Robert Altman on the set of Prairie Home Companion with his "standby director", Paul Thomas Anderson, who agreed to that role for insurance reasons.  In between is some actress.

Robert Altman (#33) on the set of Prairie Home Companion with his “standby director”, Paul Thomas Anderson (#28), who agreed to that role for insurance reasons. In between is some actress.

This is the penultimate ranked list of those directors who have been nominated for Best Director by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.  This is part 8 of the series, with one part still left to go.  As always, you can find the previous seven posts in this series by going here.  There is also an introduction here, which explains the scope of the project as well as my scoring system.  I have been focusing on finishing this series this year, both so that I go do the bi-annual update of the Top 100 Directors of All-Time and because I want to do it before another Oscar season and some more directors potentially end up needing to be ranked.

In a reversal of the last group, these are the more experienced directors.  With the exception of four Studio Era workhorses, the 25 directors in the last post had only averaged 7.76 films.  This time, we have seven directors (Lucas, Olivier, Coppola, Fosse, Malick, Mendes, Anderson) who have only directed a combined 39 films – an average of 5.57 (I’ve seen all but two of those – the two now out or about to be in theaters).  The other 18 directors have averaged 19.83 films – or if you cut out Lynch, Branagh and Leigh, you have 15 directors who have made 325 films (21.67 each), of which I have seen 308.  I have also seen 95.2% of these films – only missing more than one film by Renoir (4) and Capra (9).  And the only film I’m missing from both Truffaut and Malle are on TCM in the next month.  And this just about caps it for the less experienced directors.  The only director in the last post with fewer than 10 films to his credit is Tarantino.

The other demarcation point between this group and the final group is the number of great (****) films they have directed.  Of the final 25, only one has directed fewer than 5 great films – Francis Ford Coppola, at #25, and he’s got four.  Only four others have directed just five – Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles (both of whom have smaller amounts of total films), Clint Eastwood and Elia Kazan.  But how many directors have directed more than five great films and aren’t in the top 25?  Just five – all of whom are here: Stephen Frears (which is how he ranks this high), Steven Soderbergh, Pedro Almodóvar, Frank Capra and Francois Truffaut.  They all have six great films.  All sixteen directors who directed more than six great films are in the final group. (more…)

Martin Scorsese directing Robert De Niro on the set of Raging Bull (1980)

My Top 20:

  1. Raging Bull
  2. Breaker Morant
  3. The Elephant Man
  4. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
  5. Ordinary People
  6. The Shining
  7. Kagemusha
  8. Tess
  9. Stardust Memories
  10. Airplane!
  11. The Stunt Man
  12. My Brilliant Career
  13. Melvin and Howard
  14. The Last Metro
  15. No Regrets for Our Youth
  16. Return of the Secaucus Seven
  17. Mon Oncle D’Amerique
  18. Vengeance is Mine
  19. The Master and Margaret
  20. Christ Stopped at Eboli (more…)

"I know it was you." The tragic revelatory scene in The Godfather Part II.

The 47th annual Academy Awards for the film year 1974.  The nominations were announced on February 24, 1975 and the awards were held on April 8, 1975.

Best Picture:  The Godfather Part II

  • Chinatown
  • The Conversation
  • Lenny
  • The Towering Inferno

Most Surprising Omission:  Day for Night

Best Eligible Film Not Nominated:  Day for Night

Best Eligible English-Language Film Not Nominated:  Badlands

Rank (out of 82) Among Best Picture Years:  #16

Rank Note:  If they had nominated Day for Night instead of The Towering Inferno, it would rank #1 (more…)

Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway in Chinatown - the best film of 1974, or almost any year

My Top 20:

  1. Chinatown
  2. The Godfather Part II
  3. Day for Night
  4. The Conversation
  5. Scenes from a Marriage
  6. Badlands
  7. Young Frankenstein
  8. Blazing Saddles
  9. Don’t Look Now
  10. The Parallax View
  11. Lenny
  12. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia
  13. Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
  14. Ali: Fear Eats the Soul
  15. Murder on the Orient Express
  16. The Phantom of Liberty
  17. Sanshiro Sugata
  18. Thieves Like Us
  19. The Front Page
  20. The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (more…)

The luminous Bibi Andersson is remembered by the aging Victor Sjostrom in Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries (1957, U.S. release 1959)

My Top 10:

  1. Wild Strawberries
  2. Some Like It Hot
  3. North by Northwest
  4. The 400 Blows
  5. Anatomy of a Murder
  6. The Diary of Anne Frank
  7. Sleeping Beauty
  8. Ben-Hur
  9. The Magician
  10. Ivan the Terrible Part II (more…)

Francois Truffaut

Francois Truffaut in his Oscar winning (Best Foreign Film) 1973 film Day for Night (La Nuit Americane)

Francois Truffaut in his Oscar winning (Best Foreign Film) 1973 film Day for Night (La Nuit Americaine)

  • Born: 1932
  • Died: 1984
  • Rank: 31
  • Score: 632.45
  • Awards: Oscar (Foreign Film) / BAFTA / NYFC / 2 NSFC / NBR
  • Nominations: Oscar / BAFTA
  • Feature Films: 22
  • Best: Day for Night
  • Worst: The Man Who Loved Women

Top 5 Feature Films:

  1. Day for Night - 1973
  2. The 400 Blows – 1959
  3. Jules and Jim – 1962
  4. Shoot the Piano Player – 1960
  5. Stolen Kisses – 1968

Top 10 Best Director Finishes (Nighthawk Awards):

  • 1959 – 5th – The 400 Blows
  • 1960 – 9th – Shoot the Piano Player
  • 1962 – 8th – Jules and Jim
  • 1969 – 7th – Stolen Kisses
  • 1970 – 5th – Mississippi Mermaid
  • 1974 – 5th – Day for Night
  • 1979 – 9th – Love on the Run


Almost Famous (2000)

Almost Famous (2000)

With the recent change in the Academy Awards, upping the number of Best Picture nominees from 5 to 10, it calls for a look at Academy history. The first thing to remember is that the number of nominees fluctuated in the early years. It started with 3 (plus 3 for Best Production), then went up to 5 the next year, changed to 8 in 1931-32, went up to 10 the next year, up to 12 the year after that, stayed 12 in 1935, then went back down to 10 where it stayed until 1943. In 1944, it went back down to 5 and has stayed like that ever since.

Of course, the number of Best Director nominees will be staying at 5, so there will be guesses as to what “the real 5 are,” but for now, we are back to 10.

So what about the years between? If it had been 10 this whole time, what would the other nominees have been? I have taken my best stab at this for all the years in between and I tried to keep it as objective as possible. So, I set a few rules. (more…)

one of the earliest and most deserving Academy Award winners for Best Foreign Film

Rashomon (1951): one of the earliest and most deserving Academy Award winners for Best Foreign Film

The Academy has a long history of flirting with the foreign film industry. As early as 1932, the Academy was nominating foreign films in technical categories (A Nous La Liberte, nominated for Art Direction). In 1938, Grand Illusion became the first non English language film to be nominated for Best Picture. With the intervening war and the presence of foreign films greatly reduced, there wasn’t a need to do anything more, but after the war, with the resurgence of a world cinema, the Academy had to do something more than just nominating films for their scripts (in 1946, both Children of Paradise and Open City), so in 1948, the Academy started giving a special award to one foreign film. This was just a placeholder until 1956, when the category of Best Foreign Film was finally established as a competitive award. (more…)

Max Von Sydow and Bibi Andersson in Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal (1957).

Max Von Sydow and Bibi Andersson in Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal (1957).

In 1957, Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster introduced the Best Actor nominees with a song called “It’s Great Not to Be Nominated.” And if you look at this list, you might agree, because this is a great list of films and none of them received even a single Academy Award nomination. They all were completely shut out.

To show how much the Academy got it wrong I list each film, complete with the year it was eligible, and then list all the awards I would have nominated them for (I put the category in bold if I would have given them the Oscar). I played fair to the Academy and only list categories that existed in the respective year to each film. I also only include films that I have been able to verify were eligible (either through official lists, or counting on the research of Inside Oscar). And I give them the nominations I thought they deserved that year – which is why some films lower on the list I nominate for Best Picture, and others that are higher are not — some years are tougher than others.

2010 Update:  (1 Feb)  I am going to type everything I update in green, which for this is not much, but will be hopefully quite a bit with all the History of the Academy Awards series starting tomorrow.  For most of the last year, I have tried to see more of the Oscar nominees that I haven’t seen, so there aren’t very many truly great films I’ve seen that I hadn’t seen before and weren’t nominated for any Oscars, but there are three that I want to mention.  I’m not revising the list, just adding these three as an addendum.  This is also a dry run to see how well it works to re-post things at the top.  So, click on through.


Ingmar Bergman directing Fanny and Alexander, one of his 16 films on the list.

Ingmar Bergman directing Fanny and Alexander, one of his 16 films on the list.

One more genre after this and that’s Drama.  This list is outside the scope of AFI’s lists, of course, because these are Foreign Language Films.  This is the list in fact I said I would do months and months ago.

Since it takes forever to do the links (that’s why the last few lists have taken so long), I’ve just linked the directors, and only on their highest-ranking film.  I’ll eventually do the 100 Best Directors list, but it won’t be until after the Academy Awards because from the nominations to the awards I’ll be doing a daily post on each Oscar category. (more…)


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