January 2011

The great Fritz Lang never so much as sniffed at an Oscar.

So here is the explanation behind the asterisk.  Because it would be too long to fully qualify this list in the title.  Here is the real list: The Top 10 English-Language Directors Who Have Never Been Nominated for An Academy Award Nor Had Any of Their Films Ever Nominated for Best Picture.

So here’s how we get that list.  We take every director who’s ever got any award points, any director who has ever made a film to show up on the Top 1000, every director who’s ever made what I consider a **** film and any director that I give points to for their direction for a particular film (the starting point for my update of the Top 100 Directors of all-time).  That leaves us with a list that has approximately 700 names on it.  First, eliminate the 210 directors who have been nominated at some point for Best Director at the Academy Awards.  Then eliminate the 72 directors who have had one of their films nominated for Best Picture but not but nominated for Best Director.  So now we have a list that is a little over 400 long.

Now, the Academy is primarily an American organization and though it does occasionally nominate Foreign films for Best Director (or Picture), it is still not all that common.  So, we can start getting rid of the directors at the top of the list that it would be unreasonable to expect the Academy to ever nominate.  So we can say goodbye to Eisenstein, Buñuel, Yimou, Juenet, Tarkovsky or Leone (his films were primarily made in Italian even if they were dubbed into English).  We can also eliminate Griffith and Von Stroheim because their careers were pretty much done by the time the Academy came around. (more…)

That Oscar Cameron Crowe is holding? It wasn't for Best Director.

I have put off what was supposed to be an annual update of the Top 100 Directors of All-Time because I got sidetracked working on a ranking of all 210 directors who have been nominated for an Oscar over the years.  I had hoped to add Christopher Nolan to that list.  After all, on my initial list he was the highest ranked director without an Oscar nomination and Inception was easily going to be a Best Picture nominee.  Except, somehow, the Academy left him off their nomination list – the third time he has earned a DGA nomination but not an Oscar nomination, tying Rob Reiner for first place on that dubious distinction list.

So, since I’m a long way from finishing my ranking of the Oscar nominated directors, I thought I would throw up two lists.  The next one will be the best English language directors who have never been nominated for an Oscar or had one of their films nominated for Best Picture.  But this one is the Top 10 Directors of All-Time Who Have Never Been Nominated for An Oscar Even Though Their Film Was.

Because I am only including directors who have never been nominated, some of the more egregious director omissions in Academy history aren’t part of this list (like say Steven Spielberg for Jaws or John Huston for The Maltese Falcon or Ang Lee for Sense and Sensibility).  Those directors have all been nominated for Best Director by the Academy at some point and are among the 210 who will be ranked later.

There are 72 directors on this list – many of them from the early years when there were far more films nominated than directors (today the films outnumber the directors 10 to 5 but there were years where they outnumbered them 12 to 3).  In the last two years as many directors have been added to this list (8) as had been added from 1994 to 2008.

By the way, the antithesis to this list is Fellini.  He is the only person in Academy history to be nominated for Best Director more than once while never having a film nominated for Best Picture.  He is tied with Woody Allen for most Director nominations without Picture noms (4), ahead of Billy Wilder and Alfred Hitchcock (3 each).  Oddly enough, Otto Preminger was nominated twice when his film wasn’t and the only film he ever directed that was nominated didn’t earn him a nomination.

I have cut people off for the same reason that I have done on my all-time list – if they have directed fewer than 4 films, so no Joe Wright or Neill Blomkamp.  But here is my Top 10: (more…)

populism beats critical acclaim when Rocky triumphs at the Oscars in 1976

The 49th annual Academy Awards for the film year 1976.  The nominations were announced on February 10, 1977 and the awards were held on March 29, 1977.

Best Picture:  Rocky

  • All the President’s Men
  • Network
  • Taxi Driver
  • Bound for Glory

Most Surprising Omission:  Seven Beauties

Best Eligible Film Not Nominated:  The Outlaw Josey Wales

Rank (out of 82) Among Best Picture Years:  #13 (more…)

Christopher Nolan on the set of The Dark Knight

In my upcoming ranking of all the directors ever nominated for Best Director at the Academy Awards, I was going to be glad to move Christopher Nolan onto the list this year.  First of all, he had already made my top 25 of all-time (coming in at #22) and that was before Inception.  While nominated by the Directors Guild for Memento, he had failed to repeat that at the Oscars.  Then, in 2008, he, along with his brilliant The Dark Knight, got snubbed again at the Academy.  Today, he seemed like a very sure bet.  This time, he didn’t just have the DGA (like in 2001), or the DGA and the BFCA (like in 2008) – he had been nominated for the DGA, the BFCA, the Golden Globe and the BAFTA.  How significant is that?  He just became the third director ever to get all four of those nominations and fail to earn an Oscar nomination – joining Baz Luhrmann for Moulin Rogue and Marc Forster for Finding Neverland.  Even the list of DGA / BAFTA / Globe nominees with a snub is a list of notable Oscar failures – Steven Spielberg for Jaws, Ang Lee for Sense and Sensibility and Peter Jackson for Two Towers.

It’s true that once again he was nominated for his screenplay (like for Memento) and this time his film made the final list.  But again, it is the directors who seem to not be able to acknowledge his talent.  He joins Rob Reiner as the only three time nominee for the DGA to not have an Oscar nomination.


the men at the Post: Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford, Jason Robards, Jack Warden and Martin Balsam in All the President's Men (1976)

My Top 20:

  1. All the President’s Men
  2. Network
  3. Taxi Driver
  4. Solyaris
  5. The Outlaw Josey Wales
  6. Face to Face
  7. Carrie
  8. Seven Beauties
  9. The Front
  10. Voyage of the Damned
  11. Marathon Man
  12. Rocky
  13. Spirit of the Beehive
  14. Bound for Glory
  15. Cousin Cousine
  16. The Shootist
  17. Silver Streak
  18. The Last Tycoon
  19. Heart of Glass
  20. The Tenant (more…)

The Modern Library Giant dust jacket of Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot

The Idiot (Идиот)

  • Author:  Fyodor Dostoevsky  (1821  –  1881)
  • Rank:  #54
  • Published:  1869
  • Publisher:  Russkiy Vestnik
  • Pages:  597
  • First Line:  “At nine o’clock in the morning, towards the end of November, the Warsaw train was approaching Petersburg at full speed.”
  • Last Line:  ” ‘And all of this, all this life abroad, and this Europe of yours is all a fantasy, and all of us abroad are only a fantasy . . . remember my words, you’ll see it for yourself!’ she concluded almost wrathfully, as she parted from Yevgeny Pavlovitch.”
  • ML Version:  MLG #60  (1952)
  • Film:  1946  (dir. Georges Lampin), 1951  –  ***.5  (dir. Akira Kurosawa), 1958  (dir. Ivan Pyryev)
  • First Read:  Fall, 1997 (more…)

Jack Nicholson took home Best Actor. This is one of his quieter moments in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975).

The 48th annual Academy Awards, for the film year 1975.  The nominations were announced on February 17, 1976 and the awards were held on March 29, 1976.

Best Picture:  One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest

  • Jaws
  • Dog Day Afternoon
  • Barry Lyndon
  • Nashville

Most Surprising Omission:  Amarcord

Best Eligible Film Not Nominated:  Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Rank (out of 82) Among Best Picture Years:  #19


"You're gonna need a bigger boat."

My Top 20:

  1. Jaws
  2. Dog Day Afternoon
  3. One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest
  4. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  5. The Man Who Would Be King
  6. Korol Lir
  7. Amarcord
  8. Barry Lyndon
  9. The Sunshine Boys
  10. The Mystery of Kaspar Hauser
  11. Three Days of the Condor
  12. Shampoo
  13. Love and Death
  14. And Now My Love
  15. The French Connection II
  16. The Story of Adele H
  17. L’Invitation
  18. Day of the Locust
  19. The Great Waldo Pepper
  20. A Brief Vacation (more…)

Due to a conversation I had with some other mothers of special needs kids, I have started a second blog for our household. It’s unlikely many of our regular readers will be very interested in the new blog, but I thought I would mention it. Its purpose is to aggregate resources for special needs kids and their families in Massachusetts, specifically the Arlington area. If anyone is interested, it is at http://massresources.wordpress.com/.

the Bantam mass market of Darkness at Noon

Darkness at Noon (Sonnenfinsternis)

  • Author:  Arthur Koestler  (1905  –  1983)
  • Rank:  #55
  • Published:  1941
  • Publisher:  MacMillen
  • Pages:  216
  • First Line:  “The cell door slammed behind Rubashov.”
  • Last Lines:  “A wave slowly lifted him up.  It came from afar and travelled sedately on, a shrug of eternity.”
  • Acclaim:  #8  –  Modern Library Top 100 English Language Novels of the 20th Century
  • ML Edition:  #74  (1946)
  • Film:  television version in 1955
  • First Read:  February, 1994 (more…)

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