Academy Awards

Best Director


Facts & Trivia (2)
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Best Director Sections

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

The Best Director Academy Awards
Facts and Trivia (2)

Film Debut Nominees/Winners of Best Director Oscars:

Only six directors have won the Best Director Oscar for their film debut, while a sampling of others were nominated:

  • Orson Welles for Citizen Kane (1941) (nominated)
  • Sidney Lumet for 12 Angry Men (1957) (nominated)
  • Jack Clayton for Room at the Top (1959) (nominated)
  • Frank Perry for David and Lisa (1962) (nominated)
  • Mike Nichols for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) (nominated)
  • Warren Beatty/Buck Henry for Heaven Can Wait (1978) (nominated)
  • John Singleton for Boys N the Hood (1991) (nominated)
  • Rob Marshall for Chicago (2002) (nominated)
  • Bennett Miller for Capote (2005) (nominated)
  • Paul Haggis for Crash (2005) (nominated)
  • Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012) (nominated)

Directors With Two Best Director Nominations in the Same Year:

Only three directors have received two Best Director nominations in the same year:

Duo Directing Teams Nominated for Best Director:

Only four duo directing teams have been nominated for Best Director in Oscars history, and only twice have the duo-directors won:

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

  • Warren Beatty and Buck Henry for Heaven Can Wait (1978)
  • Joel and Ethan Coen were again nominated as Best Director for True Grit (2010)

The Director with the Most Film Nominations in a Single Year:

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

The Director with the Most Oscar Wins For Films in the Same Year:

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

African-American (Black) Best Director Nominees/Winners:

No African-American (or black) has ever won Best Picture.

African-Americans (or blacks) nominated as Best Director include:

  • John Singleton for Boyz N the Hood (1991) - the first
  • Lee Daniels for Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire (2009) - the second African-American nominated director; it was the first-ever Best Picture nominee to be directed by an African-American filmmaker
  • British director Steve McQueen for Best Picture-winning 12 Years a Slave (2013) [Note: If McQueen had won Best Director, he would have been the first black filmmaker to win the title.]

Spike Lee was never nominated for Best Director (only for screenwriting and documentary).

Female Directors: The Only Winner - and the Only Ones Nominated

There have only been four female Best Director nominees:

  • Italian film director Lina Wertmuller for Seven Beauties (1976, It.) - the first woman to be nominated for Best Director
  • New Zealander Jane Campion for Best Picture-nominated The Piano (1993)
  • Sofia Coppola for her Best Picture-nominated Lost in Translation (2003) - the first American woman nominated for Best Director and only the third woman ever to be nominated for Best Director
  • Kathryn Bigelow for her Best Picture-nominated The Hurt Locker (2009) - the second American woman nominated as Best Director and only the fourth woman nominated in the category

The only female Best Director winner: Kathryn Bigelow for Best Picture-winning The Hurt Locker (2009).

A number of 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), Barbra Streisand's The Prince of Tides (1991), Valerie Faris' (with Jonathan Dayton) Little Miss Sunshine (2006), Lone Scherfig's An Education (2009), Lisa Cholodenko's The Kids Are All Right (2010) and Debra Granik's Winter's Bone (2010).

Foreign-Born Best Director Nominees and Winners:

Mexican film director Alfonso Cuarón, although a three-time nominee, was nominated for the first time as Best Director, and won the Oscar for Gravity (2013). He was the first Mexican-born director to win Best Director.

Ang Lee was the first Asian (or non-white) filmmaker to win Hollywood's main filmmaking honor for Brokeback Mountain (2005). He also won Best Director for Life of Pi (2012). He was also nominated as Best Director for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000).

Other Asian Best Director nominees include Hiroshi Teshigahara for Woman in the Dunes (1964), Akira Kurosawa for Ran (1985), and M. Night Shyamalan for The Sixth Sense (1999).

In 2012, German-born directorial nominee Michael Haneke was nominated as Best Director for Amour (2012, Austria).

In 2006, Alejandro González Iñárritu was the first Mexican director nominated for the top prize for Babel (2006). French film director Michel Hazanavicius was nominated for The Artist (2011). In the year 2006, the Mexican directing troika of Alejandro González Iñárritu, 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.

The first Canadian to win Best Director was James Cameron, for Titanic (1997).

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)

Matching Best Picture and Best Director Nominees:

Up until recently, it was very rare for all the Best Picture nominees and Best Director nominees to directly correspond. It only happened five times in Oscar history when there were only 5 nominees for both Best Picture and Best Director. As of 2009, when the Best Picture list was expanded to 10 nominees, it wasn't as remarkable an occurrence:

  • 1957
  • 1964
  • 1981
  • 2005
  • 2008
  • 2009 - the first year with 10 Best Picture nominees
  • 2010
  • 2011
  • 2012

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. In a number of cases, however, the Best Picture win went to one film and Best Director went to another even though the helmer of the big winner was nominated.

Of the 86 films (through the year 2013) that have been awarded Best Picture, 62 have also been awarded Best Director. About a quarter of the time, however, in Academy history, the Best Picture and Best Director winners have been for different films.

The Oscars (through the year 2013) have split Best Picture and Best Director 23 times: see years 2013, 2012, 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 (two Best Director co-winners didn't win Best Picture).

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.]

Here are some examples in more recent years (from 1967 onwards):

  • 1967: director Norman Jewison's In the Heat of the Night (1967) won Best Picture, but Mike Nichols won Best Director for The Graduate (1967)
  • 1972: 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)
  • 1981: director Hugh Hudson's Chariots of Fire (1981) won Best Picture, but Warren Beatty won Best Director for Reds (1981)
  • 1989: director Bruce Beresford's Driving Miss Daisy (1989) won Best Picture, while Oliver Stone won Best Director for Born on the Fourth of July (1989)
  • 1998: director John Madden's Shakespeare in Love (1998) won Best Picture, but Steven Spielberg won Best Director for Saving Private Ryan (1998)
  • 2000: director Ridley Scott's Gladiator (2000) won Best Picture, but Steven Soderbergh won Best Director for Traffic (2000)
  • 2002: director Rob Marshall's Chicago (2002) won Best Picture, but Roman Polanski won Best Director for The Pianist (2002)
  • 2005: director Paul Haggis' Crash (2005) won Best Picture, but Ang Lee won Best Director for Brokeback Mountain (2005)
  • 2012: director Ben Affleck's Argo (2012) won Best Picture, but Ang Lee won Best Director for Life of Pi (2012)
  • 2013: director Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave (2013) won Best Picture, but Alfonso Cuaron won Best Director for Gravity (2013)

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 three times even though his film lost the big prize, and George Stevens had the same shock twice:

The Only Best Picture-Winning Films Without Best Director Nominations:

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 four times:

  • 1927/28: Wings (1927/28) from un-nominated director William Wellman won Best Picture, while the Best Director award went to Frank Borzage for Seventh Heaven (1927/28)
  • 1931/32: Grand Hotel (1931/32), the Best Picture winner was directed by unnominated Edmund Goulding - Frank Borzage won Best Director for Bad Girl (1931/32)
  • 1989: Driving Miss Daisy (1989) was the Best Picture winner, but its director Bruce Beresford was not nominated, while Oliver Stone won Best Director for Born on the Fourth of July (1989)
  • 2012: Argo (2012) from un-nominated director Ben Affleck won Best Picture, while the Best Director award went to Ang Lee for Life of Pi (2012)

The Only Films to Win Best Director Without a Best Picture Nomination:

  • Two Arabian Knights (1927/28), not nominated for Best Picture, but Lewis Milestone won Best Director (Comedy)
  • The Divine Lady (1928/29), not nominated for Best Picture, but Frank Lloyd won Best Director

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

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 he received were in the major categories of Best Picture, Acting, and Directing.

William Wyler holds the record for directing more Best Picture nominees (13) and more Best Picture winners (3) than anyone else. His 13 nominated and winning films (marked with *):

Director Statistics
Director
Number of Films Nominated for Best Picture
Number of Films Awarded Best Picture
Best Director Nominations
Best Director Awards
William Wyler
13
3
12
3
John Ford
9
1
5
4
Steven Spielberg
9
1
7
2
Martin Scorsese
8
1
8
1
Mervyn LeRoy
8
0
1
0
Frank Capra
7
2
6
3
George Cukor
7
1
5
1
Henry King
7
0
2
0
George Stevens
7
0
5
2
David Lean
6
2
7
2
Fred Zinnemann
6
2
7
2
Michael Curtiz
6
1
4
1
Sam Wood
6
0
2
0
Billy Wilder
5
2
8
2
Francis Ford Coppola
5
2
4
1
Norman Jewison
5
1
3
0
Leo McCarey
5
1
3
2
Lewis Milestone
5
1
3
2
Ernst Lubitsch
5
0
3
0
Clint Eastwood
4
2
4
2
Elia Kazan
4
2
5
2
Joel/Ethan Coen
4
1
3
1
Victor Fleming
4
1
1
1
Alfred Hitchcock
4
1
5
0
Joseph L. Mankiewicz
4
1
4
2
William Wellman
4
1
3
0
Frank Borzage
4
0
2
2
John Huston
4
0
5
1
Henry Koster
4
0
1
0
Stanley Kramer
4
0
3
0
Ang Lee
4
0
3
2
Sidney Lumet
4
0
4
0
W.S. Van Dyke
4
0
2
0
Frank Lloyd
3
2
5
2
Vincente Minnelli
3
2
2
1
Robert Wise
3
2
3
2
Oliver Stone
3
1
3
2
Robert Altman
3
0
5
0
Stanley Kubrick
3
0
4
0
Mike Nichols
3
0
4
1
Peter Weir
3
0
4
0
Milos Forman
2
2
3
2
Clarence Brown
2
0
5
0
King Vidor
2
0
5
0
Federico Fellini
0
0
4
0

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:

William Wyler directed more nominated and winning acting performances (36 and 14, respectively - not counting Honorary Awards), than anyone in history (see below).

Directors with Most Acting Nominations
Directors with Most Acting Awards
36 - William Wyler 14 - William Wyler
24 - Elia Kazan 9 - Elia Kazan
22 - Martin Scorsese 7 - Woody Allen
21 - George Cukor 6 - Fred Zinnemann
20 - Fred Zinnemann 5 - John Ford
18 - Woody Allen 5 - Martin Scorsese
18 - Sidney Lumet 5 - Clint Eastwood
18 - Mike Nichols 5 - George Cukor
18 - George Stevens 4 - Jonathan Demme
17 - Billy Wilder 4 - Victor Fleming
16 - Stanley Kramer 4 - John Huston
15 - John Huston 4 - Sidney Lumet
  4 - Hal Ashby
  4 - James L. Brooks

William Wyler holds the record for directing performers to 36 acting nominations, with 14 performance Oscars (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 (James Dunn in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945), Celeste Holm in Gentleman's Agreement (1947), Karl Malden, Vivien Leigh, and Kim Hunter in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), Anthony Quinn in Viva Zapata! (1952), Marlon Brando and Eva Marie Saint in On the Waterfront (1954), and Jo Van Fleet in East of Eden (1955)).
  • Martin Scorsese directed 22 nominated performers to 5 Oscars (Ellen Burstyn in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974), Robert DeNiro in Raging Bull (1980), Paul Newman in The Color of Money (1986), Joe Pesci in GoodFellas (1990), and Cate Blanchett in The Aviator (2004)).
  • George Cukor directed 21 nominated actors/actresses who went on to win 5 Oscars (James Stewart in The Philadelphia Story (1940), Ingrid Bergman in Gaslight (1944), Ronald Colman in A Double Life (1947), Judy Holliday in Born Yesterday (1950), and Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady (1964)).
  • Fred Zinnemann directed 20 nominated performers to 6 Oscars (Gary Cooper in High Noon (1952), Frank Sinatra and Donna Reed in From Here to Eternity (1953), Paul Scofield in A Man for All Seasons (1966), and Vanessa Redgrave and Jason Robards in Julia (1977)).
  • Woody Allen directed 18 nominated performers to 7 Oscar wins (Diane Keaton in Annie Hall (1977), Michael Caine and Dianne Wiest in Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), Dianne Wiest in Bullets Over Broadway (1994), Mira Sorvino in Mighty Aphrodite (1995), Penelope Cruz in Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008), and Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine (2013)).

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 acting performance in an Alfred Hitchcock-directed film to win an Oscar was Joan Fontaine in Suspicion (1941), in the role of harried wife Lina McLaidlaw, opposite Cary Grant. The only Academy Award-winning performance in a Stanley Kubrick-directed film was Peter Ustinov, who won the Best Supporting Actor Award (his first Oscar win) for his role as slave trader Lentulus Batiatus in Spartacus (1960).

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)
  • Martin Scorsese - he had 5 Best Director nominations (from 1980-2004) without a win, and then won with his 6th nomination for The Departed (2006)

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)

Nominees for Best Actor and Best Director for the Same Film:

Eight individuals have been nominated for both Best Actor and Best Director for the same film. Two were nominees twice. No one yet has won both awards. (Four won Best Director but not Best Actor. Two won Best Actor but not Best Director. Three lost both nominations.)

  • Orson Welles, Citizen Kane (1941) - nominated for Best Actor and Director (didn't win either)
  • Sir Laurence Olivier, Hamlet (1948), nominated for Best Director, won Best Actor
  • Woody Allen, Annie Hall (1977) - nominated for Best Actor, won Best Director
  • Warren Beatty, Heaven Can Wait (1978), nominated for Best Actor and Best Director (didn't win either)
  • Warren Beatty, Reds (1981) - nominated for Best Actor, won Best Director
  • Kenneth Branagh, Henry V (1989) - nominated for Best Actor and Best Director (didn't win either)
  • Kevin Costner, Dances With Wolves (1990) - nominated for Best Actor, won Best Director
  • Clint Eastwood, Unforgiven (1992) - nominated for Best Actor, won Best Director
  • Roberto Benigni, Life is Beautiful (1998, It.) - nominated for Best Director, won Best Actor
  • Clint Eastwood, Million Dollar Baby (2004) - nominated for Best Actor, won Best Director

The only two actors/performers that ever directed themselves (without winning Best Director) to win a competitive Best Actor Academy Award were:

  • British actor Sir Laurence Olivier for Hamlet (1948) as the title character, the year's Best Picture (he received two other self-directed actor nominations for Henry V (1946) and Richard III (1956))
  • Italian actor Roberto Benigni, the director of Life is Beautiful (1998, It.) for his role as Guido, the Best Foreign Language Film of the year

Multiple Wins: Actors, Directors, Writers and Producers

Six directors have accomplished the 'hat trick' of triple Oscar wins for Producing, Directing, and Writing in a single year:

Warren Beatty and George Clooney are the only two people to have competitive nominations in the Picture, Director, Screenplay and Acting (Actor or Supporting) categories:

  • Warren Beatty
    Picture (Bonnie and Clyde (1967), Heaven Can Wait, (1978), Reds (1981), Bugsy (1991))
    Director (Heaven Can Wait (1978), Reds (1981))
    Screenplay (Shampoo (1975), Heaven Can Wait (1978), Reds (1981), Bulworth (1998))
    Acting (Bonnie and Clyde (1967), Heaven Can Wait (1978), Reds (1981), Bugsy (1991))
  • George Clooney
    Picture (Argo (2012))
    Director (Good Night, and Good Luck (2005))
    Screenplay (Good Night, and Good Luck (2005), The Ides of March (2011))
    Acting (Syriana (2005), Michael Clayton (2007), Up in the Air (2009), The Descendants (2011))

Warren Beatty received nominations for Producing, Acting, Directing, and Writing for the same film in one year:

  • Heaven Can Wait (1978)
  • Reds (1981) (with a win for Best Director)

[Note: It could be argued that Orson Welles also received 4 similar nominations for Citizen Kane (1941). However, Welles' Mercury Theatre and the RKO Radio Pictures production company (producer Welles) were credited with the Best Picture/Production nomination, not Welles as an individual.]

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

  • Charles Chaplin for The Great Dictator (1940)

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

Actors That Won Their First Oscar as Best Director (Not as Performer):

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) - won Best Director (his first Oscar win) - Allen became the first Oscar-winning director to win an Academy Award for a film he starred in
  • Robert Redford, Ordinary People (1980) - not nominated as Best Actor, won Best Director (his first Oscar win)
  • Warren Beatty, Reds (1981) - won Best Director (his first Oscar win)
  • Kevin Costner, Dances With Wolves (1990) - won Best Director (his first Oscar win)
  • Clint Eastwood, Unforgiven (1992) - won Best Director (his first Oscar win)
  • Mel Gibson, Braveheart (1995) - not nominated as Best Actor, won Best Director (his first Oscar win)

Related Winners: Three-Generation Oscar-Winning Families

  • The Hustons were the first family with three generations of Oscar winners (they became the the only grandfather-granddaughter ever to win Academy Awards):
  • The Coppolas were the second family with three generations of Oscar winners (they became the only father-daughter-nephew grouping to ever win Academy Awards):
    • 1st Generation: Carmine Coppola (2 nominations with 1 win) won Best Original Score for The Godfather Part II (1974)
    • 2nd Generation: Son Francis Ford Coppola (14 nominations with 5 wins) had his first win for Best Original Screenplay for Patton (1970)
    • 3rd Generation: Granddaughter Sofia Coppola won Best Original Screenplay for Lost in Translation (2003)

Further connections could be made for the Coppolas, combining for a family total of 24 nominations (number of nominations for each are in parentheses):

  • 1st GENERATION
    - Carmine Coppola (2 nominations with 1 win) won Best Original Score for The Godfather Part II (1974)
  • 2nd GENERATION
    - Francis Ford Coppola (14 nominations with 5 wins) - Best Original Screenplay winner for Patton (1970), then Best Adapted Screenplay winner for The Godfather (1972), and Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Picture and Best Director winner for The Godfather Part II (1974) - he was the son of composer Carmine Coppola and Italia Coppola
    -
    Talia Shire (2 nominations with 0 wins) - she was the daughter of composer Carmine Coppola and Italia Coppola
  • 3rd GENERATION
    - Sofia Coppola (3 nominations with 1 win), Best Original Screenplay winner for Lost in Translation (2003) - she was the daughter of director Francis Ford Coppola and Eleanor Coppola
    - Nicolas Cage (2 nominations with 1 win), Best Actor winner for Leaving Las Vegas (1995) - he was the son of August Coppola (a brother of director Francis Ford Coppola) and dancer/choreographer Joy Vogelsang
    -
    Roman Coppola (1 nomination with 0 wins) - the sixth member of the Coppola clan to receive a nomination, for Best Original Screenplay for Moonrise Kingdom (2012) - he was the son of Francis Ford Coppola, brother of Sofia, and grand-son of Carmine, the nephew of Talia Shire, and cousin of Nicolas Cage

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

Best Actress Nominees/Winners Who Were Directed by Husbands:

  • Joanne Woodward was nominated as Best Actress for Rachel Rachel (1968), a Best Picture-nominated film directed by her husband Paul Newman.
  • 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. Robbins did not win Best Director.
  • Otherwise, it would be Frances McDormand who also won the Best Actress Oscar for Fargo (1996), directed by her spouse, nominated 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 nominated husband Jules Dassin (both lost)
  • Gena Rowlands, nominated for Best Actress for A Woman Under the Influence (1974), was directed by nominated husband John Cassavetes (both lost)
  • Julie Andrews, nominated for Best Actress for Victor/Victoria (1982), was directed by unnominated husband Blake Edwards (Andrews lost)

Diane Keaton, nominated for Best Actress for Best Director-winning Woody Allen's Annie Hall (1977), won the Oscar - although romantically linked to Woody Allen, she was never married to him.

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

An Anomaly:

Seven out of the first eleven Best Director Oscars were won by men named Frank: Frank Borzage, Frank Lloyd, and Frank Capra.

Youngest and Oldest Best Directors: Nominees and Winners

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)

29 years (and 193 days)
M. Night Shyamalan for The Sixth Sense (1999)

29 years (and 281 days)
George Lucas for American Graffiti (1973)

30 years (and 88 days)
Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

30 years (and 95 days)
Jason Reitman for Juno (2007)

30 years (and 116 days)
Spike Jonze for Being John Malkovich (1999)

31 years (and 65 days)
Steven Spielberg for Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

[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 (and 238 days)
Sam Mendes for American Beauty (1999)

35 years (and 23 days)
Frank Borzage for 7th Heaven (1927/28)

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

35 years (and 313 days)
Tony Richardson for Tom Jones (1963)

36 years (and 1 day)
Francis Ford Coppola for The Godfather, Part II (1974)

36 years (and 51 days)
Delbert Mann for Marty (1955)

36 years (and 66 days)
Kevin Costner for Dances With Wolves (1990)

36 years (and 156 days)
Mike Nichols for The Graduate (1967)

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)

76 years (and 237 days)
Clint Eastwood for Letters From Iwo Jima (2006)

76 years (and 54 days)
Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris (2011)

75 years (and 319 days)
Akira Kurosawa for Ran (1985)

74 years (and 239 days)
Clint Eastwood for Million Dollar Baby (2004)

73 years (and 241 days)
Clint Eastwood for Mystic River (2003)

71 years (and 181 days)
Cecil B. DeMille for The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)

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)

64 years (and 100 days)
Martin Scorsese for The Departed (2006)

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

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

59 years (and 346 days)
Fred Zinnemann for A Man For All Seasons (1966)

59 years (and 225 days)
Richard Attenborough for Gandhi (1982)

59 years (and 46 days)
John Ford for The Quiet Man (1952)

58 years (and 100 days)
Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker (2009)

With two nominations for Best Director, for Juno (2007) and Up in the Air (2009), 32 year-old Jason Reitman became the youngest filmmaker to have received two Oscar nominations for Best Director.



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