Monday, February 9, 2015

Best Director / Best Picture Splits

This year, I'm predicting a split between the Best Director and Best Picture Oscar wins. If I'm right, that will be three consecutive years of a Best Director / Best Picture split. Three consecutive years!

If that doesn't sound crazy to you, then you're probably a decade or so younger than me and it was somewhat normal by the time you started watching the Oscars. When I was growing up, not only did this almost never happen, but it was a scenario that just didn't make sense. After all, wouldn't the best movie have to be made by the best director? Doesn't it take the best director to create the best movie?

During my lifetime, the Director / Picture split has happened eight times; and really only six times since I was old enough to pay attention to the Oscars. In 1999, when I was a teenager and only a few years into adopting the persona of "film buff," it was cataclysmic when Spielberg won Best Director for Saving Private Ryan but Best Picture went to Shakespeare in Love.

In the 15 years since, there have been five Director / Picture splits -- fully 1/3 of the time. In the '80s, it only happened twice. In the '70s, once. The '60s, once.

But when you look back before the '60s, you start to notice that this was much more common. In fact, in the '30s -- the first full decade that the Academy Awards existed -- it happened 50% of the time! So I suppose this nothing more than a return to form.

Here's the list of every Best Director / Best Picture split in Oscar history. The years shown are the release years of the movies themselves; they received their awards the following year.


2013
12 Years a Slave won Best Picture
Alfonso Cuaron won Best Director for Gravity

2012
Argo won Best Picture
Ang Lee won Best Director for Life of Pi

2005
Crash won Best Picture
Ang Lee won Best Director for Brokeback Mountain

2002
Chicago won Best Picture
Roman Polanski won Best Director for The Pianist

2000
Gladiator won Best Picture
Steven Soderbergh won Best Director for Traffic

1998
Shakespeare in Love won Best Picture
Steven Spielberg won Best Director for Saving Private Ryan

1989
Driving Miss Daisy won Best Picture
Oliver Stone won Best Director for Born On the Fourth of July

1981
Chariots of Fire won Best Picture
Warren Beatty won Best Director for Reds

1972
The Godfather won Best Picture
Bob Fosse won Best Director for Cabaret

1967
In The Heat of the Night won Best Picture
Mike Nichols won Best Director for The Graduate

1956
Around the World in 80 Days won Best Picture
George Stevens won Best Director for Giant

1952
The Greatest Show on Earth won Best Picture
John Ford won Best Director for The Quiet Man

1951
An American in Paris won Best Picture
George Stevens won Best Director for A Place In the Sun

1949
All The King's Men won Best Picture
Joseph L. Mankiewicz won Best Director for A Letter to Three Wives

1948
Hamlet won Best Picture
John Huston won Best Director for The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

1940
Rebecca won Best Picture
John Ford won Best Director for The Grapes of Wrath

1937
The Life of Emile Zola won Best Picture
Leo McCarey won Best Director for The Awful Truth

1936
The Great Ziegfeld won Best Picture
Frank Capra won Best Director for Mr. Deeds Goes to Town

1935
Mutiny on the Bounty won Best Picture
John Ford won Best Director for The Informer

1931 / 32
Grand Hotel won Best Picture
Frank Borzage won Best Director for Bad Girl

1930 / 31
Cimarron won Best Picture
Norman Taurog won Best Director for Skippy

1928 / 29
The Broadway Melody won Best Picture
Frank Lloyd won Best Director for The Divine Lady

1927 / 28
Wings won Best Picture
COMEDY = Lewis Milestone for Two Arabian Knights
DRAMA = Frank Borzage for 7th Heaven

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