Academy Award for Best Director
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|Academy Award for Best Director|
|Awarded for||"Excellence in cinematic direction achievement"|
|Presented by||Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences|
|First awarded||1929 (for direction in films released during the 1927/1928 film season)|
|Currently held by||Ang Lee,
Life of Pi (2012)
The Academy Award for Best Directing (Best Director), usually known as the Best Director Oscar, is one of the Awards of Merit presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) to directors 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 85 years, AMPAS has presented a total of 86 Best Director awards to 65 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 1931 awards, this confusing system was replaced by the current system in which a director is nominated for a single film.
The Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Picture have been very closely linked throughout their history. Of the 85 films that have been awarded Best Picture, 62 have also been awarded Best Director. Only four films have won Best Picture without their directors being nominated: Wings (1927/28), Grand Hotel (1931/32), Driving Miss Daisy (1989), and Argo (2012). The only two Best Director winners to win for films which did not receive a Best Picture nomination are notably during the early years; Lewis Milestone for Two Arabian Knights (1927/28) and Frank Lloyd for The Divine Lady (1928/29).
Only four women have ever been nominated for Best Director: Lina Wertmüller for Seven Beauties (1976), Jane Campion for The Piano (1993), Sofia Coppola for Lost in Translation (2003), and Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker (2009). Bigelow was the first, and to date the only, female director to win the Academy Award for Best Director.
Due to strict rules declared by the Directors Guild of America (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 four 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 Ethan & Joel Coen (who won for No Country for Old Men in 2007 and were nominated again in 2010 for True Grit).
Multiple nominations 
The following 91 directors 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.
For the first six ceremonies, the eligibility period spanned two calendar years. For example, the 2nd Academy Awards presented on April 3, 1930, recognized films that were released between August 1, 1928 and July 31, 1929. Starting with the 7th Academy Awards, held in 1935, the period of eligibility became the full previous calendar year from January 1 to December 31.
In the first year only, the award was separated into Dramatic Direction and Comedy Direction.
|1927/28 (Dramatic)||Frank Borzage
– Seventh Heaven
|Herbert Brenon – Sorrell and Son
King Vidor – The Crowd
|1927/28 (Comedy)||Lewis Milestone
– Two Arabian Knights
|Ted Wilde – Speedy|
– The Divine Lady
|Lionel Barrymore – Madame X
Harry Beaumont – The Broadway Melody
Irving Cummings – In Old Arizona
Frank Lloyd - Drag and Weary River
Ernst Lubitsch – The Patriot
– All Quiet on the Western Front
|Clarence Brown – Anna Christie and Romance
Robert Z. Leonard – The Divorcée
Ernst Lubitsch – The Love Parade
King Vidor – Hallelujah
International presence 
As the Academy Awards are based in the United States and are centered on the Hollywood film industry, the majority of Academy Award winners have been Americans. Nonetheless, there is significant international presence at the awards, as evidenced by the following list of winners of the Academy Award for Best Director.
- Australia: Mel Gibson, Tom Hooper (Gibson, a U.S. citizen, moved with his family to Australia at the age of 12. Hooper, born in the U.K., is a dual citizen of Australia and the United Kingdom as his mother was born in Australia.)
- Austria: Billy Wilder, Fred Zinnemann (Both Wilder and Zinnemann moved to America in their twenties and became naturalized U.S. citizens.)
- Canada: James Cameron (Cameron was applying to become a U.S. citizen.)
- Czech Republic: Miloš Forman (naturalized U.S. citizen since 1977)
- France: Michel Hazanavicius
- Germany: William Wyler, Mike Nichols (after moving to America in 1921, Wyler became a naturalized U.S. citizen in his twenties. Wyler was born in Alsace which was part of the German Empire then, but now is part of France. Nichols' family moved from Germany when he was eight-years old to the United States, and he became a naturalized U.S. citizen five years later in 1944.)
- Italy: Bernardo Bertolucci
- New Zealand: Peter Jackson
- Poland: Roman Polanski (also French citizenship)
- Taiwan: Ang Lee (naturalized U.S. citizen who has lived in America since 1979.)
- United Kingdom: Richard Attenborough, Danny Boyle, David Lean, Sam Mendes, Anthony Minghella, Carol Reed, Tony Richardson, John Schlesinger, and Tom Hooper
However, no director has won for a film that is entirely in a foreign language.
There have been 21 directors nominated for films entirely or significantly in a foreign (non-English) language.
- Federico Fellini (nominated for 4 films, which were all in Italian)
- Ingmar Bergman (nominated for 3 films, which were all in Swedish)
- Pietro Germi (Italian)
- Hiroshi Teshigahara (Japanese)
- Claude Lelouch (French)
- Gillo Pontecorvo (Italian-born director nominated for The Battle of Algiers, which was in French and Arabic)
- Costa Gavras (Greek-born director nominated for French-language film Z.)
- Jan Troell (Swedish)
- François Truffaut (French)
- Lina Wertmuller (Italian)
- Edouard Molinaro (French)
- Wolfgang Petersen (German)
- Akira Kurosawa (Japanese)
- Lasse Hallström (Swedish. He was also nominated for the English-language film The Cider House Rules.)
- Krzysztof Kieslowski (Polish-born director nominated for French-language film Three Colours: Red)
- Michael Radford (an English-born director nominated for the Italian-language film Il Postino.)
- Roberto Benigni (Italian)
- Ang Lee (Taiwanese-born director nominated for the Mandarin-language film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. He would later win for the English-language films Brokeback Mountain and Life of Pi.)
- Pedro Almodóvar (Spanish)
- Fernando Meirelles (Brazilian Portuguese)
- Clint Eastwood (an American director nominated for the Japanese-language film Letters from Iwo Jima, which has a few brief scenes in English).
- Julian Schnabel (an American director nominated for the French-language film The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.)
- Michael Haneke (French)
Nominations for films primarily in English with some scenes (of a notable length) in another language include:
- Jules Dassin for Never on Sunday (Greek)
- Bernardo Bertolucci for Last Tango in Paris (French)
- Francis Coppola for The Godfather Part II (Italian) (Winner)
- Kevin Costner for Dances with Wolves (Lakota and Pawnee) (Winner)
- Steven Soderbergh for Traffic (Spanish) (Winner)
- Peter Jackson for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (fictional Elven) (winner)
- Alejandro González Iñárritu for Babel (Spanish, Arabic, French, Japanese, Japanese Sign Language, Berber)
- Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire (Hindi) (Winner)
- Quentin Tarantino for Inglourious Basterds (French, German and Italian)
- James Cameron for Avatar (fictional Na'vi language)
Several international nominees (regardless of the language used in their respective films) include:
- Australia: Bruce Beresford, Scott Hicks, Chris Noonan and Peter Weir
- Austria: Otto Preminger, Josef von Sternberg and Michael Haneke
- Brazil: Héctor Babenco, Fernando Meirelles
- Canada: Atom Egoyan, Arthur Hiller, Norman Jewison and Jason Reitman
- Cyprus: Michael Cacoyannis
- France: Michel Hazanavicius, Claude Lelouch, Louis Malle and François Truffaut
- Germany: William Dieterle, Ernst Lubitsch, Wolfgang Petersen
- Greece: Costa Gavras
- Ireland: Jim Sheridan and Neil Jordan
- Italy: Michelangelo Antonioni, Roberto Benigni, Federico Fellini, Pietro Germi, Gillo Pontecorvo, Lina Wertmüller, and Franco Zeffirelli
- Japan: Akira Kurosawa and Hiroshi Teshigahara
- Mexico: Alejandro González Iñárritu
- New Zealand: Jane Campion
- Poland: Krzysztof Kieślowski
- Spain: Pedro Almodóvar
- Sweden: Ingmar Bergman, Lasse Hallström and Jan Troell
- United Kingdom: John Boorman, Kenneth Branagh, Peter Cattaneo, Charles Crichton, Stephen Daldry, Stephen Frears, Paul Greengrass, Alfred Hitchcock, Hugh Hudson, Roland Joffé, Mike Leigh, Adrian Lyne, Laurence Olivier, Alan Parker and Ridley Scott
See also 
- List of Best Director winners by age
- List of directors with two or more Academy Awards for Best Director
- List of Big Five Academy Award winners and nominees
- List of superlative Academy Award winners and nominees
- Golden Globe Award for Best Director
- BAFTA Award for Best Direction
- Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing – Feature Film
- Oscars.org (official Academy site)
- Oscar.com (official ceremony promotional site)
- The Academy Awards Database (official site)