Oscar Directors: Most Nominated, from All-Time Record (William Wyler) to Single Nominated Helmers

Oscar_statue_2The Directors Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is arguably one of its most eccentric units and least predictable unit in its choices.

For one thing, it is a very small branch, composed of about 400 directors, out of the 6,000 members of the Academy.

Readers often ask, how many nominations the winning (and nominated) directors have received during their careers?  Is there a trend? What’s the avergae number of nominations?

Our study shows that of the 68 filmmakers who have won the Best Director Award in the Academy’s history, only 22 (less than one third) have received just a single nomination.

The most nominated Oscar-winning director is still William Wyler, with 12 nods, ranging from the 1930s to the 1960s.

Wyler is followed by Billy Wilder and Martin Scorsese, each nominated 8 times for the Best Directing Oscar.  

the_Best_Years_of_Our_Lives_3_russellWilder had won two Directing Oscars (in 1945 for The Lost Weekend and in 1960 for The Apartment.

In contrast, Scorsese had won only one Oscar–in 2006 for The Departed–at his sixth nominations.  Which explains why he is one of the oldest (age 64) recipients of Oscar Gold.

Filmmakers Nominated for Best Director 8 times:

Bill Wilder, winner of 2 Oscars

Martin Scorsese, winner of 1 Oscar


Filmmakers Nominated for Best Director 7 times:

Fred Zinnemann, winner of 2 Oscars

David Lean, winner of 2 Oscars

Woody Allen, winner of 1 Oscar

Steven Spielberg, winner of 2 Oscars


Filmmakers Nominated for Best Director 6 times

Frank Capra, winner of 3 Oscars


Filmmakers Nominated 5 times

John Ford, winner of  2 Oscars

George Cukor, winner of 1 Oscar

Elia Kazan, winner of 2 Oscars

John Huston, winner of 1 Oscar

George Stevens, winner of 2 Oscars