Academy Award for Best Director

Academy Award for Best Director
Bong Joon-ho 2017.jpg
Current recipient: Bong Joon-ho
Awarded for Excellence in Cinematic Direction Achievement
Country United States
Presented by Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS)
First awarded 1929 (for direction in films released during the 1927/1928 film season)
Most recent winner Bong Joon-ho
Parasite (2019)

The Academy Award for Best Director (officially known as the Academy Award of Merit for Directing) is an award presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). It is given in honor of a film director who has exhibited outstanding directing while working in the film industry.

The 1st Academy Awards ceremony was held in 1929 with the award being split into "Dramatic" and "Comedy" categories; Frank Borzage and Lewis Milestone won for 7th Heaven and Two Arabian Knights, respectively.[1] However, these categories were merged for all subsequent ceremonies.[2] Nominees are determined by single transferable vote within the directors branch of AMPAS; winners are selected by a plurality vote from the entire eligible voting members of the Academy.[3][4][5]

For the first eleven years of the Academy Awards, directors were allowed to be nominated for multiple films in the same year. However, after the nomination of Michael Curtiz for two films, Angels with Dirty Faces and Four Daughters, at the 11th Academy Awards, the rules were revised so that an individual could only be nominated for one film at each ceremony.[6] That rule has since been amended, although the only director who has received multiple nominations in the same year was Steven Soderbergh for Erin Brockovich and Traffic in 2000, winning the award for the latter. The Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Picture have been very closely linked throughout their history. Of the 92 films that have been awarded Best Picture, 66 have also been awarded Best Director.[7]

Since its inception, the award has been given to 72 directors or directing teams. John Ford has received the most awards in this category with four. William Wyler was nominated on twelve occasions, more than any other individual. Damien Chazelle became the youngest director in history to receive this award, at the age of 32 for his work on La La Land. John Singleton became the youngest director to be nominated for this award, at age 24 for his work on Boyz n the Hood. Two directing teams have shared the award; Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins for West Side Story in 1961 and Joel and Ethan Coen for No Country for Old Men in 2007. The Coen brothers are the only siblings to have won the award.[8] Kathryn Bigelow is the only woman to have won the award, for 2009's The Hurt Locker. As of the 2020 ceremony, Bong Joon-ho is the most recent winner in this category for his work on Parasite.

Winners and nominees

In the following table, the years are listed as per Academy convention, and generally correspond to the year of film release in Los Angeles County, California; the ceremonies are always held the following year.[9] For the first five ceremonies, the eligibility period spanned twelve months from August 1 to July 31.[10] For the 6th ceremony held in 1934, the eligibility period lasted from August 1, 1932, to December 31, 1933.[10] Since the 7th ceremony held in 1935, the period of eligibility became the full previous calendar year from January 1 to December 31.[10]

Table key
  indicates the winner
Award winner Indicates the winner of Best Picture


Black-and-white photo of Frank Borzage, 1920.
Frank Borzage won in the "Dramatic" category at the first ceremony and later received a second award for Bad Girl.


Black-and-white publicity photo of Lewis Milestone.
Lewis Milestone won in the "Comedy" category at the first ceremony and later received a second award for All Quiet on the Western Front.
Black-and-white photo of Frank Lloyd.
Frank Lloyd won two awards in this category for The Divine Lady and Cavalcade.
Black-and-white photograph of John Ford smoking a pipe.
John Ford has the most Best Director wins with four, winning in 1935, 1940, 1941, and 1952.


Black-and-white photograph of William Wyler.
William Wyler has the most nominations with twelve, winning in 1942, 1946, and 1959.
Black-and-white photo of Michael Curtiz.
Michael Curtiz won for directing Casablanca.
Black-and-white photograph of Gloria Swanson and Billy Wilder while filming Sunset Boulevard.
Billy Wilder ( right) was nominated eight times, winning twice.
File of Elia Kazan as a younger adult.
Elia Kazan won in 1947 for Gentleman's Agreement and again in 1954 for On the Waterfront.
Publicity photo of John Huston in the 1974 film Chinatown.
John Huston received the award in 1948 for The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.
Year Director(s) Film Ref.
John Ford The Grapes of Wrath [23]
George Cukor The Philadelphia Story
Alfred Hitchcock Rebecca Award winner
Sam Wood Kitty Foyle
William Wyler The Letter
John Ford How Green Was My Valley Award winner [24]
Alexander Hall Here Comes Mr. Jordan
Howard Hawks Sergeant York
Orson Welles Citizen Kane
William Wyler The Little Foxes
William Wyler Mrs. Miniver Award winner [25]
Michael Curtiz Yankee Doodle Dandy
John Farrow Wake Island
Mervyn LeRoy Random Harvest
Sam Wood Kings Row
Michael Curtiz Casablanca Award winner [26]
Clarence Brown The Human Comedy
Henry King The Song of Bernadette
Ernst Lubitsch Heaven Can Wait
George Stevens The More the Merrier
Leo McCarey Going My Way Award winner [27]
Alfred Hitchcock Lifeboat
Henry King Wilson
Otto Preminger Laura
Billy Wilder Double Indemnity
Billy Wilder The Lost Weekend Award winner [28]
Clarence Brown National Velvet
Alfred Hitchcock Spellbound
Leo McCarey The Bells of St. Mary's
Jean Renoir The Southerner
William Wyler The Best Years of Our Lives Award winner [29]
Clarence Brown The Yearling
Frank Capra It's a Wonderful Life
David Lean Brief Encounter
Robert Siodmak The Killers
Elia Kazan Gentleman's Agreement Award winner [30]
George Cukor A Double Life
Edward Dmytryk Crossfire
Henry Koster The Bishop's Wife
David Lean Great Expectations
John Huston The Treasure of the Sierra Madre [31]
Anatole Litvak The Snake Pit
Jean Negulesco Johnny Belinda
Laurence Olivier Hamlet Award winner
Fred Zinnemann The Search
Joseph L. Mankiewicz A Letter to Three Wives [32]
Carol Reed The Fallen Idol
Robert Rossen All the King's Men Award winner
William A. Wellman Battleground
William Wyler The Heiress


Joseph L. Mankiewicz won back to back Oscars for, A Letter to Three Wives (1949) and All About Eve (1950)
Vincent Minnelli won for Gigi in 1958
Year Director(s) Film Ref.
Joseph L. Mankiewicz All About Eve Award winner [33]
George Cukor Born Yesterday
John Huston The Asphalt Jungle
Carol Reed The Third Man
Billy Wilder Sunset Boulevard
George Stevens A Place in the Sun [34]
John Huston The African Queen
Elia Kazan A Streetcar Named Desire
Vincente Minnelli An American in Paris Award winner
William Wyler Detective Story
John Ford The Quiet Man [35]
Cecil B. DeMille The Greatest Show on Earth Award winner
John Huston Moulin Rouge
Joseph L. Mankiewicz 5 Fingers
Fred Zinnemann High Noon
Fred Zinnemann From Here to Eternity Award winner [36]
George Stevens Shane
Charles Walters Lili
Billy Wilder Stalag 17
William Wyler Roman Holiday
Elia Kazan On the Waterfront Award winner [37]
Alfred Hitchcock Rear Window
George Seaton The Country Girl
William A. Wellman The High and the Mighty
Billy Wilder Sabrina
Delbert Mann Marty Award winner [38]
Elia Kazan East of Eden
David Lean Summertime
Joshua Logan Picnic
John Sturges Bad Day at Black Rock
George Stevens Giant [39]
Michael Anderson Around the World in 80 Days Award winner
Walter Lang The King and I
King Vidor War and Peace
William Wyler Friendly Persuasion
David Lean The Bridge on the River Kwai Award winner [40]
Joshua Logan Sayonara
Sidney Lumet 12 Angry Men
Mark Robson Peyton Place
Billy Wilder Witness for the Prosecution
Vincente Minnelli Gigi Award winner [41]
Richard Brooks Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Stanley Kramer The Defiant Ones
Mark Robson The Inn of the Sixth Happiness
Robert Wise I Want to Live!
William Wyler Ben-Hur Award winner [42]
Jack Clayton Room at the Top
George Stevens The Diary of Anne Frank
Billy Wilder Some Like It Hot
Fred Zinnemann The Nun's Story


Billy Wilder won for The Apartment (1960)
Robert Wise in 1990.
Robert Wise, co-won for West Side Story (1961), and for The Sound of Music (1965)
Publicity still photo of Jerome Robbins
Jerome Robbins co-won for West Side Story (1961)
George Cukor in 1946.
George Cukor won in 1964 for My Fair Lady.
Photo of Mike Nichols in the 1970s.
Mike Nichols won for 1967's The Graduate.
Year Director(s) Film Ref.
Billy Wilder The Apartment Award winner [43]
Jack Cardiff Sons and Lovers
Jules Dassin Never on Sunday
Alfred Hitchcock Psycho
Fred Zinnemann The Sundowners
Jerome Robbins & Robert Wise West Side Story Award winner [44]
Federico Fellini La Dolce Vita
Stanley Kramer Judgment at Nuremberg
Robert Rossen The Hustler
J. Lee Thompson The Guns of Navarone
David Lean Lawrence of Arabia Award winner [45]
Pietro Germi Divorce Italian Style
Robert Mulligan To Kill a Mockingbird
Arthur Penn The Miracle Worker
Frank Perry David and Lisa
Tony Richardson Tom Jones Award winner [46]
Federico Fellini
Elia Kazan America America
Otto Preminger The Cardinal
Martin Ritt Hud
George Cukor My Fair Lady Award winner [47]
Michael Cacoyannis Zorba the Greek
Peter Glenville Becket
Stanley Kubrick Dr. Strangelove
Robert Stevenson Mary Poppins
Robert Wise The Sound of Music Award winner [48]
David Lean Doctor Zhivago
John Schlesinger Darling
Hiroshi Teshigahara Woman in the Dunes
William Wyler The Collector
Fred Zinnemann A Man for All Seasons Award winner [49]
Michelangelo Antonioni Blowup
Richard Brooks The Professionals
Claude Lelouch A Man and a Woman
Mike Nichols Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Mike Nichols The Graduate [50]
Richard Brooks In Cold Blood
Norman Jewison In the Heat of the Night Award winner
Stanley Kramer Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
Arthur Penn Bonnie and Clyde
Carol Reed Oliver! Award winner [51]
Anthony Harvey The Lion in Winter
Stanley Kubrick 2001: A Space Odyssey
Gillo Pontecorvo The Battle of Algiers
Franco Zeffirelli Romeo and Juliet
John Schlesinger Midnight Cowboy Award winner [52]
Costa-Gavras Z
George Roy Hill Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Arthur Penn Alice's Restaurant
Sydney Pollack They Shoot Horses, Don't They?


Bob Fosse won for Cabaret in 1972
Miloš Forman at the 44th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.
Miloš Forman won for both 1975's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and 1984's Amadeus.
Woody Allen in 2006.
Woody Allen received seven nominations in the category, winning for Annie Hall in 1977.
Year Director(s) Film Ref.
Franklin J. Schaffner Patton Award winner [53]
Robert Altman M*A*S*H
Federico Fellini Fellini Satyricon
Arthur Hiller Love Story
Ken Russell Women in Love
William Friedkin The French Connection Award winner [54]
Peter Bogdanovich The Last Picture Show
Norman Jewison Fiddler on the Roof
Stanley Kubrick A Clockwork Orange
John Schlesinger Sunday Bloody Sunday
Bob Fosse Cabaret [55]
John Boorman Deliverance
Francis Ford Coppola The Godfather Award winner
Joseph L. Mankiewicz Sleuth
Jan Troell The Emigrants
George Roy Hill The Sting Award winner [56]
Ingmar Bergman Cries and Whispers
Bernardo Bertolucci Last Tango in Paris
William Friedkin The Exorcist
George Lucas American Graffiti
Francis Ford Coppola The Godfather Part II Award winner [57]
John Cassavetes A Woman Under the Influence
Bob Fosse Lenny
Roman Polanski Chinatown
François Truffaut Day for Night
Miloš Forman One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Award winner [58]
Robert Altman Nashville
Federico Fellini Amarcord
Stanley Kubrick Barry Lyndon
Sidney Lumet Dog Day Afternoon
John G. Avildsen Rocky Award winner [59]
Ingmar Bergman Face to Face
Sidney Lumet Network
Alan J. Pakula All the President's Men
Lina Wertmüller Seven Beauties
Woody Allen Annie Hall Award winner [60]
George Lucas Star Wars
Herbert Ross The Turning Point
Steven Spielberg Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Fred Zinnemann Julia
Michael Cimino The Deer Hunter Award winner [61]
Woody Allen Interiors
Hal Ashby Coming Home
Warren Beatty & Buck Henry Heaven Can Wait
Alan Parker Midnight Express
Robert Benton Kramer vs. Kramer Award winner [62]
Francis Ford Coppola Apocalypse Now
Bob Fosse All That Jazz
Édouard Molinaro La Cage aux Folles
Peter Yates Breaking Away


Warren Beatty in a publicity photo for Shampoo in 1975.
Warren Beatty won in 1981 for directing Reds.
Richard Attenborough in 1975.
Richard Attenborough won in 1982 for his epic biopic, Gandhi.
Sydney Pollack won for Out of Africa in 1985
Oliver Stone at the San Diego Comic-Con in 2016.
Oliver Stone earned two awards in this category in the 1980s—one for Platoon (1986), and the other for Born on the Fourth of July (1989).
Year Director(s) Film Ref.
Robert Redford Ordinary People Award winner [63]
David Lynch The Elephant Man
Roman Polanski Tess
Richard Rush The Stunt Man
Martin Scorsese Raging Bull
Warren Beatty Reds [64]
Hugh Hudson Chariots of Fire Award winner
Louis Malle Atlantic City
Mark Rydell On Golden Pond
Steven Spielberg Raiders of the Lost Ark
Richard Attenborough Gandhi Award winner [65]
Sidney Lumet The Verdict
Wolfgang Petersen Das Boot
Sydney Pollack Tootsie
Steven Spielberg E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
James L. Brooks Terms of Endearment Award winner [66]
Bruce Beresford Tender Mercies
Ingmar Bergman Fanny and Alexander
Mike Nichols Silkwood
Peter Yates The Dresser
Miloš Forman Amadeus Award winner [67]
Woody Allen Broadway Danny Rose
Robert Benton Places in the Heart
Roland Joffé The Killing Fields
David Lean A Passage to India
Sydney Pollack Out of Africa Award winner [68]
Héctor Babenco Kiss of the Spider Woman
John Huston Prizzi's Honor
Akira Kurosawa Ran
Peter Weir Witness
Oliver Stone Platoon Award winner [69]
Woody Allen Hannah and Her Sisters
James Ivory A Room with a View
Roland Joffé The Mission
David Lynch Blue Velvet
Bernardo Bertolucci The Last Emperor Award winner [70]
John Boorman Hope and Glory
Lasse Hallström My Life as a Dog
Norman Jewison Moonstruck
Adrian Lyne Fatal Attraction
Barry Levinson Rain Man Award winner [71]
Charles Crichton A Fish Called Wanda
Mike Nichols Working Girl
Alan Parker Mississippi Burning
Martin Scorsese The Last Temptation of Christ
Oliver Stone Born on the Fourth of July [72]
Woody Allen Crimes and Misdemeanors
Kenneth Branagh Henry V
Jim Sheridan My Left Foot
Peter Weir Dead Poets Society


Clint Eastwood at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival.
Clint Eastwood won for Unforgiven (1992), and Million Dollar Baby (2004)
James Cameron won for Titanic (1997)
Sam Mendes at the premiere of the musical of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Sam Mendes won for his directorial debut, American Beauty (1999)
Year Director(s) Film Ref.
Kevin Costner Dances with Wolves Award winner [73]
Francis Ford Coppola The Godfather Part III
Stephen Frears The Grifters
Barbet Schroeder Reversal of Fortune
Martin Scorsese Goodfellas
Jonathan Demme The Silence of the Lambs Award winner [74]
Barry Levinson Bugsy
Ridley Scott Thelma & Louise
John Singleton Boyz n the Hood
Oliver Stone JFK
Clint Eastwood Unforgiven Award winner [75]
Robert Altman The Player
Martin Brest Scent of a Woman
James Ivory Howards End
Neil Jordan The Crying Game
Steven Spielberg Schindler's List Award winner [76]
Robert Altman Short Cuts
Jane Campion The Piano
James Ivory The Remains of the Day
Jim Sheridan In the Name of the Father
Robert Zemeckis Forrest Gump Award winner [77]
Woody Allen Bullets over Broadway
Krzysztof Kieślowski Three Colours: Red
Robert Redford Quiz Show
Quentin Tarantino Pulp Fiction
Mel Gibson Braveheart Award winner [78]
Mike Figgis Leaving Las Vegas
Chris Noonan Babe
Michael Radford Il Postino: The Postman
Tim Robbins Dead Man Walking
Anthony Minghella The English Patient Award winner [79]
Joel Coen Fargo
Miloš Forman The People vs. Larry Flynt
Scott Hicks Shine
Mike Leigh Secrets & Lies
James Cameron Titanic Award winner [80]
Peter Cattaneo The Full Monty
Atom Egoyan The Sweet Hereafter
Curtis Hanson L.A. Confidential
Gus Van Sant Good Will Hunting
Steven Spielberg Saving Private Ryan [81]
Roberto Benigni Life Is Beautiful
John Madden Shakespeare in Love Award winner
Terrence Malick The Thin Red Line
Peter Weir The Truman Show
Sam Mendes American Beauty Award winner [82]
Lasse Hallström The Cider House Rules
Spike Jonze Being John Malkovich
Michael Mann The Insider
M. Night Shyamalan The Sixth Sense


Steven Soderbergh won for Traffic in 2000
Ang Lee at the 66th Venice Film Festival.
Ang Lee became the first Asian director to win for Brokeback Mountain (2005). He won again for Life of Pi (2012)
Martin Scorsese at 60th Berlin International Film Festival in 2010.
Martin Scorsese won his first Oscar for The Departed in 2006.
Kathryn Bigelow at the 82nd Academy Awards
Kathryn Bigelow is the first and only woman to date to win. She won for The Hurt Locker in 2009.
Year Director(s) Film Ref.
Steven Soderbergh Traffic [83]
Stephen Daldry Billy Elliot
Ang Lee Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Ridley Scott Gladiator Award winner
Steven Soderbergh Erin Brockovich
Ron Howard A Beautiful Mind Award winner [84]
Robert Altman Gosford Park
Peter Jackson The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
David Lynch Mulholland Drive
Ridley Scott Black Hawk Down
Roman Polanski The Pianist [85]
Pedro Almodóvar Talk to Her
Stephen Daldry The Hours
Rob Marshall Chicago Award winner
Martin Scorsese Gangs of New York
Peter Jackson The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Award winner [86]
Sofia Coppola Lost in Translation
Clint Eastwood Mystic River
Fernando Meirelles City of God
Peter Weir Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
Clint Eastwood Million Dollar Baby Award winner [87]
Taylor Hackford Ray
Mike Leigh Vera Drake
Alexander Payne Sideways
Martin Scorsese The Aviator
Ang Lee Brokeback Mountain [88]
George Clooney Good Night, and Good Luck
Paul Haggis Crash Award winner
Bennett Miller Capote
Steven Spielberg Munich
Martin Scorsese The Departed Award winner [89]
Clint Eastwood Letters from Iwo Jima
Stephen Frears The Queen
Paul Greengrass United 93
Alejandro González Iñárritu Babel
Coen Brothers No Country for Old Men Award winner [90]
Paul Thomas Anderson There Will Be Blood
Tony Gilroy Michael Clayton
Jason Reitman Juno
Julian Schnabel The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Danny Boyle Slumdog Millionaire Award winner [91]
Stephen Daldry The Reader
David Fincher The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Ron Howard Frost/Nixon
Gus Van Sant Milk
Kathryn Bigelow The Hurt Locker Award winner [92]
James Cameron Avatar
Lee Daniels Precious
Jason Reitman Up in the Air
Quentin Tarantino Inglourious Basterds


Alfonso Cuarón in 2013.
Alfonso Cuarón became the first Mexican director to win this award for Gravity (2013). He won again for Roma (2018).
Alejandro González Iñárritu in 2017 at the Cannes Film Festival.
Alejandro G. Iñárritu won in consecutive years for directing Birdman (2014) and The Revenant (2015), the third director to accomplish this and the first since 1950.
Damien Chazelle promoting Whiplash at the Deauville American Film Festival in France, September 2014
Damien Chazelle became the youngest best director winner for La La Land (2016).
Bong Joon-ho became the first South Korean winner for Parasite (2019)
Year Director(s) Film Ref.
Tom Hooper The King's Speech Award winner [93]
Darren Aronofsky Black Swan
Coen Brothers True Grit
David Fincher The Social Network
David O. Russell The Fighter
Michel Hazanavicius The Artist Award winner [94]
Woody Allen Midnight in Paris
Terrence Malick The Tree of Life
Alexander Payne The Descendants
Martin Scorsese Hugo
Ang Lee Life of Pi [95]
Michael Haneke Amour
David O. Russell Silver Linings Playbook
Steven Spielberg Lincoln
Benh Zeitlin Beasts of the Southern Wild
Alfonso Cuarón Gravity [96]
Steve McQueen 12 Years a Slave Award winner
Alexander Payne Nebraska
David O. Russell American Hustle
Martin Scorsese The Wolf of Wall Street
Alejandro González Iñárritu Birdman Award winner [97]
Wes Anderson The Grand Budapest Hotel
Richard Linklater Boyhood
Bennett Miller Foxcatcher
Morten Tyldum The Imitation Game
Alejandro González Iñárritu The Revenant [98]
Lenny Abrahamson Room
Tom McCarthy Spotlight Award winner
Adam McKay The Big Short
George Miller Mad Max: Fury Road
Damien Chazelle La La Land [99]
Mel Gibson Hacksaw Ridge
Barry Jenkins Moonlight Award winner
Kenneth Lonergan Manchester by the Sea
Denis Villeneuve Arrival
Guillermo del Toro The Shape of Water Award winner [100]
Paul Thomas Anderson Phantom Thread
Greta Gerwig Lady Bird
Christopher Nolan Dunkirk
Jordan Peele Get Out
Alfonso Cuarón Roma [101]
Yorgos Lanthimos The Favourite
Spike Lee BlacKkKlansman
Adam McKay Vice
Paweł Pawlikowski Cold War
Bong Joon-ho Parasite Award winner [102]
Sam Mendes 1917
Todd Phillips Joker
Martin Scorsese The Irishman
Quentin Tarantino Once Upon a Time in Hollywood


Multiple wins and nominations

Age superlatives

Record Director Film Age Ref.
Oldest winner Clint Eastwood Million Dollar Baby 74 [104]
Oldest nominee John Huston Prizzi's Honor 79 [104]
Youngest winner Damien Chazelle La La Land 32 [104]
Youngest nominee John Singleton Boyz n the Hood 24 [104]

Diversity of nominees/winners

Asian nominees/winners

Seven directors of Asian descent have been nominated a total of nine times in this category, and two individuals have won the award (with Ang Lee winning twice).

Black nominees

Six black directors have been nominated a total of six times in this category, and none have won the award.[105]

Latin American nominees/winners

Five Latin American directors have been nominated a total of eight times in this category, and three have won the award five times.

Oceanic nominees/winners

Seven Oceanic directors have been nominated a total of eleven times in this category, and one has won the award.

Female nominees/winners

Seven female directors have been nominated in the category, and one has won the award.[106]

Non-English language nominees/winners

Thirty directors of non-English language films have been nominated a total of thirty-five times in this category, and two have won the award.

bold — Indicates winner
§ — Directorial feature film debut
† — Film nominated for Best Picture
‡ — Film won for Best Picture