Who Won the Oscar for Best Director Every Year Since the Oscars Began
Movie directors are the authors of the motion picture. From screenplay writing or supervision to cinematography, the vision, tone, and, of course, direction, of the film belongs to them. That’s why the director’s name is usually last on the opening credits.
As Hollywood prepares to honor its own at the 91st Academy Awards on Feb. 24, 24/7 Wall St. has compiled a list of those cinematic auteurs who have won best director.
Best director has been awarded since 1929. That year, two directors won for two separate categories: best director, comedy picture (Lewis Milestone for “Two Arabian Nights”) and best director, dramatic picture (Frank Borzage for “Seventh Heaven”). After that year, the Academy awarded only one award for best picture.
John Ford has won the most best director awards with four, and Frank Capra and William Wyler have each won three. Conspicuous by their absence are Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick, who were nominated a combined nine times and never won for best director.
Mexican-born directors have been dominating the best director category in recent years, winning four of the last five. Those directors are Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Guillermo del Toro, and Alfonso Cuaron. The latter took home the Golden Globe for best director for “Roma” earlier this year, and the Academy might consider him for best director when the nominations are announced Jan. 22.
Kathryn Bigelow was the first, and so far only, woman to win best director when she won in 2010 for “The Hurt Locker.” Only five women have been nominated: Greta Gerwig (“Lady Bird”), Lina Wertmuller (“Seven Beauties”), Jane Campion (“The Piano), and Sofia Coppola (“Lost in Translation”).
No African American has ever won for best director, but that may change this year. Ryan Coogler, the director of the blockbuster “Black Panther” and cinematic provocateur Spike Lee, who directed “BlacKkKlansman,” might be nominated for best director. Neither director has ever been nominated. Four African Americans have been nominated for best director: Jordan Peele (“Get Out), Barry Jenkins (“Moonlight”), Lee Daniels (“Precious”), and John Singleton (“Boyz N the Hood”). Steve McQueen, who was nominated for “12 Years a Slave” but did not win, is a black film director from the United Kingdom.
To identify who has won the Oscar for best director each year, 24/7 Wall St. used data from the Internet Movie Database. The total number of Oscar wins listed for each director also comes from IMDb and includes awards won for work outside of directing, including best picture awards for movies the director produced.