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Academy Award for Best Director
Awarded for "Achievement in cinematic direction"
Presented by Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Country United Statesmarker
First awarded 1929 (for direction in films released in 1927/1928)
First winner Frank Borzage,
Seventh Heaven (1927)
Currently held by Danny Boyle,
Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
Official website

The Academy Award for Achievement in Directing (Best Director) is one of the Awards of Merit presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) to director working in the motion picture industry. While nominations for Best Director are made by members in the Academy's Directing branch, the award winners are selected by the Academy membership as a whole.


Throughout the past 80 years, accounting for ties and repeat winners, AMPAS has presented a total of 81 Best Director awards to 61 different directors. At the 1st Academy Awards (1927/1928), there were two directing awards—one for "Dramatic Direction" and one for "Comedy Direction". The Comedy Direction award was eliminated the next year and, indeed, the awards have overwhelmingly favored dramatic films ever since. At both the 34th Academy Awards (1961) and the 80th Academy Awards (2007), Best Director was presented to a co-directing team, rather than to an individual director.

The earliest years of the award were marked by inconsistency and confusion. In the Academy Awards' first year, actors and others such as cinematographers were nominated for all of their films produced during the qualifying period. However, since the directing award was for "directing" rather than "best director", it honored the director in association with only a single film—thus Janet Gaynor has two Frank Borzage films listed after her Best Actress nomination, but only one of them earned Borzage a directing nomination. The second year, the directing award followed the others in listing all of a director's work during the qualifying period, resulting in Frank Lloyd being nominated for three of his films—but, even more confusingly, only one of them was listed on the final award as the film for which he won. Finally, for the 1930/31 awards, this confusing system was replaced by the current system in which a director is nominated for a single film.

Invariably, the Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Picture have been very closely linked throughout their history. Of the 80 films that have been awarded Best Picture, 59 have also been awarded Best Director.[9776] Only three films have won Best Picture without their directors being nominated (though only one since the early 1930s): Wings (1927/28), Grand Hotel (1931/32), and Driving Miss Daisy (1989). The only two Best Director winners to win for films which did not receive a Best Picture nomination are likewise in the early years: Lewis Milestone (1927/28) and Frank Lloyd (1928/29).

Due to strict rules promulgated by the Directors Guild of Americamarker (DGA), only one individual may claim screen credit as a film's director. (This rule is designed to prevent rights and ownership issues and to eliminate lobbying for director credit by producers and actors.) However, the DGA may create an exception to this "one director per film" rule if two co-directors seeking to share director credit for a film qualify as an "established duo". In the history of the Academy Awards, established duos have been nominated for Best Director only three times: Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins (who won for West Side Story in 1961); Warren Beatty and Buck Henry (who were nominated for Heaven Can Wait in 1978), and Joel Coen and Ethan Coen (who won for No Country for Old Men in 2007).

Eight people have been nominated for both Best Director and Best Actor for the same film. Warren Beatty did so twice (Heaven Can Wait and Reds), as did Clint Eastwood (Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby). The other six included: Orson Welles (Citizen Kane), Laurence Olivier (Hamlet), Woody Allen (Annie Hall), Kenneth Branagh (Henry V), Kevin Costner (Dances with Wolves), and Roberto Benigni (Life Is Beautiful). No one has ever won both awards. Four won Best Director, but not Best Actor: Allen, Beatty (for Reds), Costner, and Eastwood (on both occasions). Two won Best Actor, but not Best Director: Benigni and Olivier. Finally, three lost both nominations: Beatty (for Heaven Can Wait), Branagh, and Welles (though he did win a Screenplay Oscar for Citizen Kane).

No Best Director winning film is lost, though the nominee The Patriot is lost and nominee Sorrell and Son is incomplete. Drag (one of the films for which Frank Lloyd was nominated but did not win in 1929) has long been presumed lost, though there are rumors of its survival, possibly only on videotape, and the Vitaphone discs of its soundtrack survive. The Comedy Direction winner, Two Arabian Knights, was believed lost for many years but was preserved in the Howard Hughes archive and has been broadcast (along with another first-year nominee produced by Hughes and believed lost, The Racket) on Turner Classic Movies.


Category Name Superlative Year Notes
Most Awards John Ford 4 awards 1952 Awards resulted from 5 nominations.
Most Nominations William Wyler 12 nominations 1965 Nominations resulted in 3 awards.
Oldest Winner Clint Eastwood 74 years old 2004 Million Dollar Baby
Oldest Nominee John Huston 79 years old 1985 Prizzi's Honor
Youngest Winner Norman Taurog 32 years old 1930/31 Skippy
Youngest Nominee John Singleton 24 years old 1991 Boyz N the Hood

John Ford is the only director with four Best Director Oscars, followed by Frank Capra and William Wyler, with three apiece. Wyler has the most nominations, 12. Robert Altman, Clarence Brown, Alfred Hitchcock, and King Vidor are tied for the most nominations without a win, at five each.

Only two directors have received consecutive Best Director awards: John Ford for 1940's The Grapes of Wrath and 1941's How Green Was My Valley, and Joseph L. Mankiewicz for 1949's A Letter to Three Wives and 1950's All About Eve.

No woman has ever won best director, and only three have ever been nominated: Lina Wertmüller for 1976's Seven Beauties, Jane Campion for 1993's The Piano and Sofia Coppola for 2003's Lost in Translation.

Multiple nominations

The following 83 directors (counting Joel and Ethan Coen as one) have received multiple Best Director nominations. The list is sorted by the number of total awards (with the number of total nominations listed in parentheses).

Winners and nominees

Each Academy Award ceremony is listed chronologically below along with the winner of the Academy Award for Directing and the film associated with the award. In the column next to the winner of each award are the other nominees for best director. Following the Academy's practice, the films below are listed by the years of their Los Angeles qualifying run, which is usually (but not always) in the year of release; for example, the Oscar for Best Director of 1999 was announced during the award ceremony held in 2000.


In the first year only, the award was separated into Dramatic Direction and Comedy Direction.

Year Winner


Frank Borzage

 – Seventh Heaven
Herbert BrenonSorrell and Son

King VidorThe Crowd

Lewis Milestone

 – Two Arabian Knights
Charlie ChaplinThe Circus

Ted WildeSpeedy
1928/1929 Frank Lloyd

 – The Divine Lady
Lionel BarrymoreMadame X

Harry BeaumontThe Broadway Melody

Irving CummingsIn Old Arizona

Frank Lloyd - Drag

Ernst LubitschThe Patriot
1929/1930 Lewis Milestone

 – All Quiet on the Western Front
Clarence BrownAnna Christie and Romance

Robert Z. LeonardThe Divorcée

Ernst LubitschThe Love Parade

King VidorHallelujah


Year Winner

1930/1931 Norman Taurog

 – Skippy
Clarence BrownA Free Soul

Lewis MilestoneThe Front Page

Wesley RugglesCimarron

Josef von SternbergMorocco
1931/1932 Frank Borzage

 – Bad Girl
King VidorThe Champ

Josef von SternbergShanghai Express
1932/1933 Frank Lloyd

 – Cavalcade
Frank CapraLady for a Day

George CukorLittle Women(The Academy also announced that Capra came in second, and Cukor last.)
1934 Frank Capra

 – It Happened One Night
Victor SchertzingerOne Night of Love

W. S. Van DykeThe Thin Man(The Academy also announced that Van Dyke came in second, and Schertzinger last.)
1935 John Ford

 – The Informer
Henry HathawayThe Lives of a Bengal Lancer

Frank LloydMutiny on the Bounty (The Academy also announced that write-in candidate Michael Curtiz, for Captain Blood, came in second, and Hathaway third.)
1936 Frank Capra

 – Mr. Deeds Goes to Town
Gregory La CavaMy Man Godfrey

Robert Z. LeonardThe Great Ziegfeld

W. S. Van DykeSan Francisco

William WylerDodsworth
1937 Leo McCarey

 – The Awful Truth
William DieterleThe Life of Emile Zola

Sidney FranklinThe Good Earth

Gregory La CavaStage Door

William A. WellmanA Star Is Born
1938 Frank Capra

 – You Can't Take It with You
Michael CurtizAngels with Dirty Faces

Michael CurtizFour Daughters

Norman TaurogBoys Town

King VidorThe Citadel
1939 Victor Fleming

 – Gone with the Wind
Frank CapraMr. Smith Goes to Washington

John FordStagecoach

Sam WoodGoodbye, Mr. Chips

William WylerWuthering Heights


Year Winner

1940 John Ford

 – The Grapes of Wrath
George CukorThe Philadelphia Story

Alfred HitchcockRebecca

Sam WoodKitty Foyle

William WylerThe Letter
1941 John Ford

 – How Green Was My Valley
Alexander HallHere Comes Mr. Jordan

Howard HawksSergeant York

Orson WellesCitizen Kane

William WylerThe Little Foxes
1942 William Wyler

 – Mrs. Miniver
Michael CurtizYankee Doodle Dandy

John FarrowWake Island

Mervyn LeRoyRandom Harvest

Sam WoodKings Row
1943 Michael Curtiz

 – Casablanca
Clarence BrownThe Human Comedy

Henry KingThe Song of Bernadette

Ernst LubitschHeaven Can Wait

George StevensThe More the Merrier
1944 Leo McCarey

 – Going My Way
Alfred HitchcockLifeboat

Henry KingWilson

Otto PremingerLaura

Billy WilderDouble Indemnity
1945 Billy Wilder

 – The Lost Weekend
Clarence BrownNational Velvet

Alfred HitchcockSpellbound

Leo McCareyThe Bells of St. Mary's

Jean RenoirThe Southerner
1946 William Wyler

 – The Best Years of Our Lives
Clarence BrownThe Yearling

Frank CapraIt's a Wonderful Life

David LeanBrief Encounter

Robert SiodmakThe Killers
1947 Elia Kazan

 – Gentleman's Agreement
George CukorA Double Life

Edward DmytrykCrossfire

Henry KosterThe Bishop's Wife

David LeanGreat Expectations
1948 John Huston

 – The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Anatole LitvakThe Snake Pit

Jean NegulescoJohnny Belinda

Laurence OlivierHamlet

Fred ZinnemannThe Search
1949 Joseph L. Mankiewicz

 – A Letter to Three Wives
Carol ReedThe Fallen Idol

Robert RossenAll the King's Men

William A. WellmanBattleground

William WylerThe Heiress


Year Winner

1950 Joseph L. Mankiewicz

 – All About Eve
George CukorBorn Yesterday

John HustonThe Asphalt Jungle

Carol ReedThe Third Man

Billy WilderSunset Boulevard
1951 George Stevens

 – A Place in the Sun
John HustonThe African Queen

Elia KazanA Streetcar Named Desire

Vincente MinnelliAn American in Paris

William WylerDetective Story
1952 John Ford

 – The Quiet Man
Cecil B. DeMilleThe Greatest Show on Earth

John HustonMoulin Rouge

Joseph L. Mankiewicz5 Fingers

Fred ZinnemannHigh Noon
1953 Fred Zinnemann

 – From Here to Eternity
George StevensShane

Charles WaltersLili

Billy WilderStalag 17

William WylerRoman Holiday
1954 Elia Kazan

 – On the Waterfront
Alfred HitchcockRear Window

George SeatonThe Country Girl

William A. WellmanThe High and the Mighty

Billy WilderSabrina
1955 Delbert Mann

 – Marty
Elia KazanEast of Eden

David LeanSummertime

Joshua LoganPicnic

John SturgesBad Day at Black Rockmarker
1956 George Stevens

 – Giant
Michael AndersonAround the World in 80 Days

Walter LangThe King and I

King VidorWar and Peace

William WylerFriendly Persuasion
1957 David Lean

 – The Bridge on the River Kwaimarker
Joshua LoganSayonara

Sidney Lumet12 Angry Men

Mark RobsonPeyton Place

Billy WilderWitness for the Prosecution
1958 Vincente Minnelli

 – Gigi
Richard BrooksCat on a Hot Tin Roof

Stanley KramerThe Defiant Ones

Mark RobsonThe Inn of the Sixth Happiness

Robert WiseI Want to Live!
1959 William Wyler

 – Ben-Hur
Jack ClaytonRoom at the Top

George StevensThe Diary of Anne Frank

Billy WilderSome Like It Hot

Fred ZinnemannThe Nun's Story


Year Winner

1960 Billy Wilder

 – The Apartment
Jack CardiffSons and Lovers

Jules DassinNever on Sunday

Alfred HitchcockPsycho

Fred ZinnemannThe Sundowners
1961 Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins

 – West Side Story
Federico FelliniLa Dolce Vita

Stanley KramerJudgment at Nuremberg

Robert RossenThe Hustler

J. Lee ThompsonThe Guns of Navarone
1962 David Lean

 – Lawrence of Arabia
Pietro GermiDivorce, Italian Style

Robert MulliganTo Kill a Mockingbird

Arthur PennThe Miracle Worker

Frank PerryDavid and Lisa
1963 Tony Richardson

 – Tom Jones
Federico Fellini

Elia KazanAmerica, America

Otto PremingerThe Cardinal

Martin RittHud
1964 George Cukor

 – My Fair Lady
Michael CacoyannisZorba the Greek

Peter GlenvilleBecket

Stanley KubrickDr. Strangelove

Robert StevensonMary Poppins
1965 Robert Wise

 – The Sound of Music
David LeanDoctor Zhivago

John SchlesingerDarling

Hiroshi TeshigaharaWoman in the Dunes

William WylerThe Collector
1966 Fred Zinnemann

 – A Man for All Seasons
Michelangelo AntonioniBlowup

Richard BrooksThe Professionals

Claude LelouchA Man and a Woman

Mike NicholsWho's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
1967 Mike Nichols

 – The Graduate
Richard BrooksIn Cold Blood

Norman JewisonIn the Heat of the Night

Stanley KramerGuess Who's Coming to Dinner

Arthur PennBonnie and Clyde
1968 Carol Reed

 – Oliver!
Anthony HarveyThe Lion in Winter

Stanley Kubrick2001: A Space Odyssey

Gillo PontecorvoThe Battle of Algiers

Franco ZeffirelliRomeo and Juliet
1969 John Schlesinger

 – Midnight Cowboy
Costa GavrasZ

George Roy HillButch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Arthur PennAlice's Restaurant

Sydney PollackThey Shoot Horses, Don't They?


Year Winner

1970 Franklin J. Schaffner

 – Patton
Robert AltmanMASH

Federico FelliniSatyricon

Arthur HillerLove Story

Ken RussellWomen in Love
1971 William Friedkin

 – The French Connection
Peter BogdanovichThe Last Picture Show

Norman JewisonFiddler on the Roof

Stanley KubrickA Clockwork Orange

John SchlesingerSunday Bloody Sunday
1972 Bob Fosse

 – Cabaret
John BoormanDeliverance

Francis Ford CoppolaThe Godfather

Joseph L. MankiewiczSleuth

Jan TroellThe Emigrants
1973 George Roy Hill

 – The Sting
William FriedkinThe Exorcist

Bernardo BertolucciLast Tango in Paris

Ingmar BergmanCries and Whispers

George LucasAmerican Graffiti
1974 Francis Ford Coppola

 – The Godfather Part II
John CassavetesA Woman Under the Influence

Bob FosseLenny

Roman PolanskiChinatown

François TruffautDay for Night
1975 Miloš Forman

 – One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Robert AltmanNashville

Federico FelliniAmarcord

Stanley KubrickBarry Lyndon

Sidney LumetDog Day Afternoon
1976 John G. Avildsen

 – Rocky
Ingmar BergmanFace to Face

Sidney LumetNetwork

Alan J. PakulaAll the President's Men

Lina WertmüllerSeven Beauties
1977 Woody Allen

 – Annie Hall
George LucasStar Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

Herbert RossThe Turning Point

Steven SpielbergClose Encounters of the Third Kind

Fred ZinnemannJulia
1978 Michael Cimino

 – The Deer Hunter
Woody AllenInteriors

Hal AshbyComing Home

Warren Beatty & Buck HenryHeaven Can Wait

Alan ParkerMidnight Express
1979 Robert Benton

 – Kramer vs. Kramer
Francis Ford CoppolaApocalypse Now

Bob FosseAll That Jazz

Édouard MolinaroLa Cage aux Folles

Peter YatesBreaking Away


Year Winner

1980 Robert Redford

 – Ordinary People
David LynchThe Elephant Man

Roman PolanskiTess

Richard RushThe Stunt Man

Martin ScorseseRaging Bull
1981 Warren Beatty

 – Reds
Hugh HudsonChariots of Fire

Louis MalleAtlantic City

Mark RydellOn Golden Pond

Steven SpielbergRaiders of the Lost Ark
1982 Richard Attenborough

 – Gandhi
Sidney LumetThe Verdict

Wolfgang PetersenDas Boot

Sydney PollackTootsie

Steven SpielbergE.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
1983 James L. Brooks

 – Terms of Endearment
Bruce BeresfordTender Mercies

Ingmar BergmanFanny and Alexander

Mike NicholsSilkwood

Peter YatesThe Dresser
1984 Miloš Forman

 – Amadeus
Woody AllenBroadway Danny Rose

Robert BentonPlaces in the Heart

Roland JofféThe Killing Fields

David LeanA Passage to India
1985 Sydney Pollack

 – Out of Africa
Héctor BabencoKiss of the Spider Woman

John HustonPrizzi's Honor

Akira KurosawaRan

Peter WeirWitness
1986 Oliver Stone

 – Platoon
Woody AllenHannah and Her Sisters

James IvoryA Room with a View

Roland JofféThe Mission

David LynchBlue Velvet
1987 Bernardo Bertolucci

 – The Last Emperor
John BoormanHope and Glory

Lasse HallströmMy Life as a Dog

Norman JewisonMoonstruck

Adrian LyneFatal Attraction
1988 Barry Levinson

 – Rain Man
Charles CrichtonA Fish Called Wanda

Mike NicholsWorking Girl

Alan ParkerMississippi Burning

Martin ScorseseThe Last Temptation of Christ
1989 Oliver Stone

 – Born on the Fourth of July
Woody AllenCrimes and Misdemeanors

Kenneth BranaghHenry V

Jim SheridanMy Left Foot

Peter WeirDead Poets Society


Year Winner

1990 Kevin Costner

 – Dances with Wolves
Francis Ford CoppolaThe Godfather Part III

Stephen FrearsThe Grifters

Barbet SchroederReversal of Fortune

Martin ScorseseGoodfellas
1991 Jonathan Demme

 – The Silence of the Lambs
Barry LevinsonBugsy

Ridley ScottThelma & Louise

John SingletonBoyz n the Hood

Oliver StoneJFK
1992 Clint Eastwood

 – Unforgiven
Robert AltmanThe Player

Martin BrestScent of a Woman

James IvoryHowards End

Neil JordanThe Crying Game
1993 Steven Spielberg

 – Schindler's List
Robert AltmanShort Cuts

Jane CampionThe Piano

James IvoryThe Remains of the Day

Jim SheridanIn the Name of the Father
1994 Robert Zemeckis

 – Forrest Gump
Woody AllenBullets Over Broadway

Krzysztof KieślowskiThree Colours: Red

Robert RedfordQuiz Show

Quentin TarantinoPulp Fiction
1995 Mel Gibson

 – Braveheart
Mike FiggisLeaving Las Vegas

Chris NoonanBabe

Michael RadfordIl Postino

Tim RobbinsDead Man Walking
1996 Anthony Minghella

 – The English Patient
Joel CoenFargo

Miloš FormanThe People vs. Larry Flynt

Scott HicksShine

Mike LeighSecrets & Lies
1997 James Cameron

 – Titanic
Peter CattaneoThe Full Monty

Atom EgoyanThe Sweet Hereafter

Curtis HansonL.A. Confidential

Gus Van SantGood Will Hunting
1998 Steven Spielberg

 – Saving Private Ryan
Roberto BenigniLife Is Beautiful

John MaddenShakespeare in Love

Terrence MalickThe Thin Red Line

Peter WeirThe Truman Show
1999 Sam Mendes

 – American Beauty
Lasse HallströmThe Cider House Rules

Spike JonzeBeing John Malkovich

Michael MannThe Insider

M. Night ShyamalanThe Sixth Sense


Year Winner

2000 Steven Soderbergh

 – Traffic
Stephen DaldryBilly Elliot

Ang LeeCrouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Ridley ScottGladiator

Steven SoderberghErin Brockovich
2001 Ron Howard

 – A Beautiful Mind
Robert AltmanGosford Park

Peter JacksonThe Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

David LynchMulholland Drive

Ridley ScottBlack Hawk Down
2002 Roman Polanski

 – The Pianist
Pedro AlmodóvarTalk to Her

Stephen DaldryThe Hours

Rob MarshallChicago

Martin ScorseseGangs of New York
2003 Peter Jackson

 – The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Sofia CoppolaLost in Translation

Clint EastwoodMystic River

Fernando MeirellesCity of God

Peter WeirMaster and Commander: The Far Side of the World
2004 Clint Eastwood

 – Million Dollar Baby
Taylor HackfordRay

Mike LeighVera Drake

Alexander PayneSideways

Martin ScorseseThe Aviator
2005 Ang Lee

 – Brokeback Mountain
George ClooneyGood Night, and Good Luck.

Paul HaggisCrash

Bennett MillerCapote

Steven SpielbergMunich
2006 Martin Scorsese

 – The Departed
Clint EastwoodLetters from Iwo Jima

Stephen FrearsThe Queen

Alejandro González IñárrituBabel

Paul GreengrassUnited 93
2007 Joel & Ethan Coen

 – No Country for Old Men
Paul Thomas AndersonThere Will Be Blood

Tony GilroyMichael Clayton

Jason ReitmanJuno

Julian SchnabelThe Diving Bell and the Butterfly

2008 Danny Boyle

 – Slumdog Millionaire
Stephen DaldryThe Reader

David FincherThe Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Ron HowardFrost/Nixon

Gus Van SantMilk

International presence

As the Academy Awards are based in the United Statesmarker and are centered on the Hollywood film industry, the majority of Academy Award winners have been Americanmarker. Nonetheless, there is significant international presence at the awards, as evidenced by the following list of winners of the Academy Award for Best Director.

Several international nominees:

See also

External links


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