Oscars: Best Director–Basic Facts You Need to Know

Research in Progress (Oct 17, 2021)

Oscar Gold: First 93 Years

Here are some basic facts you need to know about the Best Director Oscar, one of the most prestigious and competitive category:

In the first year, 1929, which honored film achievements in 1927 and 1928, two directors were honored, one for drama and one for comedy.

In the 90 year history of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, 69 individuals have won the Oscar award, some more than once.

William Wyler holds the record of the most nominated filmmaker, having received 12 Best Director nominations.

John Ford holds the record as the most awarded filmmaker, having won 4 Best Director Oscars.

In the Academy’s entire history, no African-American has ever won the Best Director Oscar.

Only five women have been nominated for the Best Director, and only one has won, Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker, in 2009.

The youngest Best Director Oscar winner is Damien Chazelle, 32, who won in 2016 for La La Land.

Polanski: Oldest Winner but Not Oldest Nominee

The oldest Best Director Oscar winner is Roman Polanski, who was 69, when he received the award in 2002 for The Pianist. However, it was his third directing nomination, and his feature debut, Knife in the Water, was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film in 1963 (the winner was Fellini’s 81/2)

Martin Scorsese is the only filmmaker who had had to wait until his his sixth nomination to win the Best Director, in 2006 for The Departed.

Mexican Trio at the Oscars

Over the past 5 years, Mexican-born helmers have dominated the Best Director category, beginning with Alfonso Cuaron, who won in 2014 for Gravity.

Only one filmmaker has been nominated for directing a documentary, Italian Gillo Pontecorvo, in 1968, for the epic The Battle of Algiers.

Oldest Living Winner

Th oldest living Best Director Oscar nominee was Michael Anderson (Around the World in 80 Days), who was 98, when he died in 2018.

Oldest Winner: Clint Eastwood, Million Dollar Baby, 74

At present, the oldest living Best Director winner is Clint Eastwood, who is now 91.  One of the oldest winners, Eastwood was 62, when he won his first award for Unforgiven, in 1992, and 74, when he won his second, for Million Dollar Baby in 2004.