Kathryn Bigelow was the first female director to win the Oscar, though she is not the highest ranked female director on the list. We’ll see what happens after Zero Dark Thirty.
Now here be the fourth group of those directors designated as “Academy Award nominees,” by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. These are the ones who rank between #150 and #126. And again, the points system is all explained here.
We’re starting to pick up a group of directors that I would classify as “Studio Era Directors Who Were Over-rated by the Academy”. We have your Clarence Brown (6 Oscar noms), your Gregory La Cava (2 Oscar noms), your Henry King (2 Oscar noms) and your Sam Wood (3 Oscar noms). Those four directors combine for 13 Oscar nominations but they combine for only one Nighthawk nomination.
We also might have on this list the first example of “a director who is so low that people will claim this discredits my entire list because this particular director is revered by a certain portion of serious films fans.” No, it’s not Godard (thank god), because he was never nominated for an Oscar. But I’ll let you figure out who this one is (let the hyperbolic griping begin!).
Another reminder, like before. The Sarris quotes (and categories) come from The American Cinema, which was published in 1968, so it has no directors after that. The Thomson quotes come from the 2002 edition of The New Biographical Dictionary of Film, unless I specifically mention the 5th edition, which was published in 2010.
And again we have an example of the flexibility of these lists. When I originally started this post, John Madden was at #143. But, as I was about to publish it, I realized that I had The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel from Netflix and hadn’t watched it yet. And because Madden has 1 – not directed a lot of films, 2 – had several films that were complete duds, and 3 – made a very good film, he jumps up 9 spots with just one film. That does indeed happen. And for the picture on the right, I went with Kathryn Bigelow. If I take out The Hurt Locker, she (well she wouldn’t make the list because she wouldn’t be an Oscar nominee) would rank down at #207. But that one film, partially because it is great, partially because she won the Oscar, partially because she had only made 7 films before it, raised her 108 points to #135. But here I am ranking her when Zero Dark Thirty is about to come out. What could that do? If Zero Dark Thirty is on a par with The Hurt Locker (but without the Oscar win), it could in theory raise her another 87 points and she would come in at #97. But I can’t really wait until I get a chance to see it before I do this more detailed post. But, that’s what the end list is for, to add in all of these changes when all is said and done. And of course, as people continue to make films, they continue to fluctuate. And I can keep writing these posts until I die.
One last little trivia question, prompted by a rhetorical question that I ask down below. What do the following films have in common: Lost Horizon, The Wizard of Oz, The Little Foxes, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Double Indemnity, Henry V, Father of the Bride, The Russians are Coming The Russians are Coming, The Conversation, Tootsie, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Mystic River and The Aviator have in common? And what do Mrs. Miniver and The Bridge in the River Kwai have in common along the same theme? Answer at the end. (more…)