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. The 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 Academy Award for Best Director is so significant in the world of film. Since 1929 the Academy has chosen one filmmaker — and in a few rare cases, multiple filmmakers — who stand out in the industry for their exceptional directing.
In honor of the 92nd Academy Awards, scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, and airing live on ABC, 24/7 Tempo is taking a look back at who won the Oscar for Best Director every year since 1929.
Many of the Best Director winners 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 that wins the Best Director award each year is often also named Best Picture. This has happened 65 times in the 91 years the awards have been given. This is perhaps unsurprising considering the impact that a director has on their finished product. The directors who have won Oscars are frequently those behind movie lovers’ favorite films of all time. These are the 100 best movies of all time, based on user and critic reviews.
Whoever wins Best Director at this year’s Academy Awards (nominees include Martin Scorsese, Todd Phillips, Sam Mendes, Quentin Tarantino, and Bong Joon Ho) will find themselves in great company.
To identify who has won the Oscar for best director each year, 24/7 Tempo used data from the Internet Movie Database (IMDb). 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 and Best Writing.