Since the 1920s, the Oscars have been one of the most prestigious and recognized awards ceremonies on the globe. With different categories for acting, directing, and other aspects of filmmaking, winning an Oscar is a lifelong goal for some. However, some of directors' best works never receive an award.
Beyond the glittering art that earned many of the directors on this list their star status, many have ventured into the world of the gory, psychological, and uncanny. Not all of these films are award-worthy, but they showcase the horrific creations that can come from the least expected sources.
- Photo: Universal Pictures1303 VOTES
Steven Spielberg is now regarded as a filmmaking legend for his award-winning movies like Saving Private Ryan, which examined war and the soldiers on the front lines. However, he's also well-known for creating another classic 20 years before his Oscar-winning title.
Jaws first wreaked havoc on the masses in 1975, and it ultimately became both a box-office hit and a genre classic. Focusing on people living in a small town when a carnivorous shark decides to start feasting on its citizens, the bloody intro sequence alone remains infamous to this day. The story, use of music, and the way Spielberg portrays the feeling of being hunted by an underwater beast make Jaws both a legendary horror movie and a classic Spielberg original just as impactful as his other work.
- Photo: 20th Century Fox2318 VOTES
Just about everyone knows James Cameron's film Titanic. This fictionalized love story inspired by a very real historical tragedy has broken the hearts of many since the movie first set sail in 1997.
But 10 years prior to Titanic, Cameron directed the well-received sequel to the sci-fi horror movie Alien. Cameron's Aliens was extremely successful in its own right - focusing on the main cast fighting back against the titular aliens, this sequel made Ripley an action-horror hero.
- Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures3294 VOTES
The Exorcist is a horror classic that brings together many religious themes in order to create a tale that still haunts audiences to this day. The film was directed by William Friedkin, who won an award for his crime film The French Connection, inspired by real-life detective Eddie Egan.
The Exorcist was actually made after Friedkin won his Oscar. This horror work was supposedly "based on an actual case that took place in Silver Spring, MD, in 1949, and then in St. Louis at the Alexian Brothers Hospital."
The story of demon-possessed Regan MacNeil and the priest trying to save her is still chilling decades later.
- Photo: Fox Searchlight Pictures4260 VOTES
Another example of directors who have jumped between multiple genres, Danny Boyle's best films could not be any more different. Oscar success came for Boyle after his Slumdog Millionaire hit the scene. This film features Jamal Malik (Dev Patel), an Indian protagonist from the slums, playing on a game show with a million-dollar prize and questions to which he shouldn't know the answers. The film showcases the life and love of Jamal leading up to the events of the game.
In contrast, 28 Days Later is both a zombie movie and the opposite of a zombie movie. The zombies in this film are fast and filled with Rage, an illness plaguing the world's populace. Running zombies and an ordinary protagonist named Jim, who quite literally wakes up into the apocalypse, set this film apart from other zombie works at the time. In addition, the focus on humanity and societal issues makes it clear that this is indeed a Danny Boyle original in the same vein as Slumdog Millionaire.
- Photo: Columbia Pictures
Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather Part II is more than just the title that won him an Oscar for best director - it's also the award-winning sequel to an original film that's just as well-known. However, while Coppola is well-known for The Godfather Part II, his ventures into horror deserve more attention.
Bram Stoker's Dracula is Coppola's wonderfully artistic rendition of one of the world's most iconic horror novels. Filled with beautiful imagery, practical effects, and references to older titles, this version of the bloodthirsty count still has its own unique charm. While it certainly was not a critical success upon release, Coppola's vision is very clear throughout.
- Photo: Paramount Pictures6273 VOTES
The Departed and Shutter Island both share a director (Martin Scorsese) and leading actor (Leonardo DiCaprio), yet these films tell very different stories. Scorsese's The Departed won him an Oscar for creating a sharp crime film focusing on double-crossings, lies, and trying to be the first to sniff out a rat.
In contrast, Shutter Island is a psychological thriller focusing on the inner workings of the mind. The main protagonist is a US Marshal named Teddy who ends up in a psychiatric hospital due to a dark secret. The ambiguous ending leaves viewers wondering if DiCaprio's character truly has recovered by the end without ever giving an answer either way.