Snubbed for best picture, but won best director Oscar – list (since 1980)

We had a trivia question about film directors in a recent trivia game – “Other than Damien Chazelle, who directed “La La Land,” name one of the other four directors who have won the Academy Award for Best Director since 1980 AND were younger than 40 at the time of the award?” Luckily, our team got this one correct. But this led me on a little quest to see which films won the “best director” Oscar – but NOT best picture. And here…we…go…


Warren Beatty in “Shampoo,” 1975 wearing a blouse that Prince would one day steal from him. This did NOT win best picture…some kooky 1975 film about an insane asylum wound up winning for that year. Sorry…should have said “Cuckoo.”

Warren Beatty, 1981 – “Reds.” Film that won best picture – “Chariots of Fire.” “Reds” was a very, very long movie to watch as a 9-year-old!

Oliver Stone, 1989 – “Born on the Fourth of July.” Film that won best picture – “Driving Miss Daisy.” I have seen “Born on the Fourth of July,” but have only seen snippets of “Driving Miss Daisy.” I guess it’s about a pushy racist old white lady or something, and Morgan Freeman is in it.  And Dan Aykroyd. And this exhausts my knowledge of this movie, other than it won the “best picture” award for this year.


Oliver Stone, looking super contemplative.

Steven Spielberg, 1998 – “Saving Private Ryan.” Film that won best picture – “Shakespeare in Love.” Who doesn’t love Spielberg films? Sharks, dinosaurs, aliens, hot guys storming the beach at Normandy, Daniel Day-Lewis playing Abraham Lincoln, Nazis…oh yeah, Whoopi Goldberg, too…


Steven Spielberg, “Jaws.” Check out my tube socks! I don’t care if they get wet!

Steven Soderbergh, 2000 – “Traffic.” Film that won best picture – “Gladiator.” I know absolutely NOTHING about this film or this director. But he certainly looks very stylish here, and also like he’s about to assassinate someone. I remember working in a grocery store that rented videos, and the clerk running the video counter said lots of customers complained about how awful “Sex, Lies and Videotape” was. But then I grew up in kind of a hick town, it was probably too complex for some of the folks to understand? Or maybe it really did suck? I can’t comment, I’ve never seen it.


As creepy as you’d expect the director of “Sex, Lies and Videotape” to look – Steven Soderbergh.

Roman Polanski, 2002 – “The Pianist.” Film that won best picture – “Chicago.” Roman Polanski has always flirted with controversy, whether it’s driving Mia Farrow insane while directing “Rosemary’s Baby,” or that pesky rape thing that literally drove him out of the United States. And Faye Dunaway did NOT get along with Polanski at all during filming of “Chinatown.”  From imdb:”Faye Dunaway and Roman Polanski were notorious for their on-set arguments; during filming, Polanski pulled out some strands of Dunaway’s hair. On another occasion, when she asked him what her character’s motivation was, he exploded, “Just say the f**king words, your salary is your motivation.”


Speaking of creepy…Roman Polanski, aka “She looked WAY older than 13,” in a still from “Chinatown.” He was known for a very hands-on approach to directing, which in this case of this knife scene in “Chinatown,” bordered on violent…

Ang Lee, 2005 – “Brokeback Mountain.” Film that won best picture – “Crash.”


Sorry, Ang Lee, I’m not doing TWO pictures of you with this post! A scene from “Brokeback Mountain, 2005 (RIP Heath Ledger).

Ang Lee, 2012 – “Life of Pi.” Film that won best picture – “Argo.” I saw “Brokeback Mountain,” but never saw “Life of Pi.” The biggest thing I took out of “Brokeback Mountain” is that it inspired me to take up the hobby backpacking. Seriously, it did – my husband and I took our first backpacking trip in 2006…


Look at me, Ang Lee – I have TWO Oscars for best director!

Alfonso Cuarón, 2013, “Gravity.” Film that won best picture – “12 Years a slave.” I have not seen either of these films, but I’ve read that this guy is good friends with Guillermo del Toro, who not only has a man cave – but a WHOLE HOUSE MAN CAVE. This guy’s imagination is legendary, and grew up in Mexico. I think I read that his father was actually kidnapped and held for ransom or something. But I’m not supposed to be writing about del Toro here, am I?


Alfonso Cuarón Orozco – Not sure if he’s trying to demonstrate the proper way to pour cocktails, or just double fisting a couple of Oscar statuettes…

Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2015- “The Revenant.” Film that won best picture – “Spotlight.” I recently got around to seeing “The Revenant.” Yes, Leo really earned his Oscar for best actor for this one. That CG bear was something ELSE! This is the same guy who directed “Birdman,” the 2014 film winning best picture. I hated it so much I couldn’t even watch it all the way through.


Alejandro González Iñárritu in a directorial moment of wild abandon. Or he’s just telling his actors, “Emote already, dammit!”

Damien Chazelle, 2016 – “La La Land.” Film that won best picture – “Moonlight.” I know nothing about this guy or his films…look him him up on imdb or wikipedia! Or find some gossip about him on TMZ or something! I do know he is a young director!


OK, Emma…go over there and emote. And try not to be too whorish, like you are in most of your movies. Damien Chazelle.

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