Here they are, the best of the best! As with my votes for Best Actress, I’m going about this in two ways. First, the old-fashioned method: I’m casting my vote by year in all 87 races for Best Director. Lots of fun, and full of impossible choices: Wilder or Hitchcock? Wellman or Reed? Altman, Lynch, or Jackson? Second, to accommodate the overflow from such strong years (and get rid of the races I could do without), the second column contains my top 87 Best Director nominees of all time, drawn from the entire pool of 426.
Finally, the third column, just for reference, contains the list of actual recipients of the Academy Award for Best Directors. I’ve shaded in gold the instances where my pick and the Academy’s pick align. Your thoughts, either privately or down below in the comments section, are more welcome than ever!
Now, without further ado:
In image form, for those who want to see the whole list at once:
It may seem like the Academy and I have a rather hefty difference of opinion, as I agree with their choice in a mere 17 out of 87 races by year and include only 19 winners among my Top 87. However, much of that is simply due to the appeal of the alternative candidates, rather than any disapproval of Delbert Mann, John Schlesinger, or Anthony Minghella. Besides, I imagine that most Oscar voters find themselves sometimes in the majority and sometimes in the minority, rather than actually preferring the Coen Bros., Danny Boyle, Kathryn Bigelow, and Tom Hooper in consecutive seasons.
As for the winners themselves, I’m even more partial than the Academy, granting multiple votes to 18 and 19 individuals in the two columns as opposed to the Academy’s 15. Nobody exceeds three awards, though Billy Wilder and Martin Scorsese deserve mention as the only directors to get my vote thrice in each column. As with the Best Actress picks, I must apologize to William Friedkin, Krzysztof Kieślowski, Stanley Kubrick, Costa-Gavras, and the many others who just barely missed the cut in one or both columns.
And that’s that…except of course for the very best. Tune in tomorrow for the conclusion of this project with the Best Director All-Stars!