Oscars 2011 Breakdown: Best Picture & Best Director

Just like last year, this is just a breakdown of the individual categories. We start from the top and work our way down.

Best Picture, is, of course, the one category from the Oscars most people know about. It’s pretty self-explanatory. The only qualifications that need to be made are with the pre-1934 years, which were the Academy was figuring itself out and getting its legs under itself. And that even continued, to an extent, until 1939. Not really until Gone With the Wind was everything set in stone. So, in a way, Best Picture is reflective of the state of the industry, since it really wasn’t until 1939 (thereabouts) where the industry really figured out how to do things and made it into a science.

I guess the thing to do now would be to list all the Best Picture winners. The great thing about this is how almost everyone has the exact same reactions to the same years.

Year Best Picture Winner Other Nominees


The Racket

Seventh Heaven

1928-1929 The Broadway Melody


The Hollywood Revue of 1929 

In Old Arizona 

The Patriot

1929-1930 All Quiet on the Western Front

The Big House


The Divorcee

The Love Parade

1930-1931 Cimarron East Lynne

The Front Page


Trader Horn


Grand Hotel


Bad Girl

The Champ

Five Star Final

One Hour with You

Shanghai Express

The Smiling Lieutenant



A Farewell to Arms

42nd Street

I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang

Lady for a Day

Little Women

The Private Life of Henry VIII

She Done Him Wrong

Smilin’ Through

State Fair


It Happened One Night The Barretts of Wimpole Street


Flirtation Walk

The Gay Divorcee

Here Comes the Navy

The House of Rothschild

Imitation of Life

One Night of Love

The Thin Man

Viva Villa!

The White Parade

1935 Mutiny on the Bounty Alice Adams 

Broadway Melody of 1936

Captain Blood

David Copperfield

The Informer

The Lives of a Bengal Lancer

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Les Misérables

Naughty Marietta

Ruggles of Red Gap

1936 The Great Ziegfeld Anthony Adverse 


Libeled Lady

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town

Romeo and Juliet

San Francisco

The Story of Louis Pasteur

A Tale of Two Cities

Three Smart Girls

1937 The Life of Emile Zola The Awful Truth 

Captains Courageous

Dead End

The Good Earth

In Old Chicago

Lost Horizon

One Hundred Men and a Girl

Stage Door

A Star is Born

1938 You Can’t Take It with You The Adventures of Robin Hood 

Alexander’s Ragtime Band

Boys Town

The Citadel

Four Daughters

Grand Illusion



Test Pilot

1939 Gone With the Wind Dark Victory 

Goodbye Mr. Chips

Love Affair

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington


Of Mice and Men


The Wizard of Oz

Wuthering Heights


Rebecca All This, and Heaven Too 

Foreign Correspondent

The Grapes of Wrath

The Great Dictator

Kitty Foyle

The Letter

The Long Voyage Home

Our Town

The Philadelphia Story

1941 How Green Was My Valley Blossoms in the Dust 

Citizen Kane

Here Comes Mr. Jordan

Hold Back the Dawn

The Little Foxes

The Maltese Falcon

One Foot in Heaven

Sergeant York


1942 Mrs. Miniver 49th Parallel 

Kings Row

The Magnificent Ambersons

The Pied Piper

The Pride of the Yankees

Random Harvest

The Talk of the Town

Wake Island

Yankee Doodle Dandy

1943 Casablanca For Whom the Bell Tolls 

Heaven Can Wait

The Human Comedy

In Which We Serve

Madame Curie

The More the Merrier

The Ox-Bow Incident

The Song of Bernadette

Watch on the Rhine

1944 Going My Way

Double Indemnity


Since You Went Away


1945 The Lost Weekend Anchors Aweigh 

The Bells of St. Mary’s

Mildred Pierce


1946 The Best Years of Our Lives Henry V

 It’s a Wonderful Life

The Razor’s Edge

The Yearling

1947 Gentleman’s Agreement The Bishop’s Wife 


Great Expectations

Miracle on 34th Street

1948 Hamlet Johnny Belinda 

The Red Shoes

The Snake Pit

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

1949 All the King’s Men Battleground 

The Heiress

A Letter to Three Wives

Twelve O’Clock High

1950 All About Eve

Born Yesterday

Father of the Bride

King Solomon’s Mines

Sunset Boulevard

1951 An American in Paris

Decision Before Dawn

A Place in the Sun

Quo Vadis

A Streetcar Named Desire


The Greatest Show on Earth

High Noon


Moulin Rouge

The Quiet Man

1953 From Here to Eternity

Julius Caesar

The Robe

Roman Holiday


1954 On the Waterfront The Caine Mutiny

The Country Girl

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Three Coins in the Fountain



Love is a Many-Splendored Thing

Mister Roberts


The Rose Tattoo

1956 Around the World in 80 Days Friendly Persuasion


The King and I

The Ten Commandments

1957 The Bridge on the River Kwai Peyton Place


12 Angry Men

Witness for Prosecution

1958 Gigi Auntie Mame

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

The Defiant Ones

Separate Tables

1959 Ben-Hur Anatomy of a Murder

The Diary of Anne Frank

The Nun’s Story

Room at the Top

1960 The Apartment The Alamo

Elmer Gantry

Sons and Lovers

The Sundowners

1961 West Side Story Fanny

The Guns of Navarone

The Hustler

Judgment at Nuremberg

1962 Lawrence of Arabia The Longest Day

The Music Man

Mutiny on the Bounty

To Kill a Mockingbird

1963 Tom Jones America America


How the West Was Won

Lilies of the Field

1964 My Fair Lady Becket

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Mary Poppins

Zorba the Greek


The Sound of Music


Doctor Zhivago

Ship of Fools

A Thousand Clowns

1966 A Man for All Seasons Alfie

The Russians are Coming the Russians are Coming

The Sand Pebbles

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

1967 In the Heat of the Night

Bonnie and Clyde

Doctor Dolittle

The Graduate

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

1968 Oliver!

Funny Girl

The Lion in Winter

Rachel Rachel

Romeo and Juliet

1969 Midnight Cowboy Anne of the Thousand Days

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Hello Dolly!


1970 Patton Airport 

Five Easy Pieces

Love Story


1971 The French Connection A Clockwork Orange  

Fiddler on the Roof

The Last Picture Show

Nicholas and Alexandra

1972 The Godfather Cabaret  


The Emigrants


1973 The Sting American Graffiti  

Cries and Whispers

The Exorcist

A Touch of Class

1974 The Godfather Part II Chinatown  

The Conversation


The Towering Inferno

1975 One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest Barry Lyndon  

Dog Day Afternoon



1976 Rocky

All the President’s Men

Bound for Glory


Taxi Driver

1977 Annie Hall The Goodbye Girl  


Star Wars

The Turning Point

1978 The Deer Hunter Coming Home

Heaven Can Wait

Midnight Express

An Unmarried Woman

1979 Kramer vs. Kramer All That Jazz

Apocalypse Now

Breaking Away

Norma Rae

1980 Ordinary People Coal Miner’s Daughter  

The Elephant Man

Raging Bull


1981 Chariots of Fire Atlantic City

On Golden Pond

Raiders of the Lost Ark


1982 Gandhi E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial



The Verdict

1983 Terms of Endearment The Big Chill

The Dresser

The Right Stuff

Tender Mercies

1984 Amadeus The Killing Fields

A Passage to India

Places in the Heart

A Soldier’s Story

1985 Out of Africa The Color Purple

Kiss of the Spider Woman

Prizzi’s Honor


1986 Platoon Children of a Lesser God

Hannah and Her Sisters

The Mission

A Room with a View

1987 The Last Emperor Broadcast News

Fatal Attraction

Hope and Glory


1988 Rain Man The Accidental Tourist

Dangerous Liaisons

Mississippi Burning

Working Girl

1989 Driving Miss Daisy Born on the Fourth of July

Dead Poets Society

Field of Dreams

My Left Foot

1990 Dances with Wolves Awakenings


The Godfather Part III


1991 The Silence of the Lambs Beauty and the Beast



The Prince of Tides

1992 Unforgiven The Crying Game

A Few Good Men

Howards End

Scent of a Woman

1993 Schindler’s List The Fugitive

In the Name of the Father

The Piano

The Remains of the Day

1994 Forrest Gump Four Weddings and a Funeral

Pulp Fiction

Quiz Show

The Shawshank Redemption

1995 Braveheart Apollo 13


Il Postino

Sense and Sensibility

1996 The English Patient Fargo

Jerry Maguire

Secrets & Lies


1997 Titanic As Good as It Gets

The Full Monty

Good Will Hunting

L.A. Confidential

1998 Shakespeare in Love Elizabeth

Life is Beautiful

Saving Private Ryan

The Thin Red Line

1999 American Beauty The Cider House Rules

The Green Mile

The Insider

The Sixth Sense

2000 Gladiator Chocolat

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Erin Brockovich


2001 A Beautiful Mind Gosford Park

In the Bedroom

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Moulin Rouge!

2002 Chicago Gangs of New York

The Hours

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

The Pianist

2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Lost in Translation

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

Mystic River


2004 Million Dollar Baby The Aviator

Finding Neverland



2005 Crash Brokeback Mountain


Good Night and Good Luck


2006 The Departed Babel

Letters from Iwo Jima

Little Miss Sunshine

The Queen

2007 No Country for Old Men Atonement


Michael Clayton

There Will Be Blood

2008 Slumdog Millionaire The Curious Case of Benjamin Button



The Reader

2009 The Hurt Locker Avatar

The Blind Side

District 9

An Education

Inglourious Basterds

Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire

A Serious Man


Up in the Air

2010 The King’s Speech Black Swan

The Fighter


The Kids Are All Right

127 Hours

The Social Network

Toy Story 3

True Grit

Winter’s Bone

And let’s go into this year’s nominees:

The Artist (The Weinstein Company)

The Descendants (Fox Searchlight)

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Warner Bros.)

The Help (Touchstone, DreamWorks)

Hugo (Paramount)

Midnight in Paris (Sony Pictures Classics)

Moneyball (Columbia)

The Tree of Life (Fox Searchlight

War Horse (Touchstone, DreamWorks)

This is one of those lists where — it was actually very easy to guess what was going to happen. The only real intrigue was in how many nominees there were going to be, and then the surprise of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close getting on. Which is the Academy being the Academy.

Personally, if I had to pick my nine nominees, I’d have replaced Extremely Loud with Tinker Tailor, The Help with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and maybe something else for Drive. Though, honestly, I’d probably leave Drive off and have it be a tenth nominee. Since I don’t understand why (I do, but you know what I mean) there weren’t ten nominees here. Really, though, I don’t have any problems with any of these nominees except Extremely Loud. As I said, I think all of these nominees except Extremely Loud and The Help will hold up well over time. War Horse may be looked at negatively, but I still say it’ll hold up well.

As for ranking the chances I think each film has at winning, I’d say:

9) Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. You kind of have to. The people who voted for this to get on, will they actually vote for it to win? The getting it nominated felt like toeing the company line. I can understand that. But will you really use your Best Picture vote on this movie? I feel like this is the film that is, by process of elimination, least likely to get votes. Therefore, it is the #9. We could quibble over, “Oh, no, it’s #8 or #7,” but I think we’re all very aware of how this has no chance at winning whatsoever. Most of us are amazed it’s even nominated. Let’s just leave it at the back of the pack and focus on all the good things. (Also, the year Warner Bros. had in 2011 — it feels fitting that this is how they make it onto the Best Picture list.)

8) War Horse. Hate to say it, but I see no traction for this film at all. Spielberg counts for a lot (for instance, I’m sure people, when they turned in their nominations ballot, had this in their top five purely because — “It’s Spielberg, I have to”). But now, with only the one vote for winner — I can’t see people voting for this. The only reason I didn’t put it ninth is because, of the two, this is clearly more worthy of being nominated. I know people have problems with this, but I think they have a problem with how on-the-nose it is, which I can accept. Still, this hasn’t gotten any traction anywhere, and really is only here on reputation, seemingly. It should be here, so it is here. That helps it only until this point. I can’t see how this gets more votes than the seven films I ranked above it.

7. The Help. This was a tough one for me. I know this film has a lot of support. But once you’re in the category, it’s a whole different ballgame. I can’t see enough people voting this as a winner for this to make any impact in voting. It will get votes, but I feel like all the other films have stronger support than this. In that, when it comes to the showdown, this won’t be there. (You got that, right?) This has broad support, but this doesn’t (I think) have the die hard support that something like Midnight in Paris or The Tree of Life has. This film will get is recognition in the acting categories. I can’t see enough people being so sold on this as to vote it above the other six films.

6. The Tree of Life. The support it has is strong support, but I don’t think it’s enough people to make a difference. There is definitely a hardcore fan base for this film (hence the reason it’s here), but I think that fan base only puts it so high. Maybe you can argue it’s a fifth choice, but I still say it’s not more than middle of the pack. I think we can all agree that this film won’t do very much at all (much like The Thin Red Line). It’s only real shot is in Cinematography. Malick is a person people would think to make a splash, but with Hazanavicius having won the DGA and Scorsese also being there, I don’t think he has a shot. The film does have love, but I can’t see it being any higher than sixth or fifth in terms of where it stands right now.

5. Midnight in Paris. I know people love this film, and I know it’ll get some votes. But I still can’t see enough people choosing this over the remaining four films for it to make that much of an impact. This film’s recognition will be in Screenplay, just like almost all of Woody’s films. This film is loved, though, but let’s not confuse that love with the possibility of it winning. Remember, it didn’t get a Best Editing nomination. That counts for a lot. Still, it’s definitely in the top five.

4. Moneyball. I had a tough time with this and Midnight in Paris. I feel like this has more widespread support simply because they gave it two acting nominations and a Best Editing nomination. Remember, the films with the Best Editing nominations are statistically more likely to win Best Picture. The last film to win without one was Ordinary People. So I think that by default puts this in a stronger position to win than every film below (or rather, above, based on how I wrote it out) it on this list. It has kind of an outside shot at it, but I think we can all agree that its chances are slim to none. I think we’d all be shocked to see this one win it all, and we all know that is almost definitely not going to happen. (Didn’t even get a Best Director nomination. Clearly they don’t love it that much.) The competition is much too strong for this. If it’s gonna win anything, it’ll be Screenplay, possibly Editing (but I doubt it), and maybe even Sound. I can easily see this winning Sound.

3. The Descendants. A lot of people see this as a potential Best Picture spoiler, but honestly — where has this film caught any traction except with the Golden Globes? And even there, you could make the case that in a single category, The Artist still beats it. Outside of the Globes — SAG passed over it, BFCA passed over it, the PGA passed over it — it hasn’t really won anything. If it’s gonna win anything, it’ll be Screenplay (it’s really this or Moneyball for Adapted, this being the clear favorite) and maybe Best Actor (though that’s been thrown way into doubt since SAG). So I don’t see this as any higher than three. All of the signs are there — Director nomination, Screenplay, Editing — it can very well win. I just don’t see it any higher than #3 right now. The other two films have too much going for them (seemingly). Though I’m sure some people see this as a #2. You may be right. I just don’t see it that way.

2. Hugo. It got the most nominations. That automatically makes it a huge threat. Plus I know it’s got a lot of support. Whether that support translates into votes remains to be seen, but I know this is definitely a very definite contender here. It seems unlikely to win, given its subject matter (and the precursors), but I still put this here purely on the Scorsese factor. The Departed was definitely not the film most people envisioned winning in 2006. I think he still has an outside chance at possibly winning Best Director. But, as of right now, simply ranking the chances the films have, I say this is #2. And 1-3 are all possibile winners. But ranking it, I say Hugo is #2.

1. The Artist. Has to be. It’s won everything so far. BFCA, Golden Globe, PGA, DGA — all signs point to this winning big next weekend. Nothing’s really a definite (at least, there hasn’t been a definite, seemingly, since 2003, though I’m sure you could make the case that 2007 and 2008 were close to definites before the ceremony), but this clearly is the favorite. The only thing now is to wait and see if it actually wins.


Best Director is a category that typically matches up with Best Picture. The two categories have matched up 62 out of 83 times. Of the 21 differences, a third of them came before 1940. So that means, in 71 years, only 14 Best Director winners did not direct that year’s Best Picture winner. I’ll list all the winners first, and then tell you the outliers.

(Note: Red means it was the Best Picture winner.)


Best Director Winner

Other Nominees


DramaticFrank Borzage – Seventh Heaven Comedy

Lewis Milestone – Two Arabian Knights

DramaticHerbert Brenon – Sorrell and Son

King Vidor – The Crowd


Ted Wilde – Speedy


Frank Lloyd – 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


Lewis Milestone – 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


Norman Taurog – Skippy


Clarence Brown – A Free Soul
Lewis Milestone – The Front Page
Wesley Ruggles – Cimarron
Josef von Sternberg – Morocco


Frank Borzage – Bad Girl King Vidor – The Champ
Josef von Sternberg – Shanghai Express


Frank Lloyd – Cavalcade Frank Capra – Lady for a Day
George Cukor – Little Women


Frank Capra – It Happened One Night Victor Schertzinger – One Night of Love
W. S. Van Dyke – The Thin Man


John Ford – The Informer Henry Hathaway – The Lives of a Bengal Lancer
Frank Lloyd – Mutiny on the Bounty


Frank Capra – Mr. Deeds Goes to Town


Gregory La Cava – My Man Godfrey
Robert Z. Leonard – The Great Ziegfeld
W. S. Van Dyke – San Francisco
William Wyler – Dodsworth


Leo McCarey – The Awful Truth


William Dieterle – The Life of Emile Zola
Sidney Franklin – The Good Earth
Gregory La Cava – Stage Door
William A. Wellman – A Star Is Born


Frank Capra – You Can’t Take It with You Michael Curtiz – Angels with Dirty Faces
Michael Curtiz – Four Daughters
Norman Taurog – Boys Town
King Vidor – The Citadel


Victor Fleming – Gone with the Wind Frank Capra – Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
John Ford – Stagecoach
Sam Wood – Goodbye, Mr. Chips
William Wyler – Wuthering Heights


John Ford – The Grapes of Wrath George Cukor – The Philadelphia Story
Alfred Hitchcock – Rebecca
Sam Wood – Kitty Foyle
William Wyler – The Letter


John Ford – How Green Was My Valley


Alexander Hall – Here Comes Mr. Jordan
Howard Hawks – Sergeant York
Orson Welles – Citizen Kane
William Wyler – The Little Foxes


William Wyler – Mrs. Miniver


Michael Curtiz – Yankee Doodle Dandy
John Farrow – Wake Island
Mervyn LeRoy – Random Harvest
Sam Wood – Kings Row


Michael Curtiz – Casablanca


Clarence Brown – The Human Comedy
Henry King – The Song of Bernadette
Ernst Lubitsch – Heaven Can Wait
George Stevens – The More the Merrier


Leo McCarey – Going My Way


Alfred Hitchcock – Lifeboat
Henry King – Wilson
Otto Preminger – Laura
Billy Wilder – Double Indemnity


Billy Wilder – The Lost Weekend


Clarence Brown – National Velvet
Alfred Hitchcock – Spellbound
Leo McCarey – The Bells of St. Mary’s
Jean Renoir – The Southerner


William Wyler – The Best Years of Our Lives Clarence Brown – The Yearling
Frank Capra – It’s a Wonderful Life
David Lean – Brief Encounter
Robert Siodmak – The Killers


Elia Kazan – Gentleman’s Agreement  George Cukor – A Double Life
Edward Dmytryk – Crossfire
Henry Koster – The Bishop’s Wife
David Lean – Great Expectations


John Huston – The Treasure of the Sierra Madre Anatole Litvak – The Snake Pit
Jean Negulesco – Johnny Belinda
Laurence Olivier – Hamlet
Fred Zinnemann – The Search


Joseph L. Mankiewicz – A Letter to Three Wives Carol Reed – The Fallen Idol
Robert Rossen – All the King’s Men
William A. Wellman – Battleground
William Wyler – The Heiress


Joseph L. Mankiewicz – All About Eve


George Cukor – Born Yesterday
John Huston – The Asphalt Jungle
Carol Reed – The Third Man
Billy Wilder – Sunset Boulevard


George Stevens – A Place in the Sun


John Huston – The African Queen
Elia Kazan – A Streetcar Named Desire
Vincente Minnelli – An American in Paris
William Wyler – Detective Story


John Ford – The Quiet Man Cecil B. DeMille – The Greatest Show on Earth
John Huston – Moulin Rouge
Joseph L. Mankiewicz – 5 Fingers
Fred Zinnemann – High Noon


Fred Zinnemann – From Here to Eternity


George Stevens – Shane
Charles Walters – Lili
Billy Wilder – Stalag 17
William Wyler – Roman Holiday


Elia Kazan – On the Waterfront Alfred Hitchcock – Rear Window
George Seaton – The Country Girl
William A. Wellman – The High and the Mighty
Billy Wilder – Sabrina


Delbert Mann – Marty


Elia Kazan – East of Eden
David Lean – Summertime
Joshua Logan – Picnic
John Sturges – Bad Day at Black Rock


George Stevens – Giant Michael Anderson – Around the World in 80 Days
Walter Lang – The King and I
King Vidor – War and Peace
William Wyler – Friendly Persuasion


David Lean – The Bridge on the River Kwai Joshua Logan – Sayonara
Sidney Lumet – 12 Angry Men
Mark Robson – Peyton Place
Billy Wilder – Witness for the Prosecution


Vincente Minnelli – Gigi


Richard Brooks – Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Stanley Kramer – The Defiant Ones
Mark Robson – The Inn of the Sixth Happiness
Robert Wise – I Want to Live!


William Wyler – Ben-Hur


Jack Clayton – Room at the Top
George Stevens – The Diary of Anne Frank
Billy Wilder – Some Like It Hot
Fred Zinnemann – The Nun’s Story


Billy Wilder – The Apartment


Jack Cardiff – Sons and Lovers
Jules Dassin – Never on Sunday
Alfred Hitchcock – Psycho
Fred Zinnemann – The Sundowners


Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins – West Side Story Federico Fellini – La Dolce Vita
Stanley Kramer – Judgment at Nuremberg
Robert Rossen – The Hustler
J. Lee Thompson – The Guns of Navarone


David Lean – Lawrence of Arabia


Pietro Germi – Divorce, Italian Style
Robert Mulligan – To Kill a Mockingbird
Arthur Penn – The Miracle Worker
Frank Perry – David and Lisa


Tony Richardson – Tom Jones


Federico Fellini – 
Elia Kazan – America, America
Otto Preminger – The Cardinal
Martin Ritt – Hud


George Cukor – My Fair Lady


Michael Cacoyannis – Zorba the Greek
Peter Glenville – Becket
Stanley Kubrick – Dr. Strangelove
Robert Stevenson – Mary Poppins


Robert Wise – The Sound of Music David Lean – Doctor Zhivago
John Schlesinger – Darling
Hiroshi Teshigahara – The Woman in the Dunes
William Wyler – The Collector


Fred Zinnemann – A Man for All Seasons Michelangelo Antonioni – Blowup
Richard Brooks – The Professionals
Claude Lelouch – A Man and a Woman
Mike Nichols – Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?


Mike Nichols – The Graduate Richard Brooks – In Cold Blood
Norman Jewison – In the Heat of the Night
Stanley Kramer – Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
Arthur Penn – Bonnie and Clyde


Carol Reed – Oliver!


Anthony Harvey – The Lion in Winter
Stanley Kubrick – 2001: A Space Odyssey
Gillo Pontecorvo – The Battle of Algiers
Franco Zeffirelli – Romeo and Juliet


John Schlesinger – Midnight Cowboy Costa Gavras – Z
George Roy Hill – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Arthur Penn – Alice’s Restaurant
Sydney Pollack – They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?


Franklin J. Schaffner – Patton


Robert Altman – MASH
Federico Fellini – Satyricon
Arthur Hiller – Love Story
Ken Russell – Women in Love


William Friedkin – The French Connection


Peter Bogdanovich – The Last Picture Show
Norman Jewison – Fiddler on the Roof
Stanley Kubrick – A Clockwork Orange
John Schlesinger – Sunday Bloody Sunday


Bob Fosse – Cabaret


John Boorman – Deliverance
Francis Ford Coppola – The Godfather
Joseph L. Mankiewicz – Sleuth
Jan Troell – The Emigrants


George Roy Hill – The Sting


Ingmar Bergman – Cries and Whispers
Bernardo Bertolucci – Last Tango in Paris
William Friedkin – The Exorcist
George Lucas – American Graffiti


Francis Ford Coppola – The Godfather Part II John Cassavetes – A Woman Under the Influence
Bob Fosse – Lenny
Roman Polanski – Chinatown
François Truffaut – Day for Night


Miloš Forman – One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Robert Altman – Nashville
Federico Fellini – Amarcord
Stanley Kubrick – Barry Lyndon
Sidney Lumet – Dog Day Afternoon


John G. Avildsen – Rocky


Ingmar Bergman – Face to Face
Sidney Lumet – Network
Alan J. Pakula – All the President’s Men
Lina Wertmüller – Seven Beauties
1977 Woody Allen – Annie Hall George Lucas – Star Wars
Herbert Ross – The Turning Point
Steven Spielberg – Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Fred Zinnemann – Julia


Michael Cimino – The Deer Hunter Woody Allen – Interiors
Hal Ashby – Coming Home
Warren Beatty & Buck Henry – Heaven Can Wait
Alan Parker – Midnight Express


Robert Benton – Kramer vs. Kramer


Francis Ford Coppola – Apocalypse Now
Bob Fosse – All That Jazz
Édouard Molinaro – La Cage aux Folles
Peter Yates – Breaking Away


Robert Redford – Ordinary People


David Lynch – The Elephant Man
Roman Polanski – Tess
Richard Rush – The Stunt Man
Martin Scorsese – Raging Bull


Warren Beatty – Reds Hugh Hudson – Chariots of Fire
Louis Malle – Atlantic City
Mark Rydell – On Golden Pond
Steven Spielberg – Raiders of the Lost Ark


Richard Attenborough – Gandhi Sidney Lumet – The Verdict
Wolfgang Petersen – Das Boot
Sydney Pollack – Tootsie
Steven Spielberg – E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial


James L. Brooks – Terms of Endearment


Bruce Beresford – Tender Mercies
Ingmar Bergman – Fanny and Alexander
Mike Nichols – Silkwood
Peter Yates – The Dresser


Miloš Forman – Amadeus


Woody Allen – Broadway Danny Rose
Robert Benton – Places in the Heart
Roland Joffé – The Killing Fields
David Lean – A Passage to India


Sydney Pollack – Out of Africa Héctor Babenco – Kiss of the Spider Woman
John Huston – Prizzi’s Honor
Akira Kurosawa – Ran
Peter Weir – Witness


Oliver Stone – Platoon


Woody Allen – Hannah and Her Sisters
James Ivory – A Room with a View
Roland Joffé – The Mission
David Lynch – Blue Velvet


Bernardo Bertolucci – The Last Emperor


John Boorman – Hope and Glory
Lasse Hallström – My Life as a Dog
Norman Jewison – Moonstruck
Adrian Lyne – Fatal Attraction


Barry Levinson – Rain Man Charles Crichton – A Fish Called Wanda
Mike Nichols – Working Girl
Alan Parker – Mississippi Burning
Martin Scorsese – The Last Temptation of Christ


Oliver Stone – Born on the Fourth of July Woody Allen – Crimes and Misdemeanors
Kenneth Branagh – Henry V
Jim Sheridan – My Left Foot
Peter Weir – Dead Poets Society


Kevin Costner – Dances with Wolves Francis Ford Coppola – The Godfather Part III
Stephen Frears – The Grifters
Barbet Schroeder – Reversal of Fortune
Martin Scorsese – Goodfellas


Jonathan Demme – The Silence of the Lambs Barry Levinson – Bugsy
Ridley Scott – Thelma & Louise
John Singleton – Boyz n the Hood
Oliver Stone – JFK


Clint Eastwood
– Unforgiven


Robert Altman – The Player
Martin Brest – Scent of a Woman
James Ivory – Howards End
Neil Jordan – The Crying Game


Steven Spielberg – Schindler’s List


Robert Altman – Short Cuts
Jane Campion – The Piano
James Ivory – The Remains of the Day
Jim Sheridan – In the Name of the Father


Robert Zemeckis – Forrest Gump


Woody Allen – Bullets Over Broadway
Krzysztof Kieślowski – Three Colors: Red
Robert Redford – Quiz Show
Quentin Tarantino – Pulp Fiction


Mel Gibson – Braveheart


Mike Figgis – Leaving Las Vegas
Chris Noonan – Babe
Michael Radford – Il Postino
Tim Robbins – Dead Man Walking


Anthony Minghella – The English Patient


Joel Coen – Fargo
Miloš Forman – The People vs. Larry Flynt
Scott Hicks – Shine
Mike Leigh – Secrets & Lies


James Cameron – Titanic


Peter Cattaneo – The Full Monty
Atom Egoyan – The Sweet Hereafter
Curtis Hanson – L.A. Confidential
Gus Van Sant – Good Will Hunting


Steven Spielberg – Saving Private Ryan


Roberto Benigni – Life Is Beautiful
John Madden – Shakespeare in Love
Terrence Malick – The Thin Red Line
Peter Weir – The Truman Show


Sam Mendes – American Beauty


Lasse Hallström – The Cider House Rules
Spike Jonze – Being John Malkovich
Michael Mann – The Insider
M. Night Shyamalan – The Sixth Sense


Steven Soderbergh – Traffic


Stephen Daldry – Billy Elliot
Ang Lee – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Ridley Scott – Gladiator
Steven Soderbergh – Erin Brockovich


Ron Howard – A Beautiful Mind Robert Altman – Gosford Park
Peter Jackson – The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
David Lynch – Mulholland Drive
Ridley Scott – Black Hawk Down


Roman Polanski – The Pianist


Pedro Almodóvar – Talk to Her
Stephen Daldry – The Hours
Rob Marshall – Chicago
Martin Scorsese – Gangs of New York


Peter Jackson – The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Sofia Coppola – Lost in Translation
Clint Eastwood – Mystic River
Fernando Meirelles – City of God
Peter Weir – Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World


Clint Eastwood – Million Dollar Baby


Taylor Hackford – Ray
Mike Leigh – Vera Drake
Alexander Payne – Sideways
Martin Scorsese – The Aviator


Ang Lee – Brokeback Mountain George Clooney – Good Night, and Good Luck
Paul Haggis – Crash
Bennett Miller – Capote
Steven Spielberg – Munich


Martin Scorsese – The Departed


Clint Eastwood – Letters from Iwo Jima
Stephen Frears – The Queen
Alejandro González Iñárritu – Babel
Paul Greengrass – United 93


Joel & Ethan Coen – No Country for Old Men Paul Thomas Anderson – There Will Be Blood
Tony Gilroy – Michael Clayton
Jason Reitman – Juno
Julian Schnabel – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly


Danny Boyle – Slumdog Millionaire Stephen Daldry – The Reader
David Fincher – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Ron Howard – Frost/Nixon
Gus Van Sant – Milk


Kathryn Bigelow – The Hurt Locker Stephen Daldry – The Reader
David Fincher – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Ron Howard – Frost/Nixon
Gus Van Sant – Milk


Tom Hooper – The King’s Speech


Darren Aronofsky – Black Swan
Joel & Ethan Coen – True Grit
David Fincher – The Social Network
David O. Russell – The Fighter

Really, you know what you should take from that? Only three times in Academy history has the Best Picture winner not been nominated for Best Director. And two of those were in the first five years of the ceremony. That barely even counts. Only once since 1932 has the Best Picture winner not been nominated for Best Director. And that was Driving Miss Daisy.

So in reality, my Best Picture rankings should be: 1) The Artist, 2) Hugo, 3) The Descendants, 4) Midnight in Paris, 5) The Tree of Life.

Outside of that, as I said, 62 times has Best Director matched Best Picture. And disregarding anything before 1940 (since I feel like the Academy didn’t really get things straightened out until Gone With the Wind. They feel like empty statistics), 14 times since 1940 did the two categories not match up. I just want to give a cursory glance to see if I notice anything.

1940, The Grapes of Wrath over Rebecca. To be honest, I’m not sure why Grapes of Wrath didn’t win Best Picture that year. It seems weird they’d go with Ford over Hitchcock. Maybe because Hitchcock was British? Ford is Ford? I’m really not sure what to call this one. I think it’s more of them choosing a weaker Best Picture than anything.

1948, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre over Hamlet. We all know my feelings on this one. I think Hamlet is the single worst Best Picture decision of all time. (Not worst Best Picture winner, that’s clearly Chariots of Fire, but Best Picture decision.) I think the right person won Best Director and they just fucked up the end game.

1949, A Letter to Three Wives over All the King’s Men. I don’t much understand this one either. I’m not sure the Academy even knew which film they liked best this year. The entire Best Picture category was pretty weak, and of them, I don’t see much distinction between All the King’s Men, Battleground and The Heiress. This category — I don’t know what happened. I did some research and saw that that Mankiewicz won the DGA in 1948 (before A Letter to Three Wives came out), and Rossen won the DGA in 1949 for All the King’s Men. So actually, this might make a little bit of sense, but still, not that much at all.

1951, A Place in the Sun over An American in Paris. Doesn’t make much sense to me, but he won the DGA. So it seems the discrepancy was in Best Picture.

1952, The Quiet Man over The Greatest Show on Earth. Ford won the DGA, so it really seems like they just didn’t want to vote for High Noon at all. That’s how I mark this year. Otherwise, why wouldn’t you give Cecil B. DeMille an Oscar?

1956, Giant over Around the World in 80 Days. This just seems like one effort being better than the other.

1967, The Graduate over In the Heat of the Night. He won the DGA. I think maybe it was the logjam of Best Picture nominees that affected how that went.

1972, Cabaret over The Godfather. Coppola won the DGA, so that’s actually a strange one. I don’t understand the Fosse win here at all. (And, here’s the conspiracy theorist talking, if Fosse doesn’t win here, maybe he wins for All That Jazz in 1979, making that Kramer vs. Kramer win a little more tolerable.)

1981, Reds over Chariots of Fire. It’s clearly the Best Picture win that doesn’t make sense. Beatty won the DGA.

1989, Born on the Fourth of July over Driving Miss Daisy. Again, Best Picture winner that doesn’t make sense. Stone won the DGA.

1998, Saving Private Ryan over Shakespeare in Love. One effort was better than another. Plain and simple. Didn’t matter how Best Picture went.

2000, Traffic over Gladiator. Don’t understand this one at all. What’s weirder is that Ang Lee won the DGA for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. And Soderbergh was nominated twice! Lee and Scott must have really split some votes, because that’s crazy.

2002, The Pianist over Chicago. Marshall won the DGA. It seems like they just went with Polanski over him. Voted for the man over the film.

2005, Brokeback Mountain over Crash. Lee won the DGA. Clearly a Best Picture win being the factor, not this.

So what does this mean? Well, not so much before the DGA era. But in the post DGA era, we know that the DGA winner and Oscar winner have differed six times (though that Mankiewicz/Rossen thing is a weird little gray area).

Of those six, only two were not nominated for the Oscar at all, the first was Steven Spielberg in 1985 and the second was Ron Howard in 1995. Both times, the Best Picture winner won Best Director. Of those other four times, the only one not on this list was 1968, with Carol Reed winning the Oscar for Oliver! and Anthony Harvey winning the DGA for The Lion in Winter. That was an example of a Best Picture winner also winning Best Director.

The other three are on this list — 1972, 2000 and 2002. Fosse over Coppola, Soderbergh over Lee/Scott (DGA winner/Best Picture winner) and Polanski over Marshall. In two of those cases it seems like them voting a more well-known director over a relative unknown. Coppola was almost a complete unknown in the industry before The Godfather and Fosse at least had a film under his belt and was a famous stage director. Similarly, Roman Polanski was a legend, and Chicago was Rob Marshall’s first film. I can kind of understand that one. The 2000 one still makes no sense at all.

Anyway, what all this is getting at is — if anyone is beating Hazanavicius (and it’s a possibility), Scorsese is really the one to do it. (I actually think it’s a stronger possibility than people think.)

Really, the only statistic I needed there was that the DGA and Oscar winner have been the same all but 6 times (sort of. That 1948/1949 thing is weird). So that clearly puts Hazanavicius out ahead. In fact, let’s rank. First the nominees:

Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris

Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist

Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life

Alexander Payne, The Descendants

Martin Scorsese, Hugo

As for where they stand:

5. Payne? I don’t know. I mean, he’s got a shot, but, do you think he’s got a stronger base of support than Woody Allen or Terrence Malick? I don’t know if he does. Then again, Woody has only won once, so maybe Payne should be fourth. Either way, I don’t think he’s a very strong contender here as of right now.

4. Allen. He’s only won this once, and that was when his film won Best Picture. I can’t see him winning this. Screenplay is his reward (if that. But probably that).

3. Malick. His standing within the industry, I feel, puts him above Payne, even if Payne’s film has more support in the Best Picture race. I see him being your dark horse winner, not Payne. Still, I think we’d all agree, in light of the DGA being announced, that this race is clearly (as of right now) between the next two nominees.

2. Scorsese. Didn’t win the DGA. That puts him second. And he lost BFCA to Hazanavicius. Sure he won the Globe, but they’ve given it to him 3 times this past decade. Him losing the DGA makes Hazanavicius the overwhelming favorite (statistically) to win the Oscar. However, as you saw up there — 2002. Polanski beat out a newcomer. This can very easily happen here. Everyone votes on this now, not just the directors. The directors only make up a certain percentage of the voters. Honestly, were it not for the history, I’d still consider Scorsese the favorite to win the Oscar. I might even still vote for him. I don’t know yet. But as of right now, history dictates that I put Scorsese here.

1. Hazanavicius. He won the DGA. That makes him the frontrunner all the way until Oscar night. You can vote for Scorsese on the night (and I’ll seriously consider doing so), but when you do it, you’ll do it knowing that Hazanavicius is still the most likely person to win. He’s your favorite. Whether he wins or not is still not (entirely) settled.

– – – – – – – – – –

So those are the first two categories as I see them right now. Not much has really changed since nominations were announced. The PGA was decided before the nominees, so The Artist was the frontrunner before that, and the Oscar nominees only changed the positioning of certain films. That Best Editing is a very telling category. And once the DGA was announced, that basically made the Director race cut and dry, Hazanavicius or Scorsese. Pretty simple. Let’s see what changes in the next week. I can’t imagine it’ll be much, but, you never know.


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