The Top 10 Directing Turns That Should Have Won Oscar

by Bill Gibron

15 December 2011


Hitchcock and more...

Alfred Hitchcock (Vertigo)

Hitchcock actually got five chances to take home Oscar glory. He received nominations for Rebecca, Lifeboat, Spellbound, Rear Window, and Psycho. Of course, he never won one, which is a crime in and of itself. More stunning is the fact that in the year in which this quintessential film was released (1958), he didn’t even warrant a nod. Shameful, especially when you consider the work of uncompromising beauty and heartache he created. Some have ventured that Vertigo is Hitchcock’s more personal film. Perhaps that explains the lack of acceptance.

Stanley Kubrick (2001: A Space Odyssey)

We know… Kubrick took home an Oscar for his collaborative work on this monumental movie’s groundbreaking special effects. But as the man who many consider to be one of the greatest director’s of all time, he never received ‘that’ recognition. Called cold and uncompromising by critics and lacking real commercial clout, he was always seen as a geek’s god. Today, that title would be horribly misguided. The fact that 2001 remains one of the best films of all time should be reason enough for more acknowledgment.

Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing)

With his first film, 1986’s She’s Gotta Have It, he singlehandedly started the serious African American renaissance in Hollywood. By his third film, he proved no one would be his equal - black or white. Perhaps due in no small part to his lightning rod personality and lack of industry decorum, he failed to capture a directing nod. When viewed through the prism of his post-Thing career, and the perspective of the import the film had on race in America, his exclusion is unconscionable.

Sergio Leone (Once Upon a Time in the West)

He never wanted to reinvent the Western. All he wanted to do was make movies. Yet by the time he came to this amazing late ‘60s epic, he had already retooled the oater into a weird amalgamation of opera and carnage, jumpstarted Clint Eastwood’s flagging film career, and more or less ruined the subgenre for everyone else. This last, intense cinematic statement was the act of a great artist showing off. Considered by many to be his best, it should have delivered Leone a long deserved Oscar. Instead, it’s merely an endearing icon.

Lina Wurtmuller (Seven Beauties)

In 1976 she became the first woman to ever be nominated for an Academy Award as Best Director. Of course, since the movie was the foreign sensation Seven Beauties, she really had no chance. Still, for this amazing Italian artist, a woman whose vision is so strong and so unique that it remains truly individual and inspired, the snub cemented her status. Thanks to Swept Away and A Night Full of Rain, her ‘70s status was secured. Still, it shouldn’t have taken another four decades to see a female walk away with the Academy’s biggest prize.

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