Oscar: Losers (I mean Non-Winners)

Here’s the list of directors who have received multiple Oscar nominations but have never received a legit or competitive award. Most of the losers, or non-winners (to use the Academy’s jargon) have been compensated with an Honorary Oscar.

After decades of good work, Martin Scorsese, who has been nominated six times, was excluded from the list of Oscar losers in 2006, when he won Best Director Award for “The Departed,” which also won Best Picture.

I wish Scorsese had won the Oscar for one of his masterpieces, “Taxi Driver,” “Raging Bull,” or GoodFellas,” but we are all relieved that he had won.  Scorsese holds the record of being the only director who had to wait for 6 nominations before winning.

Scorsese was in very good company, one that includes Hitchcock, Robert Altman, Sidney Lumet, and David Lynch.  The late Altman , late Federico Fellini , and very much alive Lumet were compensated with an Honorary Oscar. But Ingmar Bergman, who died two years ago, had never won the Oscar; surprisingly, he also had never won the directing kudo from the Cannes Film Festival.

For other distinguished directors, justice was restored rather late in their careers.  Take, for example, William Wyler, who won at his fifth nomination (for a bad movie, “Mrs. Miniver”). Or George Cukor, who also won at his fifth Nomination (for a mediocre effort “My Fair Lady”). David Lean won at his fourth nomination (for “The Bridge on the River Kwai”), and Spielberg also was honored at his fourth (for “Schindler’s List”).

As you’ll see from the list, half of losing directors are deceased by now, and several of those alive have already been granted Honorary Oscars.

Still waiting for their turn are David Lynch, James Ivory, Ridley Scott, and Peter Weir, all nominated for 3 or 4 Oscars.  Weir had been nominated for 6, if you include producing and writing credits.

Non-Winning Directors (in chronological order):

5 Nominations: 4 directors

King Vidor

Clarence Brown

Alfred Hitchcock

Robert Altman


4 Nominations: 4 directors

Sidney Lumet

Federico Fellini

Stanley Kubrick

Peter Weir


3 Nominations: 11 Directors

Ernst Lubitsch

William A. Wellman

Sam Wood

Richard Brooks

Stanley Kramer

Arthur Penn

Norman Jewison

Ingmar Bergman

David Lynch

James Ivory

Ridley Scott