It’s the 2002 Academy Awards ceremony. The winner for best director is announced, and Ron Howard gets out of his seat and makes his way to the stage to accept the award for his work on "A Beautiful Mind." For a few seconds, as Howard makes his way up to the stage, the camera pans to fellow nominee David Lynch going up to other nominee, the late great Robert Altman, and consoling him about the defeat.
With one arm around Altman, we can’t quite make out what Lynch is telling him, but rest assured it wasn’t "the best man won."
The sad tradition of not honoring the right filmmakers will likely continue for the Academy. Further proof can be found with these 11 greats who haven’t won for their directing yet, with some not even having a single nomination to their name. Here's hoping that a few of the following directors will make it up to the stage in the near future.
Although "The Martian" is not the greatest work he's ever done, most people were not only predicting a Ridley Scott nomination this year, but even an actual win (the film is, thankfully, still nominated for best picture). The master might still have quite a few more gems left in him, but "The Martian" was his best shot – a crowd-pleaser that made a ton of money and solidified his stamp as a great visionary of sci-fi. Up next for him is "Alien: Covenant," a prequel to the famous series and a follow-up to his much debated 2012 film, "Prometheus."
Trademark Films: "Alien," "Blade Runner," "Gladiator," "American Gangster," "Black Hawk Down."
Oscar Nominations for Directing: 3
Although the Academy has never awarded a foreign film the best director award, exceptions could have been made in the 1960s for Jean-Luc Godard's tremendous streak of films. The films Godard churned out on a yearly basis were astounding, starting with 1960's "Breathless." His role in France's Nouvelle Vague movement helped shape not only his country's cultural movement, but also influenced the way films would be shot and told in the American studio system. Now 85 years old, he strays far away from conventional cinema and instead opts for a requiem-sensed way of telling a story: It's bold, original, vital filmmaking that still allows him to win awards at Cannes. Just don't expect him to win any Oscars for these films. Perhaps that's why a couple of years ago he was awarded an Honorary Oscar: They know.
Trademark Films: "Breathless," "Contempt," "Alphaville," "Pierrot Le Fou," "Band of Outsiders."
Oscar Nominations For Directing: 0
If a case could ever be made about how awards-worthy David Fincher is, he probably wouldn't want to hear about it anyway. Fischer, instead, is more interested in making vital art. If his films are at first met with polite approval (check out release date reviews of "Se7en," "Fight Club" and "Zodiac") they still end up lingering in our heads, aging like fine wine and becoming stone-cold classics. His static, highly controlled camera compositions enhance feelings of dread and coldness in the characters and situations he portrays, and he is a modern master at crafting tension and well-founded fear.
Trademark Films: "The Social Network," "Zodiac," "Fight Club," "Se7en," "Gone Girl."
Oscar Nominations For Directing: 2
The day David Lynch wins an Oscar will probably be the day our society has a significant cultural shift and abstract surrealist cinema is actually making millions at the American box-office. Imagine a society where a David Lynch could potentially become mainstream; it briefly happened in the early ‘90s when, for one season, ABC'S "Twin Peaks" was the toast of the town. Of course, Lynch couldn't help it and slowly veered the series' tone into, well, a David Lynch kind of world, filled with abstract ideas, unresolved mysteries and the strangest of characters.
Trademark Films: "Mulholland Drive," "Blue Velvet," "The Elephant Man," "Wild At Heart," "The Straight Story."
Oscar Nominations for Directing: 3
Although he hails from Spain, Pedro Almodóvar has gained a solid following in the United States and he even got a best director nod in 2002 for his masterwork, "Talk to Her." His films are filled with acerbically comic wit that we've audiences have grown to love since his 1987 breakout hit, "Law of Desire." His aesthetic brilliance goes far beyond surface beauty, and he has written some of the strongest, most eloquent roles for female actresses in the history of the art form (and he basically kick-started Penelope Cruz's career). If there ever was a foreign filmmaker who could defy the odds and become the first one to ever win a best director Oscar for a foreign film, it's Almodóvar.
Trademark Films: "Talk To Her," "Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown," "Broken Embraces," "The Skin I Live In," "All About My Mother."
Oscar Nominations for Directing: 1