Francis Ford Coppola with his three Oscars from The Godfather Part II (1974)

Francis Ford Coppola with his three Oscars from The Godfather Part II (1974)

Best Director: The Film School Kids

Of course, I could point people to Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, the pre-eminent book about this era, but there is the caveat: he is known for twisting things around as can be seen here. Still, it is fascinating, if nothing else.

This was the era where the kids from film school made their mark on Hollywood and film history, though the two most prominent of them (Spielberg and Scorsese) would wait quite a while for their actual Oscars. In fact, oddly enough for two people whose films bear their mark, both Spielberg and Scorsese got their first Best Picture nominations in the mid-70’s (Jaws in 75 and Taxi Driver in 76) and both of them were passed over for Best Director nominations for foreign directors (Spielberg for Fellini, Scorsese for Bergman).

But these men were making their mark everywhere else. William Friedkin won Best Director in 71, Coppola in 74. They both took box-office to new heights, followed by Spielberg (without a nomination) and Lucas (with a nomination). And Spielberg got his nomination for Close Encounters without a Best Picture nomination.

1977 saw the first nomination (and only win) for Woody Allen. His 6 nominations in my lifetime are only matched by Spielberg and Scorsese.

But more importantly, 1976 saw the first female ever nominated for Best Director (Lina Wertmuller for Seven Beauties). In the 30+ years since only two three other females have matched that accomplishment (Jane Campion in 93, Sofia Coppola in 03 and Kathryn Bigelow this year).

In the 80’s, Oliver Stone in writer-director mode, followed in Coppola’s footsteps, in that they both won Screenplay Oscars (Coppola for Patton, Stone for Midnight Express) before they won Best Director. The early 80’s also saw another trend I will talk about tomorrow: actors turned directors who win Best Director. And then 1989 saw the only film to win Best Picture since 1932 without a Best Director nomination (Driving Miss Daisy).

The other interesting note is that in the 70’s, Coppola and Bob Fosse faced off against each other three times. Fosse won the first time (though Coppola won Best Picture), Coppola won the second time, and they both lost the third time. There were no more re-matches, as Fosse only made one more film before he died.  They are the only directors to face off against each other more than twice since 1960.

They will both, by the way, appear in the 100 Greatest Directors of Alltime countdown that will begin a few days after the Oscars next week.  (Coppola ended up at #24 and Fosse at #53.)

Grades (70-89 only): Winners: B+ / Nominations: B+ / Seen: 100%

Honor Roll: Blue Velvet

Shame Roll: Fellini Satyricon

(blue won Best Picture, red was nominated for Best Picture and purple received just the one nomination)

1970 AA: Franklin J. Schaffner for Patton

  • Robert Altman for M*A*S*H
  • Arthur Hiller for Love Story
  • Federico Fellini for Fellini Satyricon
  • Ken Russell for Women in Love

me: Robert Altman for M*A*S*H

  • Franklin J. Schaffner for Patton
  • Ken Russell for Women in Love
  • Luis Bunuel for The Milky Way
  • Francois Truffaut for Mississippi Mermaid

1971 AA: William Freidkin for The French Connection

  • Peter Bogdanovich for The Last Picture Show
  • Norman Jewison for Fiddler on the Roof
  • Stanley Kubrick for A Clockwork Orange
  • John Schlesinger for Sunday, Bloody Sunday

me: Stanley Kubrick for A Clockwork Orange

  • William Freidkin for The French Connection
  • Robert Altman for McCabe and Mrs. Miller
  • Peter Bogdanovich for The Last Picture Show
  • John Schlesinger for Sunday, Bloody Sunday

1972 AA: Bob Fosse for Cabaret

  • Francis Ford Coppola for The Godfather
  • John Boorman for Deliverance
  • Jan Troell for The Emigrants
  • Joseph L. Mankiewicz for Sleuth

me: Francis Ford Coppola for The Godfather

  • Bob Fosse for Cabaret
  • John Boorman for Deliverance
  • Joseph L. Mankiewicz for Sleuth
  • Luis Bunuel for The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie

note:  This is the only year since 1932 when the directors split from Best Picture and I actually thought the directors made the poorer choice.  Not that it was a bad choice.  But we’re talking about The Godfather, after all.

1973 AA: George Roy Hill for The Sting

  • Ingmar Bergman for Cries and Whispers
  • William Freidkin for The Exorcist
  • George Lucas for American Graffiti
  • Bernardo Bertolucci for Last Tango in Paris

me: Ingmar Bergman for Cries and Whispers

  • Martin Scorsese for Mean Streets
  • William Freidkin for The Exorcist
  • Bernardo Bertolucci for Last Tango in Paris
  • Sidney Lumet for Serpico

note:  This seemed like the best chance for a foreign director to win and it still didn’t happen. The Sting was a comedy and rather lightweight.  Friedkin had just won two years before.  Too bad.  They never gave Bergman the Oscar he so richly deserved so many times.

1974 AA: Francis Ford Coppola for The Godfather Part II

  • Bob Fosse for Lenny
  • Roman Polanski for Chinatown
  • John Cassavetes for A Woman Under the Influence
  • Francois Truffaut for Day for Night

me: Roman Polanski for Chinatown

  • Francis Ford Coppola for The Godfather Part II (also for The Conversation)
  • Terence Malick for Badlands
  • Francois Truffaut for Day for Night
  • Ingmar Bergman for Scenes from a Marriage

1975 AA: Milos Forman for One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest

  • Robert Altman for Nashville
  • Stanley Kubrick for Barry Lyndon
  • Sidney Lumet for Dog Day Afternoon
  • Federico Fellini for Amarcord

me: Steven Spielberg for Jaws

  • Sidney Lumet for Dog Day Afternoon
  • Stanley Kubrick for Barry Lyndon
  • John Huston for The Man Who Would Be King
  • Milos Forman for One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest

1976 AA: John G. Avildsen for Rocky

  • Sidney Lumet for Network
  • Alan J. Pakula for All the President’s Men
  • Ingmar Bergman for Face to Face
  • Lina Wertmuller for Seven Beauties

me: Martin Scorsese for Taxi Driver

  • Alan J. Pakula for All the President’s Men
  • Sidney Lumet for Network
  • Clint Eastwood for The Outlaw Josey Wales
  • Brian De Palma for Carrie

note:  Skipping Spielberg was strange enough.  But skipping Scorsese?  Mind-boggling.

1977 AA: Woody Allen for Annie Hall

  • George Lucas for Star Wars
  • Herbert Ross for The Turning Point
  • Fred Zinnemann for Julia
  • Steven Spielberg for Close Encounters of the Third Kind

me: George Lucas for Star Wars

  • Werner Herzog for Aguirre – The Wrath of God
  • Steven Spielberg for Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  • Woody Allen for Annie Hall
  • Luis Bunuel for That Obscure Object of Desire

1978 AA: Michael Cimino for The Deer Hunter

  • Hal Ashby for Coming Home
  • Warren Beatty and Buck Henry for Heaven Can Wait
  • Alan Parker for Midnight Express
  • Woody Allen for Interiors

me: Michael Cimino for The Deer Hunter

  • Alan Parker for Midnight Express
  • Ingmar Bergman for Autumn Sonata
  • Woody Allen for Interiors
  • Warren Beatty and Buck Henry for Heaven Can Wait

1979 AA: Robert Benton for Kramer vs. Kramer

  • Francis Coppola for Apocalypse Now
  • Bob Fosse for All That Jazz
  • Peter Yates for Breaking Away
  • Edouard Molinaro for La Cage Aux Folles

me: Francis Coppola for Apocalypse Now

  • Ridley Scott for Alien
  • Peter Weir for Picnic at Hanging Rock
  • Woody Allen for Manhattan
  • Bob Fosse for All That Jazz

1980 AA: Robert Redford for Ordinary People

  • Martin Scorsese for Raging Bull
  • David Lynch for The Elephant Man
  • Roman Polanski for Tess
  • Richard Rush for The Stunt Man

me: Martin Scorsese for Raging Bull

  • David Lynch for The Elephant Man
  • Akira Kurosawa for Kagemusha
  • Bruce Beresford for Breaker Morant
  • Stanley Kubrick for The Shining

note:  How many Academy members do you think would take their vote back if they could?

1981 AA: Warren Beatty for Reds

  • Hugh Hudson for Chariots of Fire
  • Louis Malle for Atlantic City
  • Mark Rydell for On Golden Pond
  • Steven Spielberg for Raiders of the Lost Ark

me: Steven Spielberg for Raiders of the Lost Ark

  • Peter Weir for Gallipoli
  • Warren Beatty for Reds
  • John Boorman for Excalibur
  • Louis Malle for Atlantic City

1982 AA: Richard Attenborough for Gandhi

  • Sidney Lumet for The Verdict
  • Sydney Pollack for Tootsie
  • Steven Spielberg for E.T.
  • Wolfgang Peterson for Das Boot

me: Wolfgang Peterson for Das Boot

  • Alan J. Pakula for Sophie’s Choice
  • Sidney Lumet for The Verdict
  • Steven Spielberg for E.T.
  • Werner Herzog for Fitzcarraldo

note:  Three straight years of actors turned directors winning the Oscar.  And it probably cost Scorsese and Spielberg Oscars.

1983 AA: James L. Brooks for Terms of Endearment

  • Bruce Beresford for Tender Mercies
  • Peter Yates for The Dresser
  • Ingmar Bergman for Fanny & Alexander
  • Mike Nichols for Silkwood

me: Ingmar Bergman for Fanny & Alexander

  • James L. Brooks for Terms of Endearment
  • Philip Kaufman for The Right Stuff
  • Lawrence Kasdan for The Big Chill
  • Woody Allen for Zelig

1984 AA: Milos Forman for Amadeus

  • David Lean for A Passage to India
  • Robert Benton for Places in the Heart
  • Roland Joffe for The Killing Fields
  • Woody Allen for Broadway Danny Rose

me: Milos Forman for Amadeus

  • David Lean for A Passage to India
  • Roland Joffe for The Killing Fields
  • Francis Coppola for The Cotton Club
  • Sergio Leone for Once Upon a Time in America

note:  If I could, I would declare a tie between Forman and Lean.

1985 AA: Sydney Pollack for Out of Africa

  • Hector Babenco for Kiss of the Spider Woman
  • John Huston for Prizzi’s Honor
  • Peter Weir for Witness
  • Akira Kurosawa for Ran

me: Akira Kurosawa for Ran

  • Joel Coen for Blood Simple
  • Terry Gilliam for Brazil
  • Hector Babenco for Kiss of the Spider Woman
  • Woody Allen for The Purple Rose of Cairo

1986 AA: Oliver Stone for Platoon

  • Woody Allen for Hannah and Her Sisters
  • James Ivory for A Room with a View
  • Roland Joffe for The Mission
  • David Lynch for Blue Velvet

me: Oliver Stone for Platoon

  • David Lynch for Blue Velvet
  • Woody Allen for Hannah and Her Sisters
  • Neil Jordan for Mona Lisa
  • James Ivory for A Room with a View

1987 AA: Bernardo Bertolucci for The Last Emperor

  • John Boorman for Hope and Glory
  • Norman Jewison for Moonstruck
  • Adrian Lyne for Fatal Attraction
  • Lasse Hallstrom for My Life as a Dog

me: Steven Spielberg for Empire of the Sun

  • Bernardo Bertolucci for The Last Emperor
  • Stanley Kubrick for Full Metal Jacket
  • John Boorman for Hope and Glory
  • Louis Malle for Au Revoir, Les Enfants

1988 AA: Barry Levinson for Rain Man

  • Mike Nichols for Working Girl
  • Alan Parker for Mississippi Burning
  • Charles Crichton for A Fish Called Wanda
  • Martin Scorsese for The Last Temptation of Christ

me: Robert Zemeckis for Who Framed Roger Rabbit

  • Stephen Frears for Dangerous Liaisons
  • Alan Parker for Mississippi Burning
  • Philip Kaufman for The Unbearable Lightness of Being
  • Charles Crichton for A Fish Called Wanda

1989 AA: Oliver Stone for Born on the Fourth of July

  • Jim Sheridan for My Left Foot
  • Peter Weir for Dead Poets Society
  • Woody Allen for Crimes and Misdemeanors
  • Kenneth Branagh for Henry V

me: Ed Zwick for Glory

  • Oliver Stone for Born on the Fourth of July
  • Kenneth Branagh for Henry V
  • Phil Alden Robinson for Field of Dreams
  • Woody Allen for Crimes and Misdemeanors

Honorary Mentions:

  • 1973: George Lucas for American Graffiti
  • 1979: Hal Ashby for Being There
  • 1980: Roman Polanski for Tess
  • 1987: Rob Reiner for The Princess Bride
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