Oscar Directors: McCarthy, Tom–Background, Career, Awards, Filmography

September 12, 2020

Tom McCarthy Career Summation

Occupational Inheritance:


Social Class:



Formal Education:

Training: Actor

First Film: Station Agent, 2003


First Oscar Nomination: Spotlight, 2015

Gap between First Film and First Nom: 12 years

Other Oscars:

Other Oscar Nominations:

Oscar Awards:

Nominations Span:

Genre (specialties):


Last Film:


Career Length:

Career Output:



Death: NA

Thomas Joseph McCarthy (born June 7, 1966) is an American film director, screenwriter, and actor who has appeared in several films, including Meet the Parents and Good Night, and Good Luck, and television series such as The Wire, Boston Public, Law & Order etc.

McCarthy has received critical acclaim for his writing/direction work for the independent films The Station Agent (2003), The Visitor (2007), Win Win (2011), and Spotlight (2015), the last of which won the Academy Award for Best Picture, won McCarthy the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, and earned him a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Director.

Additionally, McCarthy co-wrote the film Up (2009) with Bob Peterson and Pete Docter, for which they received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay. McCarthy also wrote the film Million Dollar Arm (2014) and served as a director and executive producer for the Netflix television series 13 Reasons Why (2017).

McCarthy was raised in New Providence, New Jersey, one of five children of Carol and Eugene F. “Gene” McCarthy;[3][4] Gene worked in the textile industry.[5] McCarthy was raised Catholic, in a family of Irish descent.[6] McCarthy is a graduate of New Providence High School in New Providence, New Jersey; Boston College, Class of 1988, where he was a member of the improv comedy troupe My Mother’s Fleabag; and the Yale School of Drama,[7][8] where he studied under Earle R. Gister.

McCarthy spent several years doing stand-up comedy and theater in Minneapolis and Chicago before going into television and film.[9] He starred in Flags of Our Fathers as James Bradley and the final season of The Wire as the morally challenged reporter Scott Templeton. He made his Broadway debut in the 2001 revival of Noises Off!

McCarthy’s directorial debut, The Station Agent, which he also wrote, won the Audience Award and the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival. The film also won the BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay and the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay and the Independent Spirit John Cassavetes Award. The Station Agent also won awards at film festivals ranging from San Sebastian to Stockholm, Mexico City, and Aspen.

McCarthy’s second feature film was The Visitor, which premiered at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival. For The Visitor, McCarthy won the 2008 Independent Spirit Award for Best Director.[12] McCarthy appeared in the 2009 dramas The Lovely Bones and 2012.[13][14] In 2010, McCarthy was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for the animated film Up.

He also co-wrote and directed 2011’s Win Win based on his experiences as a wrestler at New Providence High School.

McCarthy’s most recent film, the independent drama film Spotlight, received widespread acclaim following its release in 2015. The film received six Academy Awards nominations, three Golden Globe Awards nominations, two Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations, and eight Critics’ Choice Movie Awards nominations.

McCarthy directed the first two episodes of 13 Reasons Why, from Anonymous Content and Paramount Television. The show is based on the 2007 New York Times bestselling YA book by Jay Asher.[16]

Year Title Credit Notes
Director Writer Producer
2003 The Station Agent Yes Yes BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay
2007 The Visitor Yes Yes
2009 Up Story Nominated – Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay
2011 Win Win Yes Yes Yes
2014 Million Dollar Arm Yes
The Cobbler Yes Yes Yes
2015 Spotlight Yes Yes Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay
Nominated – Academy Award for Best Director
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Director
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay
2018 Christopher Robin[17] Yes
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Uncredited Rewrites on reshoots[18]
2020 Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made Yes Yes Yes
TBA Stillwater Yes Yes Yes Post-production
Acting credits
Year Title Role Notes
1992 Crossing the Bridge Chris
1993 Rift Bartender #1
1997 Conspiracy Theory Helicopter Spotter
1999 In My Sister’s Shadow Michael Butler
30 Days Brad Drazin
2000 Certain Guys Mitch
Meet the Parents Dr. Robert “Bob” Banks
2002 The Guru Lars
2004 The Last Shot Agent Pike
2005 Good Night, and Good Luck Palmer Williams
Syriana Fred Franks
The Great New Wonderful David Burbage
2006 All the King’s Men Editor
The Situation Major Hanks
Beautiful Ohio Older William Messerman
Flags of Our Fathers James Bradley
2007 Year of the Dog Pier
Michael Clayton Walter Voice only
2008 Baby Mama Kate’s Date
2009 Mammoth Bob
Duplicity Jeff Bauer
The Lovely Bones Principal Caden
2012 Gordon Silberman
2010 Jack Goes Boating Dr. Bob
Fair Game Jeff
Little Fockers Dr. Bob
2015 Pixels Michael the Robot
Year Title Credit Notes
Director Writer Producer
2010 Game of Thrones Yes Unaired pilot
2011 Consulting Episode “Winter Is Coming”
2017 13 Reasons Why Yes Executive Episodes “Tape 1, Side A” and “Tape 1, Side B”
2019 The Loudest Voice Yes Executive Also creator
Acting credits
Year Title Role Notes
1996 Mary & Tim Tim Melville [19]
New York Undercover Gus Farina Episode “Toy Soldiers”
1998 Saint Maybe Ian Bedloe
Spin City Priest Episode “Bye, Bye, Birdie”
2000 D.C. Joseph Scott Episode “Truth”
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Nick Ganzer Episode “Contact”
Ally McBeal Peter Hanks Episode “Do You Wanna Dance?”
2000–2001 Boston Public Kevin Riley 14 episodes
2001 The Practice Episode “The Day After”
2002–2008 Law & Order Donald Housman 3 episodes
2008 The Wire Scott Templeton 10 episodes
2020 Little America Professor Robbins