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Academy Award for Best Director facts for kids

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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
Country United States
First awarded 1929 (for direction in films released during the 1927/1928 film season)
Currently held by Michel Hazanavicius,
The Artist (2011)

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). It is given to directors for a movie.

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.

Winners and nominees


In the first year only, the award was separated into Dramatic Direction and Comedy Direction.

Year Winner
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
1928/29 Frank Lloyd
 – The Divine Lady
Lionel BarrymoreMadame X
Harry Beaumont – The Broadway Melody
Irving Cummings – In Old Arizona
Frank Lloyd - Drag and Weary River
Ernst Lubitsch – The Patriot
1929/30 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


Year Winner
1930/31 Norman Taurog
 – Skippy
Clarence Brown – A Free Soul
Lewis MilestoneThe Front Page
Wesley Ruggles – Cimarron
Josef von Sternberg – Morocco
1931/32 Frank Borzage
 – Bad Girl
King Vidor – The Champ
Josef von Sternberg – Shanghai Express
1932/33 Frank Lloyd
 – Cavalcade
Frank CapraLady for a Day
George CukorLittle Women

(The Academy also announced that Capra came in second, and Cukor last.)

1934 Frank Capra
 – It Happened One Night
Victor Schertzinger – One Night of Love
W. S. Van Dyke – The Thin Man

(The Academy also announced that Van Dyke came in second, and Schertzinger last.)

1935 John Ford
 – The Informer
Henry Hathaway – The Lives of a Bengal Lancer
Frank LloydMutiny on the Bounty

(The Academy also announced that write-in candidate Michael Curtiz, for Captain Blood, came in second, and Hathaway third.)

1936 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 WylerDodsworth
1937 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
1938 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
1939 Victor Fleming
 – Gone with the Wind
Frank CapraMr. Smith Goes to Washington
John FordStagecoach
Sam Wood – Goodbye, Mr. Chips
William WylerWuthering Heights


Year Winner
1940 John Ford
 – The Grapes of Wrath
George CukorThe Philadelphia Story
Alfred HitchcockRebecca
Sam Wood – Kitty Foyle
William WylerThe Letter
1941 John Ford
 – How Green Was My Valley
Alexander Hall – Here Comes Mr. Jordan
Howard HawksSergeant York
Orson WellesCitizen Kane
William WylerThe Little Foxes
1942 William Wyler
 – Mrs. Miniver
Michael Curtiz – Yankee Doodle Dandy
John Farrow – Wake Island
Mervyn LeRoy – Random Harvest
Sam Wood – Kings Row
1943 Michael Curtiz
 – Casablanca
Clarence Brown – The Human Comedy
Henry King – The Song of Bernadette
Ernst Lubitsch – Heaven Can Wait
George StevensThe More the Merrier
1944 Leo McCarey
 – Going My Way
Alfred HitchcockLifeboat
Henry King – Wilson
Otto PremingerLaura
Billy WilderDouble Indemnity
1945 Billy Wilder
 – The Lost Weekend
Clarence Brown – National Velvet
Alfred HitchcockSpellbound
Leo McCarey – The Bells of St. Mary's
Jean RenoirThe Southerner
1946 William Wyler
 – The Best Years of Our Lives
Clarence Brown – The Yearling
Frank CapraIt's a Wonderful Life
David LeanBrief Encounter
Robert Siodmak – The Killers
1947 Elia Kazan
 – Gentleman's Agreement
George CukorA Double Life
Edward Dmytryk – Crossfire
Henry Koster – The Bishop's Wife
David LeanGreat Expectations
1948 John Huston
 – The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Anatole Litvak – The Snake Pit
Jean Negulesco – Johnny Belinda
Laurence OlivierHamlet
Fred Zinnemann – The Search
1949 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 WylerThe Heiress


Year Winner
1950 Joseph L. Mankiewicz
 – All About Eve
George CukorBorn Yesterday
John HustonThe Asphalt Jungle
Carol Reed – The Third Man
Billy WilderSunset Boulevard
1951 George Stevens
 – A Place in the Sun
John HustonThe African Queen
Elia KazanA Streetcar Named Desire
Vincente Minnelli – An American in Paris
William WylerDetective Story
1952 John Ford
 – The Quiet Man
Cecil B. DeMilleThe Greatest Show on Earth
John HustonMoulin Rouge
Joseph L. Mankiewicz5 Fingers
Fred Zinnemann – High Noon
1953 Fred Zinnemann
 – From Here to Eternity
George StevensShane
Charles Walters – Lili
Billy WilderStalag 17
William WylerRoman Holiday
1954 Elia Kazan
 – On the Waterfront
Alfred HitchcockRear Window
George SeatonThe Country Girl
William A. Wellman – The High and the Mighty
Billy WilderSabrina
1955 Delbert Mann
 – Marty
Elia KazanEast of Eden
David LeanSummertime
Joshua Logan – Picnic
John Sturges – Bad Day at Black Rock
1956 George Stevens
 – Giant
Michael Anderson – Around the World in 80 Days
Walter Lang – The King and I
King Vidor – War and Peace
William WylerFriendly Persuasion
1957 David Lean
 – The Bridge on the River Kwai
Joshua Logan – Sayonara
Sidney Lumet12 Angry Men
Mark Robson – Peyton Place
Billy WilderWitness for the Prosecution
1958 Vincente Minnelli
 – Gigi
Richard Brooks – Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Stanley KramerThe Defiant Ones
Mark Robson – The Inn of the Sixth Happiness
Robert WiseI Want to Live!
1959 William Wyler
 – Ben-Hur
Jack Clayton – Room at the Top
George StevensThe Diary of Anne Frank
Billy WilderSome Like It Hot
Fred Zinnemann – The Nun's Story


Year Winner
1960 Billy Wilder
 – The Apartment
Jack Cardiff – Sons and Lovers
Jules Dassin – Never on Sunday
Alfred HitchcockPsycho
Fred Zinnemann – The Sundowners
1961 Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins
 – West Side Story
Federico FelliniLa Dolce Vita
Stanley KramerJudgment at Nuremberg
Robert Rossen – The Hustler
J. Lee ThompsonThe Guns of Navarone
1962 David Lean
 – Lawrence of Arabia
Pietro Germi – Divorce, Italian Style
Robert MulliganTo Kill a Mockingbird
Arthur PennThe Miracle Worker
Frank Perry – David and Lisa
1963 Tony Richardson
 – Tom Jones
Federico Fellini
Elia KazanAmerica, America
Otto PremingerThe Cardinal
Martin RittHud
1964 George Cukor
 – My Fair Lady
Michael CacoyannisZorba the Greek
Peter Glenville – Becket
Stanley KubrickDr. Strangelove
Robert Stevenson – Mary Poppins
1965 Robert Wise
 – The Sound of Music
David LeanDoctor Zhivago
John SchlesingerDarling
Hiroshi Teshigahara – The Woman in the Dunes
William WylerThe Collector
1966 Fred Zinnemann
 – A Man for All Seasons
Michelangelo AntonioniBlowup
Richard Brooks – The Professionals
Claude LelouchA Man and a Woman
Mike NicholsWho's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
1967 Mike Nichols
 – The Graduate
Richard Brooks – In Cold Blood
Norman JewisonIn the Heat of the Night
Stanley KramerGuess Who's Coming to Dinner
Arthur PennBonnie and Clyde
1968 Carol Reed
 – Oliver!
Anthony Harvey – The Lion in Winter
Stanley Kubrick2001: A Space Odyssey
Gillo Pontecorvo – The Battle of Algiers
Franco ZeffirelliRomeo and Juliet
1969 John Schlesinger
 – Midnight Cowboy
Costa GavrasZ
George Roy Hill – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Arthur PennAlice's Restaurant
Sydney PollackThey Shoot Horses, Don't They?


Year Winner
1970 Franklin J. Schaffner
 – Patton
Robert AltmanMASH
Federico FelliniSatyricon
Arthur HillerLove Story
Ken RussellWomen in Love
1971 William Friedkin
 – The French Connection
Peter BogdanovichThe Last Picture Show
Norman JewisonFiddler on the Roof
Stanley KubrickA Clockwork Orange
John SchlesingerSunday Bloody Sunday
1972 Bob Fosse
 – Cabaret
John BoormanDeliverance
Francis Ford CoppolaThe Godfather
Joseph L. MankiewiczSleuth
Jan Troell – The Emigrants
1973 George Roy Hill
 – The Sting
Ingmar BergmanCries and Whispers
Bernardo Bertolucci - Last Tango in Paris
William Friedkin - The Exorcist
George LucasAmerican Graffiti
1974 Francis Ford Coppola
 – The Godfather Part II
John CassavetesA Woman Under the Influence
Bob FosseLenny
Roman PolanskiChinatown
François TruffautDay for Night
1975 Miloš Forman
 – One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Robert AltmanNashville
Federico FelliniAmarcord
Stanley KubrickBarry Lyndon
Sidney LumetDog Day Afternoon
1976 John G. Avildsen
 – Rocky
Ingmar BergmanFace to Face
Sidney LumetNetwork
Alan J. PakulaAll the President's Men
Lina WertmüllerSeven Beauties
1977 Woody Allen
 – Annie Hall
George LucasStar Wars
Herbert RossThe Turning Point
Steven SpielbergClose Encounters of the Third Kind
Fred Zinnemann – Julia
1978 Michael Cimino
 – The Deer Hunter
Woody AllenInteriors
Hal Ashby – Coming Home
Warren Beatty & Buck HenryHeaven Can Wait
Alan ParkerMidnight Express
1979 Robert Benton
 – Kramer vs. Kramer
Francis Ford CoppolaApocalypse Now
Bob FosseAll That Jazz
Édouard MolinaroLa Cage aux Folles
Peter YatesBreaking Away


Year Winner
1980 Robert Redford
 – Ordinary People
David LynchThe Elephant Man
Roman PolanskiTess
Richard RushThe Stunt Man
Martin ScorseseRaging Bull
1981 Warren Beatty
 – Reds
Hugh HudsonChariots of Fire
Louis MalleAtlantic City
Mark RydellOn Golden Pond
Steven SpielbergRaiders of the Lost Ark
1982 Richard Attenborough
 – Gandhi
Sidney LumetThe Verdict
Wolfgang PetersenDas Boot
Sydney PollackTootsie
Steven SpielbergE.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
1983 James L. Brooks
 – Terms of Endearment
Bruce Beresford – Tender Mercies
Ingmar BergmanFanny and Alexander
Mike NicholsSilkwood
Peter YatesThe Dresser
1984 Miloš Forman
 – Amadeus
Woody AllenBroadway Danny Rose
Robert BentonPlaces in the Heart
Roland Joffé – The Killing Fields
David LeanA Passage to India
1985 Sydney Pollack
 – Out of Africa
Héctor BabencoKiss of the Spider Woman
John HustonPrizzi's Honor
Akira KurosawaRan
Peter WeirWitness
1986 Oliver Stone
 – Platoon
Woody AllenHannah and Her Sisters
James IvoryA Room with a View
Roland Joffé – The Mission
David LynchBlue Velvet
1987 Bernardo Bertolucci
 – The Last Emperor
John BoormanHope and Glory
Lasse HallströmMy Life as a Dog
Norman JewisonMoonstruck
Adrian Lyne – Fatal Attraction
1988 Barry Levinson
 – Rain Man
Charles Crichton – A Fish Called Wanda
Mike NicholsWorking Girl
Alan ParkerMississippi Burning
Martin ScorseseThe Last Temptation of Christ
1989 Oliver Stone
 – Born on the Fourth of July
Woody AllenCrimes and Misdemeanors
Kenneth BranaghHenry V
Jim SheridanMy Left Foot
Peter WeirDead Poets Society


Year Winner
1990 Kevin Costner
 – Dances with Wolves
Francis Ford CoppolaThe Godfather Part III
Stephen FrearsThe Grifters
Barbet Schroeder – Reversal of Fortune
Martin ScorseseGoodfellas
1991 Jonathan Demme
 – The Silence of the Lambs
Barry LevinsonBugsy
Ridley ScottThelma & Louise
John SingletonBoyz n the Hood
Oliver StoneJFK
1992 Clint Eastwood
 – Unforgiven
Robert AltmanThe Player
Martin Brest – Scent of a Woman
James IvoryHowards End
Neil Jordan – The Crying Game
1993 Steven Spielberg
 – Schindler's List
Robert AltmanShort Cuts
Jane Campion – The Piano
James IvoryThe Remains of the Day
Jim SheridanIn the Name of the Father
1994 Robert Zemeckis
 – Forrest Gump
Woody AllenBullets Over Broadway
Krzysztof Kieślowski – Three Colors: Red
Robert RedfordQuiz Show
Quentin TarantinoPulp Fiction
1995 Mel Gibson
 – Braveheart
Mike Figgis – Leaving Las Vegas
Chris Noonan – Babe
Michael Radford – Il Postino
Tim RobbinsDead Man Walking
1996 Anthony Minghella
 – The English Patient
Joel CoenFargo
Miloš FormanThe People vs. Larry Flynt
Scott Hicks – Shine
Mike LeighSecrets & Lies
1997 James Cameron
 – Titanic
Peter Cattaneo – The Full Monty
Atom EgoyanThe Sweet Hereafter
Curtis HansonL.A. Confidential
Gus Van SantGood Will Hunting
1998 Steven Spielberg
 – Saving Private Ryan
Roberto BenigniLife Is Beautiful
John Madden – Shakespeare in Love
Terrence Malick – The Thin Red Line
Peter WeirThe Truman Show
1999 Sam Mendes
 – American Beauty
Lasse HallströmThe Cider House Rules
Spike JonzeBeing John Malkovich
Michael MannThe Insider
M. Night ShyamalanThe Sixth Sense


Year Winner
2000 Steven Soderbergh
 – Traffic
Stephen Daldry – Billy Elliot
Ang LeeCrouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Ridley ScottGladiator
Steven SoderberghErin Brockovich
2001 Ron Howard
 – A Beautiful Mind
Robert AltmanGosford Park
Peter JacksonThe Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
David LynchMulholland Drive
Ridley ScottBlack Hawk Down
2002 Roman Polanski
 – The Pianist
Pedro AlmodóvarTalk to Her
Stephen Daldry – The Hours
Rob Marshall – Chicago
Martin ScorseseGangs of New York
2003 Peter Jackson
 – The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Sofia CoppolaLost in Translation
Clint EastwoodMystic River
Fernando Meirelles – City of God
Peter WeirMaster and Commander: The Far Side of the World
2004 Clint Eastwood
 – Million Dollar Baby
Taylor Hackford – Ray
Mike LeighVera Drake
Alexander PayneSideways
Martin ScorseseThe Aviator
2005 Ang Lee
 – Brokeback Mountain
George ClooneyGood Night, and Good Luck.
Paul HaggisCrash
Bennett MillerCapote
Steven SpielbergMunich
2006 Martin Scorsese
 – The Departed
Clint EastwoodLetters from Iwo Jima
Stephen FrearsThe Queen
Alejandro González IñárrituBabel
Paul GreengrassUnited 93
2007 Joel & Ethan Coen
 – No Country for Old Men
Paul Thomas AndersonThere Will Be Blood
Tony Gilroy – Michael Clayton
Jason Reitman – Juno
Julian Schnabel – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
2008 Danny Boyle
 – Slumdog Millionaire
Stephen Daldry – The Reader
David FincherThe Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Ron HowardFrost/Nixon
Gus Van SantMilk
2009 Kathryn Bigelow
 – The Hurt Locker
James CameronAvatar
Lee DanielsPrecious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire
Jason Reitman – Up in the Air
Quentin TarantinoInglourious Basterds


Year Winner
2010 Tom Hooper
 – The King's Speech
Darren AronofskyBlack Swan
Joel & Ethan CoenTrue Grit
David FincherThe Social Network
David O. RussellThe Fighter
2011 Michel Hazanavicius
 -The Artist
Woody AllenMidnight in Paris
Terrence Malick – The Tree of Life
Alexander PayneThe Descendants
Martin ScorseseHugo

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.

However, no director has won for a film that is entirely in a foreign language.

There have been 20 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 film Brokeback Mountain.)
  • 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.)

Ironically, internationally known filmmakers Jean Renoir (for The Southerner), Michelangelo Antonioni (for Blowup) and Louis Malle (for Atlantic City) were nominated for films that were in English and not their native language.

Nominations for films primarily in English with some scenes (of a notable length) in a foreign language includes:

Several international nominees (regardless of the language used in their respective films) include:

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