Oscar Directors: Ivory, James–Background, Career, Awards, Filmography

October 14, 2020

James Ivory Career Summation

Occupational Inheritance: No

Nationality:

Social Class: middle; father sawmill operator

Race/Ethnicity/Religion

Sex Orientation: Gay

Family:

Formal Education: University of Oregon, fine arts, degree 1951; age 23

Training: Graduated, USC, 1957, aged 29

First Film: age 45 (feature); younger when directed shorts

Breakthrough: Room With a View, 1986; age 59

First Oscar Nomination: Room With a View, 1986; age 59

Gap between First Film and First Nom, 15 years

Other Oscars:

Other Oscar Nominations: 3 Director noms, including Howards End

Oscar Awards: Best Adapted Screenplay, 2017; 89 (oldest winner)

Nominations Span:

Genre (specialties): Literary adaptations

Collaborators: producer Ismail Merchant; screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala

Last Film:

Career Length: 1965-2017; 1953-2017

Career Output:

Career Shape: Longest production company in Independent Cinema

Masterpieces/Great Film: Room with a View; best work, 1979-1993 (14 years), while in his 50s and 60s

Marriage:  Gay

Politics:

Death:

James Francis Ivory (born June 7, 1928) is an American film director, producer, and screenwriter, who had worked extensively with Indian-born film producer Ismail Merchant, his domestic and professional partner, and with screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala.

The three, principals in Merchant Ivory Productions, have won six Oscar Awards; Ivory himself has been nominated for four Oscars, winning one.

Ivory’s directorial work includes A Room with a View (1986), Maurice (1987), Howards End (1992), and The Remains of the Day (1993).

For his work on Call Me by Your Name (2017), which he wrote and produced, Ivory won Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Writers Guild of America, the Critics’ Choice Awards, and the Scripter Awards.

Upon winning the Oscar and BAFTA at the age of 89, Ivory became the oldest-ever winner in any category for both awards.

Ivory was born in Berkeley, California, the son of Hallie Millicent (née de Loney) and Edward Patrick Ivory, a sawmill operator. He grew up in Klamath Falls, Oregon. He attended the University of Oregon, where he received a degree in fine arts in 1951. Ivory is a recipient of the Lawrence Medal, UO’s College of Design’s highest honor.

His papers are held by UO Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives.

He attended the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, where he directed the short film Four in the Morning (1953).

He wrote, photographed, and produced Venice: Theme and Variations, a half-hour documentary submitted as his thesis film for his master’s degree in cinema. The film was named by the NY Times in 1957 as one of the ten best non-theatrical films of the year. He graduated from USC in 1957.

Ivory met producer Ismail Merchant at a screening of Ivory’s documentary “The Sword and the Flute” in New York City in 1959.

In May 1961, Merchant and Ivory formed the film production company Merchant Ivory Productions. Merchant and Ivory were long-term life partners. Their professional and romantic partnership lasted 44 years, from 1961 until Merchant’s death in 2005. Ivory owned several homes, including the Jacob Rutsen Van Rensselaer House and Mill Complex in Claverack, New York.

Their partnership has a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest partnership in independent cinema history. Until Merchant’s death in 2005, they produced 40 films, including a number of films that received Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe awards among many others.

Ivory directed 17 theatrical films for Merchant Ivory, and novelist Ruth Prawer Jhabvala was the screenwriter for 22 of their productions in addition to another film produced by Merchant Ivory after Merchant’s death.

Of this collaboration, Ismail Merchant once commented: “It is a strange marriage we have at Merchant Ivory … I am an Indian Muslim, Ruth is a German Jew, and Jim is a Protestant American. Someone once described us as a three-headed god. Maybe they should have called us a three-headed monster!”

In 1985 A Room with a View, based on the E. M. Forster novel, was nominated for 8 Oscar Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, and won three, for Jhabvala’s adaptation of Forster’s novel as well as for Best Costume and Best Production Design. A Room With a View was also voted Best Film of the year by the Critic’s Circle Film Section of Great Britain, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, the National Board of Review in the United States and in Italy, where the film won the Donatello Prize for Best Foreign Language Picture and Best Director. In 1987, Maurice received a Silver Lion Award for Best Director at the Venice Film Festival as well as Best Film Score for Richard Robbins and Best Actor Awards for co-stars James Wilby and Hugh Grant.

This was followed in 1990 by Mr. and Mrs. Bridge, which was adapted by Jhabvala from the novels by Evan S. Connell.

This film received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress (Joanne Woodward), as well as Best Actress and Best Screenplay from the New York Film Critics Circle.

In 1992 Ivory directed another film adapted from Forster, Howards End. The film was nominated for nine Academy awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, and won three: Best Actress (Emma Thompson), Best Screenplay – Adaptation (Ruth Prawer Jhabvala), and Best Art Direction/Set Decoration (Luciana Arrighi/Ian Whittaker). The film also won Best Picture at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Awards, as well as awards for Best Picture, Best Actress for Emma Thompson and Best Director for Ivory from the National Board of Review. The Directors Guild of America awarded the D.W. Griffith award, its highest honor, to Ivory for his work. At the 1992 Cannes Film Festival the film won the 45th Anniversary Prize.

Howards End was followed by The Remains of the Day, which was nominated for 8 Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director.

For his work in Call Me by Your Name (2017), Ivory received the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, a Critics’ Choice Movie Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, and USC Scripter Award for Best Screenplay. He was also nominated for the AACTA International Award for Best Screenplay, and the Gotham Independent Film Award for Best Screenplay.

At 89, Ivory is the oldest person to ever be nominated for or win an Oscar Award.

Filmography

1953 Four in the Morning Short
1957 Venice: Theme and Variations Short
1959 The Sword and the Flute Short

1963 The Householder
1964 The Delhi Way Documentary
1965 Shakespeare Wallah also co-writer
1969 The Guru also co-writer
1970 Bombay Talkie also co-writer
1972 Adventures of a Brown Man in Search of Civilization (BBC-TV Documentary)
1972 Savages
1975 Autobiography of a Princess
1975 The Wild Party
1976 Hullabaloo Over Georgie and Bonnie’s Pictures
1977 Roseland
1979 The Europeans
1979 The Five Forty-Eight TV film
1980 Jane Austen in Manhattan
1981 Quartet
1983 Heat and Dust
1984 The Bostonians
1986 A Room with a View
1987 Maurice also co-writer
1989 Slaves of New York
1990 Mr. and Mrs. Bridge
1992 Howards End
1993 The Remains of the Day
1995 Jefferson in Paris
1995 Lumière and Company (segment)
1996 Surviving Picasso
1998 A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries also co-writer
2000 The Golden Bowl
2003 Le Divorce also co-writer
2005 The White Countess
2009 The City of Your Final Destination

Other credits
Helen, Queen of the Nautch Girls (1973, short, directed by Anthony Korner)– script
The Courtesans of Bombay (1983, documentary, directed by Ismail Merchant); devised
Call Me by Your Name (2017, film, directed by Luca Guadagnino); producer, screenplay

Awards and nominations: Academy Awards

Year Film Category Result
1986 Best Director A Room with a View Nominated
1993 Best Director Howards End Nominated
1994 Best Director The Remains of the Day Nominated
2018 Best Adapted Screenplay Call Me by Your Name Won
Golden Globe Awards

Year Category Film Result
1986 Best Director A Room with a View Nominated
1992 Best Director Howards End Nominated
1993 Best Director The Remains of the Day Nominated
BAFTA Film Awards

Year Category Film Result
1983 Best Director Heat and Dust Nominated
1986 Best Director A Room with a View Nominated
1986 Best Film Won
1992 Best Director Howards End Nominated
1992 Best Film Won
1993 Best Director The Remains of the Day Nominated
1993 Best Film Nominated
2017 Best Adapted Screenplay Call Me by Your Name Won
Cannes Film Festival

Year Category Film Result
1979 Palme d’Or The Europeans Nominated
1981 Quartet Nominated
1983 Heat and Dust Nominated
1992 Howards End Nominated
45th Anniversary Prize Won
1995 Palme d’Or Jefferson in Paris Nominated
2000 The Golden Bowl Nominated
Directors Guild of America Award

Year Category Film Result
1986 Best Director A Room with a View Nominated
1992 Howards End Nominated
1993 The Remains of the Day Nominated
1995 Lifetime Achievement Award N/A Won
Writers Guild of America Awards

Year Category Film Result
2017 Best Adapted Screenplay Call Me by Your Name Won
Film Independent Spirit Awards

Year Category Film Result
1993 Best International Film Howards End Nominated
2017 Best Feature Call Me by Your Name Nominated