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The Oscar Quest: My Oscar Nominations — Best Director (1950-1969)

This is part of a series of articles where I’m putting forth my opinions about what I’d nominate in all of the Oscar Quest categories (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress). Normally I take the categories as they are, but I thought it would be fun to figure out what I’d vote for if I had a ballot each year. Keep in mind, this is only for NOMINATIONS and nothing else.

My only problem with this is that I knew if I did it, too many people, were they doing the same thing, would put on movies that just didn’t belong on an Oscar ballot. (I would too, in some cases. We just like what we like.) My problem was that people would take this exercise as an opportunity to really just go off the rails with stuff (which, if you read through all these articles, you’ll see me call people out for it, since I know exactly which films and which performances people would put on). So my way around this was by creating what I call a “Compromise List” — after I tell you what was actually nominated and what I’d put on my ballot, I’m making a list whereby I try to make everyone happy and keep it mostly close to what would be there, Academy-wise. You’ll see. My lists usually end up being better and not crazy.

The things to take into account with the performance categories — I can only nominate what I’ve seen. So me not seeing something will be a big reason why some stuff doesn’t appear. And, as always, I tell people not to bother me with one random person in one random category, since I have everything to think about. If you want to say something, wait until you’ve seen all the films/tried this yourself before you do it. And I don’t care about foreign performances, for the most part. There’s a long and complicated answer there, but — I don’t. And the big rule for anyone doing this — if someone won a category, YOU CAN’T LEAVE THEM OFF THE COMPROMISE LIST. Can’t do it.

Otherwise — here’s the next set of categories.

1969

Actual Nominees:

  • 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?
  • John Schlesinger, Midnight Cowboy

 

 

 

 

My Vote: George Roy Hill, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Tough one. I love Anne of the Thousand Days, but it’s not particularly cinematic. I don’t think Easy Rider should be here. But what should be here, is The Wild Bunch. I’m switching off Penn. I love him, but it’s no Wild Bunch.

Compromise List:

  • Costa Gavras, Z
  • George Roy Hill, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
  • Sam Peckinpah, The Wild Bunch
  • Sydney Pollack, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?
  • John Schlesinger, Midnight Cowboy

My Vote: George Roy Hill, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

1968

Actual Nominees:

  • Anthony Harvey, The Lion in Winter
  • Stanley Kubrick, 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Gillo Pontecorvo, The Battle of Algiers
  • Carol Reed, Oliver!
  • Franco Zeffirelli, Romeo and Juliet

 

 

 

 

My Vote: Stanley Kubrick, 2001: A Space Odyssey

I like this list. Wouldn’t change a thing. I know people would go for Polanski, but I like this list better.

Compromise List:

  • Anthony Harvey, The Lion in Winter
  • Stanley Kubrick, 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Gillo Pontecorvo, The Battle of Algiers
  • Carol Reed, Oliver!
  • Franco Zeffirelli, Romeo and Juliet

My Vote: Stanley Kubrick, 2001: A Space Odyssey

1967

Actual Nominees:

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

 

 

 

 

My Vote: Mike Nichols, The Graduate

What the fuck do you do here? There’s Dirty Dozen and more so Cool Hand Luke, but Brooks directed the hell out of In Cold Blood. Really hard call to make. Making a snap judgment call — I’m gonna leave it. I think it works.

Compromise List:

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

My Vote: Mike Nichols, The Graduate

1966

Actual Nominees:

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

 

 

 

 

My Vote: Mike Nichols, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Hmm… I think it works. Only other person I’d think of for this is Robert Wise for The Sand Pebbles (and maybe Lewis Gilbert for Alfie). But I like this list. I’m gonna leave it.

Compromise List:

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

My Vote: Mike Nichols, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

1965

Actual Nominees:

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

 

 

 

My Vote: John Schlesinger, Darling

Love this list. Wouldn’t change a thing. (Deepest sympathies to Martin Ritt for Spy Who Came in from the Cold. I’d vote for you over William Wyler, but I think Wyler should stay, sadly.)

Compromise List:

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

My Vote: John Schlesinger, Darling

1964

Actual Nominees:

  • Michael Cacoyannis, Zorba the Greek
  • George Cukor, My Fair Lady
  • Peter Glenville, Becket
  • Stanley Kubrick, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
  • Robert Stevenson, Mary Poppins

 

 

 

 

My Vote: Stanley Kubrick, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Love this list.

Compromise List:

  • Michael Cacoyannis, Zorba the Greek
  • George Cukor, My Fair Lady
  • Peter Glenville, Becket
  • Stanley Kubrick, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
  • Robert Stevenson, Mary Poppins

My Vote: Stanley Kubrick, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

1963

Actual Nominees:

  • Federico Fellini,
  • Elia Kazan, America, America
  • Otto Preminger, The Cardinal
  • Tony Richardson, Tom Jones
  • Martin Ritt, Hud

 

 

 

 

My Vote: Federico Fellini, 

Tough call here. I know it’s a mess, but the grandeur of Cleopatra is kind of hard to ignore. Especially since I didn’t see that much direction in Hud. But whatever. I skipped Ritt in ’65, so I’ll leave him on here.

Compromise List:

  • Federico Fellini, 
  • Elia Kazan, America, America
  • Otto Preminger, The Cardinal
  • Tony Richardson, Tom Jones
  • Martin Ritt, Hud

My Vote: Federico Fellini, 

1962

Actual Nominees:

  • Pietro Germi, Divorce, Italian Style
  • David Lean, Lawrence of Arabia
  • Robert Mulligan, To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Arthur Penn, The Miracle Worker
  • Frank Perry, David and Lisa

 

 

 

 

My Vote: David Lean, Lawrence of Arabia

Not a fan of Germi, love the rest of the list. But who would I swap him off for? Frankenheimer, Birdman? Edwards, Days of Wine and Roses? Actually, I kind of like Edwards. He never really got much Academy recognition. Let’s nominate him. It’s not like Divorce, Italian Style needs to be here.

Compromise List:

  • Blake Edwards, Days of Wine and Roses
  • David Lean, Lawrence of Arabia
  • Robert Mulligan, To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Arthur Penn, The Miracle Worker
  • Frank Perry, David and Lisa

My Vote: David Lean, Lawrence of Arabia

1961

Actual Nominees:

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

 

 

 

 

My Vote: Robert Rossen, The Hustler

Why would you even touch this list?

Compromise List:

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

My Vote: Robert Wise & Jerome Robbins, West Side Story

1960

Actual Nominees:

  • Jack Cardiff, Sons and Lovers
  • Jules Dassin, Never on Sunday
  • Alfred Hitchcock, Psycho
  • Billy Wilder, The Apartment
  • Fred Zinnemann, The Sundowners

 

 

 

 

My Vote: Alfred Hitchcock, Psycho

I like it. Spartacus would be nice to see, but I don’t need it. Not too crazy about Dassin, but otherwise it works. I’ll leave it.

Compromise List:

  • Jack Cardiff, Sons and Lovers
  • Jules Dassin, Never on Sunday
  • Alfred Hitchcock, Psycho
  • Billy Wilder, The Apartment
  • Fred Zinnemann, The Sundowners

My Vote: Alfred Hitchcock, Psycho

1959

Actual Nominees:

  • Jack Clayton, Room at the Top
  • George Stevens, The Diary of Anne Frank
  • Billy Wilder, Some Like It Hot
  • William Wyler, Ben-Hur
  • Fred Zinnemann, The Nun’s Story

 

 

 

 

My Vote: William Wyler, Ben-Hur

Otto Preminger, Anatomy of a Murder. He’s just a more interesting nominee than Clayton, plus he go so supremely fucked over during his career, I’m changing it. Look how perfect this category looks now.

Compromise List:

  • Otto Preminger, Anatomy of a Murder
  • George Stevens, The Diary of Anne Frank
  • Billy Wilder, Some Like It Hot
  • William Wyler, Ben-Hur
  • Fred Zinnemann, The Nun’s Story

My Vote: William Wyler, Ben-Hur

1958

Actual Nominees:

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

 

 

 

 

My Vote: Stanley Kramer, The Defiant Ones

Everyone will go Vertigo here, but I’m making a deliberate decision not to. It probably should be here, but I’m not doing it. You do it. I won’t.

Compromise List:

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

My Vote: Vincente Minnelli, Gigi

1957

Actual Nominees:

  • 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

 

 

 

 

My Vote: David Lean, The Bridge on the River Kwai

Ooh… ’57 is strong. Gonna have to put on My Nominees.

My Nominees:

  • Elia Kazan, A Face in the Crowd
  • David Lean, The Bridge on the River Kwai
  • Sidney Lumet, 12 Angry Men
  • Alexander Mackendrick, Sweet Smell of Success
  • Billy Wilder, Witness for the Prosecution

My Vote: Sidney Lumet, 12 Angry Men

I know everyone will go Kubrick here. Or Bergman. Or… fuck. Too many choices. I’m just leaving it. (Though technically Kazan did get a DGA nomination, but DGA nominations aren’t as helpful before 1970. So I’m not going by that.)

Compromise List:

  • 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

My Vote: Sidney Lumet, 12 Angry Men

1956

Actual Nominees:

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

 

 

 

 

My Vote: George Stevens, Giant

The only one who doesn’t really make sense is Wyler. Maybe Lang. Well, maybe not make sense. More like, “could be improved.” But, they work. Ford for The Searchers should — fuck it. Let’s put on Ford.

Compromise List:

  • Michael Anderson, Around the World in 80 Days
  • John Ford, The Searchers
  • Walter Lang, The King and I
  • George Stevens, Giant
  • King Vidor, War and Peace

My Vote: George Stevens, Giant

1955

Actual Nominees:

  • Elia Kazan, East of Eden
  • David Lean, Summertime
  • Joshua Logan, Picnic
  • Delbert Mann, Marty
  • John Sturges, Bad Day at Black Rock

 

 

 

 

My Vote: John Sturges, Bad Day at Black Rock

I think Otto Preminger should be on here for Man with the Golden Arm. But I don’t know who to take off, Lean or Logan. So let’s leave it. I really don’t care enough to think about it. I’m at the point where I consider this a first draft for when I really make these lists in the future, so whatever.

Compromise List:

  • Elia Kazan, East of Eden
  • David Lean, Summertime
  • Joshua Logan, Picnic
  • Delbert Mann, Marty
  • John Sturges, Bad Day at Black Rock

My Vote: John Sturges, Bad Day at Black Rock

1954

Actual Nominees:

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

 

 

 

 

My Vote: Alfred Hitchcock, Rear Window

I like it. Maybe I’d want to put on Cukor for Star Is Born, but Wellman got so screwed by the Academy, I’m leaving him on, even if it is a subpar effort.

Compromise List:

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

My Vote: Alfred Hitchcock, Rear Window

1953

Actual Nominees:

  • George Stevens, Shane
  • Charles Walters, Lili
  • Billy Wilder, Stalag 17
  • William Wyler, Roman Holiday
  • Fred Zinnemann, From Here to Eternity

 

 

 

 

My Vote: William Wyler, Roman Holiday

The one nominee that probably should be considered for exclusion is the one I love the most. I’m fucking leaving this one.

Compromise List:

  • George Stevens, Shane
  • Charles Walters, Lili
  • Billy Wilder, Stalag 17
  • William Wyler, Roman Holiday
  • Fred Zinnemann, From Here to Eternity

My Vote: William Wyler, Roman Holiday

1952

Actual Nominees:

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

 

 

 

 

My Vote: Fred Zinnemann, High Noon

Give me Vincente Minnelli and I’m a happy man. (Yeah, I know, Singin’ in the Rain and all that, but — Minnelli’s where it’s at.)

Compromise List:

  • Cecil B. DeMille, The Greatest Show on Earth
  • John Ford, The Quiet Man
  • John Huston, Moulin Rouge
  • Vincente Minnelli, The Bad and the Beautiful
  • Fred Zinnemann, High Noon

My Vote: Fred Zinnemann, High Noon

1951

Actual Nominees:

  • John Huston, The African Queen
  • Elia Kazan, A Streetcar Named Desire
  • Vincente Minnelli, An American in Paris
  • George Stevens, A Place in the Sun
  • William Wyler, Detective Story

 

 

 

 

My Vote: John Huston, The African Queen

I would love for Ace in the Hole to be here, but, all things considered, I like this list.

Compromise List:

  • John Huston, The African Queen
  • Elia Kazan, A Streetcar Named Desire
  • Vincente Minnelli, An American in Paris
  • George Stevens, A Place in the Sun
  • William Wyler, Detective Story

My Vote: John Huston, The African Queen

1950

Actual Nominees:

  • George Cukor, Born Yesterday
  • John Huston, The Asphalt Jungle
  • Joseph L. Mankiewicz, All About Eve
  • Carol Reed, The Third Man
  • Billy Wilder, Sunset Boulevard

 

 

 

My Vote: Carol Reed, The Third Man

I’d put on Jules Dassin for Night and the City instead of Cukor, but otherwise, I like the list.

Compromise List:

  • George Cukor, Born Yesterday
  • John Huston, The Asphalt Jungle
  • Joseph L. Mankiewicz, All About Eve
  • Carol Reed, The Third Man
  • Billy Wilder, Sunset Boulevard

My Vote: Carol Reed, The Third Man

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