Best Director: 1963

Official Nominations: Federico Fellini. Otto Preminger. Tony Richardson. Elia Kazan. Martin Ritt.

The Directing category this year was much more interesting than most of the acting ones, with greats and upstarts mingling. Official Winner for Tom Jones, Tony Richardson turns an ordinary story into one of the most successful comedies of all time. Although widely known as a stage director, Richardson’s ability to turn stage to screen was amongst the best and for the win this year he instead turned page to screen. It is this awareness of the audience which makes Tom Jones the bizarre meta film that it is. Elia Kazan had been around the block a few times but America, America is too much of a vanity project that it is difficult to judge it upon its merits- directed by, produced by, written by, and largely based upon the lives of people he knew, Kazan may as well have fired the cast and starred in all of the 3 hours worth of scenes himself. Martin Ritt got a nod for Hud, a film which is infused with his own bitterness about his blacklisting treatment, while Preminger deals with religious hypocrisy and bigotry face on with The Cardinal. My win though, and an easy choice for me this time, goes to Fellini for 8 And A Half for creating an avant-garde but accessible masterpiece.

My Winner: Federico Fellini.

My Nominations: Federico Fellini. Alfred Hitchcock. Joseph L Mankiewicz. John Sturges. Robert Wise. Don Chaffey. (John Ford, Henry Hathaway, George Marshall)

Some odd omissions for Best Director this year with Titans and upstarts proving their worth. Fellini is an obvious nomination due to reasons already given, Hitchcock returns to the psychological horror genre he perfected, with The Birds, and gives us another trip through the zombie apocalypse that is the human condition, while Mankiewicz does his utmost to prevent Cleopatra from becoming a bloated, unwatchable disaster. Veteran British director Don Chaffey hits fantasy gold finally with Jason And The Argonauts, while Robert Wise shows that he could do gripping terror just as well, if not better, than Hitchcock with The Haunting. My winner though for creating one of the most inspiring, entertaining, cool films of all time in The Great Escape, is John Sturges. Finally, a trio of directors get credit for somehow bringing together an ensemble cast to tell a wholly American tale in a wholly American way, with How The West Was Won.

My Winner: John Sturges.

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Have I abandoned artistic merit for the entertainment choice? Who is your pick as 1963’s Best Director? Let us know in the comments section!

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