Oscar Directors: Winners–Origins and Social Backgrounds

December 10, 2020 

Over the past 92 years, 238 filmmakers have been nominated for the Best Director Oscar.  This Hollywood elite is composed of 168 nominees and 70 winners.

Many of the 70 winners have won multiple Oscar Awards and/or nominations.

Several of the 168 nominees have also been multiple candidates.

Except for the first year, in which two Best Directors were given (one for comedy, the other for drama), each year the category of Best Director has consisted of five nominees.

In theory, the directors are nominated regardless of genre, nationality, and the language in which their films were made.

In practice, however, this category is dominated by U.S. born filmmakers, who are nominated for English-speaking films.

Even foreign directors, such as Italian Bernardo Bertolucci, have been nominated (Last Tango in Paris, 1973) and have won (The Last Emperor, in 1987) for English-speaking films that are largely backed by American financing.

Oscar Winning Directors (A-Z)

Allen, Woody

mother bookkeeper; father jewelry engraver and waiter

Attenborough, Richard

Avildsen, John G.

Beatty, Warren

Benton Robert

Bertolucci, Bernardo (Italian for English)

Bigelow, Kathryn

Bong, Joon-ho  (Korean for Korean film)

Borzage, Frank

10. Boyle, Danny

Brooks, James L.

Cameron, James

Capra, Frank

Chazelle, Damien

Cimino, Michael

Coen, Ethan

Coen, Joel

Coppola, Francis Ford

Costner, Kevin

20. Cuaron, Alfonso (Mexican, won for both English and Mexican)

Cukor, George

Curtiz, Michael

Del Toro, Guillermo (Mexican for English-speaking)

Demme, Jonathan

Dieterle, William

Eastwood, Clint

Fleming, Victor

Ford, John

Forman, Milos (Czech for English-speaking)

30. Fosse, Bob

Friedkin, William

Gibson, Mel

Hazanovicius, Michel

Hill, George Roy

Hooper, Tom

Howard, Ron

Huston, John

Inarritu, Alejandro

Jackson, Peter

40. Kazan, Elia

Lean, David

Lee, Ang (Taiwan for English)

Levinson, Barry

Lloyd, Frank

McCarey, Leo

Mankiewicz, Joseph L.

Mann, Delbert

Mendes, Sam

Milestone, Lewis

50. Minghella, Anthony

Minnelli, Vincente

Nichols, Mike

Polanski, Roman (Polish for English)

Pollack, Sydney

Redford, Robert

Reed, Carol

Richardson, Tony

Robbins, Jerome

Schafflner, Franklin

60. Schlesinger, John

Scorsese, Martin

Soderbergh, Steven

Spielberg, Steven

Stevens, George

Stone, Oliver

Taurog, Norman

Wilder, Billy

Wise, Robert

Wyler, William

Zemeckis, Robert

Zinnemann, Fred


Foreign Directors

Bong, Joon-ho  (Korean for Korean film)

Foreign Born Directors

UK (British, Irish, Welsh)


Occupational Inheritance:

Parents (father or mother) Directors

Parents in the Arts Professions:

No Occupational Inheritance:

Allen, Woody


Social Class

Lower (working) Class

Middle Class:

Upper-Middle Class:

Upper Class