Clayton (nominated) for Room at the Top (1959)
  • Jerome Robbins (won) for West Side Story (1961)
  • Frank Perry (nominated) for David and Lisa (1962)
  • Mike Nichols (nominated) for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
  • Warren Beatty/Buck Henry (nominated) for Heaven Can Wait (1978)
  • Robert Redford (won) for Ordinary People (1980)
  • James L. Brooks (won) for Terms of Endearment (1983)
  • Kevin Costner (won) for Dances with Wolves (1990)
  • Sam Mendes (won) for American Beauty (1999)
  • Rob Marshall (nominated) for Chicago (2002)
  • Bennett Miller (nominated) for Capote (2005)
  • Paul Haggis (nominated) for Crash (2005)

Only three directors have received two best director nominations in the same year:

Only three duo directing teams have been nominated for Best Director in Oscars history:

  • Warren Beatty and Buck Henry for Heaven Can Wait (1978)
  • Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise for West Side Story (1961) - (win)
  • Joel and Ethan Coen for No Country for Old Men (2007) (win) - the first time a sibling team had been nominated in the category, and the second directing duo to win Best Director

Seven out of the first eleven Best Director Oscars were won by men named Frank: Frank Borzage, Frank Lloyd, and Frank Capra. The first Canadian to win Best Director was James Cameron, for Titanic (1997).Director W.S. (Woody) Van Dyke holds the single-year record for the most films to receive Oscar nominations (7):

  • Van Dyke directed The Thin Man (1934) that had four nominations (Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, and Best Adaptation)
  • Van Dyke directed Manhattan Melodrama (1934) that won Best Original Story
  • Van Dyke directed Hide-out (1934) that was nominated for Best Original Story
  • Van Dyke directed Eskimo (1934) that won Best Film Editing

Director Steven Spielberg holds the record for the most Oscars for multiple films in the same year:

Actors, Directors, Writers and Producers:

Five individuals have won three Oscars (a triple-win) for Producing, Directing, and Writing in a single year:

Two individuals have received nominations for Producing, Acting, Directing, and Writing for the same film in one year:

  • Orson Welles for Citizen Kane (1941)
  • Warren Beatty for Heaven Can Wait (1978), and for Reds (1981) (with a win for Best Director)

In addition to Welles and Beatty, one individual has been nominated for Acting, Producing, and Writing for the same film:

  • Charles Chaplin for The Great Dictator (1940)

In addition to Welles and Beatty, two individuals have been nominated simultaneously for Acting, Directing, and Writing for the same film:

Most of the following actors won their first Oscars as directors rather than as performers (except for Redford and Gibson, all were actors also nominated for their self-directed work):

  • Woody Allen, Annie Hall (1977) - nominated as Best Actor, won Best Director - Allen became the first director to win an Academy Award for a film he starred in
  • Robert Redford, Ordinary People (1980) - won Best Director
  • Warren Beatty, Reds (1981) - nominated as Best Actor, won Best Director
  • Kevin Costner, Dances With Wolves (1990) - nominated as Best Actor, won Best Director
  • Clint Eastwood, Unforgiven (1992) - nominated as Best Actor, won Best Director
  • Mel Gibson, Braveheart (1995) - won Best Director
  • Orson Welles, Citizen Kane (1941) - nominated for Best Actor and Director (didn't win either)
  • Charles Chaplin, The Great Dictator (1940) - nominated as Best Actor only (didn't win)
  • Roberto Benigni, Life is Beautiful (1998) - won Best Actor, nominated for Best Director
  • Kenneth Branagh, Henry V (1989) - nominated for Best Actor and Best Director (didn't win either)
  • Billy Bob Thornton, Sling Blade (1996) - nominated as Best Actor
  • Robert Duvall, The Apostle (1997) - nominated as Best Actor

The only two directors that ever directed themselves to a competitive acting Academy Award were:

  • Best Actor-winning director Sir Laurence Olivier for Hamlet (1948), the year's Best Picture (he received two other self-directed actor nominations for Henry V (1946) and Richard III (1956))
  • Best Actor-winning Roberto Benigni, the director of Life is Beautiful (1998), the Best Foreign Language Film of the year

Also, Best Director-winning Mel Gibson acted in and directed Braveheart (1995), the year's Best Picture. Likewise, Best Director-winning Clint Eastwood acted in and directed Best Picture-winning Million Dollar Baby (2004).

And two Best Director Oscars were awarded to co-directors Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise for West Side Story (1961) - it marked the first time that awards went to co-directors. And the only Best Director Oscar winner to win for the only film he ever directed was also Jerome Robbins.

Related Winners:

1948's Oscar-winning director John Huston directed both his father (Walter Huston) to a Best Supporting Actor Oscar and his daughter (Anjelica) to a Best Supporting Actress Oscar in respectively, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) and Prizzi's Honor (1985) 37 years later. This remarkable feat made the Hustons the first family with three generations of Oscar winners. In addition, this made the Hustons the only grandfather-granddaughter ever to win Academy Awards:

  • Walter Huston, Best Supporting Actor winner for The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) (directed by his son John Huston)
  • Anjelica Huston, Best Supporting Actress winner for Prizzi's Honor (1985) (directed by her father John Huston)

The Coppolas became the second family with three generations of Oscar winners - with Sofia Coppola's win for Best Original Screenplay for Lost in Translation (2003). (Sofia's father Francis Ford Coppola is a five-time winner and her grandfather, Carmine Coppola, won for musical score on The Godfather Part II (1974).) Further connections can be made for the Coppolas - the only father-daughter-nephew grouping to win Oscars:

  • Francis Ford Coppola, Best Director winner for The Godfather Part II (1974)
  • Sofia Coppola, Best Original Screenplay winner for Lost in Translation (2003)
  • Nicolas Cage, Best Actor winner for Leaving Las Vegas (1995)

Siblings Warren Beatty (Best Director for Reds (1981)) and Shirley MacLaine (Best Actress for Terms of Endearment (1983)) are related Oscar winners.

Susan Sarandon won the Best Actress Oscar for Dead Man Walking (1995) (directed by her Best Director-nominated husband (unofficial live-in) Tim Robbins). She became the first star to win in a film directed by a spouse. Otherwise, it would be Frances McDormand who also won the Best Actress Oscar for Fargo (1996), directed by her spouse, husband Joel Coen. McDormand's brother-in-law, Ethan Coen, was the film's producer.

Other wives nominated for films made by their director husbands:

  • Melina Mercouri, nominated for Best Actress for Never on Sunday (1960), was directed by husband Jules Dassin
  • Gena Rowlands, nominated for Best Actress for A Woman Under the Influence (1974), was directed by husband John Cassavetes
  • Julie Andrews, nominated for Best Actress for Victor/Victoria (1982), was directed by husband Blake Edwards

To date, no female directors have had their starring husbands receive an Oscar nod.



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