Special Report

Who Won the Oscar for Best Director Every Year Since the Oscars Began

Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images

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.

Click here to see who has won the Oscar for 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.

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

1929
> Winner: Lewis Milestone (comedy)
> Film: “Two Arabian Knights”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 2

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Source: Courtesy of Fox Film Corporation

1929
> Winner: Frank Borzage (drama)
> Film: “7th Heaven”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 2

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

1930
> Winner: Frank Lloyd
> Film: “The Divine Lady”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 2

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

1931
> Winner: Norman Taurog
> Film: “Skippy”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 1

Source: Courtesy of Fox Film Corporation

1932/1933
> Winner: Frank Borzage
> Film: “Bad Girl”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 2

Source: Courtesy of Fox Film Corporation

1934
> Winner: Frank Lloyd
> Film: “Cavalcade”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 2

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures Corporation

1935
> Winner: Frank Capra
> Film: “It Happened One Night”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 3

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Source: Courtesy of RKO Radio Pictures

1936
> Winner: John Ford
> Film: “The Informer”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 4

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures Corporation

1937
> Winner: Frank Capra
> Film: “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 3

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures Corporation

1938
> Winner: Leo McCarey
> Film: “The Awful Truth”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 3

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures Corporation

1939
> Winner: Frank Capra
> Film: “You Can’t Take It with You”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 3

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Source: Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

1940
> Winner: Victor Fleming
> Film: “Gone with the Wind”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 1

Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

1941
> Winner: John Ford
> Film: “The Grapes of Wrath”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 4

Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

1942
> Winner: John Ford
> Film: “How Green Was My Valley”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 4

Source: Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

1943
> Winner: William Wyler
> Film: “Mrs. Miniver”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 3

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

1944
> Winner: Michael Curtiz
> Film: “Casablanca”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 1

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

1945
> Winner: Leo McCarey
> Film: “Going My Way”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 3

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Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

1946
> Winner: Billy Wilder
> Film: “The Lost Weekend”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 6

Source: Courtesy of RKO Radio Pictures

1947
> Winner: William Wyler
> Film: “The Best Years of Our Lives”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 3

Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

1948
> Winner: Elia Kazan
> Film: “Gentleman’s Agreement”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 2

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

1949
> Winner: John Huston
> Film: “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 2

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Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

1950
> Winner: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
> Film: “A Letter to Three Wives”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 4

Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

1951
> Winner: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
> Film: “All About Eve”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 4

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

1952
> Winner: George Stevens
> Film: “A Place in the Sun”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 2

Source: Courtesy of Republic Pictures

1953
> Winner: John Ford
> Film: “The Quiet Man”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 4

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures Corporation

1954
> Winner: Fred Zinnemann
> Film: “From Here to Eternity”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 4

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures Corporation

1955
> Winner: Elia Kazan
> Film: “On the Waterfront”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 2

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Source: Courtesy of United Artists

1956
> Winner: Delbert Mann
> Film: “Marty”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 1

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

1957
> Winner: George Stevens
> Film: “Giant”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 2

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures Corporation

1958
> Winner: David Lean
> Film: “The Bridge on the River Kwai”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 2

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

1959
> Winner: Vincente Minnelli
> Film: “Gigi”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 1

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Source: Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

1960
> Winner: William Wyler
> Film: “Ben-Hur”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 3

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

1961
> Winner: Billy Wilder
> Film: “The Apartment”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 6

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

1962
> Winner: Robert Wise
> Film: “West Side Story”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 4

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures Corporation

1963
> Winner: David Lean
> Film: “Lawrence of Arabia”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 2

Source: Courtesy of The Criterion Collection

1964
> Winner: Tony Richardson
> Film: “Tom Jones”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 2

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

1965
> Winner: George Cukor
> Film: “My Fair Lady”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 1

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Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

1966
> Winner: Robert Wise
> Film: “The Sound of Music”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 4

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

1967
> Winner: Fred Zinnemann
> Film: “A Man for All Seasons”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 4

Source: Courtesy of Embassy Pictures

1968
> Winner: Mike Nichols
> Film: “The Graduate”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 1

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures Corporation

1969
> Winner: Carol Reed
> Film: “Oliver!”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 1

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Source: Courtesy of United Artists

1970
> Winner: John Schlesinger
> Film: “Midnight Cowboy”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 1

Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

1971
> Winner: Franklin J. Schaffner
> Film: “Patton”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 1

Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

1972
> Winner: William Friedkin
> Film: “The French Connection”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 1

Source: Courtesy of Allied Artists Pictures

1973
> Winner: Bob Fosse
> Film: “Cabaret”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 1

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

1974
> Winner: George Roy Hill
> Film: “The Sting”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 1

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

1975
> Winner: Francis Ford Coppola
> Film: “The Godfather: Part II”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 5

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Source: Courtesy of United Artists

1976
> Winner: Milos Forman
> Film: “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 2

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

1977
> Winner: John G. Avildsen
> Film: “Rocky”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 1

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

1978
> Winner: Woody Allen
> Film: “Annie Hall”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 4

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

1979
> Winner: Michael Cimino
> Film: “The Deer Hunter”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 2

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Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures Corporation

1980
> Winner: Robert Benton
> Film: “Kramer vs. Kramer”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 3

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

1981
> Winner: Robert Redford
> Film: “Ordinary People”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 1

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

1982
> Winner: Warren Beatty
> Film: “Reds”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 1

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures Corporation

1983
> Winner: Richard Attenborough
> Film: “Gandhi”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 2

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

1984
> Winner: James L. Brooks
> Film: “Terms of Endearment”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 3

Source: Courtesy of Orion Pictures

1985
> Winner: Milos Forman
> Film: “Amadeus”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 2

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Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

1986
> Winner: Sydney Pollack
> Film: “Out of Africa”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 2

Source: Courtesy of Orion Pictures

1987
> Winner: Oliver Stone
> Film: “Platoon”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 3

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

1988
> Winner: Bernardo Bertolucci
> Film: “The Last Emperor”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 2

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

1989
> Winner: Barry Levinson
> Film: “Rain Man”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 1

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Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

1990
> Winner: Oliver Stone
> Film: “Born on the Fourth of July”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 3

Source: Courtesy of Orion Pictures

1991
> Winner: Kevin Costner
> Film: “Dances with Wolves”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 2

Source: Courtesy of Orion Pictures

1992
> Winner: Jonathan Demme
> Film: “The Silence of the Lambs”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 1

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

1993
> Winner: Clint Eastwood
> Film: “Unforgiven”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 4

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

1994
> Winner: Steven Spielberg
> Film: “Schindler’s List”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 3

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

1995
> Winner: Robert Zemeckis
> Film: “Forrest Gump”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 1

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Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

1996
> Winner: Mel Gibson
> Film: “Braveheart”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 2

Source: Courtesy of Miramax

1997
> Winner: Anthony Minghella
> Film: “The English Patient”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 1

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

1998
> Winner: James Cameron
> Film: “Titanic”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 3

Source: Courtesy of DreamWorks Distribution

1999
> Winner: Steven Spielberg
> Film: “Saving Private Ryan”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 3

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Source: Courtesy of DreamWorks Distribution

2000
> Winner: Sam Mendes
> Film: “American Beauty”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 1

Source: Courtesy of USA Films

2001
> Winner: Steven Soderbergh
> Film: “Traffic”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 1

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

2002
> Winner: Ron Howard
> Film: “A Beautiful Mind”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 2

Source: Courtesy of Focus Features

2003
> Winner: Roman Polanski
> Film: “The Pianist”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 1

Source: Courtesy of New Line Cinema

2004
> Winner: Peter Jackson
> Film: “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 3

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

2005
> Winner: Clint Eastwood
> Film: “Million Dollar Baby”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 4

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Source: Courtesy of Focus Features

2006
> Winner: Ang Lee
> Film: “Brokeback Mountain”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 2

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

2007
> Winner: Martin Scorsese
> Film: “The Departed”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 1

Source: Courtesy of Hispanic Education And Media Group

2008
> Winner: Ethan Coen
> Film: “No Country for Old Men”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 4

Source: Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures

2009
> Winner: Danny Boyle
> Film: “Slumdog Millionaire”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 1

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Source: Courtesy of Summit Entertainment

2010
> Winner: Kathryn Bigelow
> Film: “The Hurt Locker”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 2

Source: Courtesy of The Weinstein Company

2011
> Winner: Tom Hooper
> Film: “The King’s Speech”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 1

Source: Courtesy of The Weinstein Company

2012
> Winner: Michel Hazanavicius
> Film: “The Artist”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 1

Source: Courtesy of Fox 2000 Pictures

2013
> Winner: Ang Lee
> Film: “Life of Pi”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 2

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

2014
> Winner: Alfonso Cuarón
> Film: “Gravity”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 2

Source: Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures

2015
> Winner: Alejandro G. Iñárritu
> Film: “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 4

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Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

2016
> Winner: Alejandro G. Iñárritu
> Film: “The Revenant”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 4

Source: Courtesy of Lionsgate

2017
> Winner: Damien Chazelle
> Film: “La La Land”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 1

Source: Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures

2018
> Winner: Guillermo del Toro
> Film: “The Shape of Water”
> Lifetime Oscar wins: 2

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