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The Top 25 Best Director Winners So Far (Updated for 2023)

Well my friends, the end of this series draws closer and closer. Until that sad moment, we press on. Continuing a tradition I’ve been keen on for years, I’m ranking the new crop of Academy Award winners. For nearly all of the Oscar categories, you’ll see me list the top 25 recipients of that prize. Sometimes, our newest winner will appear. Other times, they’ll be relegated to the Honorable Mention category. Who knows, maybe one or two won’t even make the cut? It’s a list series that I’ll do each and every single year, in the weeks after the ceremony concludes. So, while this is a fun way to think about the Oscars in the aftermath of the latest telecast, it’s also a beginning for another column here on the site. Of course, definitely show us your own lists as well, in the comments section below. We’re definitely keen to know what you think!

Another of the biggest categories hits today…Best Director. The Best Director category has occasionally struggled with being seen as a coattail on the way to Best Picture, but that’s hardly always been the case. One look below will reveal plenty of Director winners that didn’t also take home Picture. For my money, Steven Spielberg has the best win, for Schindler’s List (though his other winner, Saving Private Ryan, isn’t far behind). Other top tier victors include Woody Allen (I know, I know) for Annie HallKathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker, Bong Joon Ho for Parasite, and Mike Nichols for The Graduate. Where does our most prior winner, Jane Campion, fall this time for her work on The Power of the Dog? What about The Daniels for Everything Everywhere All At Once? Read on below to find out…

Here now are what I consider to be the 25 best winners of the Oscar for Best Director, to date:

Steven Spielberg

25. John G. Avildsen – Rocky
24. William Friedkin – The French Connection
23. Francis Ford Coppola – The Godfather Part II
22. Clint Eastwood – Million Dollar Baby
21. Oliver Stone – Platoon
20. Robert Zemeckis – Forrest Gump
19. John Ford – The Grapes of Wrath
18. Miloš Forman – One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
17. Alfonso Cuaron – Gravity
16. Jonathan Demme – The Silence of the Lambs
15. Jane Campion – The Power of the Dog
14. Sam Mendes – American Beauty
13. The Daniels – Everything Everywhere All At Once
12. David Lean – Lawrence of Arabia
11. Martin Scorsese – The Departed
10. Billy Wilder – The Apartment
9. Michael Curtiz – Casablanca
8. Elia Kazan – On the Waterfront
7. Damien Chazelle – La La Land
6. Steven Spielberg – Saving Private Ryan
5. Mike Nichols – The Graduate
4. Kathryn Bigelow – The Hurt Locker
3. Woody Allen – Annie Hall
2. Bong Joon Ho – Parasite
1. Steven Spielberg – Schindler’s List

Honorable Mentions: James Cameron – Titanic, Frank Capra – Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Guillermo del Toro – The Shape of Water, Alejandro G. Iñárritu – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), and William Wyler – Ben-Hur, and Chloe Zhao – Nomadland

Winner for Best Director Kathryn Bigelow for “The Hurt Locker” gives her acceptance speech at the 82nd Academy Awards at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, California on March 07, 2010. AFP PHOTO/ Gabriel BOUYS

Stay tuned for another category later on this week or early next week!


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1 month ago

Always and interesting category

1.Billy Wilder -The Apartment
2.The Daniels -Everything Everywhere All At Once
3.William Wyler -The Best Years of Our Lives
4.Michel Curtiz -Casablanca
5.Robert Wise -The Sound of Music
6.Bob Fosse -Cabaret
7.Steven Speilberg -Schindler’s List
8.Bong Joon Ho -Parasite
9.Alfonso Cuaron -Gravity
10.Ang Lee -Brokeback Mountain
11.Chloe Zhao -Nomadland
12.Robert Redford -Ordinary People
13.John Ford -The Grapes of Wrath
14.Jonathon Demme -The Silence of the Lambs
15.Anthony Minghela -The Englih Patient
16.Frank Capra -It Happened One Night
17.Joseph Mankiweicz -A Letter To Three Wives
18.Fred Zimerman -From Here To Eternity
19.Coen Bros -No Country For Old Men
20.Elia Kazan -On The Waterfront
21.Clint Eastwood -Unforgiven
22.Guillermo del Toro -The Shape of Water
23.Danny Boyle -Slumdog Millionaire
24.Michel Hazanvicius -The Artist
25.Kathry n Bigalow-The Hurt Locker

HM Milos Foreman One Flew Over The Cukoo’s Nest
Jane Campion -The Power of The Dog
Carol Reed -Oliver!
Alfonso Cuaron -Roma
Alejandro G Inarritaitu The Revanent
Oliver tone -Platoon
Milos Foreman -Amadeus



Written by Joey Magidson

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