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The Oscar Quest: My Oscar Nominations — Best Director (1927/1928-1949)

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.

1949

Actual Nominees:

  • 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

 

 

 

 

My Vote: William A. Wellman, Battleground

I like it. Leaving it.

Compromise List:

  • 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

My Vote: William A. Wellman, Battleground

1948

Actual Nominees:

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

 

 

 

 

My Vote: John Huston, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

Gotta put on Powell and Pressburger. Take off either Zinnemann or Litvak. Logic says Zinnemann.

Compromise List:

  • John Huston, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
  • Anatole Litvak, The Snake Pit
  • Jean Negulesco, Johnny Belinda
  • Laurence Olivier, Hamlet
  • Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, The Red Shoes

My Vote: John Huston, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

1947

Actual Nominees:

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

 

 

 

 

My Vote: David Lean, Great Expectations

Powell and Pressburger should be here too for Black Narcissus. And since I’m really on auto-pilot now and have given up on these articles, I’m changing it.

Compromise List:

  • George Cukor, A Double Life
  • Edward Dmytryk, Crossfire
  • Elia Kazan, Gentleman’s Agreement
  • David Lean, Great Expectations
  • Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, Black Narcissus

My Vote: Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, Black Narcissus

1946

Actual Nominees:

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

 

 

 

 

My Vote: David Lean, Brief Encounter

Not gonna make it three years in a row with Powell and Pressburger (but seriously…), because this list is pretty terrific. So I’ll leave it.

Compromise List:

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

My Vote: David Lean, Brief Encounter

1945

Actual Nominees:

  • Clarence Brown, National Velvet
  • Alfred Hitchcock, Spellbound
  • Leo McCarey, The Bells of St. Mary’s
  • Jean Renoir, The Southerner
  • Billy Wilder, The Lost Weekend

 

 

 

 

My Vote: Billy Wilder, The Lost Weekend

To me, Renoir and Hitchcock are weak links, but, being who they are and me not giving a shit, we’ll leave it.

Compromise List:

  • Clarence Brown, National Velvet
  • Alfred Hitchcock, Spellbound
  • Leo McCarey, The Bells of St. Mary’s
  • Jean Renoir, The Southerner
  • Billy Wilder, The Lost Weekend

My Vote: Billy Wilder, The Lost Weekend

1944

Actual Nominees:

  • Alfred Hitchcock, Lifeboat
  • Henry King, Wilson
  • Leo McCarey, Going My Way
  • Otto Preminger, Laura
  • Billy Wilder, Double Indemnity

 

 

 

 

My Vote: Billy Wilder, Double Indemnity

I’m cool with this.

Compromise List:

My Vote: Billy Wilder, Double Indemnity

1943

Actual Nominees:

  • Clarence Brown, The Human Comedy
  • Michael Curtiz, Casablanca
  • Henry King, The Song of Bernadette
  • Ernst Lubitsch, Heaven Can Wait
  • George Stevens, The More the Merrier

 

 

 

 

My Vote: Michael Curtiz, Casablanca

I like it.

Compromise List:

  • Clarence Brown, The Human Comedy
  • Michael Curtiz, Casablanca
  • Henry King, The Song of Bernadette
  • Ernst Lubitsch, Heaven Can Wait
  • George Stevens, The More the Merrier

My Vote: Michael Curtiz, Casablanca

1942

Actual Nominees:

  • Michael Curtiz, Yankee Doodle Dandy
  • John Farrow, Wake Island
  • Mervyn LeRoy, Random Harvest
  • Sam Wood, Kings Row
  • William Wyler, Mrs. Miniver

 

 

 

 

My Vote: William Wyler, Mrs. Miniver

It works.

Compromise List:

  • Michael Curtiz, Yankee Doodle Dandy
  • John Farrow, Wake Island
  • Mervyn LeRoy, Random Harvest
  • Sam Wood, Kings Row
  • William Wyler, Mrs. Miniver

My Vote: William Wyler, Mrs. Miniver

1941

Actual Nominees:

  • 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

 

 

 

 

My Vote: Orson Welles, Citizen Kane

Yeah, maybe Huston, but who comes off?

Compromise List:

  • 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

My Vote: Orson Welles, Citizen Kane

1940

Actual Nominees:

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

 

 

 

 

My Vote: John Ford, The Grapes of Wrath

Don’t like Wyler, but what are you gonna do?

Compromise List:

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

My Vote: John Ford, The Grapes of Wrath

1939

Actual Nominees:

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

 

 

 

 

My Vote: Victor Fleming, Gone With the Wind

If I change this list at all, it’ll be after I do my 30s list.

Compromise List:

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

My Vote: Victor Fleming, Gone With the Wind

1938

Actual Nominees:

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

 

 

 

My Vote: Michael Curtiz, Angels with Dirty Faces

If I change this list at all, it’ll be after I do my 30s list.

Oh, but the one change I’m making now — I’m nominating Michael Curtiz for the right movie.

Compromise List:

  • Frank Capra, You Can’t Take It With You
  • Michael Curtiz, The Adventures of Robin Hood Angels with Dirty Faces
  • Norman Taurog, Boys Town
  • King Vidor, The Citadel

My Vote: Michael Curtiz, The Adventures of Robin Hood

1937

Actual Nominees:

  • William Dieterle, The Life of Emile Zola
  • Sidney Franklin, The Good Earth
  • Gregory La Cava, Stage Door
  • Leo McCarey, The Awful Truth
  • William A. Wellman, A Star Is Born

 

 

 

 

My Vote: William A. Wellman, A Star Is Born

If I change this list at all, it’ll be after I do my 30s list.

Compromise List:

  • William Dieterle, The Life of Emile Zola
  • Sidney Franklin, The Good Earth
  • Gregory La Cava, Stage Door
  • Leo McCarey, The Awful Truth
  • William A. Wellman, A Star Is Born

My Vote: William A. Wellman, A Star Is Born

1936

Actual Nominees:

  • 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

 

 

 

 

My Vote: W.S. Van Dyke, San Francisco

If I change this list at all, it’ll be after I do my 30s list.

Compromise List:

  • 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

My Vote: W.S. Van Dyke, San Francisco

1935

Actual Nominees:

  • Michael Curtiz, Captain Blood
  • John Ford, The Informer
  • Henry Hathaway, The Lives of a Benagal Lancer
  • Frank Lloyd, Mutiny on the Bounty

 

 

 

My Vote: John Ford, The Informer

If I change this list at all, it’ll be after I do my 30s list.

Compromise List:

  • Michael Curtiz, Captain Blood
  • John Ford, The Informer
  • Henry Hathaway, The Lives of a Benagal Lancer
  • Frank Lloyd, Mutiny on the Bounty

My Vote: John Ford, The Informer

1934

Actual Nominees:

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

My Vote: W.S. Van Dyke, The Thin Man

If I change this list at all, it’ll be after I do my 30s list.

Compromise List:

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

My Vote: W.S. Van Dyke, The Thin Man

 

 

1932-1933

Actual Nominees:

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

 

 

My Vote: George Cukor, Little Women

If I change this list at all, it’ll be after I do my 30s list.

Compromise List:

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

My Vote: George Cukor, Little Women

1931-1932

Actual Nominees:

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

 

 

My Vote: Frank Borzage, Bad Girl

If I change this list at all, it’ll be after I do my 30s list.

Compromise List:

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

My Vote: Frank Borzage, Bad Girl

1930-1931

Actual Nominees:

  • Clarence Brown, A Free Soul
  • Lewis Milestone, The Front Page
  • Wesley Ruggles, Cimarron
  • Josef von Sternberg, Morocco
  • Norman Taurog, Skippy

 

 

 

 

My Vote: Norman Taurog, Skippy

If I change this list at all, it’ll be after I do my 30s list.

Compromise List:

  • Clarence Brown, A Free Soul
  • Lewis Milestone, The Front Page
  • Wesley Ruggles, Cimarron
  • Josef von Sternberg, Morocco
  • Norman Taurog, Skippy

My Vote: Norman Taurog, Skippy

1929-1930

Actual Nominees:

  • Clarence Brown, Anna Christie & Romance
  • Robert Z. Leonard, The Divorcee
  • Ernst Lubitsch, The Love Parade
  • Lewis Milestone, All Quiet on the Western Front
  • King Vidor, Halleuljah

 

 

 

 

My Vote: Lewis Milestone, All Quiet on the Western Front

If I change this list at all, it’ll be after I do my 30s list.

Compromise List:

  • Clarence Brown, Anna Christie & Romance
  • Robert Z. Leonard, The Divorcee
  • Ernst Lubitsch, The Love Parade
  • Lewis Milestone, All Quiet on the Western Front
  • King Vidor, Halleuljah

My Vote: Lewis Milestone, All Quiet on the Western Front

1928-1929

Actual Nominees:

  • Lionel Barrymore, Madame X
  • Harry Beaumont, The Broadway Melody
  • Irving Cummings, In Old Arizona
  • Frank Lloyd, The Divine Lady & Drag & Weary River
  • Ernst Lubitsch, The Patriot

 

 

 

 

My Vote: Frank Lloyd, Weary River

I leave these early lists alone on principle.

Compromise List:

  • Lionel Barrymore, Madame X
  • Harry Beaumont, The Broadway Melody
  • Irving Cummings, In Old Arizona
  • Frank Lloyd, The Divine Lady Drag & Weary River
  • Ernst Lubitsch, The Patriot

My Vote: Frank Lloyd, Weary River

1927-1928

Actual Nominees:

Comedy – Lewis Milestone, Two Arabian Knights

Ted Wilde,Speedy

Dramatic – Frank Borzage, Seventh Heaven

Herbert Brenon, Sorrell and Son

King Vidor, The Crowd

My Vote: Comedy – Lewis Milestone, Two Arabian Knights

Dramatic – Frank Borzage, Seventh Heaven

I’m leaving these early lists alone on principle.

Compromise List:

Comedy – Lewis Milestone, Two Arabian Knights

Ted Wilde, Speedy

Dramatic – Frank Borzage, Seventh Heaven

Herbert Brenon, Sorrell and Son

King Vidor, The Crowd

My Vote: Comedy – Lewis Milestone, Two Arabian Knights

Dramatic – Frank Borzage, Seventh Heaven

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