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The Oscar Quest: Reconsidered – The Best Director Categories

We’ve gone through all the categories again and now it’s wrap-up time. I’ve decided that the proper way to wrap things up is to look at each of the six (original) Oscar Quest categories and compare how I voted the first time versus how I voted this time. The idea being to gauge where my tastes have changed over the past five years, as that was the purpose of going through and doing it again anyway.

Today is Best Actress. I’ve included a table of how I voted both times and color-coded the ones that are different so you can skim through easily. Then I’ll work my way through each of the categories where I changed votes, figure out why they changed and try to predict how it’s gonna go in another five years. 

Year The 2011/2012 Vote The 2016/2017 Vote
1927-1928 Drama: Frank Borzage, Seventh Heaven

 

Comedy: Lewis Milestone, Two Arabian Knights

Drama: Frank Borzage, Seventh Heaven

 

Comedy: Lewis Milestone, Two Arabian Knights

1928-1929 Frank Lloyd, Weary River Frank Lloyd, Weary River
1929-1930 Lewis Milestone, All Quiet on the Western Front Lewis Milestone, All Quiet on the Western Front
1930-1931 Norman Taurog, Skippy Norman Taurog, Skippy
1931-1932 Frank Borzage, Bad Girl Frank Borzage, Bad Girl
1932-1933 Frank Lloyd, Cavalcade Frank Lloyd, Cavalcade
1934 W.S. Van Dyke, The Thin Man Frank Capra, It Happened One Night
1935 John Ford, The Informer John Ford, The Informer
1936 W.S. Van Dyke, San Francisco Robert Z. Leonard, The Great Ziegfeld
1937 Leo McCarey, The Awful Truth Leo McCarey, The Awful Truth
1938 Michael Curtiz, Angels with Dirty Faces Frank Capra, You Can’t Take It With You
1939 Victor Fleming, Gone With the Wind Victor Fleming, Gone With the Wind
1940 John Ford, The Grapes of Wrath John Ford, The Grapes of Wrath
1941 Orson Welles, Citizen Kane Orson Welles, Citizen Kane
1942 William Wyler, Mrs. Miniver Mervyn LeRoy, Random Harvest
1943 Michael Curtiz, Casablanca Michael Curtiz, Casablanca
1944 Billy Wilder, Double Indemnity Alfred Hitchcock, Lifeboat
1945 Billy Wilder, The Lost Weekend Billy Wilder, The Lost Weekend
1946 David Lean, Brief Encounter Frank Capra, It’s a Wonderful Life
1947 Elia Kazan, Gentleman’s Agreement Elia Kazan, Gentleman’s Agreement
1948 John Huston, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre John Huston, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
1949 William Wellman, Battleground Carol Reed, The Fallen Idol
1950 Carol Reed, The Third Man Carol Reed, The Third Man
1951 John Huston, The African Queen George Stevens, A Place in the Sun
1952 Fred Zinnemann, High Noon John Ford, The Quiet Man
1953 Fred Zinnemann, From Here to Eternity William Wyler, Roman Holiday
1954 Elia Kazan, On the Waterfront Elia Kazan, On the Waterfront
1955 John Sturges, Bad Day at Black Rock John Sturges, Bad Day at Black Rock
1956 George Stevens, Giant George Stevens, Giant
1957 David Lean, The Bridge on the River Kwai David Lean, The Bridge on the River Kwai
1958 Vincente Minnelli, Gigi Stanley Kramer, The Defiant Ones
1959 William Wyler, Ben-Hur William Wyler, Ben-Hur
1960 Alfred Hitchcock, Psycho Billy Wilder, The Apartment
1961 Robert Rossen, The Hustler Robert Wise & Jerome Robbins, West Side Story
1962 David Lean, Lawrence of Arabia David Lean, Lawrence of Arabia
1963 Federico Fellini, Federico Fellini,
1964 Stanley Kubrick, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb Stanley Kubrick, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
1965 John Schlesinger, Darling Hiroshi Teshigahara, Woman in the Dunes
1966 Mike Nichols, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Mike Nichols, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
1967 Mike Nichols, The Graduate Mike Nichols, The Graduate
1968 Stanley Kubrick, 2001: A Space Odyssey Stanley Kubrick, 2001: A Space Odyssey
1969 George Roy Hill, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid George Roy Hill, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
1970 Franklin Schaffner, Patton Franklin Schaffner, Patton
1971 William Friedkin, The French Connection William Friedkin, The French Connection
1972 Francis Ford Coppola, The Godfather Francis Ford Coppola, The Godfather
1973 George Roy Hill, The Sting George Roy Hill, The Sting
1974 Francis Ford Coppola, The Godfather Part II Francis Ford Coppola, The Godfather Part II
1975 Sidney Lumet, Dog Day Afternoon Sidney Lumet, Dog Day Afternoon
1976 Sidney Lumet, Network John G. Avildsen, Rocky
1977 George Lucas, Star Wars George Lucas, Star Wars
1978 Michael Cimino, The Deer Hunter Michael Cimino, The Deer Hunter
1979 Francis Ford Coppola, Apocalypse Now Francis Ford Coppola, Apocalypse Now
1980 Martin Scorsese, Raging Bull Martin Scorsese, Raging Bull
1981 Steven Spielberg, Raiders of the Lost Ark Steven Spielberg, Raiders of the Lost Ark
1982 Wolfgang Petersen, Das Boot Wolfgang Petersen, Das Boot
1983 James L. Brooks, Terms of Endearment James L. Brooks, Terms of Endearment
1984 Milos Forman, Amadeus Milos Forman, Amadeus
1985 Akira Kurosawa, Ran Sydney Pollack, Out of Africa
1986 Oliver Stone, Platoon Oliver Stone, Platoon
1987 John Boorman, Hope and Glory Bernardo Bertolucci, The Last Emperor
1988 Martin Scorsese, The Last Temptation of Christ Barry Levinson, Rain Man
1989 Jim Sheridan, My Left Foot Oliver Stone, Born on the Fourth of July
1990 Martin Scorsese, Goodfellas Martin Scorsese, Goodfellas
1991 Jonathan Demme, The Silence of the Lambs Jonathan Demme, The Silence of the Lambs
1992 Clint Eastwood, Unforgiven Clint Eastwood, Unforgiven
1993 Steven Spielberg, Schindler’s List Steven Spielberg, Schindler’s List
1994 Quentin Tarantino, Pulp Fiction Robert Zemeckis, Forrest Gump
1995 Mel Gibson, Braveheart Mel Gibson, Braveheart
1996 Joel & Ethan Coen, Fargo Joel & Ethan Coen, Fargo
1997 James Cameron, Titanic James Cameron, Titanic
1998 Steven Spielberg, Saving Private Ryan Steven Spielberg, Saving Private Ryan
1999 Sam Mendes, American Beauty Sam Mendes, American Beauty
2000 Ridley Scott, Gladiator Ridley Scott, Gladiator
2001 Peter Jackson, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Peter Jackson, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
2002 Martin Scorsese, Gangs of New York Roman Polanski, The Pianist
2003 Peter Jackson, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Peter Jackson, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
2004 Martin Scorsese, The Aviator Martin Scorsese, The Aviator
2005 Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain George Clooney, Good Night, and Good Luck
2006 Martin Scorsese, The Departed Martin Scorsese, The Departed
2007 Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood
2008 Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
2009 Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
2010 N/A Joel & Ethan Coen, True Grit
2011 N/A Martin Scorsese, Hugo
2012 N/A Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
2013 N/A Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
2014 N/A Alejandro G. Inarritu, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
2015 N/A Alejandro G. Inarritu, The Revenant
2016 N/A Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Out of 89 Best Actor categories, I’ve changed my opinion on 26 of them. Which is a 29% overall and 31% of the ones I have to compare.

  • 1934, Frank Capra for It Happened One Night over W.S. Van Dyke for The Thin Man

The Thin Man may be my favorite movie of all time, but Capra deserved this. He should be the vote, and that’s why I took him this time. No guarantee I keep taking him, but I probably will. I’m impartial enough to admit that.

  • 1936, Robert Z. Leonard for The Great Ziegfeld over W.S. Van Dyke for San Francisco

I took San Francisco because of the special effects of the disaster sequence. Other than that, it didn’t really need the vote. Plus, Van Dyke didn’t win for The Thin Man, so I’m sure that had something to do with it last time. This time, Leonard is really the choice. Ziegfeld has the grandest direction, so that’s the choice. Wouldn’t take Capra at all this time, so the choice will always have to be elsewhere.

  • 1938, Frank Capra for You Can’t Take It With You over Michael Curtiz for Angels with Dirty Faces

I took Capra only because there was no one else to take. Curtiz last time was the vote because I didn’t get to take him for Adventures of Robin Hood, for which he was inexplicably not nominated. But I can’t really take him for a different film when I don’t really love the effort for that film. Maybe next time I will, but this time, Capra was the choice.

  • 1942, Mervyn LeRoy for Random Harvest over William Wyler for Mrs. Miniver

Wyler deserved to win and I switched over to LeRoy because I love Random Harvest. But Wyler should have been the vote this time. And I think I’ll go back to him in the future, as much as I love Random Harvest.

  • 1944, Alfred Hitchcock for Lifeboat over Billy Wilder for Double Indemnity

Wilder does a great job, but Hitchcock shooting an entire movie in a lifeboat… had to switch over to that this time. They’re both worth taking. So I’d suspect a lot of back and forth in future votes.

  • 1946, Frank Capra for It’s a Wonderful Life over David Lean for Brief Encounter

This category is insane. Capra, Wyler and Lean. They’re all great and all worth taking. So this is gonna be a contentious one every time I look at it. Capra makes sense this time around. No idea where I’m at in five years.

  • 1949, Carol Reed for The Fallen Idol over William Wellman for Battleground

One of those years where I’m never gonna take the person who won, so the vote will always go elsewhere. The Heiress and All the King’s Men are fine, not something I’d particularly take. So it’s pretty much either Battleground or The Fallen Idol. I always felt The Fallen Idol was the best effort, and I took Battleground last time because I voted for Reed in 1950 and it was my only chance to take Wellman. This time was about the best effort, so I went to Reed. It’ll be one or the other in the future. I can see myself going back and forth in the future. They’re both great.

  • 1951, George Stevens for A Place in the Sun over John Huston for The African Queen

I had a weird dislike of A Place in the Sun the first time, leading to my going elsewhere. Minnelli could have been the vote, but I doubt I’d have gone there. I’m surprised I didn’t go Kazan either time, given my love for Streetcar. I think I took Huston because I figured he was worth two wins. But the real win should have gone to Stevens. I love Kazan and I love Streetcar, but Stevens wins this category. He’s the vote here. I moved over to the right choice.

  • 1952, John Ford for The Quiet Man over Fred Zinnemann for High Noon

My love for The Quiet Man has overtaken my love for High Noon. They’re both worth voting for, but I think I’m now firmly in the Quiet Man camp and will continue to be going forward.

  • 1953, William Wyler for Roman Holiday over Fred Zinnemann for From Here to Eternity

I took Zinnemann the first time because he lost for High Noon and deserved to win something and directed a big, iconic film that won Best Picture. But my heart was always with Roman Holiday, and I’m not gonna ignore that anymore. Pretty sure that love will keep me voting for Wyler.

  • 1958, Stanley Kramer for The Defiant Ones over Vincente Minnelli for Gigi

I took Minnelli because he hadn’t won and deserved to. I felt Kramer gave the best effort so he became the vote this time. I could actually end up going anywhere with this next time and I’ll be curious to see how that goes. It’ll pretty much be one or the other. Not a whole lot else I’d really take here.

  • 1960, Billy Wilder for The Apartment over Alfred Hitchcock for Psycho

Really would have thought this vote would have gone the other way. Psycho is an immaculately directed film, but I don’t think it’s so automatic a winner that I need to take it. Plus, The Apartment is one of my five favorite films of all time, so I don’t feel so bad about the vote going that way. Sure, I guess I could switch back to Hitchcock, but I am very fine with the way I voted this time.

  • 1961, Robert Wise & Jerome Robbins for West Side Story over Robert Rossen for The Hustler

I took Rossen because of my love for The Hustler. West Side Story is the film that should have won this category. That is the vote and will be the vote going forward.

  • 1965, Hiroshi Teshigahara for Woman in the Dunes over John Schlesinger for Darling

This is one of those categories where I like taking the alternative nominees. Wise is great and worth taking, and Lean is great and worth taking. But both those films are so big in size that I prefer the smaller films with the more intimate direction. That went to Schlesinger last time, and now Teshigahara this time. Could be any one of the four next time and I’ll be very curious what happens when I watch all of them again for the next go around.

  • 1976, John G. Avildsen for Rocky over Sidney Lumet for Network

I stopped voting for what director I wanted to win and voted for what the best effort was. And I thought Avildsen had the best and most iconic effort. Lumet always feels like he’s just right there for the vote, but never quite delivers the goods enough to win. The films are there, but his efforts never quite feel up there. No idea why. I guess I could end up potentially switching over to Alan Pakula in the future, but I think I made the right choice with Avildsen, and given my love for Rocky I’ll probably keep voting for him.

  • 1985, Sydney Pollack for Out of Africa over Akira Kurosawa for Ran

Yeah.. I don’t know. I don’t like this category. Kurosawa has the body of work to win this, but Pollack also has it as well (in a different way). It’s a very weak year, so it could be either one going forward. Let me just leave it as — no fucking clue what I’m gonna do in the future. I still can’t believe I took Pollack this time. Makes sense, given where my head is at, but still…pretty much anything I take here feels like a weird choice.

  • 1987, Bernardo Bertolucci for The Last Emperor over John Boorman for Hope and Glory

Bertolucci deserved it, and he became the vote because I cut out all the bullshit and voted for what was best. I prefer Boorman’s film, but Bertolucci deserved this award.

  • 1988, Barry Levinson for Rain Man over Martin Scorsese for The Last Temptation of Christ

I took Scorsese because he hadn’t won and I felt he’d been robbed. If I’m being honest, I prefer Levinson’s direction. Scorsese did a better pure directing job, but I think all the ancillary stuff added up for Levinson, and I felt okay making him the vote this time. No idea what I do in the future with this.

  • 1989, Oliver Stone for Born on the Fourth of July over Jim Sheridan for My Left Foot

Because Sheridan wasn’t really the best effort in the category. I just preferred his film best in a year without a real “choice.” But when you look at what was nominated, Stone’s effort was the best and he deserved to win. It is what it is. He’ll continue being the vote in the future.

  • 1994, Robert Zemeckis for Forrest Gump over Quentin Tarantino for Pulp Fiction

Because I was being honest with myself in saying how much I truly love Forrest Gump. I might go back to Quentin in the future. The category is clearly one or the other. I just felt I needed to take Zemeckis at this point in time.

  • 2002, Roman Polanski for The Pianist over Martin Scorsese for Gangs of New York

Owing to my 180 on The Pianist. For some reason I didn’t care for it when I first saw it. That’s why we do this. I could still go back to Scorsese, since I do really love Gangs. But I would suspect a lot of Polanski votes more than others in the future.

  • 2005, George Clooney for Good Night, and Good Luck over Ang Lee for Brokeback Mountain

Ang Lee did a great job, but I wasn’t fooling anyone. I always thought Good Night and Good Luck was the better movie, so I swapped my vote from what I felt I should take to what I actually would take. I could go back to Lee in the future, but I did ultimately correct the vote to what I felt was my actual choice this time around.

  • 2009, Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker over Quentin Tarantino for Inglourious Basterds

Because Bigelow deserved it. I went Picture/Director on Tarantino, and part of that was not truly really liking The Hurt Locker at the time. Now, she and the film both deserved to win, and the vote has been corrected. The vote will be Bigelow going forward.

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