Best Director: 1965

Official Nominations: Robert Wise. David Lean. John Schlesinger. William Wyler. Hiroshi Teshigahara.

Robert Wise unsurprisingly picked up the win for The Sound Of Music. He is known for his musicals, but also did good work in the sci-fi genre. He brings his characteristic style to the film, but I just can’t enjoy this film without pretending there are zombies everywhere. David Lean extends his epic vision to Doctor Zhivago giving him the greatest financial success of his career. In spite of its success and the grand scale of proceedings, the handling of the central romance is clumsy and many scenes feel stretched or unnecessary. With Darling, Schlesinger starts to push the boundaries he would later crumble. It may have been one of the first films to depict the swinging 60s, but Schlesinger paints a darker picture than the one most people remember. William Wyler’s The Collector shocked quite a few viewers when released and it is a surprise that it was such a critical success given the Academy’s usual dim view on horror films. This is more accurately a thriller, and in the wrong hands could easily have become cheap exploitation, but Wyler’s perfection and eye for detail means everything is cold, calculated, and deliberate. Teshigahara’s The Woman In The Dunes was nominated in the previous year’s Best Foreign Film category and magically appears in the 1965 Director category. The film is avant-garde and has some blinding visuals and powerful moments, and is the director’s best film.

My Winner: Hiroshi Teshigahara.

My Nominations: Hiroshi Teshigahara. William Wyler. Jean-Luc Godard. Sergio Leone. Roman Polanski. Akira Kurosawa.

Wyler and Teshigahara make the transition over to my nominations and join a cast of experts from around the world. Godard release 2 films this year, Pierrot Le Fou and Alphaville. While PLF has the usual flare and pop culture knowing it is Alphaville which really stretches conventions, being one of the most bold sci-fi films of the decade. Leone gets another vote for his latest expansion of the spaghetti Western (For A Few Dollars More), and Kurosawa (Red Beard)gets a nod thanks to a much smaller, introspective piece than he was famed for. My win goes to Polanski, whose cutting exploration of paranoia, psychosis, pain, and suburban claustrophobia can still be used as a teaching tool on low-budget, situational directing for newbs.

My Winner: Roman Polanski
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Let us know who you think deserves the Best Director Oscar of 1965? Let us know in the comments!

Best Director: 1964

Actual Nominations: George Cukor. Peter Glenville. Robert Stevenson. Stanley Kubrick. Michael Cacoyannis.

This year’s nominees were mostly from adaptations of books or plays with original material being left by the wayside. That being said, the adaptations on display here are seen as the definitive versions and much of that fact is largely down to the directing talent. Picking up the official win this year was George Cukor for My Fair Lady which, for better or worse, os one of those films you’ll know something about even if you’ve never seen it, whether it be the plot, the cast, or the songs. A veteran of Hollywood this is his most successful musical, and thanks to his experience with comedy and drama he deftly handles the humorous aspects of the films while ensuring that it isn’t just pointless giggle chow. Peter Glenville gets his only Oscar nomination for Becket- having directed much of the cast for the stage production this wasn’t a huge leap for him. Robert Stevenson spent much of his career as Disney’s go-to-guy for film directing, but with Mary Poppins he became immortal. Possibly due to his experience on Disney movies he ensures that Poppins is a bright, vibrant, energetic film which never offends ar fails to delight children, but I just candle handle all that singing, dancing, and smiling. Kubrick gets another well-earned nomination for Dr. Strangelove where he hones his satirical venom just enough whilst keeping the tone and presentation fairly light in contrast with his later tackling of similar subjects. He gets credit for arguably making this the only original work in the category. Michael Cacoyannis closes the nominations with his well observed and loved Zorba The Greek, his most renowned work.

My Winner: Stanley Kubrick.

This is an easy choice for me as not only did Kubrick largely come up with the idea for the film and work on the screenplay himself, his touch can be seen in every frame. There remains a relevance and power to the film in these, some would say, pre-apocalyptic days we find ourselves in, and every day we see stories of absurdity from ever media outlet based on war and power. With so much of our lives and choices beyond our personal control and either lying in the hands of other mere, fallible mortals, or the fried, efficient, but humanity-free and equally fallible computers. It is known now as it was then, but hopefully the right lessons preached in this little film may have been heeded by the right people. Few films are more than just entertainment – this is one of the few.

My Nominations: Stanley Kubrick. Sergio Leone. Guy Hamilton. Jean Luc Godard. Cy Endfield. Bryan Forbes.

Only Kubrick makes it over from the official nominations. Joining him though is a host of talent from all over the globe. Sergio Leone gets a well deserved mention for Fistful Of Dollars while Guy Hamilton steps into the Bond hot seat and gives what many see as the definitive Bond film with Goldfinger. Bryan Forbes’ Seance On A Wet Afternoon did get nods in other categories, but it is the atmosphere which he creates which gives the film its lasting impact, while Cy Endfield packs as much heroism, action, and patriotism into a pre-Michael Bay film as you could wish for with Zulu. Godard gets a nod this year for Band Of Outsiders, one of the smoothest crime capers there is, but one with so much more than just plans of robbery.

My Winner: Stanley Kubrick

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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!

Best Director- 1962

Actual Nominatons:  David Lean. Pietro Germi. Robert Mulligan. Arthur Penn. Frank Perry.

Although it was close between Lean and Germi, there can really only be one winner from these nominations- Lean’s singular vision and epic may never be a favourite of mine, but the man knew how to direct with a wider scope than many others would dare. Lean was the official winner and gets my nod too. Divorce, Italian Style is impressive but was a one off and didn’t exactly have a massive impression on filmmakers to come. Mulligan gives a fairly straight interpretation of Mockingbird and it could have just as easily been any other director of the time. Perry’s first film shows a promising new talent while Penn’s second film shows his command of both Stage and film work as he is able to translate faithful from one to the other.

My Winner: David Lean

My Nominations: Terence Young, John Ford, John Frankenheimer, J. Lee Thompson, David Lean, Stanley Kubrick, Orson Welles, Robert Aldrich.

My nominations are a much more sparklng and worthy bunch with John Frankenheimer appearing for 2 films, and Terence Young bringing Bond to life in vicious, suave fashion. Kubrick and Welles pop up too with strong work, but not strong enough to get my vote. Thompson comes close to a win with Cape Fear, Aldrich’s Baby Jane is not too far behind, while Hathaway and Marshall each provided segments to How The West Was Won. But Frankenheimer gets my win thanks to Birdman and Manchurian Candidate, two very different films with opposing styles.

My Winner: John Frankenheimer

Best Director: 1961

Official Nominations: Wise/Robbins. Federico Fellini. Robert Rossen. J. Lee Thompson. Stanley Kramer.

Like most of the other categories, West Side Story cleaned up here. Sure it was epic for a Musical and has flawless routines, lovely costumes, and (oddly for a musical) a coherent plot, but it’s still a feckin musical. Wise and Robbins did as well as anyone could, which is to say if unborn me had directed it, I probably would also have won- it’s one of those films which is destined for success regardless of quality.
Putting WSS to shame is Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, more daring and sensual than anything Hollywood had given us. Fellini wins here quite easily, though Robert Rossen comes a close second for his thrilling The Hustler. J. Lee Thompson ensures that the action packed Guns Of Navarone became a perennial favourite, while Stanley Kramer builds up the tension (even for a biopic) with the shocking Judgment At Nuremberg. Out of all the picks here, West Side Story would be my last choice as winner.

My Winner: Federico Fellini.

My Nominations:  Federico Fellini. Robert Rossen. J. Lee Thompson. Ingmar Bergman. Akira Kurosawa. Jack Clayton.

La Dolce Vita saw Fellini take large artistic strides and move away from the neo-realism of his earlier movies. His abandonment of such nonsense as typical plot structure and characterisation ensured that he changed cinema forever, he moves through a variety of artistic styles, and his characters morally punctured what most audiences had witnessed before. Like most of the directors here, this film belonged entirely to the director and would have fallen apart in the hands of another. Jack Clayton gets a nod for giving the world the best version so far of The Turning Of The Screw with The Innocents, creating some timeless creepy moments and giving some of the most claustrophobic moments ever filmed, while another 2 titans of World Cinema narrowly miss out on the win with Through A Glass Darkly and Yojimbo respectively.

My Winner: Federico Fellini

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As always, feel free to tell me West Side Story is awesome in the comments, and have a go at the poll.

Best Director-1960

Billy Wilder

Official Nominations: This year saw a rare nomination for Hitchcock, his main competition coming from other Hollywood legend Billy Wilder. Wilder picked up the award, but my vote has to go to Hitchcock. While The Apartment is a witty enough comedy which pressed several boundaries, Hitchcock’s masterpiece is a seminal work of terror. He orchestrates with a hook for a hand, teasing and tearing at each scene for our amusement and dread. Few horror movies have been as well received critically as this, and most horror movies today owe something to it. The script may be above standard fare, offering several psychological elements rarely seen on screen before, but Hitchcock’s use of the camera as a voyeur, his dangling of shots, and his startling reveals set to horrifying sound are now staples of the genre. Few films have had as much impact to a genre as this, and the majority of this impact is down to the rotund Master.
Rounding up the list are Jack Cardiff, Jules Dassin, and Fred Zinnemann. Cardiff was already a renowned Cinematographer who had indeed worked for Hitchcock. Sons And Lovers was his most successful foray into directing and though the film is undoubtedly beautiful to watch, it remains a by the numbers retelling. The Blacklisted Dassin gets a nomination here largely because Hollywood was guilty for how they had treated him and while his filmography is wide there is nothing, including Never on Sunday, which stands out as wonderful. Zinnemann’s Sundowners is well acted and directed, but doesn’t compare with his earlier epics.

My Winner: Alfred Hitchcock

My Nominations: Only two of my nominations for Best Director 1960 were nominated in your reality. Thanks though to the power of The Spac Hole, history has righted itself and those truly worthy have won their place on the list.

Billy Wilder: Good enough to win in reality, but not good enough in the eyes of The Spac Hole.
Jean Luc Godard: Godard’s first feature, Breathless, ranks amongst his best and is still an edgy affair now. The visual flare started a new wave in France and Hollywood.
Akira Kurosawa:  The Bad Sleep Well is not a well-known Kurosawa show, but his trademark style translates well to the modern setting.
John Sturges:  Sturges knew how to handle a large ensemble cast, but more so he knew how to handle a group of megastars. His film is action packed, looks gorgeous, and as always manages to focus more on the characters in what many may have otherwise called a silly genre film.
Nagisa Oshima:  Not only was it politically daring and controversial, Night And Fog In Japan again showed us a director in full control of his camera and confident in his innovation, particularly during the long shots.
Michael Powell:  Although Peeping Tom pretty much ended his career as a respected film maker until years after he had stopped making movies, it took us further than any previous movie both into the mind of a serial killer and advancing the notion of voyeurism in the link between audience and character.
Stanley Kubrick: Spartacus is Kubrick’s reply to Ben Hur, and while not as successful it has much greater depth. The young Director took the strain of such a large production and made it even more epic than originally imagined. Signs of his perfectionism abound as he took over cinematography and provided most of the film’s beauty.
My Winner: Alfred Hitchcock. Possibly a controversial choice given the talent on display, but given how Hitchcock turned what could have been another tale of murder and crime into the seminal horror movie of the 60s, the praise cannot be understated. With the Production Code fading away, of course it would fall to Hitchcock to lead the way in pushing violence and sexuality to extremes. Aside from his handling of each scene, The Master almost single-handedly promoted the film, not allowing any cast members to reveal the plot and banning previews for critics.

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