Directing an Acting Nomination in 2020

This article originally ran at The Film Experience

The Oscars are so stat heavy, it’s difficult to keep up with the bevy of information.  One of those stats that gets lost in the noise is acting nominations by director. If you’ve read my previous piece last year, I am somewhat of an expert in this field, and this year’s set of nominees provides some interesting stats.


Shaka King (Judas and the Black Messiah), Florian Zeller (The Father) and Lee Isaac Chung (Minari) join a list of 39 other directors who have two directed Oscar performances with a victory.  In the same realm, Ceorge C. Wolfe (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) and Darius Mauder (Sound of Metal) join 60 other directors with two nominated performances, but no wins.

Chloe Zhao (Nomadland) joins a list of 33 other directors with directing a single nomination and win.  She joins Rupert Goold and Todd Phillips from 2019.  Regina King (One Night in Miami), Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman), Aaron Sorkin (Trial of the Chicago 7), Jason Woliner (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm), and Kornei Mundruczo (Pieces of a Woman) join a list of 199 directors with a single nomination and no wins.


Following the nomination for Andra Day, Lee Daniels (The United States vs. Billie Holiday) has now directed three nominations.  Monique’s victory in 2009 is the only win.  He is one of 21 directors with one victory in three nominations.  Noah Baumbach joined that list in 2019.

Two acting nominations directed by David Fincher (Mank) moves him into a tie for 62nd all-time with seven nominated performances.  He joins three other directors, including Alexander Payne, with seven nominations and zero wins.  He is also tied for the fourth most nominations without a winning performance.

Glenn Close’s nomination for Hillbilly Elegy puts Ron Howard in a tie for 35th all-time with nine nominated performances.  He is tied with ten other directors, including Paul Thomas Anderson and Quentin Tarantino.  Howard’s films have garnered two Oscar wins.  Additionally, Howard is tied for ninth all-time in the Best Supporting Actress category, with four nominated performances.

RankDirectorBSAS NomsWins
1William Wyler122
2Woody Allen104
3Elia Kazan84
4Martin Scorsese81
5Mike Nichols81
6John Huston52
7Sydney Pollack51
8Robert Altman50
9Fred Zinnemann42
10Peter Bogdanovich42
11George Stevens41
12Mervyn LeRoy41
13John Ford41
14David O. Russell41
15Herbert Ross41
16Ron Howard41
17Delbert Mann41
18Rob Marshall41
19Steven Spielberg40

Female Directors

Following nominations for the actors in films of Zhao, Regina King and Fennell, 35 women have directed nominated performances.  Of those 35 women, 21 have only directed one nominated performance, while 28 have only had performances nominated for one film.

Barbra Streisand and Greta Gerwig lead with four nominations each, but have yet to win.  McDormand’s win is the eighth Oscar win directed by a woman, out of 57 nominations.  Jane Campion is the only one who has directed multiple Oscar wins.

1`Barbra Streisand400.0%
2`Greta Gerwig400.0%
3`Jane Campion3266.7%
4`Randa Haines3133.3%
5`Marielle Heller300.0%
6`Niki Caro300.0%
7`Kimberly Peirce2150.0%
8`Valerie Faris2150.0%
9`Debra Granik200.0%
10`Elaine May200.0%
11`Kathryn Bigelow200.0%
12`Lisa Cholodenko200.0%
13`Martha Coolidge200.0%
14`Penny Marshall200.0%
15`Chloe Zhao11100.0%
16`Patty Jenkins11100.0%
17`Phyllida Lloyd11100.0%

Black Directors

Shaka King, Regina King and Wolfe are the 11th, 12th and 13th Black directors to direct a nominated performance.  Of the 25 nominations, 19 have come since 2013.

With three nominations, Daniels is now tied with Barry Jenkins, Steve McQueen and Spike Lee for the most nominated performances from a Black director.  Shaka King and Wolfe move into a tie for fifth with Antoine Fuqua and Denzel Washington, each with two.  Regina King joins Jordan Peele, Ryan Coogler, Dee Rees and Kasi Lemmons with one nominated performance.

1*Barry Jenkins3266.7%
2*Lee Daniels3133.3%
3*Steve McQueen3133.3%
4*Spike Lee300.0%
5*Antoine Fuqua2150.0%
6*Denzel Washington2150.0%
7*Shaka King2150.0%
8*George C. Wolfe200.0%
9`*Regina King100.0%
10*Jordan Peele100.0%
11*Ryan Coogler100.0%
12`*Dee Rees100.0%
13`*Kasi Lemmons100.0%


William Wyler continues to be the king of this statistic.  He directed 36 nominations and 14 wins, holding significant leads over his next highest competion.  The only active directors in the top 30 are David O. Russell, Francis Ford Coppola, Clint Eastwood, Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese.

1William Wyler361438.9%
2Elia Kazan24937.5%
3Martin Scorsese24520.8%
4Fred Zinnemann20630.0%
5George Cukor19526.3%
6George Stevens19210.5%
7Woody Allen18738.9%
8Sidney Lumet18422.2%
9Mike Nichols18211.1%
10Billy Wilder17317.6%
11Stanley Kramer16212.5%
12John Huston15426.7%
13Clint Eastwood14535.7%
14Mervyn LeRoy14321.4%
15Francis Ford Coppola14214.3%
16Steven Spielberg14214.3%
17Martin Ritt13323.1%
18John Ford12541.7%
19David O. Russell12325.0%
20Herbert Ross12325.0%
21Norman Jewison12325.0%
22Sam Wood12325.0%
23Clarence Brown12216.7%
24Joseph L. Mankiewicz12216.7%
25Sydney Pollack12216.7%

Until next year…

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