It’s a sad fact of life that not everyone who deserves an Oscar gets one. For instance, Alfred Hitchcock received five nominations for best director but never won once.
That said, at least Hitchcock was nominated! Some of our greatest directors have never even been nominated! This list below is hardly exclusive but still, these 16 directors have somehow never been nominated. Ten of them could still be nominated in the future. Sadly, for six, the opportunity has forever passed.
- Dario Argento
Sadly, Dario Argento will probably never be nominated for best director. None of his films — even the early, acclaimed work — were typical Oscar films. But, consider this: Argento is one of the most influential directors of all time. Regardless of what might be said about some of Argento’s more recent films, his earlier films are classics of their genre. Deep Red, Suspiria, Inferno, Tenebrae — his work on any of these films would have been worthy of a nomination.
2. Andrea Arnold
This British director is responsible for two of the best films of the past ten years — Fish Tank and American Honey. She deserved a nomination for both of them (and a win for American Honey). Hopefully, she will be recognized in the future.
3. Tim Burton
I’m not the world’s biggest Tim Burton fan but he has a fan base that will follow him almost anywhere. It seems like every year, we hear that Burton has finally made the film that will win him some Oscar recognition. Remember Big Eyes? As I said, I’m not a huge Burton fan but, if I was to nominate him, it would probably be for his work on Sweeney Todd.
4. John Carpenter
Carpenter deserved all sorts of nominations for his work in the 70s and the 80s. Being the rebel that he is, Carpenter will probably never get the Oscar recognition that he deserves. (He did win an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short.)
5. David Cronenberg
It’s hard to believe that this Canadian director has never been nominated. While it’s obvious that the Academy would never recognize Cronenberg’s earlier work (even if he did deserve some recognition for that exploding head in Scanners), it still seems like he’s destined to be nominated eventually.
6. Terry Gilliam
Much like Tim Burton, Gilliam sadly seems to be destined to be one of those directors who will have to be content with a devoted fan base. Sadly, as of late, Gilliam’s become better known for the film projects that were canceled than the ones that were actually produced. I would have nominated him for Brazil.
7. Werner Herzog
How has Werner Herzog gone his entire career without receiving at least one nomination for Best Director!? I would nominate him for the chance to hear the acceptance speech alone.
8. Christopher Nolan
Christopher Nolan is another director who I’m shocked to realize has never been nominated. He certainly deserved a nomination for Inception. Maybe, just maybe, he’ll finally get some recognition for Dunkirk.
9. Lars Von Trier
With his controversial aesthetic and his talent for offending the masses, Lars Von Trier will never be nominated, no matter how much he might deserve it.
10. Joe Wright
Personally, I think that Joe Wright is responsible for two of the best films of the past ten years, Hanna and Anna Karenina. Unfortunately, both were left out of their respective best picture races. Even when Atonement was nominated for best picture, Wright did not receive a corresponding nomination. Fortunately, with Darkest Hour, Wright will have another chance this year.
And here are six directors who are no longer with us. Sadly, these six will never have a chance to receive their first Oscar nomination:
- Mario Bava
Much like Dario Argento, there was never really any chance that the Academy would actually honor Mario Bava. That’s a shame because Bava truly was one of the greatest directors of all time. Check out Black Sabbath and Shock for proof.
2. Stanley Donen
It’s hard to believe that Donen wasn’t even nominated for Singin’ In The Rain.
3. John Frankenheimer
It’s also hard to believe that Frankenheimer never received a nomination. While he directed his share of bad films, he also directed Seven Days in May, The Manchurian Candidate, Seconds, and Ronin.
4. John Hughes
Not even for The Breakfast Club or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off! Hughes may have been snubbed by the Academy but his films practically invented an entire genre.
5. Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
This directing team was a major influence on Martin Scorsese. Black Narcissus remains one of the most visually stunning films of all time. The Red Shoes was nominated for best picture but Powell/Pressburger were snubbed.
6. Nicholas Ray
Everyone knows that Ray directed Rebel Without a Cause. Personally, I think his work on Bigger than Life was even more worthy of a nomination.