Among the Oscar nominations surprises every year is the Best Director lineup. Remember when Steven Spielberg (“The Color Purple”), Ron Howard (“Apollo 13”) and Ben Affleck (“Argo”) all won at the Directors Guild of America Awards but were snubbed by the directors branch of the academy. This year DGA nominee Aaron Sorkin (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”) was likewise left off the list of Oscar contenders. He was replaced by Danish director Thomas Vinterberg for his superb “Another Round,” which also picked up a bid for Best International Feature. He joins a long roster of Best Director nominees for films other than in English.
The academy first embraced international filmmakers in the 1960s. Italian auteur Federico Fellini was nominated for his 1961 classic “La Dolce Vita.” He contended again two years later for “8 1/2.” He reaped two more bids for “Fellini Satyricon” (1970) and “Amarcord’ (1975).
Other foreign film directors nominated that decade include: Pietro Germi for 1962’s “Divorce Italian Style”; Hiroshi Teshigahara for 1965’s “Women Under the Dunes”; Claude Lelouch for 1966’s “A Man and a Woman”; Gillo Pontecorvo for 1968’s “Battle of Algiers”; and Costa-Gavras for 1969’s “Z.”
And the love affair continued into the 1970s with Jan Troell for 1972’s “The Emigrants”; Ingmar Bergman for 1973’s “Cries and Whispers” and 1976’s “Face to Face”; Francois Truffaut for 1974’s “Day for Night”; Lina Wertmuller for 1976’s “Seven Beauties”; and Edouard Molinaro for 1979’s “La Cage Aux Folles.”
Wolfgang Petersen joined this growing list of foreign filmmakers with 1982’s “Das Boot,” followed by Bergman for 1983’s “Fanny and Alexander.” Japan’s most influential director Akira Kurosawa helmed two foreign-language film winners (“Rashomon,” 1951; and “Dersu Uzala,” 1975) but he didn’t earn a Best Director bid until 1985’s “Ran.” And Lasse Hallstrom was an underdog nominee for 1987’s “My Life as a Dog.”
Krzysztof Kieslowski picked up a nomination for 1994’s “Three Colours: Red.” Roberto Benigni was cited for 1998’s “Life is Beautiful,” and became the second filmmaker to direct himself to a Best Actor Oscar. Laurence Olivier was the first for 1948’s “Hamlet.”
Ang Lee received his first Oscar nomination for 2000’s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” He would go on and win Oscar for two English-language films: 2005’s “Brokeback Mountain” and 2012’s “Life of Pi.” Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar received his first nomination for 2002’s “Talk to Her,” while Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles garnered a bid for 2003’s “City of God.”
French filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius won for his 2011 near completely silent movie “The Artist.” The following year, another Gallic director, Michael Haneke, earned a nomination for “Amour.” Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron won his second Oscar for his 2018 memoir “Roma” (he’d won in 2013 for the Hollywood blockbuster “Gravity”). Pawel Pawlikowski was also nominated in 2018 for “Cold War.”
Last year, Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho won three Oscars (picture, director, original screenplay) for “Parasite.”
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