Who wouldn’t want to be a film director? Well, I’d like to write the screenplay. It takes many people to make a great film, but the director is the one with the vision and calls the shots. Who would you want to be? Spielberg? Scorsese? Hitchcock? Lee?
The Golden Globes. The Screen Actors Guild. The American Film Institute. Sundance, Toronto, and Cannes all offer their respected film festivals. When it comes to films, the clout goes to the Oscars.
Some directors have been around longer than others. Do you judge a director by how many wins or how many nominations they have or both?
Billy Wilder earned 8 Academy nominations and won 3 of them. (The Lost Weekend 1945, Sunset Boulevard 1950, The Apartment 1960).
One has to acknowledge William Wyler with a fifty year career, 1925–1970. He won 3 times as director and was nominated more than any other director with 12. Is he the best director? Certainly, Ben Hur, has remained for decades a revered Hollywood classic.
Best All Around Winner
At 73, Woody Allen has won so many awards across the board, I think one has to give him credit for his contribution to the film industry. If you are lucky enough to star in a Woody Allen film, chances are good you’ll get a nomination. Just ask Diane Keaton, Penélope Cruz , Michael Caine, and Diane Wiest. Woody Allen has been nominated twenty-three times. 7 as a director, 15 as a screenwriter, and once as an actor. Can Scorsese boast that?
What about Mr. Martin Scorsese? I love him as a director and he means more to me than Wilder and Wyler. It’s an age thing. I grew up watching his films. Robert DeNiro, Harvey Keitel, and Leonardo DiCaprio owe a huge chunk of their careers to Scorsese. I find it interesting that his parents, Catherine (7x) and Charles (8x), have starred in more films than his leading actors. Martin Scorsese has been nominated seven times for best director, and has won once for The Departed (2006).
Fred Zinnmann was a director in the same league as Scorsese. His knock out years were in the fifties and sixties. From Here to Eternity (1953), High Noon(1954), Oklahoma! (1955), and A Man for All Seasons (1966).
What about the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock? A personal favorite of mine. Did you know he was nominated five times for an Oscar as best director? How many did he win? NONE
He’s in good company. Here’s some more famous directors that never won for Best Director.
Stanley Kubrick? Nominated 4 times. Robert Altman? Nominated 5 times. Peter Weir? 4 times. These are GREAT directors!
Popular Contemporary Directors
Steven Spielberg: 7 nominations – 2 wins
Clint Eastwood: 4 – 2 wins.
Oliver Stone 3 – 2 wins
Quentin Tarrantino 2- 0 wins
Ang Lee 3 – 2 wins
Joel Coen, Ethan 3 – 2 win
What about Peter Jackson? Sam Mendes? Darren Aronofsky? Terrence Malick? Ridley Scott? Only time will tell.
What does this all mean? Winning an Oscar is an honor, but time can award you respect and a following by movie-buffs bordering on cult-worship.
How do you rate your favorite director?
Stay tuned for the female directors….
Great post Cindy! This is a really good question. I mainly judge a great director by their body of work mixed with their own style and how much I personally like the films. You mentioned several of my favorites but I would also add Christopher Nolan to my list. I think he’s brilliant.
Thanks, Keith. Great suggestion, Christopher Nolan’s got dark and suspenseful down pat. Looking forward to Superman to see what he does with it.
I know! He’s producing Superman and I hope he’s able to reign Zach Snyder in a bit.
Nice post! It’s difficult to say why I love some directors more than others. Their films just have a certain something, something special about them, that makes them stand out above a lot of other stuff. Stanley Kubrick is my favourite director but Scorsese and Hitch are up there for me too.
You’re right, Terry. It’s a personal feeling, the message they all convey. Right now, Ang Lee is my favorite director. I like the magic tricks!
It’s interesting how many have been nominated and haven’t won. Great post Cindy! I don’t rate my favorite directors by the awards that they have won, but it’s nice to see them get recognized every once in a while.
With 91 years under Oscar’s history, so many are nominated by don’t win. Many Indie films and foreign films are better than what Hollywood puts out. It’s fun to speculate, isn’t it?
Totally! I find myself speculating every year when the award shows come around.
I’m not sure I have a favourite current director. Like you I enjoyed a lot of the early Scorcese movies such as Mean Streets and Raging Bull but I haven’t seen any of his films in the theatre since Casino.
Whenever I’ve compiled a list of favourite movies I’ve found that Sam Peckinpah always features heavily, thanks to films such as Junior Bonner, The Wild Bunch and Major Dundee; and I also admire Monte Hellman (Two-Lane Blacktop, Ride With The Whirlwind) and Steve Kloves (The Fabulous Baker Boys, Flesh and Bone).
After recently watching Citizen Kane for the first time I’ve been trying to work my through the filmography of Orson Welles. I watched the restored version of Touch of Evil over the weekend and enjoyed it immensely.
I’ll look forward to your female directors article.
Hi Paul, thanks for your comments! I like your list a lot and it reminds me there’s many more directors to explore such as Hellman and Kloves. I need to see ‘Straw Dogs” and I confess, I haven’t gotten around to watching “The Wild Ones”.
Most people pay no attention to Directors, but a great Director can take a lousy script and a bunch of poor actors and make a good movie.
Good Directors have something worthy to say.
Zemeckis, Ford, Huston, Wyler, … there are quite a few great directors … surprisingly … since there are so many bad movies.
Yes, it’s say isn’t it? For every 10 movies released only three are worth watching. I agree with you, jcalbera! Let me play devil’s advocate and suggest it’s the script that makes the film. A great script allows actors to shine and the director to look good. So glad you came by!
Some great directors listed. Recently saw the film Hitchcock–I would like to learn more about him. He seems a little creepy, but that shouldn’t be all that surprising.
I liked the film–Helen Mirren always does such a great job in every role. Anthony Hopkins was perfect. Creepy, yes! I saw ‘Spellbound’ recently and was mesmerized.
I know you posted this sometime ago, but I have to list my favorites. 1. My favorite director is Carol Reed. His film “The Third Man” has no equal. 2. Billy Wilder, 3. Alfred Hitchcock, 4. Orson Wells (I know predictable, but his many inovations made many other films possible. 5. Steven Soderberg, 6. Fritz Lang, 7. Darren Aronofsky, 8. Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 9. Errol Morris, 10. Stanley Kubrick 11. Nicholas Roeg 12. Nicholas Ray 13. Elia Kazan 14. Woody Allen 15. John Huston 16. Roman Polanski, 17. Spike Lee, 18. Quentin Tarantino, 19. The Huges Brothers, 20. John, Singleton, 21. Martin Scorsese 22. Werner Hertzog 23. Pedro Aldovar 24. J. Lee Thompson 25. Lars von Trier, 26. Charlie Chaplin, 27. Buster Keaton 28. Curtis Hanson 29. Peter Weir 30. Oscar Devereaux Micheaux, 31. Ridley Scott 32. David Lynch 34. Neil Jorden and finally 35. Jonathan Demme. I know I’ll hate myself when I remember others
The Third Man is a fantastic film — great taste! What’s there not to like about your list? All fine directors. I really love Julie Taymor–I wish she’d do another film soon. Frida and Across the Universe were brilliant.
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I’m not familiar with Julie Taymor. Is Frida about the painter? I have seen it, and liked it.
Yes, Frida the painter. I loved the colors and the cinematography. You should try ‘Across the Universe’. Great depiction of the turbulent sixties and fusing The Beatles history and if you like their music, you will like the modern renditions.
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I look forward to seeing it