Special Report

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

While actors and actresses are a movie’s most visible talent, it is the director who often has the most control over the finished project. Directors control the vision, tone, and, of course, direction of the film, making decisions regarding everything from screenplay writing to cinematography.

This is why the Oscar for best director is so significant in the world of film. Since 1929, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, commonly known as the Oscars, has chosen filmmakers — usually one and in a few rare cases, multiple filmmakers — who stand out in the industry for their exceptional directing.

24/7 Tempo is taking a look back at who won the Oscar for best director every year since 1929.

Many of the winners in the Best Achievement in Directing category are relatively unknown to the average person. Even movie fans may not be familiar with directors such as Anthony Minghella — who won in 1997 for “The English Patient” — though they will likely know their films.

Other directors have much more recognizable names. Filmmakers such as Steven Spielberg and James Cameron are known worldwide for their directing and are arguably more famous than many popular actors. Here are the most popular Oscar winners of all time.

The movie for which the director wins the award each year is often also named best picture of the year. This has happened 69 times in the 93 years the awards have been given. This is perhaps unsurprising considering the impact that directors have on their finished product. The directors who have won Oscars are frequently those behind movie lovers’ favorite films. These are America’s favorite movies of all time.

Click here to see who won the Oscar for Best Director the year you were born.

To determine the winners of  the Oscar for best director, 24/7 Tempo reviewed historical wins and nominations data from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Data on the number of credits came from IMDb. We also calculated the average IMDb user score for a movies directed by a director. In 1929, the first year the Oscars were awarded, there was a separate Best Director award for comedy and drama.