11 Great Filmmakers Who Have Never Won the Academy Award for Best Director

Photo via the Criterion Collection

With the 87th Academy Awards commencing this Sunday, we’re reminded that artistic merit does not always mean taking home a gold statue. Simply because a film wins the award of Hollywood’s elite, does not be that it creatively surpasses its contemporaries. And just because a film goes unrecognized by the Academy, the lack of appreciation in that regard says little to what it deserves. This year, director Ava DuVernay went sans nomination for Selma, but over the course of cinematic history, few categories have caused as much of a stir as Best Director. From Stanley Kubrick and Wim Wenders to Ingmar Bergman and David Lynch, some of the last century’s most brilliant artists have failed to move past a nomination, if even given that—which, of course, speaks namely to the politics of Hollywood and not to their respective genius. So, to get you thinking about who will find themselves with arms full of gold on Sunday, here are some of film’s most beloved and talented directors who’ve never garnered the coveted Academy Award for Best Director.

DAVID LYNCH

Cinematic Obsessions: Casual Voyeurism,  Everyday Detectives, Seedy Underbelly’s Lurking Behind Pleasant Facades, What’s Hiding Behind the Red Curtains, Flesh on Flesh, 1950s Music and Ephemera, Psycho-Erotic Discomfort, Multiple Personalities, Saccharine Indulgences, Trout, Coffee, The Mysteries of Love, The Secret of Night
Best Director Nominations: Mulholland Drive, Blue Velvet, Elephant Man
Best Films: Mulholland Drive, Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart

STANLEY KUBRICK

Cinematic Obsessions: Man versus Technology, Man versus Himself, The Theatrics of Violence, Psychological Journeys Through the Use of Color, Meticulous Planning and Shooting, Psychosexual Aggression
Best Director: Barry Lyndon, A Clockwork Orange, Dr. Strangelove or: How Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, 2001: A Space Odyssey
Best Films: A Clockwork Orange, Dr. Strangelove or: How Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, Eyes Wide Shut, The Shining

WONG KAR-WAI

Cinematic Obsessions: Dramatic Musical Cues, Languid and Beauitful Slow-Motion Shots, Wresting Weary Heads on Shoulders in the Back of Taxis, Endless Romantic Yearning, Food, Lonesome Cigarette Smoking, Deep and Impressionist Use of Color, The Torture of Love, Heartbreaking Matters of Timing
Best Director Nominations: None
Best Films: In the Mood for Love, Chungking Express, 2046

WIM WENDERS

Cinematic Obsessions: The Great American West, Existential Romantic Longing, The Barriers of Human Connection, Transient Spaces, Child/Parent Dynamics, The Psycholoigcal Effects of Neon, Spirituality and a Nostalgic Longing for an Absent Something, Emotional Isolation
Best Director Nominations: None
Best Films: Paris, Texas, Wings of Desire, Alice in the Cities, Pina

SIDNEY LUMET

Cinematic Obsessions: Exposed Realism, Psycho-Dramatic Character Studies, New York City Streets, Manicly Delivered Male Monologues, Exposure of Social/Societial Injustice/Disorder
Best Director Nominations: The Verdict, Network, Dog Day Afternoon, 12 Angry Men
Best Films: Dog Day Afternoon, Network, Serpico, 12 Angry Men

INGMAR BERGMAN

Cinematic Obsessions: Existential Questioning of Faith and Mortality, Female Sexuality and Desire, Looming Presence of Death, Moral Quandries and Crisis, Psychological Horror
Best Director Nominations: Fanny and Alexander, Autumn Sonata, Face to Face, Cries & Whispers, Through a Glass Darkly, Wild Strawberries
Best Films: Persona, The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, Cries & Whispers, Scenes from a Marriage, Winter Light

TERRENCE MALICK

Cinematic obsessions: Wheat fields Gently Blowing in the Wind at Magic Hour, Sweeping Philosophical Voiceovers, The Confounding Nature of Existence, The Evils of Man, The Divine Presence in Everyday Life, Examining Humility and Grace Through Love, Man’s Existence with Nature Through Time, Redemption and Forgiveness
Best Director Nominations: The Tree of Life, The Thin Red Line
Best Films: Days of Heaven, Badlands, The Tree of Life

ROBERT ALTMAN

Cinematic Obsessions: Rotating Character Studies, Emphasis of Atmosphere and Personalities Over Narrative Structure, Improvisation of Script, Multiple Plotlines, Intersection of Worlds, Music as a Driving Force
Best Director Nominations: Gosford Park, Short Cuts, Nashville, MASH, The Player
Best Films: 3 Women, The Long Goodbye, Nashville, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, MASH, Gosford Park

JOHN CASSAVETES

Cinematic Obsessions: The Psyche of Men, Matters of the Heart, The Struggle and Pain of Human Relationships, Alcohol, Volatility of Emotion, Expression of the Artistic Self, Characterization, Raw Performance, Love
Best Director Nominations: A Woman Under the Influence
Best Films: A Woman Under the Influence, Opening Night, Faces, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie

LUIS BUÑUEL

Cinematic Obsessions: Surrealist Imagery, Exposure of Cinematic Experimentation, Bourgeois Dinner Parties That Never Go As Planned, Satiristic Comedies of Fantasy, Criticism of Morals and Religion, Mocking of the Church, Nonsynchronous Music
Nominations for Best Director: The Obscure Object of Desire, The Discreet Charm of the Boregeoisie
Best Films: The Exterminating Angel, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeois, Un Chien Andalou, Belle Du Jour

ALFRED HITCHCOCK

Cinematic obsessions: The Audience as a Voyeur, The Charms of Sociopathy, A Little Murder After Supper, Mommy Complexes, The Relationship Between Sex and Death
Nominations for Best Director: Psycho, Rear Window, Spellbound, Lifeboat, Rebecca
Best Films: Spellbound, Vertigo, North by Northwest, Rebecca, Psycho

There’s a Criterion Collection Flash Sale Going On! Here’s What You Should Be Buying

The good folks over at The Criterion Collection have certainly been showing us a lot of love lately. After they so kindly made all of their films available on Hulu for free on Valentines weekend, now they have graced us with a Flash Sale. Cue: cinephiles everywhere stopping whatever they’re doing, desparatingly scouring their dwindling bank statements and proclaiming, "But I will literally die without that Rohmer box set!" 

So, from now until noon on the 27th, all in-stock Blu-rays and DVDs are 50% off, and all you have to do is enter their code and voilà! I certainly understand that remembering what you wanted in the first place—let alone making a decision—is hard enough, so I’ve compiled the best Collectors Sets available on the site that you otherwise probably wouldn’t be able to shell out the money for. From American New Wave classics to German melodramas and everything in between, here’s a helpful reminder of what you should be purchasing today.

 

America Lost and Found: The BBS Story 

  • Head, Bob Rafelson 
  • Easy Rider, Dennis Hooper
  • Five Easy Pieces, Bob Rafelson
  • Drive, He Said, Jack Nicholson
  • A Safe Place, Henry Jaglom
  • The Last Picture Show, Peter Bogdonavich
  • The King of Marvin Gardens, Bob Rafelson

The BDR Trilogy, Rainer Werner Fassbinder

  • The Marriage of Maria Braun
  • Veronika Voss
  • Lola

By Brakhage: An Anthology, Volumes One and Two

  • By Brakhage An Anthology: Volume One
  • By Brakhage An Anthology: Volume Two

Eclipse Series 19: Chantal Ackerman in the Seventies

  • La Chambre
  • Hotel Monterey 
  • News From Home
  • Je Tu Il Elle
  • Les Rendez-Vous D’Anna

Eclipse Series 35: Maidstone and Other Films by Norman Mailer

  • Maidstone
  • Wild 90
  • Beyond the Law

Eclipse Series 9: The Delirious Fictions of William Klein

  • Who Are You, Polly Maggoo?
  • The Model Couple
  • Mr. Freedom

I Am Curious…Box Set, Vilgot Sjöman

  • I Am Curious—Yellow
  • I Am Curious—Blue

La Jetee/Sans Soleil, Chris Marker

  • La Jettee
  • Sans Soleil

John Cassavetes: Five Films

  • Shadows
  • Faces
  • A Woman Under the Influence
  • The Killing of  Chinese Bookie
  • Opening Night
  • A Constant Forge, Charles Kiselyak

Six Moral Tales, Eric Rohmer

  • The Bakery Girl of Monceau
  • My Night at Maud’s
  • Love in the Afternoon
  • Claire’s Knee
  • Suzanne’s Career
  • La Collectionneuse

Three Colors, Krzysztof Kieślowski

  • Three Colors: Blue
  • Three Colors: White
  • Three Colors: Red

Eclipse Series 18: Dušan Makavejev—Free Radical

  • Man is Not a Bird
  • Love Affair, or The Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator
  • Innocence Unprotected

10 Years of Rialto Pictures

  • Army of Shadows, Jean-Pierre Melville
  • Band of Outsiders, Jean-Luc Godard
  • Au hasard Balthazar, Robert Bresson
  • Billy Liar, John Schlesinger
  • The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, Luis Buñuel
  • Mafioso, Alberto Lattuada
  • Rififi, Jules Dassin
  • The Third Man, Carol Reed
  • Touchez Pas au Grisbi,  Jacques Becker

Wim Wenders’ Tales of Existential Romantic Yearning

*Note: Okay fine, I made this one up but still.

  • Paris, Texas
  • Wings of Desire
  • Alice in the Cities