10 Directors Who've Never Won An Oscar
Each year at the Academy Awards it's those appearing in front of the lens that take most of the limelight, but behind every great film there's usually a great director, some of whom have become almost as famous in their own right as the actors who star in their movies.
The likes of Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese are household names these days and each of them has at least one Oscar for Best Director to their names, but there are a great many more who don't. Some of them have narrowly missed out, some have seen their work take the Best Picture award while seeing the Oscar for direction handed to somebody else, while others have been snubbed by the Academy entirely.
To be clear, we're talking specifically about the award for Best Director (or Best Achievement in Direction, as it is otherwise known), and you may be surprised at some of the names below who have never won the award...
Surely one of the most important directors in history, Stanley Kubrick received no fewer than four Best Director nominations (Dr. Strangelove, A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon and 2001: A Space Odyssey) plus a whole lot more in other categories, but incredibly the only Oscar win for any of his films, in any category, was for 2001's special effects. Conspiracy theorists will tell you that he was just too anti-establishment for the Academy, but the fact is that each time he lost, he did so to films that would later become regarded as all-time classics – namely One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, My Fair Lady, The French Connection and Oliver! Sometimes, at the Oscars, timing is everything.
Possibly the most surprising inclusion on this list, Alfred Hitchcock is one of the first names many people would conjure up if asked to name the most iconic film director of all time, but despite creating some bona fide classics like Psycho, Vertigo and Rear Window and receiving a total of five nominations for the Best Director award, he lost on all five occasions. Perhaps in a different era it might have been a might have been a different story, but in Hitchcock's heyday suspense thrillers rarely performed well at the Oscars, so you have to wonder if his unofficial title of 'master of suspense' was more of a hinderance than a help....
Early in David Fincher's career, the director earned a crust behind the lens on music videos for the likes of Madonna (including the iconic video for the singer's 1990 hit 'Vogue'), but since then he's directed some brilliant films including Fight Club, Se7en, The Game, Zodiac and Gone Girl. His only two nominations in the Best Director category came in 2009 (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) and in 2011 (The Social Network), losing out to Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) and Tom Hooper (The King's Speech) respectively.
Christopher Nolan is perhaps best-known to comic-book fans as the man behind the newly rebooted Batman films, but since the Academy has never really taken the superhero genre seriously it's no surprise to learn that none of these were nominated for an Oscar, as great as they are. He does however have two nominations to his name, one for his breakthrough picture Memento, the other for Inception, but neither of these were in the Best Director category.
With films like Twelve Monkeys, The Fisher King and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas to his name, Terry Gilliam is another director who seems to have been cruelly overlooked by the Academy, with the former Monty Python animator having received only one nomination at all throughout his career. That came in 1986 in recognition of the screenplay for the excellent Brazil, which merges the nightmarish dystopian visions of George Orwell's 1984 and the tragicomic satire of Joseph Heller's Catch-22, but remains his only recognition at the Oscars.
Undoubtedly one of the most unique filmmakers of the last half a century, David Lynch has been nominated on three occasions in the Best Director category without winning, the most recent of these in 2002 for Mulholland Drive. His other nominations were received for his work on The Elephant Man, losing our to Robert Redford's Ordinary People, and Blue Velvet, where he was beaten by Oliver Stone for his work on Platoon.
Nominated for the Best Director award no fewer than four times, Sidney Lumet is something of a filmmaker's filmmaker and one of the most revered names in Hollywood. His nominations came in recognition for his work on Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico, Network and The Verdict, but he lost out each time. Lumet was however handed an honorary award in 2004.
Leone pretty much single-handedly pioneered the 'spaghetti western' genre and made some genuine all-time classics in films like A Fistful of Dollars and Once Upon a Time in America, but the latter of these was the only film which earned him so much as a nomination, losing out in 1985 to Milos Foreman for his work on Mozart biopic Amadeus. He died four years later without a golden statuette to his name, but his work has inspired countless filmmakers and his influence far exceeds the recognition he received from the Academy.
Although Tarantino is possibly one of the most well-known directors of the last 20 years, he's still never won the Best Director Oscar. He has however won the award for Best Screenplay on two occasions, once for Pulp Fiction in 1995, then again for Django Unchained in 2013. He's been nominated for the award twice though, losing out to Robert Zemeckis in 1995 (Forrest Gump) and Katheryn Bigelow in 2010 (The Hurt Locker).
Aronofsky's filmography includes some underrated classics, particularly his debut feature Pi and his adaptation of Hubert Selby Jr.'s Requiem for a Dream, but the only Oscar nomination he has to his name, in any category, came in 2010 for Black Swan. His biblical epic Noah felt like a conscious effort to appeal to the Academy's tastes, but they were having none of it. Still, he's relatively young and has bags of talent, so we'd imagine Aronofsky's time will come.
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