What famous directors have never won an Oscar?
The Academy Awards are Hollywood’s highest honor but many directors never get to take home an Oscar despite achieving cinematic excellence.
The Academy Awards are generally accepted as Hollywood’s highest accolades. That said, there are a few film directors who have never received that priceless golden Oscar, even though some of their work is still considered among the pantheon of cinematic masterpieces.
The best film directors without an Oscar
To fans of horror, it may be surprising that Sir Alfred Hitchcock, whose films defined the genre for a generation, never won an Oscar for his work. Throughout the course of his career, Hitchcock was nominated for Best Director on five occasions, for Rebecca (1940), Lifeboat (1944), Spellbound (1945), Rear Window (1954) and Psycho (1960). The only Hitchcock film to take home the prize for Best Picture was Rebecca. Some believe that while today many of Hitchcock’s films are considered classics, in his day, they were not afforded the prestige required to win an Oscar.
Many directors, and the movies that won them the top prize, will go on to be nothing more than a footnote in Hollywood history. However, Hitchcock will be remembered as a director whose films remained relevant and riveting to audiences decades after their release and inspired filmmakers for generations.
Tarantino, Anderson, Lee
More contemporary directors who have never won the award include names such as Quentin Tarantino, who has been nominated three times, Wes Anderson for The Grand Budapest Hotel, and Spike Lee for BlacKkKlansman.
Overwhelmingly white and male
The Academy has received criticism for lacking diversity in the nomination process. Ahead of last year's awards, Insider, the online media company, surveyed nominations over the previous decade and found 89% had gone to white nominees. Hollywood, in general, is overwhelmingly white, and the challenges that creates for minority actors and filmmakers are well documented. One example comes from an interview with Academy Award winning actress, Lupita Nyong’o, and Daily Show Host, Trevor Noah, where Nyong’o expressed her frustration with Hollywood’s hesitancy to cast her in movies that are not just period pieces.
Directors from minority backgrounds encounter many of the same challenges. In all of Oscar history, only six Black directors have been nominated but none have won and no directors from the United States of Latin American descent have ever been nominated.
Three directors from Latin America have won the award, including two who have picked up a Best Director Oscar twice, Alejandro G. Iñárritu for Birdman and The Revenant, Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity and Roma, with Guillermo del Toro winning for The Shape of Water.
Thirty directors of non-English films have been nominated and only two have won, Cuarón for Roma and last year’s win, Bong Joon-ho for Parasite. This year, Japanese director Ryusuke Hamaguchi has been nominated for his film, Drive My Car.
Women, especially female directors of color, have often been ignored by the Academy. Of the ninety-three winners for Best Director, ninety-one have been men. Only five women have been nominated for the award and only two have won, Kathryn Bigelow, for The Hurt Locker and Chloé Zhao for Nomadland. When Barbara Streisand, another woman whose works never garnered her a nomination for Best Director, announced Bigelow’s win she said “well, the time has come,” which was followed by a standing ovation by the audience. This year, Jane Campion is widely expected to become the third female winner of the Best Director award for The Power of the Dog.
Nominees are voted on by the members of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which is made up of all those who are involved in film-making, from actors to costume designers, directors to casting directors, and more. All in all, the Academy has over 8,000 voting members.
Oscars 2022: when do the Academy Awards start?
The 94th Academy Awards take place on 27 March, 2022, with the ceremony at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood scheduled to start at 8.30 p.m. ET / 5.30 p.m. PT.
ABC’s coverage begins at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT on the ABC TV channel, ABC.com and the ABC App.