Academy Awards

Best Director


Facts & Trivia (1)
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Best Director Sections

Facts & Trivia (1) | Facts & Trivia (2) | Winners Chart


The Best Director Academy Awards
Facts and Trivia (1)

See also this site's designation of the Greatest Directors and Their Best Films.

The Best Director Academy Award should actually be titled the "best achievement in directing." In the first year of the Academy Awards, there were two awards for directorship: one for direction of a dramatic film, another for comedy direction. The latter award was dropped the following year.

The Top Best Director Oscar Winners:

John Ford is the only director with 4 Best Director Oscars, followed by William Wyler and Frank Capra with 3 Best Director Academy Awards. The most nominated and most frequent winners in the Best Director category are the following:

Top Best Director
Oscar Winners

John Ford
5 nominations
4 wins

Wins:
The Informer (1935)

The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
How Green Was My Valley (1941)
The Quiet Man (1952)

Also Nominated For:
Stagecoach (1939)


Note:
Ford won his four Oscars for his pictures of social comment, rather than for his quintessential westerns. Only How Green Was My Valley (1941) also won Best Picture. Ford was the first director to win Best Director Oscars back-to-back in consecutive years.

William Wyler
12 nominations
3 wins

Wins:
Mrs. Miniver (1942)

The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
Ben-Hur (1959)


Also Nominated For:
Dodsworth (1936)
Wuthering Heights (1939)
The Letter (1940)
The Little Foxes (1941)
The Heiress (1949)
Detective Story (1951)
Roman Holiday (1953)
Friendly Persuasion (1956)
The Collector (1965)


Note:
Wyler had twelve nominations over 29 years (from 1936-1965). Each of his three wins also won Best Picture.

Frank Capra
6 nominations
3 wins

Wins:
It Happened One Night (1934)

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936)
You Can't Take It With You (1938)


Also Nominated For:
Lady for a Day (1933)
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)


Note:
Capra won three times in five years, each time for a comedy!

Steven Spielberg
7 nominations
2 wins


Wins:
Schindler's List (1993)
Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Also Nominated For:
Munich (2005)
E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
Lincoln (2012)

The Top Winning Directors (with At Least Two Best Director Oscars) and Top Nominees:

Although John Ford has won more Oscars, he has only five Best Director nominations. William Wyler holds the record for the most nominations as director - twelve. Runner-up is Billy Wilder with eight Best Director nominations. It appears that twenty-six directors have been nominated four or more times. Nineteen directors have two or more Best Director Oscar wins, and include the following (with no. of nominations in parentheses):

In addition, Billy Wilder has a total of twenty-one career nominations and six Oscars for various roles:

Best Director-Winning Directors With Consecutive Oscars:

Among them are the only two directors who have received two consecutive Best Director statuette wins:

Best Director Summary of Multiple Nominees and Winners:

Directors With a Significant Number of Best Director Nominations (4 or More), But No Wins:

  • Clarence Brown (6 nominations, 0 wins):
    Nominated: The Yearling (1946), National Velvet (1944), The Human Comedy (1943), A Free Soul (1941), Anna Christie (1929/30) and Romance (1929/30)

  • King Vidor (5 nominations, 0 wins):
    Nominated: War and Peace (1956), The Citadel (1938), The Champ (1931), Hallelujah (1929), The Crowd (1928)

  • Alfred Hitchcock (5 nominations, 0 wins):
    Nominated: Psycho (1960), Rear Window (1954), Spellbound (1945), Lifeboat (1944), Rebecca (1940)

  • Robert Altman (5 nominations, 0 wins):
    Nominated: Gosford Park (2001), Short Cuts (1993), The Player (1992), Nashville (1975), M*A*S*H (1970)


  • Stanley Kubrick (4 nominations, 0 wins):
    Nominated: Barry Lyndon (1975), A Clockwork Orange (1971), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Dr. Strangelove or: How... (1964)

  • Sidney Lumet (4 nominations, 0 wins):
    Nominated: The Verdict (1982), Network (1976), Dog Day Afternoon (1975), 12 Angry Men (1957)

  • Federico Fellini (4 nominations, 0 wins):
    Nominated: Amarcord (1974), Fellini Satyricon (1970), 8 1/2 (1963), La Dolce Vita (1961)


  • Peter Weir (4 nominations, 0 wins):
    Nominated: Witness (1985), Dead Poets Society (1989), The Truman Show (1998), Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)

  • David O. Russell (3 nominations, 0 wins)
    Nominated: The Fighter (2010), Silver Linings Playbook (2012), American Hustle (2013)


  • Alexander Payne (3 nominations, 0 wins)
    Nominated: Sideways (2004), The Descendants (2011), Nebraska (2013)

Best Director Oscar Omissions and Non-Winners:

Some of the greatest directors of all time have never won an Academy Award for Best Director (and many were never nominated - see Great Directors Who Have Not Won), including Clarence Brown, Charlie Chaplin, King Vidor, Howard Hawks, D. W. Griffith, Brian De Palma, George Sidney, John Cassavetes, Cecil B. DeMille, Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, F.W. Murnau, William A. Wellman, Otto Preminger, Sam Wood, Gregory La Cava, Norman Jewison, Sidney Lumet, Ernst Lubitsch, Terrence Malick, Robert Altman, Robert Rossen, Fritz Lang, Spike Lee, Rouben Mamoulian, W.S. Van Dyke, Stanley Kubrick, Herbert Ross, Tim Burton, Blake Edwards, Stanley Kramer, Joshua Logan, James Ivory, Alan J. Pakula, Paul Mazursky, Arthur Penn, Richard Brooks, George Lucas, Ridley Scott, David Lynch, Peter Weir, Akira Kurosawa, Barbra Streisand, Ingmar Bergman, and Sam Peckinpah.



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