Academy Award for Best Director

The Academy Award for Best Director (officially known as the Academy Award of Merit for Directing) is an award presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). It is given in honor of a film director who has exhibited outstanding directing while working in the film industry.

The 1st Academy Awards ceremony was held in 1929 with the award being split into "Dramatic" and "Comedy" categories; Frank Borzage and Lewis Milestone won for 7th Heaven and Two Arabian Knights, respectively. However, these categories were merged for all subsequent ceremonies. Nominees are determined by single transferable vote within the directors branch of AMPAS; winners are selected by a plurality vote from the entire eligible voting members of the Academy.

For the first eleven years of the Academy Awards, directors were allowed to be nominated for multiple films in the same year. However, after the nomination of Michael Curtiz for two films, Angels with Dirty Faces and Four Daughters, at the 11th Academy Awards, the rules were revised so that an individual could only be nominated for one film at each ceremony. That rule has since been amended, although the only director who has received multiple nominations in the same year was Steven Soderbergh for Erin Brockovich and Traffic in 2000, winning the award for the latter. The Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Picture have been very closely linked throughout their history. Of the 91 films that have been awarded Best Picture, 65 have also been awarded Best Director.

Since its inception, the award has been given to 71 directors or directing teams. John Ford has received the most awards in this category with four. William Wyler was nominated on twelve occasions, more than any other individual. Damien Chazelle became the youngest director in history to receive this award, at the age of 32 for his work on La La Land. John Singleton became the youngest director to be nominated for this award, at age 24 for his work on Boyz n the Hood. Two directing teams have shared the award; Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins for West Side Story in 1961 and Joel and Ethan Coen for No Country for Old Men in 2007. The Coen brothers are the only siblings to have won the award. Kathryn Bigelow is the only woman to have won the award, for 2009's The Hurt Locker. As of the 2020 ceremony, Bong Joon-ho is the most recent winner in this category for his work on Parasite.

Winners and nominees

In the following table, the years are listed as per Academy convention, and generally correspond to the year of film release in Los Angeles County, California; the ceremonies are always held the following year. For the first five ceremonies, the eligibility period spanned twelve months from August 1 to July 31. For the 6th ceremony held in 1934, the eligibility period lasted from August 1, 1932, to December 31, 1933. Since the 7th ceremony held in 1935, the period of eligibility became the full previous calendar year from January 1 to December 31.

Black-and-white photo of Frank Borzage, 1920.
Frank Borzage won in the "Dramatic" category at the first ceremony and later received a second award for Bad Girl.
Black-and-white publicity photo of Lewis Milestone.
Lewis Milestone won in the "Comedy" category at the first ceremony and later received a second award for All Quiet on the Western Front.
Black-and-white photo of Frank Lloyd.
Frank Lloyd won two awards in this category for The Divine Lady and Cavalcade.
Black-and-white photograph of John Ford smoking a pipe.
John Ford has the most Best Director wins with four, winning in 1935, 1940, 1941, and 1952.
Black-and-white photograph of William Wyler.
William Wyler has the most nominations with twelve, winning in 1942, 1946, and 1959.
Black-and-white photo of Michael Curtiz.
Michael Curtiz won for directing Casablanca.
Black-and-white photograph of Gloria Swanson and Billy Wilder while filming Sunset Boulevard.
Billy Wilder (right) was nominated eight times, winning twice.
File of Elia Kazan as a younger adult.
Elia Kazan won in 1947 for Gentleman's Agreement and again in 1954 for On the Waterfront.
Publicity photo of John Huston in the 1974 film Chinatown.
John Huston received the award in 1948 for The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.
George Stevens holding his Oscar for Giant.
George Stevens won twice, five years apart, for A Place in the Sun and Giant.
David Lean in Finland while filming Doctor Zhivago.
David Lean won for The Bridge on the River Kwai and Lawrence of Arabia and was nominated for five other films.
Robert Wise in 1990.
Robert Wise earned two awards in this category, co-winning for West Side Story and winning for The Sound of Music.
Publicity still photo of Jerome Robbins
Jerome Robbins won once in this category, co-winning for West Side Story.
George Cukor in 1946.
George Cukor won in 1964 for My Fair Lady.
Photo of Mike Nichols in the 1970s.
Mike Nichols won for 1967's The Graduate.
Miloš Forman at the 44th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.
Miloš Forman won for both 1975's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and 1984's Amadeus.
Woody Allen in 2006.
Woody Allen received seven nominations in the category, winning only once (for Annie Hall).
Warren Beatty in a publicity photo for Shampoo in 1975.
Warren Beatty won in 1981 for directing Reds.
Richard Attenborough in 1975.
Richard Attenborough won in 1982 for his epic biopic, Gandhi.
Oliver Stone at the San Diego Comic-Con in 2016.
Oliver Stone earned two awards in this category in the 1980s—one for Platoon (1986), and the other for Born on the Fourth of July (1989).
Kevin Costner attending the Toronto International Film Festival in 2014.
Kevin Costner earned the award in 1990 for directing Dances with Wolves.
Jonathan Demme at the 2015 Montclair Film Festival.
Jonathan Demme won for his direction of The Silence of the Lambs (1991).
Clint Eastwood at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival.
Clint Eastwood won in 1992 for Unforgiven and became the oldest director to win in the category with Million Dollar Baby in 2004.
Sam Mendes at the premiere of the musical of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Sam Mendes won in 1999 for his directorial debut—American Beauty.
Roman Polanski at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.
Roman Polanski won in 2002 for his direction of The Pianist.
Ang Lee at the 66th Venice Film Festival.
Ang Lee has won twice in this category—in 2005 for Brokeback Mountain and in 2012 for Life of Pi.
Martin Scorsese at 60th Berlin International Film Festival in 2010.
Martin Scorsese has received nine nominations for Best Director, but has only won for The Departed in 2006.
Kathryn Bigelow at the 82nd Academy Awards
Kathryn Bigelow is the first and only woman to date to win the award. She won for The Hurt Locker in 2009.
Michel Hazanavicius at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival
Michel Hazanavicius became the first French director to win the award for his work on The Artist.
Alfonso Cuarón in 2013.
In 2013, Alfonso Cuarón became the first Mexican director to win this award for his work on Gravity, before winning again in 2018 for Roma.
Alejandro González Iñárritu in 2017 at the Cannes Film Festival.
Alejandro G. Iñárritu won this award two years in a row becoming the third director to achieve this, and the first since 1950, for directing Birdman (2014) and The Revenant (2015).
Damien Chazelle promoting Whiplash at the Deauville American Film Festival in France, September 2014
Damien Chazelle became the youngest winner of the category after winning this award for La La Land (2016).
Guillermo del Toro in October 2017.
Guillermo del Toro won this award for directing The Shape of Water (2017).

Multiple wins and nominations

The following individuals have won multiple Best Director awards:

The following directors have received four or more Best Director nominations (* indicates no wins):

Age superlatives

Diversity of nominees/winners

Asian nominees/winners

Five Asian directors (one Asian-American) have been nominated a total of seven times in this category, and two individuals have won the award (with Ang Lee winning twice).

Black nominees

Six black directors have been nominated a total of six times in this category, and none have won the award.

Latin American nominees/winners

Five Latin American directors have been nominated a total of eight times in this category, and three have won the award five times.

Oceanic nominees/winners

Seven Oceanic directors have been nominated a total of eleven times in this category, and one has won the award.

Female nominees/winners

Five female directors have been nominated in the category, and one has won the award.

Non-English language nominees/winners

Twenty-six directors of non-English language films have been nominated a total of thirty-one times in this category, and two have won the award.

bold — Indicates winner
§ — Directorial debut
† — Film nominated for Best Picture
�� — Film won for Best Picture

See also


External links

Uses material from the Wikipedia article "Academy Award for Best Director", released under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license.