Watchworthy

The Best Directors Never Nominated for Oscars 

Ranker Film
Originally by
Updated February 10, 2020 5.7k votes 589 voters 9.2k views 65 items

List Rules Only film directors who have never had an Academy Award nomination FOR DIRECTING.

The life of a movie director can be quite exciting, extremely stressful, and completely unrewarding at times. Since the first Oscars were awarded at a small, private ceremony in 1929, directors in the Western world and beyond have sought validation through those heavy, gold statuettes. However, because only a handful of directors are nominated each year, some of history’s greatest film directors have never been properly acknowledged for their efforts, even though they made movies that we all know and love and deserved to be Academy Award winning movies.

What great directors have never been nominated for a Best Director Oscar? When we think about our favorite movies, we focus on the actors, the set, and the stories. Rarely do we think about people behind the scenes. This list includes some of the best directors of all time, from new favorites like Ben Affleck to long-gone classic auteurs like Charlie Chaplin and Fritz Lang - none of whom were ever nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director. Though a few of the people on this list won Oscars in other categories - such as Best Screenplay or even Best Picture - they have never received an "Oscar nod" for Best Directing.

Vote up these most underrated directors who were snubbed by the Academy and who deserve recognition for their work by this distinguished award.

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list ordered by
1
Charlie Chaplin is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Directors Never Nominated for Oscars
City Lights, Modern Times, The Great Dictator
2
Tim Burton is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Directors Never Nominated for Oscars
Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
3
Brian De Palma is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Directors Never Nominated for Oscars
Carrie, Scarface, Dressed to Kill
4
Terry Gilliam is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Directors Never Nominated for Oscars
Brazil, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, 12 Monkeys
5
Sergio Leone is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Directors Never Nominated for Oscars
dca1983 added The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Once Upon a Time in the West
6
John Carpenter is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Directors Never Nominated for Oscars
Trioxin245 added Halloween, The Thing, Escape from New York
7
Rob Reiner is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Directors Never Nominated for Oscars
The Princess Bride, This Is Spinal Tap, Stand by Me
8
Buster Keaton is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Directors Never Nominated for Oscars
The Three Ages, Seven Chances, Go West
9
Fritz Lang is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Directors Never Nominated for Oscars
Fritz Lang Metropolis, M, The Big Heat
10
John Hughes is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Directors Never Nominated for Oscars
Trioxin245 added Ferris Bueller's Day Off, The Breakfast Club, Home Alone
11
David Cronenberg is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Directors Never Nominated for Oscars
The Fly, The Dead Zone, Eastern Promises
12
Ben Affleck is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Directors Never Nominated for Oscars
Argo, Gone Baby Gone, The Town
13
Wes Anderson is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Directors Never Nominated for Oscars
voting closed at #2 Moonrise Kingdom, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Rushmore
14
Andrei Tarkovsky is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Directors Never Nominated for Oscars
Trioxin245 added Solaris, Stalker, Andrei Rublev
15
George A. Romero is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Directors Never Nominated for Oscars
Trioxin245 added The Silence of the Lambs, Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead
16
Christopher Nolan is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Directors Never Nominated for Oscars
voting closed at #4 Abdallah Nabawy added The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Batman Begins
17
Spike Lee is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Directors Never Nominated for Oscars
voting closed at #30 Do the Right Thing, Hoop Dreams, 4 Little Girls
18
Sam Peckinpah is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Directors Never Nominated for Oscars
The Wild Bunch, Major Dundee, Straw Dogs
19
John Milius is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Directors Never Nominated for Oscars
Trioxin245 added Apocalypse Now, Dirty Harry, Conan the Barbarian
20
James Whale is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Directors Never Nominated for Oscars
Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, Show Boat
21
Paul Verhoeven is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Directors Never Nominated for Oscars
Trioxin245 added RoboCop, Total Recall, Starship Troopers
22
Sam Raimi is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Directors Never Nominated for Oscars
Trioxin245 added Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3
23
Bryan Singer is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Directors Never Nominated for Oscars
Trioxin245 added The Usual Suspects, X-Men, X-Men: First Class
24
Lars von Trier is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Directors Never Nominated for Oscars
iandmph added Dancer in the Dark, Dogville, Melancholia
25
Edward Zwick is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Directors Never Nominated for Oscars
Glory, Courage Under Fire, The Last Samurai