DGA: How Auteurs Helped Shape Oscar History

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When was the last time a masterpiece won the Best Picture Oscar? It is perhaps not possible anymore, not with Twitter and more awards shows than there are people in Hollywood.  Voters can’t align around one so they choose never to align around any.

As the DGA prepares their awards show for tomorrow night, and 14,500 of them are voting, it seems very likely it will go Argo’s way, throwing the race into Apollo 13/Color Purple territory. Or not.  But the DGA has been around a very long, long time.  Many of the Oscar voters have likewise been around a very long, long time. They’ve seen the so-called “snubs” come and go, they’ve seen the wunderkind’s come and go.  In looking over history you might be astonished to learn that Alfred Hitchcock was nominated by the DGA for Vertigo but the film only received two Oscar nominations — for Art Direction and Sound.

Scenarios like the one we’re about to live through, and Apollo 13 and The Color Purple just don’t really happen that often and didn’t happen for decade after decade.  The DGA changed when films changed.  The 1960s and 1970s ushered in some of the most daring, brilliant, outside the box directors film history has ever known — and continues to struggle to get back to.   As more auteurs began to win Oscars for directing, the more the Oscar race itself changed: the directors branch continued to “correct” the DGA throughout their history, in interesting ways.  As more auteurs flooded the Directors Branch, so too did the landscape of the Oscars change.

But something odd happened in the 1980s and 1990s — perhaps it was the advent of the blockbuster, which might explain the Academy’s notorious rejection of Spielberg and his ilk, or perhaps it was just economics, or perhaps they just got old.  Either way, you would never see an occasion like you saw this year, with Benh Zeitlin and Michael Haneke taking the place of the more popular, award winning, consensus getting directors the DGA adhered to this year, namely Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow, but you can throw Tom Hooper in there too.

But rather than celebrate this dramatic change, the kind of thing critics have been complaining about for years — how the choices are always the same on the march to Oscar, they have instead cried foul, choosing to side instead with the directors who got left out. That proves that people really don’t want change. They always want the routine, even if they say they don’t.  Though I admire both films, Argo and Zero Dark Thirty, a part of me is astonished that the Academy could be that ballsy.  I truly did not think they had it in them anymore.

But you can look over DGA/Oscar history and see how much a part of their DNA the Director + Picture relationship is.  The rarity of Apollo 13 and The Color Purple, and perhaps now Argo, is in the kind of thing that makes the Academy look like the parent and the DGA like the child — the Academy guides the DGA, not the other way around, at least if you think of the Oscars as the end result.

Early on in the Oscar race, right before they changed from 10 to five Best Picture nominees, the directors weren’t much of anything. And in fact, when Casablanca won the Oscar that year it was because the majority voting were “extras.” This is how things looked all the way back in 1946, from Inside Oscar (Damien Bona, Mason Wiley):

A few days after the ceremony, the Screen Directors Guild announced that its members were seriously considering quitting the Academy.  The guild’s president, Mark Sandrich, fumed: “Our complaint is based on the fact that the directorial Award was relegated to the first part of the evening’s broadcast.”  With time, however, bruised egos healed – Mark Sandrich agreed to produce the next year’s show.

It’s funny to think that there was a ever a time when the director wasn’t the most important player in the Best Picture race.  But over the years, that is the way they evolved and much of that had to do with the auteur.  Even now, there is always a war within the Academy between the forces of the auteurs, the veterans, the epics, and now, the affable crowdpleaser, which is mostly how you win Oscar’s Best Picture.

Here is a long list of DGA/Oscar nominees and wins. You will see that the last time Oscar left three contenders off the DGA’s list was all the way back in 1966.

At any rate, at the end of the day, I’ll always be the person who listens to Bob Dylan even though he never wins Grammys.  And as Dylan would say, “stick with me baby, anyhow, things are about to get interesting right about now.”

FEATURE FILM AWARD DGA’S Site

DGA | Oscar

 *film nominated/+ won Best Picture at the Oscars

2012

Steven Spielberg, Lincoln Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Ang Lee, Life of Pi Ang Lee, Life of Pi
Ben Affleck, Argo David O. Russell, Silver Linings
Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty Michael Haneke Amour
Tom Hooper, Les Miserables Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild

2011

Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist+
Martin Scorsese, Hugo Martin Scorsese, Hugo*
Alexander Payne, The Descendants Alexander Payne, The Descendants*
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris*
David Fincher, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Terrence Malick, Tree of Life*

2010

Tom Hooper The King’s Speech Tom Hooper the King’s Speech+
David Fincher, Social Network David Fincher, Social Network*
Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan*
David O’Russell, The Fighter David O’Russell, The Fighter*
Christopher Nolan, Inception* The Coens, True Grit*

2009

Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker Bigelow, Hurt Locker+
Lee Daniels, Precious Lee Daniels, Precious*
Jason Reitman, Up in the Air Jason Reitman, Up in the Air*
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds*
Jim Cameron, Avatar Jim Cameron, Avatar*

2008

Danny Boyle, Slumdog Danny Boyle, Slumdog+
Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon*
Gus Van Sant, Milk Gus Van Sant, Milk*
David Fincher, Benjamin Button David Fincher, Benjamin Button*
Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight Stephen Daldry, The Reader*

2007

Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country+
Sean Penn, Into the Wild Jason Reitman, Juno*
Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton*
Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood*

2006

Stephen Frears, The Queen Stephen Frears, The Queen*
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Babel Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Babel*
Bill Condon, Dreamgirls Clint Eastwood, Letters from Iwo Jima*
Faris and Dayton, Little Miss Sunshine* Paul Greengrass, United 93
Martin Scorsese, The Departed Martin Scorsese, The Departed+

2005

Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain *
George Clooney, Good Night, and Good Luck George Clooney, Good Night, and Good Luck*
Paul Haggis, Crash Paul Haggis, Crash+
Bennett Miller, Capote Bennett Miller, Capote*
Steven Spielberg, Munich Steven Spielberg, Munich *

2004

Alexander Payne for Sideways Alexander Payne for Sideways*
Martin Scorsese for The Aviator Martin Scorsese for The Aviator*
Taylor Hackford for Ray Taylor Hackford for Ray*
Marc Forster for Finding Neverland* Mike Leigh for Vera Drake
Clint Eastwood for Million Dollar Baby Clint Eastwood for Million Dollar Baby+

2003

Sofia Coppola, Lost in Translation Sofia Coppola, Lost in Translation*
Clint Eastwood, Mystic River Clint Eastwood, Mystic River*
Peter Jackson, ROTK Peter Jackson, ROTK+
Peter Weir, Master and Commander Peter Weir, Master and Commander*
Gary Ross, Seabiscuit* Fernando Merielles, City of God

2002

Martin Scorsese, Gangs of New York Martin Scorsese*
Peter Jackson, Lord of the Rings* Pedro Almodovar
Roman Polanski, The Pianist Roman Polanski*
Rob Marshall, Chicago Rob Marshall+
Steven Daldry, The Hours Steven Daldry*


2001

Ron Howard, A Beautiful Mind Ron Howard, A Beautiful Mind+
Peter Jackson, Lord of the Rings Peter Jackson, LOTR*
Christopher Nolan, Memento Robert Altman, Gosford Park*
Ridley Scott, Black Hawk Down Ridley Scott, Black Hawk Down
Baz Luhrmann, Moulin Rouge* David Lynch, Mulholland Drive

2000

Cameron Crowe, Almost Famous Stephen Daldry, Billy Elliot*
Ang Lee, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Ang Lee, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon*
Ridley Scott, Gladiator Ridley Scott, Gladiator+
Steven Soderbergh, Erin Brockovich Steven Soderbergh, Erin Brockovich *
Steven Soderbergh, Traffic Steven Soderbergh, Traffic*

1999

Frank Darabont, The Green Mile* Lasse Hallstrom, Cider House Rules*
Spike Jonze, Being John Malkovich Spike Jonze, Being John Malkovich
Michael Mann, The Insider Michael Mann, The Insider*
Sam Mendes, American Beauty Sam Mendes, American Beauty+
M. Night Shyamalan, The Sixth Sense M. Night Shyamalan, The Sixth Sense*

1998

Peter Weir, Truman Show Peter Weir, Truman Show
Terrence Malick, Thin Red Line Terrence Malick, Thin Red Line
John Madden, Shakes in Love John Madden, Shakes in Love*
Steven Spielberg, SPR Steven Spielberg, SPR
Roberto Benigni, Life is Beautiful Roberto Benigni, Life is Beautiful

1997

James L. Brooks As Good As It Gets* Peter Cattaneo, The Full Monty*
Steven Spielberg Amistad Atom Egoyan, The Sweet Hereafter
Gus Van Sant, Good Will Hunting Gus Van Sant, Good Will Hunting*
James Cameron, Titanic James Cameron, Titanic+
Curtis Hanson, L.A. Confidential Curtis Hanson, L.A. Confidential*

1996

Cameron Crowe, Jerry Maguire* Milos Forman for The People vs. Larry Flynt
Joel Coen, Fargo Joel Coen, Fargo*
Mike Leigh, Secrets & Lies Mike Leigh, Secrets & Lies *
Anthony Minghella, The English Patient Anthony Minghella, The English Patient+
Scott Hicks, Shine Scott Hicks, Shine*

1995

Mike Figgis for Leaving Las Vegas Mike Figgis for Leaving Las Vegas
Mel Gibson for Braveheart Mel Gibson for Braveheart+
Ron Howard for Apollo 13* Chris Noonan for Babe*
Ang Lee for Sense and Sensibility* Tim Robbins for Dead Man Walking
Michael Radford for Il Postino Michael Radford for Il Postino*

1994

Mike Newell for Four Weddings and a Funeral* Woody Allen for Bullets Over Broadway
Frank Darabont for The Shawshank Redemption* Krzysztof Kieslowski for Red
Robert Redford for Quiz Show Robert Redford for Quiz Show*
Quentin Tarantino for Pulp Fiction Quentin Tarantino for Pulp Fiction*
Robert Zemeckis for Forrest Gump Robert Zemeckis for Forrest Gump+

1993

Andrew Davis for The Fugitive* Robert Altman for Short Cuts
Jane Campion for The Piano Jane Campion for The Piano*
James Ivory for The Remains Of the Day James Ivory for The Remains Of the Day*
Martin Scorsese for The Age Of Innocence Jim Sheridan for In the Name Of the Father*
Steven Spielberg for Schindler’s List Steven Spielberg for Schindler’s List+

1992

Robert Altman for The Player Robert Altman for The Player
Rob Reiner for A Few Good Men* Martin Brest for Scent Of a Woman*
Clint Eastwood for Unforgiven Clint Eastwood for Unforgiven+
James Ivory for Howards End James Ivory for Howards End*
Neil Jordan for The Crying Game Neil Jordan for The Crying Game*

1991

Barbra Streisand for The Prince Of Tides* John Singleton for Boyz N the Hood
Oliver Stone for JFK Oliver Stone for JFK*
Ridley Scott for Thelma & Louise Ridley Scott for Thelma & Louise
Barry Levinson for Bugsy Barry Levinson for Bugsy*
Jonathan Demme for The Silence Of the Lambs Jonathan Demme for The Silence Of the Lambs+

1990

Francis Ford Coppola for The Godfather Part III Francis Ford Coppola for The Godfather Part III*
Kevin Costner for Dances With Wolves Kevin Costner for Dances With Wolves+
Barry Levinson for Avalon Stephen Frears for The Grifters
Martin Scorsese for GoodFellas Martin Scorsese for GoodFellas*
Giuseppe Tornatore for Cinema Paradiso Barbet Schroeder for Reversal Of Fortune

1989
Driving Miss Daisy won Best Picture

Born on the Fourth of July: Oliver Stone Born on the Fourth of July: Oliver Stone
Field of Dreams: Phil Alden Robinson Henry V: Kenneth Branagh
Crimes and Misdemeanors: Woody Allen Crimes and Misdemeanors: Woody Allen
Dead Poets Society: Peter Weir Dead Poets Society: Peter Weir
When Harry Met Sally…: Rob Reiner My Left Foot: Jim Sheridan

1988

Rain Man: Barry Levinson Rain Man: Barry Levinson+
A Fish Called Wanda: Charles Crichton A Fish Called Wanda: Charles Crichton
Working Girl: Mike Nichols Working Girl: Mike Nichols
Mississippi Burning: Alan Parker Mississippi Burning: Alan Parker
Who Framed Roger Rabbit: Robert Zemeckis The Last Temptation of Christ: Martin Scorsese

1987

The Last Emperor: Bernardo Bertolucci The Last Emperor: Bernardo Bertolucci+
Broadcast News: James L. Brooks Hope and Glory: John Boorman
My Life as a Dog: Lasse Hallström My Life as a Dog: Lasse Hallström
Empire of the Sun: Steven Spielberg Moonstruck: Norman Jewison
Fatal Attraction: Adrian Lyne Fatal Attraction: Adrian Lyne

1986

Platoon: Oliver Stone Platoon: Oliver Stone+
Hannah and Her Sisters: Woody Allen Hannah and Her Sisters: Woody Allen
Children of a Lesser God: Randa Haines The Mission: Roland Joffé
A Room with a View: James Ivory A Room with a View: James Ivory
Stand by Me: Rob Reiner Blue Velvet: David Lynch

1985

Out of Africa: Sydney Pollack Out of Africa: Sydney Pollack+
The Color Purple: Steven Spielberg Kiss of the Spider Woman: Hector Babenco
Prizzi’s Honor: John Huston Prizzi’s Honor: John Huston
Cocoon: Ron Howard Ran: Akira Kurosawa
Witness: Peter Weir Witness: Peter Weir

1984

Amadeus: Milos Forman Amadeus: Milos Forman+
Places in the Heart: Robert Benton Broadway Danny Rose: Woody Allen
A Soldier’s Story: Norman Jewison Places in the Heart: Robert Benton
The Killing Fields: Roland Joffé The Killing Fields: Roland Joffé
A Passage to India: David Lean A Passage to India: David Lean

1983

Terms of Endearment: James L. Brooks Terms of Endearment: James L. Brooks+
Tender Mercies: Bruce Beresford Tender Mercies: Bruce Beresford
Fanny and Alexander: Ingmar Bergman Fanny and Alexander: Ingmar Bergman
The Big Chill: Lawrence Kasdan Silkwood: Mike Nichols
The Right Stuff: Philip Kaufman The Dresser: Peter Yates

1982

Gandhi: Richard Attenborough Gandhi: Richard Attenborough+
An Officer and a Gentleman: Taylor Hackford The Verdict: Sidney Lumet
Das Boot: Wolfgang Petersen Das Boot: Wolfgang Petersen
Tootsie: Sydney Pollack Tootsie: Sydney Pollack
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: Steven Spielberg E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: Steven Spielberg

1981

Reds: Warren Beatty Reds: Warren Beatty
Chariots of Fire: Hugh Hudson Chariots of Fire: Hugh Hudson+
Atlantic City: Louis Malle Atlantic City: Louis Malle
On Golden Pond: Mark Rydell On Golden Pond: Mark Rydell
Raiders of the Lost Ark: Steven Spielberg Raiders of the Lost Ark: Steven Spielberg

1980

Ordinary People: Robert Redford Ordinary People: Robert Redford+
The Elephant Man: David Lynch The Elephant Man: David Lynch
Coal Miner’s Daughter: Michael Apted Tess: Roman Polanski
The Stunt Man: Richard Rush The Stunt Man: Richard Rush
Raging Bull: Martin Scorsese Raging Bull: Martin Scorsese

1979

Kramer vs. Kramer: Robert Benton Kramer vs. Kramer: Robert Benton+
Manhattan: Woody Allen La cage aux folles: Edouard Molinaro
The China Syndrome: James Bridges All That Jazz: Bob Fosse
Apocalypse Now: Francis Ford Coppola Apocalypse Now: Francis Ford Coppola
Breaking Away: Peter Yates Breaking Away: Peter Yates

1978

The Deer Hunter: Michael Cimino The Deer Hunter: Michael Cimino+
An Unmarried Woman: Paul Mazursky Interiors: Woody Allen
Coming Home: Hal Ashby Coming Home: Hal Ashby
Heaven Can Wait: Warren Beatty, Buck Henry Heaven Can Wait: Warren Beatty, Buck Henry
Midnight Express: Alan Parker Midnight Express: Alan Parker

1977

Annie Hall: Woody Allen Annie Hall: Woody Allen+
Star Wars: George Lucas Star Wars: George Lucas
The Turning Point: Herbert Ross The Turning Point: Herbert Ross
Julia: Fred Zinnemann Julia: Fred Zinnemann
Close Encounters of the Third Kind: Steven Spielberg Close Encounters of the Third Kind: Steven Spielberg

1976

Rocky: John G. Avildsen Rocky: John G. Avildsen+
Taxi Driver: Martin Scorsese Face to Face: Ingmar Bergman
Network: Sidney Lumet Network: Sidney Lumet
All the President’s Men: Alan J. Pakula All the President’s Men: Alan J. Pakula
Seven Beauties: Lina Wertmüller Seven Beauties: Lina Wertmüller

1975

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest: Milos Forman One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest: Milos Forman+
Nashville: Robert Altman
Nashville: Robert Altman
Jaws: Steven Spielberg Amarcord: Federico Fellini
Barry Lyndon: Stanley Kubrick Barry Lyndon: Stanley Kubrick
Dog Day Afternoon: Sidney Lumet Dog Day Afternoon: Sidney Lumet

1974

The Godfather: Part II: Francis Ford Coppola The Godfather: Part II: Francis Ford Coppola+
The Conversation: Francis Ford Coppola A Woman Under the Influence: John Cassavetes
Lenny: Bob Fosse Lenny: Bob Fosse
Chinatown: Roman Polanski Chinatown: Roman Polanski
Murder on the Orient Express: Sidney Lumet Day for Night: François Truffaut

1973

The Sting: George Roy Hill The Sting: George Roy Hill+
Last Tango in Paris: Bernardo Bertolucci Last Tango in Paris: Bernardo Bertolucci
The Exorcist: William Friedkin The Exorcist: William Friedkin
American Graffiti: George Lucas American Graffiti: George Lucas
Serpico: Sidney Lumet Cries & Whispers: Ingmar Bergman

1972

Cabaret: Bob Fosse Cabaret: Bob Fosse
Deliverance: John Boorman Deliverance: John Boorman
The Godfather: Francis Ford Coppola The Godfather: Francis Ford Coppola+
Sounder: Martin Ritt Sleuth: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Slaughterhouse-Five: George Roy Hill The Emigrants: Jan Troell

1971

The French Connection: William Friedkin The French Connection: William Friedkin+
The Last Picture Show: Peter Bogdanovich The Last Picture Show: Peter Bogdanovich
Summer of ’42: Robert Mulligan Fiddler on the Roof: Norman Jewison
A Clockwork Orange: Stanley Kubrick A Clockwork Orange: Stanley Kubrick
Sunday Bloody Sunday: John Schlesinger Sunday Bloody Sunday: John Schlesinger

1970

Patton: Franklin J. Schaffner Patton: Franklin J. Schaffner
MASH: Robert Altman MASH: Robert Altman
Love Story: Arthur Hiller Love Story: Arthur Hiller
Ryan’s Daughter: David Lean Fellini Satyricon: Federico Fellini
Five Easy Pieces: Bob Rafelson Women in Love: Ken Russell

1969

Midnight Cowboy: John Schlesinger Midnight Cowboy: John Schlesinger
Z: Costa-Gavras Z: Costa-Gavras
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid: George Roy Hill Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid: George Roy Hill
Easy Rider: Dennis Hopper Arthur Penn, Alice’s Restaurant
They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?: Sydney Pollack They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?: Sydney Pollack
Oh! What a Lovely War: Richard Attenborough
Hello, Dolly!: Gene Kelly
The Wild Bunch: Sam Peckinpah
Goodbye, Columbus: Larry Peerce
Medium Cool: Haskell Wexler

1968

Oliver!: Carol Reed Oliver!: Carol Reed
2001: A Space Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick 2001: A Space Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick
Rachel, Rachel: Paul Newman The Lion in Winter: Anthony Harvey
Funny Girl: William Wyler The Battle of Algiers: Gillo Pontecorvo
Isabel: Paul Almond
Closely Watched Trains: Jirí Menzel
Hello, Dolly!: Gene Kelly
Rosemary’s Baby: Roman Polanski
The Odd Couple: Gene Saks
Romeo and Juliet: Franco Zeffirelli Romeo and Juliet: Franco Zeffirelli

1967

The Graduate: Mike Nichols The Graduate: Mike Nichols
In Cold Blood: Richard Brooks In Cold Blood: Richard Brooks
In the Heat of the Night: Norman Jewison In the Heat of the Night: Norman Jewison+
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner: Stanley Kramer Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner: Stanley Kramer
Bonnie and Clyde: Arthur Penn Bonnie and Clyde: Arthur Penn
The Dirty Dozen: Robert Aldrich
To Sir, with Love: James Clavell
Two for the Road: Stanley Donen
Cool Hand Luke: Stuart Rosenberg
Ulysses: Joseph Strick

1966

A Man for All Seasons: Fred Zinnemann A Man for All Seasons: Fred Zinnemann+
Grand Prix: John Frankenheimer Blow-Up: Michelangelo Antonioni
The Professionals: Richard Brooks The Professionals: Richard Brooks
Alfie: Lewis Gilbert*
Born Free: James Hill
The Russians Are Coming the Russians Are Coming: Norman Jewison*
A Man and a Woman: Claude Lelouch A Man and a Woman: Claude Lelouch
Georgy Girl: Silvio Narizzano
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?: Mike Nichols Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?: Mike Nichols*
The Sand Pebbles: Robert Wise*

1965

The Sound of Music: Robert Wise+ The Sound of Music: Robert Wise+
The Ipcress File: Sidney J. Furie Doctor Zhivago: David Lean
The Pawnbroker: Sidney Lumet Woman in the Dunes: Hiroshi Teshigahara
Darling: John Schlesinger Darling: John Schlesinger
Cat Ballou: Elliot Silverstein The Collector: William Wyler

 

1964

My Fair Lady: George Cukor My Fair Lady: George Cukor+
The Night of the Iguana: John Huston Zorba the Greek: Mihalis Kakogiannis
Becket: Peter Glenville Becket: Peter Glenville
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb: Stanley Kubrick Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb: Stanley Kubrick
Mary Poppins: Robert Stevenson Mary Poppins: Robert Stevenson

1963

Tom Jones: Tony Richardson Tom Jones: Tony Richardson
8½: Federico Fellini 8½: Federico Fellini
America, America: Elia Kazan America, America: Elia Kazan
Lilies of the Field: Ralph Nelsonk The Cardinal: Otto Preminger
Hud: Martin Ritt Hud: Martin Ritt

1962

Lawrence of Arabia: David Lean Lawrence of Arabia: David Lean+
Divorce Italian Style: Pietro Germi Divorce Italian Style: Pietro Germi
To Kill a Mockingbird: Robert Mulligan To Kill a Mockingbird: Robert Mulligan
The Miracle Worker: Arthur Penn The Miracle Worker: Arthur Penn
Birdman of Alcatraz: John Frankenheimer David and Lisa: Frank Perry
The Manchurian Candidate: John Frankenheimer
The Longest Day: Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton, Bernhard Wicki
Freud: John Huston
Lolita: Stanley Kubrick
Long Day’s Journey Into Night: Sidney Lumet
Billy Budd: Peter Ustinov
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?: Robert Aldrich
The Music Man: Morton DaCosta
Mutiny on the Bounty: Lewis Milestone
Requiem for a Heavyweight: Ralph Nelson
A Taste of Honey: Tony Richardson

1961

West Side Story: Robert Wise West Side Story: Robert Wise, Jerome Robbins+
La Dolce Vita: Federico Fellini
Judgment at Nuremberg: Stanley Kramer Judgment at Nuremberg: Stanley Kramer*
The Hustler: Robert Rossen The Hustler: Robert Rossen*
The Guns of Navarone: J. Lee Thompson The Guns of Navarone: J. Lee Thompson*
Breakfast at Tiffany’s: Blake Edwards
One-Eyed Jacks: Marlon Brando
Pocketful of Miracles: Frank Capra
The Innocents: Jack Clayton
Summer and Smoke: Peter Glenville
The Misfits: John Huston
Splendor in the Grass: Elia Kazan
Flower Drum Song: Henry Koster
A Majority of One: Mervyn LeRoy
Hand in Hand: Philip Leacock
Fanny: Joshua Logan
El Cid: Anthony Mann
The Great Impostor: Robert Mulligan
A Raisin in the Sun: Daniel Petrie
The AbsentMinded Professor: Robert Stevenson
Romanoff and Juliet: Peter Ustinov
The Children’s Hour: William Wyler

1960

The Apartment: Billy Wilder The Apartment: Billy Wilder
Sons and Lovers: Jack Cardiff Sons and Lovers: Jack Cardiff
Bells Are Ringing: Vincente Minnelli
Never on Sunday: Jules Dassin
Psycho: Alfred Hitchcock Psycho: Alfred Hitchcock
The Sundowners: Fred Zinnemann The Sundowners: Fred Zinnemann
Elmer Gantry: Richard Brooks
Sunrise at Campobello: Vincent J. Donehue
Sink the Bismarck!: Lewis Gilbert
Can-Can: Walter Lang
The Dark at the Top of the Stairs: Delbert Mann
Home from the Hill: Vincente Minnelli
Our Man in Havana: Carol Reed
Hiroshima, mon amour: Alain Resnais
Please Don’t Eat the Daisies: Charles Walters

1959

Ben-Hur: William Wyler Ben-Hur: William Wyler
Anatomy of a Murder: Otto Preminger Room at the Top: Jack Clayton
The Diary of Anne Frank: George Stevens The Diary of Anne Frank: George Stevens
Some Like It Hot: Billy Wilder Some Like It Hot: Billy Wilder
The Nun’s Story: Fred Zinnemann The Nun’s Story: Fred Zinnemann
The Shaggy Dog: Charles Barton
A Hole in the Head: Frank Capra
Compulsion: Richard Fleischer
The Horse Soldiers: John Ford
Rio Bravo: Howard Hawks
North by Northwest: Alfred Hitchcock
Rally ‘Round the Flag, Boys!: Leo McCarey
Imitation of Life: Douglas Sirk

1958

Gigi: Vincente Minnelli Gigi: Vincente Minnelli
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Cat on a Hot Tin Roof: Richard Brooks
The Defiant Ones: Stanley Kramer The Defiant Ones: Stanley Kramer
The Inn of the Sixth Happiness: Mark Robson The Inn of the Sixth Happiness: Mark Robson
I Want to Live!: Robert Wise I Want to Live!: Robert Wise
Damn Yankees!: George Abbott, Stanley Donen
The Brothers Karamazov: Richard Brooks
Cowboy: Delmer Daves
The Young Lions: Edward Dmytryk
The Vikings: Richard Fleischer
Vertigo: Alfred Hitchcock
The Long, Hot Summer: Martin Ritt
Teacher’s Pet: George Seaton
The Big Country: William Wyler

1957

The Bridge on the River Kwai: David Lean The Bridge on the River Kwai: David Lean
Les Girls: George Cukor Sayonara: Joshua Logan
12 Angry Men: Sidney Lumet 12 Angry Men: Sidney Lumet
Peyton Place: Mark Robson Peyton Place: Mark Robson
Witness for the Prosecution: Billy Wilder Witness for the Prosecution: Billy Wilder
Funny Face: Stanley Donen
The Great Man: José Ferrer
Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison: John Huston
A Face in the Crowd: Elia Kazan
The Pride and the Passion: Stanley Kramer
Men in War: Anthony Mann
An Affair to Remember: Leo McCarey
Fear Strikes Out: Robert Mulligan
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral: John Sturges
Love in the Afternoon: Billy Wilder
A Hatful of Rain: Fred Zinnemann

1956

Giant: George Stevens Giant: George Stevens
Around the World in Eighty Days: Michael Anderson Around the World in Eighty Days: Michael Anderson
The King and I: Walter Lang The King and I: Walter Lang
War and Peace: King Vidor War and Peace: King Vidor
Friendly Persuasion: William Wyler Friendly Persuasion: William Wyler
The Teahouse of the August Moon: Daniel Mann
The Searchers: John Ford
The Trouble with Harry: Alfred Hitchcock
The Man Who Knew Too Much: Alfred Hitchcock
The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit: Nunnally Johnson
Carousel: Henry King
Trapeze: Carol Reed
Alexander the Great: Robert Rossen
Meet Me in Las Vegas: Roy Rowland
The Eddy Duchin Story: George Sidney
Moby Dick: John Huston
Bus Stop: Joshua Logan
Somebody Up There Likes Me: Robert Wise

1955

Marty: Delbert Mann Marty: Delbert Mann
East of Eden: Elia Kazan East of Eden: Elia Kazan
Mister Roberts: John Ford, Mervyn LeRoy Summertime: David Lean
Picnic: Joshua Logan Picnic: Joshua Logan
Bad Day at Black Rock: John Sturges Bad Day at Black Rock: John Sturges
The Rose Tattoo: Daniel Mann
Blackboard Jungle: Richard Brooks
The Long Gray Line: John Ford
A Man Called Peter: Henry Koster
The Bridges at Toko-Ri: Mark Robson
Love Me or Leave Me: Charles Vidor
The Seven Year Itch: Billy Wilder

1954

On the Waterfront: Elia Kazan On the Waterfront: Elia Kazan
Rear Window: Alfred Hitchcock Rear Window: Alfred Hitchcock
The Country Girl: George Seaton The Country Girl: George Seaton
The High and the Mighty: William A. Wellman The High and the Mighty: William A. Wellman
Sabrina: Billy Wilder Sabrina: Billy Wilder
A Star Is Born: George Cukor
The Caine Mutiny: Edward Dmytryk
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers: Stanley Donen
Knock on Wood: Melvin Frank, Norman Panama
Hell and High Water: Samuel Fuller
Dial M for Murder: Alfred Hitchcock
King of the Khyber Rifles: Henry King
The Glenn Miller Story: Anthony Mann
Three Coins in the Fountain: Jean Negulesco
Riot in Cell Block 11: Don Siegel
Executive Suite: Robert Wise

1953

From Here to Eternity: Fred Zinnemann From Here to Eternity: Fred Zinnemann
Shane: George Stevens Shane: George Stevens
Lili: Charles Walters Lili: Charles Walters
Stalag 17: Billy Wilder Stalag 17: Billy Wilder
Roman Holiday: William Wyler Roman Holiday: William Wyler
Come Back Little Sheba: Daniel Mann
Above and Beyond: Melvin Frank, Norman Panama
The Robe: Henry Koster
Call Me Madam: Walter Lang
Julius Caesar: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Titanic: Jean Negulesco
Young Bess: George Sidney

1953

The Quiet Man: John Ford The Quiet Man: John Ford
The Greatest Show on Earth: Cecil B. DeMille The Greatest Show on Earth: Cecil B. DeMille+
Pat and Mike: George Cukor Moulin Rouge: John Huston
5 Fingers: Joseph L. Mankiewicz 5 Fingers: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
High Noon: Fred Zinnemann High Noon: Fred Zinnemann
I’ll See You in My Dreams: Michael Curtiz
Singin’ in the Rain: Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly
My Six Convicts: Hugo Fregonese
The Big Sky: Howard Hawks
Viva Zapata!: Elia Kazan
The Snows of Kilimanjaro: Henry King
Rashomon: Akira Kurosawa
Pandora and the Flying Dutchman: Albert Lewin
The Bad and the Beautiful: Vincente Minnelli
Scaramouche: George Sidney
Ivanhoe: Richard Thorpe
Hans Christian Andersen: Charles Vidor

1952

A Place in the Sun: George Stevens A Place in the Sun: George Stevens
Strangers on a Train: Alfred Hitchcock The African Queen: John Huston
A Streetcar Named Desire: Elia Kazan A Streetcar Named Desire: Elia Kazan
An American in Paris: Vincente Minnelli An American in Paris: Vincente Minnelli+
Detective Story: William Wyler Detective Story: William Wyler
Death of a Salesman: Laslo Benedek
Cyrano de Bergerac: Michael Gordon
David and Bathsheba: Henry King
Quo Vadis: Mervyn LeRoy
Decision Before Dawn: Anatole Litvak
Show Boat: George Sidney
The Great Caruso: Richard Thorpe

1951

All About Eve: Joseph L. Mankiewicz All About Eve: Joseph L. Mankiewicz+
The Asphalt Jungle: John Huston Born Yesterday: George Cukor
Father’s Little Dividend: Vincente Minnelli The Asphalt Jungle: John Huston
The Third Man: Carol Reed
Sunset Blvd.: Billy Wilder Sunset Blvd.: Billy Wilder

1950

All the King’s Men: Robert Rossen All the King’s Men: Robert Rossen+
The Third Man: Carol Reed A Letter to Three Wives: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Champion: Mark Robson The Fallen Idol: Carol Reed
Lost Boundaries: Alfred L. Werker Battleground: William A. Wellman
SuThe Heiress: William Wyler

1949

A Letter to Three Wives: Joseph L. Mankiewicz Hamlet: Laurence Olivier+
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre: John Huston
Red River: Howard Hawks The Search: Fred Zinnemann
The Snake Pit: Anatole Litvak The Snake Pit: Anatole Litvak
The Search: Fred Zinnemann Johnny Belinda: Jean Negulesco

+also won Best Picture

(best picture that didn’t match director)

2012
2011 Michel Hazanavicious, The Artist Michel Hazanavicious, The Artist+
2010 Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech+
2009 Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker+
2008 Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire+
2007 Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country+
2006 Martin Scorsese, The Departed Martin Scorsese, The Departed+
2005 Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain* (Crash+)
2004 Clint Eastwood, Million Dollar Baby Clint Eastwood, MDB+
2003 Peter Jackson, Return of the King Peter Jackson, Return of the King+
2002 Rob Marshall, Chicago Roman Polanski, The Pianist (Chicago)
2001 Ron Howard, A Beautiful Mind Ron Howard, A Beautiful Mind+
2000 Ang Lee, Crouching Tiger Steven Soderbergh, Traffic (Gladiator)
1999 Sam Mendes, American Beauty Sam Mendes, American Beauty+
1998 Steven Spielberg, Saving Private Ryan Steven Spielberg (Shakespeare in Love)
1997 Jim Cameron, Titanic Jim Cameron, Titanic+
1996 Anthony Minghella, English Patient Anthony Minghella, English Patient+
1995 Ron Howard, Apollo 13 Mel Gibson, Braveheart+
1994 Robert Zemeckis, Forrest Gump Robert Zemeckis, Forrest Gump+
1993 Seven Spielberg, Schindler’s List Steven Spielberg, Schindler’s List+
1992 Clint Eastwood, Unforgiven Clint Eastwood, Unforgiven+
1991 Jonathan Demme, Silence of the Lambs Jonathan Demme, Silence of the Lambs +
1990 Kevin Costner, Dances with Wolves Kevin Costner, Dances with Wolves+
1989 Oliver Stone, Born on the Fourth of July Oliver Stone, Born on the Fourth of July (Driving Miss Daisy – director Beresford not nommed for Oscar or DGA)
1988 Barry Levinson, Rain Man Barry Levinson, Rain Man+
1987 Bernardo Bertolucci, Last Emperor Bernardo Bertolucci, Last Emperor+
1986 Oliver Stone, Platoon Oliver Stone, Platoon+
1985 Steven Spielberg, Color Purple Sidney Pollack, Out of Africa+
1984: Milos Forman, Amadeus Milos Forman, Amadeus+
1983: James Brooks, Terms of Endearment James Brooks, Terms of Endearment+
1982: Richard Attenborough, Gandhi Richard Attenborough, Gandhi+
1981: Warren Beatty, Reds Warren Beatty, Reds (Chariots of Fire)
1980: Robert Redford, Ordinary People Robert Redford, Ordinary People+
1979: Robert Benton, Kramer Vs. Kramer Robert Benton, Kramer Vs. Kramer+
1978: Michael Cimino, Deer Hunter Michael Cimino, Deer Hunter+
1977: Woody Allen, Annie Hall Woody Allen, Annie Hall+
1976: John Avildson, Rocky John Avildson, Rocky+
1975: Milos Foreman, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Milos Foreman, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest+
1974: Frances Coppola, Godfather II Frances Coppola, Godfather II+
1973: George Roy Hill, The Sting George Roy Hill+
1972: Frances Coppola, The Godfather Bob Fosse, Cabaret (Godfather)
1971: William Friedkin, The French Connection William Friedkin, The French Connection+
1970: Franklin J. Schaffner, Patton Franklin J. Schaffner , Patton+
1969: John Schlesinger, Midnight Cowboy John Schlesinger, Midnight Cowboy+
1968: Anthony Harvey, Lion in Winter Carol Reed, Oliver+
1967: Mike Nichols, The Graduate Mike Nichols, The Graduate (In Heat of the Night)
1966: Fred Zinneman, A Man for all Seasons Fred Zinneman, A Man for all Seasons+
1965: Robert Wise, The Sound of Music Robert Wise, the Sound of Music+
1964: George Cukor, My Fair Lady George Cukor, My Fair Lady+
1963: Tony Richardson, Tom Jones Tony Richardson, Tom Jones+
1962: David Lean, Lawrence of Arabia David Lean, Lawrence of Arabia+
1961: Jerome Robbins, Robert Wise, West Side Story Jerome Robbins, Robert Wise, West Side Story+
1960: Billy Wilder, The Apartment Billy Wilder, The Apartment+
1959: William Wyler, Ben Hur William Wyler, Ben Hur+
1958: Vincent Minnelli, Gigi Vincent Minnelli, Gigi+
1957: David Lean, Bridge on the River Kwai David Lean, Bridge on the River Kwai+
1956: George Stevens, Giant George Stevens, Giant (Around/World in 80 Days)
1955: Delbert Mann, Marty Delbert Mann, Marty+
1954: Elia Kazan, On the Waterfront Elia Kazan, On the Waterfront+
1953: Fred Zinnemann, From here to Eternity Fred Zinnemann, From here to Eternity+
1952: John Ford, The Quiet Man John Ford, The Quiet Man (Greatest Show on Earth)
1951: George Stevens, A Place in the Sun George Stevens, A Place in the Sun (An American in Paris)
1950: Joseph L. Mankiewicz, All About Eve Joseph L. Mankiewicz, All About Eve+
1949: Robert Rossen, All the King’s Men Joseph L. Mankiewicz for A Letter To Three Wives (All the King’s Men)
1948: Joseph L. Mankiewicz for A Letter To Three Wives John Huston, Treasure of the Sierra Madre (Hamlet)
1947 Elia Kaza for Gentleman’s Agreement
1946 William Wyler for The Best Years of Our Lives
1945 Billy Wilder for The Lost Weekend
1944 Leo McCary for Going My Way
1943 Michael Curtiz for Casablanca
1942 William Wyler for Mrs. Miniver
1941 John Ford for How Green Was My Valley
1940 John Ford for The Grapes of Wrath (Rebecca)
1939 Victor Flemming, Gone with the Wind
1938 Frank Capra, You Can’t Take it With You
1937 Leo McCary, The Awful Truth (The Life of Emile Zola)
1936 Frank Capra, Mr. Deed Goes to Town (The Great Ziegfeld)
1935 John Ford, The Informer (Mutiny on the Bounty)
1934 Frank Capra, It Happened One Night
1933 Frank Lloyd, Calvalcade

42 Comments on this Post

  1. The J Viewer

    Aah. . . . No Country for Old Men. . . . [Great film. And I am a proud owner of the film on DVD format.]

    “When was the last time a masterpiece won the Best Picture Oscar?”

    I love Schindler’s List. I love The Silence of the Lambs, as well. Etc.

    Just to name two films I love, masterpiece or not.

  2. I’m not sure I would say the Director’s Branch necessarily “corrected” the DGA this year, though. Some years, yes, that word is appropriate–last year perhaps? Kathryn Bigelow, the Governor of that Branch (!!!), not getting in may speak to something completely different than auteur-driven work. She gave one of, if not THE best-directed film of the year….her exclusion was more likely the result of internal politics to put it “nicely,” and not so much the quality of her work.

    The last time a masterpiece won the Best Picture Oscar?? GREAT QUESTION. Hmm…. I can list a few pretty damn good picks on the Academy’s part in the last 20 years. Return of the King winning was a great moment, as it acknowledged the accomplishment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy as a whole, the fantasy genre, innovation, a towering cinematic achievement. The Hurt Locker was a great choice in 2009–though I don’t think such a film would normally win the preferential ballot; Avatar/James Cameron backlash helped this film tremendously. No Country for Old Men, perhaps—though some may argue There Will Be Blood is a stronger film. In some years like 1999, 2000, and 2001–very very strong years overall–some very highly regarded films weren’t even nominated. I think Schindler’s List was a great pick, an undeniable win, but The Piano’s reputation may precede it in film academic circles. Unforgiven, also very good, was up against the wildly ambitious and thought-provoking The Crying Game. I’d probably definitively say The Silence of the Lambs is the last time a masterpiece won, where I can’t see an opposing argument for another film that year.

    ALSO, I think the preferential ballot may prevent a masterpiece-caliber film from ever winning the Best Picture Oscar. Good thing it didn’t exist for some of those films–not sure Silence of the Lambs could have won with it.

  3. Does anyone know what PST the DGA awards will be tomorrow?
    I think it’s Affleck vs Ang Lee. I think if Lee wins, this will be in Argo’s favor for a BP win (and not in Pi or Lincoln’s!)

  4. Great picture to accompany this article!

  5. Astarisborn

    No rational with this but I think Ben Affleck will win the DGA although Ang Lee may pull a surprise upset to shake things up even more.
    Lee wins Oscar Best Director and Lincoln wins Best Picture. If ever there is a split, this year is it. I think, then again who knows really what’s in this exciting race.

  6. Two things really stood out for me when I scanned the charts:

    1. Compared to the 70s and 90s, what a bland decade the 80s were, at least as far as awarding directors went.

    2. If you take the 10 year period from 1948 to 1957, there was a 50/50 chance that director and picture would not match, a real anomaly in the entire history of Oscar, although 1935 – 1940 (the supposed “golden age”), it happened 4 times. Both of these periods had higher than standard quality of films, not unlike this year. It would be great if we were entering another period of filmmaking like either of those.

    Of course, the true auteurs are seldom recognized when they appear on the scene – the Coens, Bertolucci, Polanski – even Spielberg – had to wait while others never were appreciated.

  7. Examining every chart, I much prefer the Academy’s choices to the DGA’s, on the whole. The directors branch does have quite good taste. They choose some duds, but so do all major film awarding bodies. This year’s lineup is a perfect illustration – four inspired choices (two safe, two wildcards) and one dud.

    Perhaps Benh Zeitlin will become one auteur whose work was immediately appreciated by the Academy. He may evolve into one of the most prominent directors of his generation. Beasts sure is a great debut, and it’s so rare for such an idiosyncratic debut to receive so much Oscar love. Normally, it’s something formulaic from a director with experience in other fields (Sam Mendes, Rob Marshall etc.).

  8. I don’t get how a certain voting system or having too many different awards would prevent so-called masterpieces from winning.

    If it is clearly the best and pretty much everyone agrees, it will win. If it has trouble standing out, then perhaps it isn’t that much better than the rest to begin with.

    And masterpieces become masterpieces over time. There are enough examples of movies who were “ignored” at the time but are considered classics now and there are enough examples of movies that did the opposite and didn’t really survive.

    Who knows, perhaps The Artist will be considered an awesome choice 30 years from now and perhaps Lincoln will be seen as a weird choice when there were a lot of better Spielbergs that didn’t win. It’s already struggling to make Spielberg’s top 10 and it’s not gonna go up in that list.

  9. Wtf happened to Doctor Zhivago? Never thought about the DGA snub.

  10. The last time a masterpiece won Best Picture? For me, there were three in the 1990s: Unforgiven, Schindler’s List and The English Patient. I had forgotten what a great decade for film the 90s were. I agree steve50–looking at the chart, the films awarded in the 80s seem much less artistically successful and daring compared to the 70s and the 90s.

    I agree that Ben Affleck is likely to win the DGA but I still think the directing Oscar will go to Spielberg. And he deserves it.

  11. “perhaps The Artist will be considered an awesome choice 30 years from now”

    Thank god I’ll be past Amour Part Deux by the time that happens. If I’m not already dead by then, that would kill me.

  12. unlikely hood

    Auteurs and actors don’t always get along. Some auteurs go out of their way to build relationships with their actors – and not surprisingly, those guys have won – Coppola, Forman, even Spielberg and Eastwood in a sense. But others seem to follow Hitchcock’s description of actors as “cattle” (or Kubrick’s masterial indifference) – and guess what, the DGA likes these people better than the actor-dominated Academy. Sometimes the Academy just falls for a film, like No Country, because they do. But where we see auteurs winning the guilds and losing the Oscars, look to the actor’s branch for the reason.

  13. @Zach I didn’t know the DGA snubbed David Lean either. However, despite huge box office it got very, very mixed reviews when it came out–it was seen as a big letdown after Lawrence of Arabia (although not excoriated like Ryan’s Daughter)– and it really is lesser David Lean. But compared to The Pawnbroker and Cat Ballou, it’s a masterpiece so yes it’s an odd snub.

  14. I don’t get how a certain voting system or having too many different awards would prevent so-called masterpieces from winning.
    If it is clearly the best and pretty much everyone agrees, it will win.

    It’s not about being the best, though, with the preferential voting system, unless your film is so obviously the best that it slaughters the competition early in the counting process. It’s about being better than the film in second place. You simply need to avoid last place with each round. Masterpieces tend to be divisive (it’s a subjective term) and often under-appreciated upon initial release.

  15. In my eyes, the last masterpiece that won Best Picture was Unforgiven. No Country, Schindler, Silence Lambs, all close, but not quite. Here are a few masterpieces that could have and should have won during those years:

    2011: Tree of Life
    2010: none (Social Network and Black Swan and Incendies come closest)
    2009: A Prophet (but the Academy thinks Extremely Loud is a better film…)
    2008: Wall-e
    2007: There Will Be Blood and 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days
    2006: The Lives of Others, Syndromes and a Century, Pany’s Labyrinth, the underappreciated Water
    2005: Brokeback Mountain
    2004: Eternal Sunshine, Spring Summer Fall Winter Spring and Cache
    2003: City of God [Return of the King is the weakest link in the trilogy; if you nominated the whole thing together, then yeah, maybe it qualifies]
    2002: The Pianist
    2001: Mulholland Dr.
    2000: In the Mood for Love, Yi Yi and The Werckmeister Harmonies. I think Crouching Tiger is close [loved Almost Famous, still can’t believe Chocolat was nominated instead]

    So, the Academy had plenty to choose from. The just chose wrong, as usual. Foreign language films, Amour notwithstanding, are typically ignored because they are xenophobic, as well as homophobic, racist, mysogynistic, etc. That old guard may well be dying off a la Tony Curtis and Ernest Borgnine, its very encouraging to see Beasts of the Southern Wild so deservingly nominated, but only time will tell.

    P.S. Michael Haneke’s nomination was not a surprise. The directors, more than any other branch, look overseas (beyond England) from time to time. When a director is famous or overdue, or a film is just amazing, they will sometimes come thru. Love how they nominated City of God back in 2003. The screenwriters, cinematographers and even the (usually awful) editors nominated that year’s best film. But somehow the Academy as a whole missed the boat and didn’t nominate it for Best Picture, chosing the likes of Seabiscuit instead. The Oscars are an unfunny joke.

  16. moviewatcher

    The last masterpiece that won Best Picture? The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King back in 2003. Depressing, huh?

    In the 90s there were a lot of great great films winning BP. Silence of the Lambs, Schindler’s List & Forrest Gump are masterpieces, IMO (oh, yes I did).

    Titanic was a great choice and so was American Beauty (though PTA’s Magnolia should sooooo have won that year).

    But I always find that the Academy tends to NOMINATE many great movies but never actually five them the oscar. About half of 2010’s line-up was comprised of 5 star movies (this year is about half as well). Inglorious Basterds, Michael Clayton, Munich, The Aviator, Moulin Rouge, all great choices.

    The Academy and me rarely agree on the Best Picture of the year, but I think sometimes people get carried away when saying “this is the worst BP winner ever” when in fact the movies are good/great, they just weren’t as amazing as the best movie of the year.

  17. I don’t like Dr Zhivago so much, but I never thought about it not being universally acclaimed in its era. Certainly more than Darling, which must have been a topical thing because it does not hold up. Pawnbroker is Holocaust so I’m surprised the Acad didn’t go for it. The last movie I loved that won was Slumdog, but the last 8 years have been weak overall.

  18. I admire your continued defense of “Lincoln,” but the film is certainly not widely thought to be a “masterpiece.” How many critic’s awards did it win? It doesn’t have “masterpiece” written all over it for me, although I admit it’s a good movie. Maybe Argo is not a “masterpiece,” but it’s a great Hollywood movie. And it’s much more cinematic than “Lincoln.” It’s not something that might have been an above average episode of “Masterpiece Theater” like “Lincoln.”

  19. The last masterpiece that won Best Picture? The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King back in 2003. Depressing, huh?

    More depressing still if you look at things from my perspective. The last film which I would consider to be a masterpiece that won Best Picture is The Silence of the Lambs. Schindler’s List comes very close, though. It’s mostly a masterpiece.

  20. The J Viewer

    I am so happy someone else (Bette [et al?]) also loved Almost Famous.

    I love virtually all kinds of music, including rock-n-roll; so, while I consider myself too young for traditional, classic rock, I, however, adored Almost Famous because among other reasons I totally felt connected with the protagonist, as well as the feeling of happiness when listening to one’s fav music. Crowe’s screenplay, as well as his directing approach, rocks, too! Just loved virtually everything about Almost Famous. [Kudostorm to Kate Hudson.]

    And yes, Unforgiven is (also) a masterpiece.

    But I am still torn between Lee and Speilberg re my (AD) DGA BD prediction. : ) I wouldn’t be surprised if I end up predicting Affleck for the win instead in the end. . . . lol

    *signed out*

  21. For Spielberg it’s better if Affleck wins this because if Ang Lee takes it, ARGO can still win picture, but Lee will take director at the Oscars.

  22. I agree with pretty much everything Bette said…

    Unforgiven was the last masterpiece they awarded.

    And Haneke isn’t a ballsy move. What are they risking? Nominating the best direction of the year? It’s just common sense I didn’t think they had.

  23. I think THE CRYING GAME is also an excellent movie, next to UNFORGIVEN. I remember Harvey telling a story about how Neil Jordan thought he had enough support to win the Oscar that night in 1993, that the luck of the Irish was on his side. That is, until Clint Eastwood entered the Shrine Auditorium and received a standing ovation. I think this year is very close–butt 1992, Silence of the Lambs was the clear winner against the competition, the clear best that year, and a clear masterpiece.

  24. When was the last masterpiece to win BP? No Country for Old Men. After that it’s Unforgiven, but Schlinder’s List and The Silence of the Lambs come close. The Departed is a great film, but not entirely perfect regarding the 3rd act. American Beauty is close to perfect aside from one or two quibbles and Slumdog Millionaire and The Hurt Locker are more than worthy winners. Those are some of the best winners of the last 20 years.

  25. Danemychal

    Most recent BP masterpieces: No Country for Old Men (TWBB also would have qualified), Return of the King (when taking into account the entire trilogy), Schindler’s List, The Silence of the Lambs. Gosh, there really haven’t been very many in the last 30-ish years.

    I love how everyone is qualifying Silence of the Lambs as one! It truly is great.

  26. “When was the last time a masterpiece won the Best Picture Oscar?”

    No Country for Old Men. No doubt.

  27. The last time a “masterpiece” won Best Picture?

    One need not go any further beyond last year to answer that the question.

    The answer is THE ARTIST.

  28. Yes, THE ARTIST. A great movie and a masterpiece.

  29. For me, director as auteur usually leads to films that I can appreciate, but not necessarily love. I am a huge fan of great actors paired with a great script, which is probably why many of my favorites are adaptations of plays a la “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.” These rarely win, because they’re not “epic” or “cinematic” enough.

  30. The Dude

    One clear pattern when you note the differences in the line ups of the DGA and the Oscar is that the the former chooses a more popular and/or more populist film and the latter more art house and/or cerebral films as a rule.

    Also: “When was the last time a masterpiece won the Best Picture Oscar?”

    No Country For Old Men. Although I prefer TWBB, it’s easily one of the greatest Oscar winners of all time, and good enough to appear in any list of the greatest movies ever made.

  31. “When was the last time a

    masterpiece won the Best

    Picture Oscar?”

    Humm, The English Patient.
    Whit a certain resistence, I ca think about TLOTR: TROTK.

    And I feel so much love for Almost Famous too. :)

  32. The last masterpiece to win?
    Cant go past The Silence of the Lambs. It still holds up today, it was progressive with it’s gender themes, and is an adaptation of a thriller, with a somewhat horror reputation. It was a relatively weak year, I cant help but feel that with some stiffer competition, Lambs might have been snubbed.

    Before Lambs, you have to go back to Amadeus for another timeless masterpiece. No country for old Men is almost a masterpiece, and definitly looks it compared to the winners since (Slumdog, Hurt Locker, Kings Speech & The Artist).

    It’s a shame films like The Aviator, Brokeback Mountain & The Social Network couldnt win the oscar, as they would be in the same category as No Country. But still, looking back through the last 2 decades, the oscars beat the DGA practically every year.

  33. DGA: Ang Lee Vs Ben Affleck (Winner Ben Affleck)

    Oscars: Ang Lee vs Steven Spielberg (Winner Ang Lee)

  34. No Country for Old Men is the correct answer. It stands as the best film of 2007, at least the best American film of that year in my view. There Will Be Blood is going up among critical groups and many international lists and whatnot, but every time I revisit that film I find myself just a touch less engaged, a touch less enthusiastic about it in general. The last time I watched it, some months back, I realized that several of Sasha’s complaints and comments about it were quite correct. I still admire it quite a bit and it’s by far my favorite Paul Thomas Anderson film, by a country mile, but it is also flawed and ham-handed, with a meandering midsection (which I think you have to come to expect with PTA at this point), and a thoroughly rushed third act.

    No Country is just a fine work of precision with some of the most brilliant, haunting themes to be committed to American cinema in decades. Not to mention, it’s fundamentally a summation of the Coens’ entire artistic canon, dating all the way back to their opening salvo, Blood Simple. I’m still in awe of the fact that so many awards groups, but especially Oscar, got it right that year.

    I’d say, of the films since No Country, The Hurt Locker is the closest of the bunch. It’s a near-masterpiece, the best American “war film” since Saving Private Ryan and in my view practically wipes the floor with Bigelow’s subsequent Zero Dark Thirty. I understand Sasha’s frustration with Hollywood’s ostensible inability to make films about real women, so in that way I guess Zero Dark Thirty was doubly-disappointing to me, because the female protagonist is so strangely vacuous. After years of bringing many male protagonists to full life, somehow Bigelow couldn’t quite pull it off for “Maya” in my view, though I know many others differ strongly.

    The Academy was on its hottest streak, post-’70s, in the early 1990s. The Silence of the Lambs, Unforgiven and Schindler’s List are three truly great films, instant American classics.

  35. The J Viewer

    Just done with my DGA prediction on AD, now.

    Thanks.

  36. The last time a masterpiece won Best Picture? Been a while. Had they wanted to honor a masterpiece for Best Picture they certainly could have done it with There Will Be Blood (2007), the extraordinary film from the great Paul Thomas Anderson, Brokeback Mountain (2005), Sideways (2004), the finest American comedy since Tootsie (1982), Far from Heaven (2002), Magnolia (1999), Saving Private Ryan (1998), LA Confidential (1997) or The Sweet Hereafter (1997), APollo 13 (1995), Pulp Fiction (1994), Goodfellas (1990), Empire of the Sun (1987), E.T. : The Extraterrestrial (1982), Reds (1981), Raging bull (1980), Apocalypse Now (1979), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), All the President’s Men (1976), A Clockwork Orange (1971), 2001 (1968), Bonnie and Clyde (1967), Dr. Strangelove… (1964), The Searchers (1956),
    THe Quiet Man (1952) or Singin’ in the Rain (1952), A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), Sundet Boulevard (1950), The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), Citizen Kane (1941), The Grapes of Wrath (1940), The Wizard of Oz (1939), Modern Times (1936), King Kong (1933) and City Lights (1931). Have they gotten it right a few times? Sure, when they honored films such as The Godfather (1972), The Godfather Part II (1974), ONe Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), Terms of Endearment (1983), Amadeus (1984), Platoon (1986), Unforgiven (1992), Schindler’s List (1993), The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), and The Departed (2006)…sometimes they get it right — let’s hope they honor Lincoln (2012) this year and get it right.

  37. 80’s: Amadeus (Terms od Endearment & Platoon very close)
    90’s: Schindler’s List, The Silence of the Lambs
    2000’s: No Country for Old Men, The Lord of the Rings

  38. Astarisborn

    The Exorcist is a masterpiece. It should have beat the bland The Sting for best picture.
    The classic horror film won adapted script and probably one of the most deserving best wins for Sound in movie history. It still overpowers any computer special effects horror films made today.

  39. There really is no “correct answer” to this question, only the posturings of a person’s singular taste.

    I am know I am in the minority at this site when I say that THE ARTIST is a better film than NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. I could watch the artist endlessly, but NO COUNTRY, as well made as is it is not the kind of film I would care to revisit.

    If we bring in the year’s critics’ awards into play here, we will find that THE ARTIST won even more citations than NO COUNTRY, though admittedly the latter film had to contend with THERE WILL BE BLOOD that same year.

    THE ARTIST for me is a better film than NO COUNTRY any day of the week, but as I say it is a matter of taste and appreciation.

    There is no right answer to this question, just an expression of taste. The critical zeitgeist seems to believe both are masterpieces. Fair enough.

    Was THE ARTIST the best film of last year all things considered, taking in great work like TREE OF LIFE and other superlative foreign-language films?

    My answer is……….YES. But it’s all about taste.

  40. rufussondheim

    I’ll never understand why all these so-called intellectuals(!) think Chariots of Fire is not deserving. I love Chariots of Fire! And it would be my answer to the last masterpiece to win Best Pic.

    Now of course I haven’t seen No Country and I think Silence and Unforgiven are just wonderful, but I haven’t seen Unforgiven since it’s release (I know, how embarrassing!) but Silence doesn’t have enough emotional resonance for me, even though it is flawlessly put together.

    But then I knew I am cuckoo in the head and out of the mainstream with the films I love. But I love the portrayal of the two central figures in Chariots, I think they are spot on special and I love how they approach life differently. Every time I see the film, I’m totally enraptured and think it’s just smashing.

  41. “When was the last time a masterpiece won the Best Picture Oscar?”
    Easy enough. 2011 The Artist, 1997 Titanic, 1994 Forrest Gump (but against Pulp Fiction!), 1991 The Silence of the Lambs, 1986 Platoon, 1978 The Deer Hunter, 1977 Annie Hall, 1976 Rocky (but against Network, All the President’s Men and Taxi Driver!), 1975 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, 1974 The Godfather Part II, 1972 The Godfather, 1971 The French Connection, …

    This year only Amour, Silver Linings Playbook and Life of Pi would fall into that category, and it is very unlikely that Oscar voters would suddenly fall for masterpieces. But who knows. Since mediocre, flawed films like Argo, Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty dominate the race this year it looks very unlikely, that voters will vote independently.

  42. I’ve said it before & I’ll say it again – the Oscars’ Best Director picks were a surprise, but a brilliant one. That’s a great list of directors. Replace O’Russell with Bigelow and it’s as near perfect as five nominees can get.

    They certainly shouldn’t be criticised for thinking for ignoring the status quo when they did pretty darn well thinking for themselves.

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