Oscar Directors: Field, Todd–Background, Career, Awards

Todd Field (born February 24, 1964) is an American actor and filmmaker, known for directing three feature films: In the Bedroom (2001), Little Children (2006), and Tár (2022).

Field has received 6 Oscar nominations, including Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay.

Field was born in Pomona, California, where his family ran a poultry farm. When Field turned two, his family moved to Portland, Oregon, where his father went to work as salesman, and his mother became a school librarian.

At an early age, he became interested in performing sleight-of-hand and later music.

As a child in Portland, Field was batboy for the Portland Mavericks, a single A independent minor league baseball team owned by Hollywood actor Bing Russell. Kurt Russell, Bing’s son and later an actor, also played for the Portland Mavericks during this time Field and Mavericks pitching coach Rob Nelson created the first batch of Big League Chew in the Field family kitchen. In 1980, Nelson and former New York Yankees all-star Jim Bouton sold the idea to the Wrigley Company. Since that time over 800 million pouches have been sold worldwide.

A budding jazz musician, at the age of 16 Field became member of the Big Band at Mount Hood Community College in Gresham, Oregon. Headed by Larry McVey, the band had become a proving-ground and regular stop for Stan Kenton and Mel Tormé when they were looking for new players. It was here Field played trombone along with his friend, trumpeter and future Grammy Award Winner Chris Botti. During this same time he also worked as a non-union projectionist at a second-run movie theater.

Field graduated with his class from Centennial High School on Portland’s east side and briefly attended Southern Oregon State College (now Southern Oregon University) in Ashland on a music scholarship, but left after his freshman year favoring a move to New York to study acting with Robert X. Modica at his renowned Carnegie Hall Studio.[8] Soon after, Field began performing with the Ark Theatre Company as both an actor and musician.[9] He received his Master of Fine Arts from the AFI Conservatory.

Field has worked in varying capacities as an actor, director, producer, composer, and screenwriter, and began making motion pictures after Woody Allen cast him in Radio Days (1987). He went on to work with some of America’s greatest filmmakers, including Stanley Kubrick, Victor Nuñez, and Carl Franklin. Franklin and Nuñez, both AFI alumni, encouraged Field to enroll as a Directing Fellow at the AFI, which he did in 1992. Since then, he has received the Franklin J. Schaffner Fellow Award from the AFI, the Satyajit Ray Award from the British Film Institute, and a Jury Prize from the Sundance Film Festival. His short films have been exhibited at various venues overseas and domestically at the Museum of Modern Art.

Field became one of Hollywood’s hottest new writer/directors with the release of In the Bedroom, a film based on Andre Dubus’s short story “Killings”. (Kubrick and Dubus were among Field’s mentors; both died right before the production of In the Bedroom.) In the Bedroom was nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actor (Tom Wilkinson, his first nomination), Best Actress (Sissy Spacek, her sixth), Supporting Actress (Marisa Tomei, her second), and Best Adapted Screenplay. The film was shot in Rockland, Maine, a New England town where Field resides. The house where he, his wife (Serena Rathbun), and their four children live was even used as the setting for one sequence.[11] Rathbun and Spacek did some of the set design and Field handled the camera himself on many of the shots.

Ansen: Todd Field exhibits a mastery of his craft many filmmakers never acquire in a lifetime. With one film he’s guaranteed his future as a director. He has the magnificent obsession of the natural-born filmmaker.

Field makes violence feel genuinely shocking.”

For his work on In the Bedroom, Field was named Director of the Year by the National Board of Review, and his script was awarded Best Original Screenplay. The film was named Best Picture of the Year by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and the New York Film Critics Circle awarded Field Best First Film.

In the Bedroom received six American Film Institute Awards, including Best Picture, Director, and Screenplay, three Golden Globe nominations, and five Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actress, and two individually for Field as screenwriter and producer. The American Film Institute honored Field with the Franklin Schaffner Alumni Medal.

Field followed In the Bedroom with Little Children, which was nominated for three Academy Awards, including two for the actors: Kate Winslet (her fifth nomination, and with it a record for the youngest actor to be nominated for five Academy Awards) and Jackie Earle Haley (his first nomination and first leading role in over 15 years). After having written, directed and produced just two feature films, Field had garnered five Academy Award nominations for his actors and three for himself. The film, based on Tom Perrotta’s novel of the same name, premiered at the 2006 New York Film Festival.

Members of Field’s creative team on In the Bedroom returned to work with him on the film, including Serena Rathbun.

In a 2006 interview, Field said he quit acting and began making his films after Rathbun told him, “Do what you want to do. Don’t get distracted.” Later that year, Field spoke extensively about the importance of Rathbun as creative partner, describing a conversation he had with her where she gave him the most pivotal scene: “for me, the film is unthinkable without it.”

After Little Children, Field went fifteen years without directing anything, which various film journalists lamented.

During that time, Field was attached to some film projects, including a film adaptation of the 2009 Boston Teran novel The Creed of Violence, set during the Mexican Revolution, which at different times was set to star DiCaprio, Christian Bale, and Daniel Craig; a coming-of-age Minor League Baseball story set in the 1970s Northwest; an adaptation of the 1985 Cormac McCarthy novel Blood Meridian; a political thriller called As It Happens, co-written by Joan Didion; an adaptation of Jess Walter’s novel Beautiful Ruins;[31] and a film about U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl.

In 2016, Field worked on a planned TV adaptation of the 2015 Jonathan Franzen novel Purity, which was to be a 20-hour limited series for Showtime. The series was to be co-written by Field, Franzen and playwright David Hare. It would have starred Daniel Craig as Andreas Wolf and be executive produced by Field, Franzen, Craig, Hare and Scott Rudin.

Field told the New York Times in 2022, “I set my sights in a very particular way on certain material that was probably very tough to get made.”

Field’s latest film, Tár, starring Cate Blanchett as the fictional conductor/composer Lydia Tár, premiered at the 79th Venice Film Fest, where it competed for the Golden Lion and Queer Lion, with Blanchett winning the Volpi Cup for Best Actress.

Critical Status:

For Field’s work on Tár, the Los Angeles Film Critics named him Best Director of the Year, and his script Best Original Screenplay, as did the National Society of Film Critics.

Tár was selected Best Film of the Year by the New York Film Critics Circle, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and the National Society of Film Critics, becoming only the seventh film in history named as such from the nation’s top critics’ groups, the so-called “trifecta.” The previous films were: Goodfellas, Schindler’s List, L. A. Confidential, The Hurt Locker, The Social Network, and Drive My Car.

Field’s film was also named “Best Picture of the Year” by more critics than any film in 2022. Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, The Guardian, Variety, Hollywood Reporter, Screen Daily, Entertainment Weekly, and IndieWire’s annual poll of 136 critics worldwide. The American Film Institute named it one of the top 10 films of the year.

Scorsese presenting Best Film at the 2022 New York Film Critics Circle, praised Field’s filmmaking: “For so long now, so many of us see films that pretty much let us know where they’re going, they take us by the hand and, even if it’s disturbing at times, sort of comfort us along the way that it will be all okay by the end. Now this is insidious, as one can get lulled into this and ultimately get used to it, leading those of us who’ve experienced cinema in the past – as much more than that – to become despairing of the future of the art form, especially for younger generations. But that’s on dark days. The clouds lifted when I experienced Todd’s film, Tár. What you’ve done, Todd – is that the very fabric of the movie you created doesn’t allow this. All the aspects of cinema and the film that you’ve used, attest to this. The shift in locations for example, the shift in locations alone do what cinema does best, which is to reduce space and time to what they are.

All of this is conveyed through masterful mise-en-scène, as controlled, precise, dangerous, precipitous angles and edges geometrically kind of chiseled into a wonderful 2:3:5 aspect ratio of frame compositions. The limits of the frame itself, and the provocation of measured long takes all reflecting the brutal architecture of Tár’s soul.”


1986 He Shoots, He Scores Anders Johansson Jean-Claude Lord
1987 Radio Days Crooner Woody Allen
The Allnighter Bellhop Tamar Simon Hoffs
1988 Eye of the Eagle 2: Inside the Enemy Private Anthony Glenn Carl Franklin
Back to Back Todd Brand John Kincaide
The End of Innocence Richard Dyan Cannon
1989 Fat Man and Little Boy Robert Rathbun Wilson Roland Joffe
Gross Anatomy David Schreiner Thom Eberhardt
1990 Full Fathom Five Johnson Carl Franklin
1991 Queens Logic Cecil Steve Rash
1993 Ruby in Paradise Mike McCaslin Victor Nuñez
357 Marina del Rey Rake Rowe Penelope Spheeris
1994 Sleep with Me Duane Rory Kelly
1996 Twister Tim ‘Beltzer’ Lewis Jan de Bont
Walking and Talking Frank Nicole Holofcener
1999 Broken Vessels Jimmy Warzniack Scott Ziehl
Eyes Wide Shut Nick Nightingale Stanley Kubrick
The Haunting Todd Hackett Jan de Bont
2000 Stranger than Fiction Austin Walker /
Donovan Miller Eric Bross
2001 New Port South Walsh Kyle Cooper
Net Worth Thad Davis Kenny Griswold


1986 Lance et compte Anders Johansson 5 episodes
1987 Gimme a Break! Eric 2 episodes
1987 Hard Knocks Chad Episode: “Captain Justice”
1987 Brothers Walter Episode: “Penny and the Hard Hat”
1987 Student Exchange Neil Barton
Adriano Fabrizzi Television movie
1987 Take Five Kevin Davis 6 episodes
1988 Roseanne Charles Episode: “D-I-V-O-R-C-E”
1990 Tales from the Crypt Eugene Episode: “Judy, You’re Not Yourself Today”
1991 Lookwell Jason Television movie
1993 Danger Theatre Ray Monroe Episode: “Searcher in the Mist/Sex, Lies & Decaf”
1993 Bakersfield P.D. Lewis Episode: “The Poker Game”
1995 Chicago Hope Josh Taubler Episode: “Heartbreak”
1998 Cupid Sam Episode: “Pick-Up Schticks”
1999–2001 Once and Again David Cassilli 28 episodes
2002–2003 Aqua Teen Hunger Force Ol’ Drippy Voice; 2 episodes


Feature films
2001 In the Bedroom
2006 Little Children
2022 Tár