David Lean directing Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

David Lean directing Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Best Director: Rise of the Foreign Films and Writers-Directors

Billy Wilder was, hands down, king of the writer-directors. With 2 Oscars and 6 other nominations, there is no one else who is even close. Oddly enough, Wilder was nominated 5 times in the 50’s, but both his Oscars came outside that decade (in 45 and 60).This was the era where craftsmen who had come up during the studio era, but who didn’t necessarily write their films came to fruition, with David Lean, Fred Zinnemann and George Stevens all winning 2 Oscars each (though Stevens didn’t win Best Picture for either of his).

All of the aforementioned directors will be in my year long countdown of the 100 Greatest Directors of Alltime, starting a few days after the Oscars.  (For the record, Wilder was #9, Lean #7, Zinnemann #46 and Stevens #99).

And though foreign directors had been nominated before (like Wilder or Jean Renoir), they were for English language films. The first film in a foreign language to be nominated for Best Director was Never on Sunday (Jules Dassin) in 1960, followed quickly the next year by the first of Federico Fellini’s 4 nominations. The rest of the 60’s were full of foreign directors, many of whom were also writers (Pietro Germi, Hiroshi Teshigahara, Claude Lelouch and Gillo Pontecorvo) before Z became the first foreign film nominated for Best Picture and Director (Costa-Gavras) in 1969. Sadly it took until 1973 and 1985 to finally see nominations for Bergman and Kurosawa.

In 1958 we also finally saw, for the first time in 28 years, a film nominated only for Best Director (Inn of the Sixth-Happiness), something that would continue to happen every 8 years or so on average since (the only since 1930 to manage two Best Director nominations without any other nominations is David Lynch who did it with Blue Velvet and Mulholland Drive).

The 60’s also marked the decline of a dominating director at the Oscars for a decade. Capra had dominated the 30’s, Wyler the 40’s and Billy Wilder, George Stevens (2 wins and 2 other nominations) and Wyler (4 nominations, 1 win) the 50’s. But since then no director has ever managed to get more than 3 nominations in a single decade (and the only ones to do that were Arthur Penn in the 60’s, Coppola and Bob Fosse in the 70’s, Woody Allen in the 80’s, and Scorsese, Eastwood and Stephen Daldry this decade) and the only people to win 2 Oscars in a single decade are Robert Wise (the 60’s), Oliver Stone (the 80’s) and Steven Spielberg (the 90’s).

Grades (50-69 only): Winners: B / Nominees: B / Seen: 100%

(as ever, blue won Best Picture, red was nominated for Best Picture and purple received no other nominations)

1950 AA: Joseph L. Mankiewicz for All About Eve

  • Billy Wilder for Sunset Boulevard
  • George Cukor for Born Yesterday
  • John Huston for The Asphalt Jungle
  • Carol Reed for The Third Man

me: Billy Wilder for Sunset Boulevard

  • Carol Reed for The Third Man
  • Joseph L. Mankiewicz for All About Eve
  • Jules Dassin for Night and the City
  • John Huston for The Asphalt Jungle

note:  With back to back nominations for The Fallen Idol and The Third Man, Carol Reed becomes the first director to earn back to back Oscar nominations without Best Picture nominations for either film.

1951 AA: George Stevens for A Place in the Sun

  • Vincente Minnelli for An American in Paris
  • Elia Kazan for A Streetcar Named Desire
  • John Huston for The African Queen
  • William Wyler for Detective Story

me: Elia Kazan for A Streetcar Named Desire

  • Alfred Hitchcock for Strangers on a Train
  • John Huston for The African Queen
  • William Wyler for Detective Story
  • David Lean for Oliver Twist

note:  We have here three nominees who already had Oscars (Kazan, Huston, Wyler), one who wins (Stevens) and one who would later win (Minnelli).

1952 AA: John Ford for The Quiet Man

  • Cecil B. DeMille for The Greatest Show on Earth
  • John Huston for Moulin Rouge
  • Fred Zinnemann for High Noon
  • Joseph L. Mankiewicz for Five Fingers

me: Akira Kurosawa for Rashomon

  • Fred Zinnemann for High Noon
  • Vincente Minnelli for The Bad and the Beautiful
  • Gene Kelly and Stanley Donan for Singin’ in the Rain
  • John Ford for The Quiet Man

1953 AA: Fred Zinnemann for From Here to Eternity

  • George Stevens for Shane
  • William Wyler for Roman Holiday
  • Charles Walters for Lili
  • Billy Wilder for Stalag 17

me: Fred Zinnemann for From Here to Eternity

  • Billy Wilder for Stalag 17
  • Fritz Lang for The Big Heat
  • Samuel Fuller for Pickup on South Street
  • Otto Preminger for The Moon is Blue

1954 AA: Elia Kazan for On the Waterfront

  • George Seaton for The Country Girl
  • Alfred Hitchcock for Rear Window
  • William Wellman for The High and the Mighty
  • Billy Wilder for Sabrina

me: Elia Kazan for On the Waterfront

  • Alfred Hitchcock for Rear Window
  • Teinosuke Kinugasa for Gate of Hell
  • Rene Clement for Forbidden Games
  • Billy Wilder for Sabrina

1955 AA: Delbert Mann for Marty

  • Joshua Logan for Picnic
  • Elia Kazan for East of Eden
  • David Lean for Summertime
  • John Sturges for Bad Day at Black Rock

me: Alfred Hitchcock for To Catch a Thief

  • John Sturges for Bad Day at Black Rock
  • Nicholas Ray for Rebel Without a Cause
  • Hiroshi Inagaki for Samurai I: Miyamato Musashi
  • Otto Preminger for The Man with the Golden Arm

1956 AA: George Stevens for Giant

  • Michael Anderson for Around the World in 80 Days
  • Walter Lang for The King and I
  • William Wyler for Friendly Persuasion
  • King Vidor for War and Peace

me: Akira Kurosawa for The Seven Samurai

  • John Ford for The Searchers
  • Stanley Kubrick for The Killing
  • Henri-Georgeous Clouzot for Diabolique
  • Laurence Olivier for Richard III

1957 AA: David Lean for The Bridge on the River Kwai

  • Joshua Logan for Sayonara
  • Sidney Lumet for 12 Angry Men
  • Mark Robson for Peyton Place
  • Billy Wilder for Witness for the Prosecution

me: David Lean for The Bridge on the River Kwai

  • Stanley Kubrick for Paths of Glory
  • Ingmar Bergman for Smiles of a Summer Night
  • Alexander MacKendrick for Sweet Smell of Success
  • Sidney Lumet for 12 Angry Men

1958 AA: Vincente Minnelli for Gigi

  • Richard Brooks for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
  • Stanley Kramer for The Defiant Ones
  • Mark Robson for The Inn of the Sixth Happiness
  • Robert Wise for I Want to Live!

me: Ingmar Bergman for The Seventh Seal

  • Orson Welles for Touch of Evil
  • Richard Brooks for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
  • Alfred Hitchcock for Vertigo
  • Juan Antonio Bardem for Death of a Cyclist

1959 AA: William Wyler for Ben-Hur

  • Jack Clayton for Room at the Top
  • George Stevens for The Diary of Anne Frank
  • Fred Zinnemann for The Nun’s Story
  • Billy Wilder for Some Like It Hot

me: Ingmar Bergman for Wild Strawberries

  • Billy Wilder for Some Like It Hot
  • Alfred Hitchcock for North by Northwest
  • Francois Truffaut for The 400 Blows
  • George Stevens for The Diary of Anne Frank

note:  This year has four of the same nominees as 1953.  The difference is Jack Clayton instead of Charles Walters.

1960 AA: Billy Wilder for The Apartment

  • Jack Cardiff for Sons and Lovers
  • Fred Zinnemann for The Sundowners
  • Jules Dassin for Never on Sunday
  • Alfred Hitchcock for Psycho

me: Ingmar Bergman for The Virgin Spring

  • Stanley Kubrick for Spartacus
  • Billy Wilder for The Apartment
  • Alfred Hitchcock for Psycho
  • Akira Kurosawa for Ikiru

1961 AA: Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins for West Side Story

  • Stanley Kramer for Judgment at Nuremberg
  • Robert Rossen for The Hustler
  • J. Lee Thompson for The Guns of Navarone
  • Federico Fellini for La Dolce Vita

me: Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins for West Side Story

  • Akira Kurosawa for Throne of Blood (also for Yojimbo and The Hidden Fortress)
  • Federico Fellini for La Dolce Vita
  • Louis Malle for Elevator to the Gallows
  • Robert Rossen for The Hustler

1962 AA: David Lean for Lawrence of Arabia

  • Robert Mulligan for To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Pietro Germi for Divorce – Italian Style
  • Arthur Penn for The Miracle Worker
  • Frank Perry for David and Lisa

me: David Lean for Lawrence of Arabia

  • Robert Mulligan for To Kill a Mockingbird
  • John Frankenheimer for The Manchurian Candidate
  • John Ford for The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
  • Sam Peckinpah for Ride the High Country

1963 AA: Tony Richardson for Tom Jones

  • Elia Kazan for America, America
  • Federico Fellini for 8 1/2
  • Otto Preminger for The Cardinal
  • Martin Ritt for Hud

me: Akira Kurosawa for Stray Dog (also for High and Low)

  • John Sturges for The Great Escape
  • Andrei Tarkovsky for Ivan’s Childhood
  • Ingmar Bergman for Winter Light
  • Roman Polanski for Knife in the Water

1964 AA: George Cukor for My Fair Lady

  • Michael Cacoyannis for Zorba the Greek
  • Peter Glenville for Becket
  • Stanley Kubrick for Dr. Strangelove
  • Robert Stevenson for Mary Poppins

me: Stanley Kubrick for Dr. Strangelove

  • Masaki Kobayashi for Harakiri
  • George Cukor for My Fair Lady
  • Robert Stevenson for Mary Poppins
  • John Huston for Night of the Iguana

1965 AA: Robert Wise for The Sound of Music

  • David Lean for Doctor Zhivago
  • John Schlesinger for Darling
  • Hiroshi Teshigahara for Woman in the Dunes
  • William Wyler for The Collector

me: David Lean for Doctor Zhivago

  • Roman Polanski for Repulsion
  • Sidney Lumet for The Pawnbroker
  • William Wyler for The Collector
  • John Schlesinger for Darling

1966 AA: Fred Zinnemann for A Man for All Seasons

  • Mike Nichols for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
  • Michelangelo Antonioni for Blow-Up
  • Richard Brooks for The Professionals
  • Claude Lelouch for A Man and a Woman

me: Mike Nichols for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

  • Richard Brooks for The Professionals
  • Fred Zinnemann for A Man for All Seasons
  • Grigori Kozintsev for Hamlet
  • Roman Polanski for Cul-de-Sac

1967 AA: Mike Nichols for The Graduate

  • Norman Jewison for In the Heat of the Night
  • Stanley Kramer for Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?
  • Arthur Penn for Bonnie and Clyde
  • Richard Brooks for In Cold Blood

me: Arthur Penn for Bonnie and Clyde

  • Orson Welles for Chimes at Midnight
  • Mike Nichols for The Graduate
  • Ingmar Bergman for Persona
  • Richard Brooks for In Cold Blood

1968 AA: Carol Reed for Oliver!

  • Anthony Harvey for The Lion in Winter
  • Franco Zeffirelli for Romeo and Juliet
  • Stanley Kubrick for 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Gillo Pontecorvo for The Battle of Algiers

me: Stanley Kubrick for 2001: A Space Odyssey

  • Roman Polanski for Rosemary’s Baby
  • Anthony Harvey for The Lion in Winter
  • Sergio Leone for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
  • Luis Bunuel for Belle de Jour

1969 AA: John Schlesinger for Midnight Cowboy

  • Costa-Gavras for Z
  • George Roy Hill for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
  • Arthur Penn for Alice’s Restaraunt
  • Sydney Pollack for They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?

me: Sam Peckinpah for The Wild Bunch

  • Sergio Leone for Once Upon a Time in the West
  • George Roy Hill for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
  • Costa-Gavras for Z
  • Richard Attenborough for Oh, What a Lovely War

Honorary Mentions:

  • 1960: Mikhail Kalatazov for The Cranes are Flying
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