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15 Famous Filmmakers Who Never Won Best Director Academy Awards

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These filmmakers directed movies you love—but they never took home Best Directing Oscars for them.

1. Stanley Kubrick

Stanley Kubrick was nominated for Best Director four times throughout his career, for the films Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, and Barry Lyndon. Though he never won an award for directing, he did take home one Oscar: Best Special Visual Effects for 2001: A Space Odyssey. And according to visual effects pioneer Douglas Trumbull, who worked on the film with Kubrick, it was an award the filmmaker didn't deserve. "Kubrick did not create the visual effects. He directed them," Trumbull toldThe Hollywood Reporter. "There was a certain level of inappropriateness to taking that Oscar. But the tragic aspect of it for me is it's the only Oscar Stanley Kubrick ever won. He was an incredibly gifted director and should have gotten something for directing and writing and what his real strength was—not special effects."

2. Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock got his first Best Director nomination for 1940's Rebecca. The movie won the Oscar for Outstanding Production (now called Best Picture), but Hitchcock went home empty-handed because the rules of the day gave the award to the production company, Selznick International Pictures. Hitchcock would later earn nominations for Lifeboat, Spellbound, Rear Window, and Psycho, but he lost each and every time. The filmmaker would eventually be honored by The Academy when it gave him the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award for "creative producers whose bodies of work reflect a consistently high quality of motion picture production" in 1968. Hitchcock accepted the award and simply said, "Thank you ... very much indeed."

3. Orson Welles

Though Citizen Kane is considered one of the greatest films of all time, Orson Welles lost the 1941 Best Director Oscar to John Ford and How Green Was My Valley. But he didn't go home entirely empty-handed: He won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, along with Herman J. Mankiewicz, for the film. (That statuette would be auctioned off in 2011, amid much controversy.)

Welles’s The Magnificent Ambersons was nominated the following year for Outstanding Picture, but lost out to Mrs. Miniver. In 1971, Welles received the Academy Honorary Award for "superlative artistry and versatility in the creation of motion pictures."

4. Sidney Lumet

Sidney Lumet was nominated for Best Director for his very first feature film, 1957's 12 Angry Men. Sadly, he lost out to David Lean for The Bridge on the River Kwai. Though the director would be nominated four more times in his career—for Dog Day Afternoon, NetworkThe Verdict, and a writing nomination for Prince of the City—he never won. Lumet did receive an Honorary Academy Award in 2005, but in 2009, the filmmaker told Vanity Fair that yes, he was annoyed that he'd never actually won one. "[A]nyone who says it doesn’t matter is talking bull****,” he said. “Of course it matters! First of all, the difference between winning and losing can be $3 or $4 million on your next fee. So let’s start with that. And maybe this is a very subjective reaction, but it seems to me that I’ve always lost to crap.”

5. Charlie Chaplin

Although he was considered one of the most iconic and influential filmmakers of the Golden Age of Hollywood, Charlie Chaplin didn't receive a real nomination from his peers until he was nominated for three Academy Awards for Best Actor, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Picture for 1940's The Great Dictator. Chaplin—who also directed The Great Dictator—never received a single nomination for Best Director.

The filmmaker did receive an Honorary Academy Award for "versatility and genius in acting, writing, directing and producing The Circus" in 1929 (the Oscar was stolen from the offices of the Association Chaplin just last month), and another Honorary Oscar for "the incalculable effect he has had in making motion pictures, the art form of this century" in 1972. He received an Oscar for Best Score for Limelight in 1973, despite its original release in 1952. Academy rules state that a film can’t be considered for an award until it’s played in a theater in Los Angeles County. Limelight only played in a few east coast cities before it was blacklisted, so it first played in LA (and was first eligible) in 1972.

6. Robert Altman

Robert Altman was nominated for Best Director five times for M*A*S*H*, Nashville, The Player, Short Cuts, and Gosford Park—but he never won. "They'll never give me an Oscar," he told Total Film in 2004. "And I sincerely, honestly don't care. I always turn up when I'm nominated and it would be nice to get one, but to win one would be bad luck. It comes with too much expectation. It would be the end." But the Academy did, eventually, give Altman an Oscar: In 2006, just months before his death, he received the Honorary Oscar for his long and impressive career as a Hollywood filmmaker. 

7. Ingmar Bergman

Swedish director Ingmar Bergman was nominated for the Best Director Oscar three times during his career. The first nomination came in 1974, for Cries and Whispers; Bergman lost to George Roy Hill for The Sting. Three years later, Bergman was nominated for Face to Face, but Rocky's John G. Avildsen received the Best Director Oscar instead. Finally, Bergman was nominated for his three-hour family drama Fanny & Alexander in 1984, but James L. Brooks took the prize for Terms of Endearment.

Bergman did, however, have three films win Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film for The Virgin Spring, Through a Glass Darkly, and Fanny & Alexander. He also received the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award for filmmakers "whose bodies of work reflect a consistently high quality of motion picture production." Norwegian actress Liv Ullmann accepted the award on his behalf because Bergman didn't attend the ceremony in 1970.

8. Arthur Penn

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American director Arthur Penn is considered one of the key filmmakers of the New Hollywood era during the 1960s. With movies such as The Chase, Bonnie & Clyde, and Alice's Restaurant, Penn (along with other directors like Sam Peckinpah, William Friedkin, and Mike Nichols) radically changed the face of Hollywood movie-making with an added emphasis on realism with sex and violence in movies.

During the '60s, Penn was nominated for Best Director three times: First for 1962's The Miracle Worker (he lost the award to David Lean and Lawrence of Arabia), then for Bonnie & Clyde in 1968 (Mike Nichols took home the statue for The Graduate). Two years later, in 1970, Penn was nominated for Alice's Restaurant, but lost to John Schlesinger and Midnight Cowboy.

9. Howard Hawks

Howard Hawks was responsible for iconic screwball comedies like Bringing Up Baby and His Girl Friday in the '30s and '40s. He was only nominated for Best Director once, for 1941's Sergeant York. Hawks lost to John Ford and How Green Was My Valley. In 1975, Hawks was awarded an Honorary Oscar for "a master American filmmaker whose creative efforts hold a distinguished place in world cinema." He died two years later.

10. Sergio Leone

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Celebrated Italian director Sergio Leone is considered one of the most influential filmmakers of the Western genre. During his 25-year career, Leone never received a single Academy Award nomination for Best Director. Though his final film, Once Upon A Time in America, got him directing nods from the Golden Globes and BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) nominations, it failed to gain any recognition from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.  

11. David Lynch

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Although he has been nominated three times for Best Director, David Lynch has yet to win an Academy Award. He was first nominated for The Elephant Man in 1981, but lost out to Robert Redford for Ordinary People. Six years later, he was nominated again for Blue Velvet, but lost to Oliver Stone for Platoon. It would take 15 years for David Lynch to earn another Academy Award nomination for Mulholland Drive in 2002, but he lost that Oscar to Ron Howard for A Beautiful Mind.

12. David Fincher

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David Fincher has been nominated for Best Director twice: In 2009, for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (he lost the Oscar to Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire) and in 2011 for The Social Network (which went to Tom Hooper for The King's Speech instead). When a movie is celebrated in whatever way, I think it’s bad form not to engage in some way, because people shower you with goodwill. It seems only polite to acknowledge it and be thankful for it,” Fincher told Entertainment Weekly in 2011. He said he found the campaigning around Oscar season to be “a cosmic drain ... you have to be on your best behavior. Every little weird facial tic that you may already have is now going to come under weird scrutiny on f***ing YouTube.”

13. Akira Kurosawa

Japanese director Akira Kurosawa's movies are a huge influence on American filmmakers: His films, including The Hidden Fortress, Ran, Seven Samurai, and Rashomon, have inspired the likes of George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Francis Ford Coppola. But even though he's one of the most celebrated Japanese directors in the West, Akira Kurosawa has never won an Oscar for Best Director; he was only nominated once, for Ran in 1985. Kagemusha (The Shadow Warrior) and Dodes'ka-den were nominated for Best Foreign Language Film; Dersu Uzala won the award in 1976. Rashomon received an Honorary Academy Award for Outstanding Foreign Language Film in 1952, before the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar was established. In 1990, Lucas and Spielberg presented Kurosawa a Lifetime Achievement Oscar during the 62nd Academy Awards.

14. Federico Fellini

Despite four Academy Award nominations for Best Director during his 40-year career, Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini never won the golden statuette. Fellini was first nominated for 1961's La Dolce Vita, but lost to Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins for West Side Story. He was nominated again two years later for 8 1/2, losing to Tony Richardson for Tom Jones. He was nominated two more times—for Satyricon in 1971 and Amarcord in 1976—but the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences didn't award him with an Oscar. But he did take home some trophies: Fellini received four Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film for La Strada, Nights of Cabiria, 8 1/2, and Amarcord (weirdly, in 1975). He also received a Lifetime Achievement Academy Award in 1993.

15. Quentin Tarantino

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Quentin Tarantino picked up his first Best Director nomination—and loss—for Pulp Fiction; the Oscar went to Robert Zemeckis for Forrest Gump instead. Fifteen years later, in 2010, Tarantino was nominated for Inglourious Basterds, but he lost the Academy Award to Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker. But he's probably not all that cut up about those losses; after all, Tarantino does have two Best Original Screenplay Oscars for Pulp Fiction and Django Unchained.

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15 Educational Facts About Old School
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Old School starred Luke Wilson as Mitch Martin, an attorney who—after catching his girlfriend cheating, and through some real estate and bitter dean-related circumstances—becomes the leader of a not-quite-official college fraternity. Along with his fellow thirtysomething friends Bernard (Vince Vaughn) and newlywed Frank (Will Ferrell), they end up having to fight for their right to maintain their status as a party-loving frat on campus.

The film, which was released 15 years ago today, marked Vaughn’s return to major comedies and Ferrell’s first major starring role after seven years on Saturday Night Live. Here are some facts about the movie for everyone, but particularly for my boy, Blue.

1. THE IDEA ORIGINATED WITH AN AD GUY.

Writer-director Todd Phillips was talking to a friend of his from the advertising industry named Court Crandall one day. Crandall had seen and enjoyed Phillips's movie Frat House (1998) and told his director buddy, “You know what would be funny is a movie about older guys who start a fraternity of their own.” After being told by Phillips to write it, he presented Phillips with a “loose version” of the finished product.

2. SOME OF THE FRAT SHENANIGANS WERE REAL.

While Crandall received the story credit for Old School, Phillips and Scot Armstrong received the credit for writing the script. Armstrong put his own college fraternity experiences into the script. “We were in Peoria, Illinois, so it was up to us to entertain ourselves," Armstrong shared in the movie's official production notes. "A lot of ideas for Old School came from things that really happened. When it was cold, everyone would go stir crazy and it inspired some moments of brilliance. Of course, my definition of ‘brilliance' might be different from other people's.”

3. IVAN REITMAN HELPED OUT.

Ivan Reitman, director of Stripes and Ghostbusters, was an executive producer on the film. Phillips and Armstrong wrote and rewrote every day for two months at Reitman’s house, an experience Phillips described as comedy writing “boot camp.”

4. THE STUDIO DIDN’T WANT VINCE VAUGHN.

Vince Vaughn in 'Old School' (2003)
DreamWorks

It didn’t seem to make a difference to DreamWorks that Phillips and Armstrong had written the role of Bernard with Vince Vaughn in mind—the studio didn't want him. After his breakout success in Swingers, Vaughn had taken roles in dramas like the 1998 remake of Psycho. “So when Todd Phillips wanted me for Old School, the studio didn’t want me,” Vaughn told Variety in 2015. “They didn’t think I could do comedy! They said, ‘He’s a dramatic actor from smaller films.’ Todd really had to push for me.”

5. RECYCLED SHOTS OF HARVARD UNIVERSITY WERE USED.

The film was mainly shot on the Westwood campus of UCLA. The aerial shots of the fictitious Harrison University, however, were of Harvard; they had been shot for Road Trip (2000).

6. VINCE VAUGHN FANS MIGHT RECOGNIZE THE CHURCH.

In the film, Frank gets married at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Pasadena, California. Vaughn and Owen Wilson were in that same church two years later for Wedding Crashers (2005).

7. WILL FERRELL SCARED MEMBERS OF A 24-HOUR GYM.

Frank’s streaking scene was shot on a city street. As Ferrell remembered it, one of the storefronts was a 24-hour gym with Stairmasters and treadmills in the window. “I was rehearsing in a robe, and all these people are in the gym, watching me. I asked one of the production assistants, ‘Shouldn’t we tell them I’m going to be naked?’ Sure enough, I dropped my robe and there were shrieks of pure horror. After the first take, nobody was at the window anymore. I took that as a sign of approval.”

8. FERRELL REALLY WAS NAKED.

Ferrell justified it by saying it showed his character falling off the wagon. “The fact that it made sense was the reason I was really into doing it, and why I was able to commit on that level," Ferrell told the BBC. "If it was just for the sake of doing a crazy shot, then I don't think it makes sense.” Still, Ferrell needed some liquid courage, and was intimidated by the presence of Snoop Dogg.

9. ROB CORDDRY WAS NOT NAKED, BUT HE STILL HAD TO SIGN AWAY HIS NUDITY RIGHTS.

Old School marked the first major film role for Rob Corddry, who at the time was best known as a correspondent for The Daily Show. He had a jewel bag around his private parts for his nude scene, but his butt made it into the final cut. He had to sign a nudity clause, which gave the film the right to use his naked image “in any part of the universe, in any form, even that which is not devised.”

10. SNOOP DOGG AGREED TO CAMEO SO HE COULD PLAY HUGGY BEAR IN STARSKY & HUTCH.

Phillips admitted to essentially bribing the hip-hop artist/actor, using Snoop Dogg’s desire to play the street informant in the modern movie adaptation of the classic TV show (which Phillips was also directing) to his advantage. “So when I went to him I said, 'I want you to do Huggy Bear,' he was really excited. And I said, 'Oh yeah, also will you do this little thing for me in Old School a little cameo?' So he kind of had to do it I think."

11. SNOOP WANTED TO HANG OUT WITH VINCE VAUGHN ON SET, BUT NOT LUKE WILSON.

Snoop Dogg in 'Old School' (2003)
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Vaughn and his friends accepted an invitation to hang out in Snoop Dogg’s trailer to play video games on the last day of shooting. Vaughn recalled seeing Luke Wilson later watching the news alone in his trailer; he had not been informed of the get-together.

12. WILSON WAS TEASED BY HIS CO-STARS.

Vaughn, Wilson, and Ferrell dubbed themselves “The Wolfpack”—years before Phillips directed The Hangover—because they would always make fun of each other. A particularly stinging exchange had Ferrell refer to Legally Blonde (which Wilson had starred in) as Legally Bland. Wilson said it didn’t make him feel great. Wilson retorted by telling Ferrell that "the transition from TV to the movies isn't a very easy one, so you might just want to keep one foot back in TV just in case this whole movie thing falls through!"

13. TERRY O’QUINN SCARED HIS SONS INTO THINKING THEY WERE TRIPPING.

Terry O’Quinn (who went on to play John Locke on Lost the following year) agreed to play Goldberg, uncredited, in what was a two-day job for him. He neglected to inform his sons he was in the movie, and when they saw it, one of them called their father. “I got a call from my sons one night, and they said, ‘What were you doing in Old School? We didn’t even know you were in it!’ They said, ‘We’re sitting there, and the first time we see you, it’s, like, in a reflection in a window. And when we saw it, and we both thought we were, like, tripping or something!’”

14. THE EARMUFFS WERE IMPROVISED.

Before filming, Vaughn worked with Ferrell to figure out their characters' backstories and how they knew each other; he credited that with helping him figure out who Bernard was, which led to several ad-libbed moments. “The earmuff scene where he swears in front of the kids, and then I tell the kid to earmuff, that all is off the cuff. But that stuff is a lot easier to do when you know who you are and your circumstances, and who your characters are,” Vaughn explained.

15. FERRELL AND VAUGHN DIDN’T LOVE A SCRIPT FOR A SEQUEL.

Armstrong had written Old School Dos in 2006, which saw the frat going to Spring Break. Ferrell said that he and Vaughn read the script but felt like they would just be “kind of doing the same thing again.” Wilson, on the other hand, was excited over the new script.

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15 Fun Facts About Army of Darkness
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On February 19, 1993, Army of Darkness—the third installment in Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell's Evil Dead franchise—made its way into U.S. theaters. You probably know all about Ash’s boomstick, but on the occasion of the hilarious horror comedy's 25th anniversary, it's worth a closer look.

1. ARMY OF DARKNESS ISN'T THE ENTIRE TITLE.

The film’s title is stylized onscreen as Bruce Campbell vs. Army of Darkness. This phrasing was Sam Raimi’s homage to the defunct Hollywood tradition of putting stars’ names in movie titles (like Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein)—but the studio feared the long title would confuse moviegoers, so it was shortened for official purposes to just Army of Darkness.

2. EVEN THE SHORTER TITLE WASN'T RAIMI'S FIRST CHOICE.

Army of Darkness is the third installment of the Evil Dead series and the first to take place during the Middle Ages. Raimi’s original title for Army of Darkness was The Medieval Dead.

3. BRIDGET FONDA FINALLY GOT TO WORK WITH RAIMI.

Bridget Fonda makes a cameoas Ash’s girlfriend Linda during the beginning flashback sequence. She is the third actress in three films to play Linda (following actresses Betsy Baker and Denise Bixler). Fonda—a huge Evil Dead II fan—had originally auditioned to be in Raimi’s previous film, Darkman, but didn’t get the part.

4. ASH'S CAR HAD A LOT OF SCREEN EXPERIENCE.

The 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 allegedly appears in all of Sam Raimi’s films.

5. DARKMAN MADE ARMY OF DARKNESS POSSIBLE.

Raimi wanted to make Army of Darkness immediately following 1987’s Evil Dead II, but he struggled to find funding to finish his trilogy. The financial success of Raimi’s 1990 film, Darkman, eventually convinced Universal Studios to split the $12 million budget with executive producer Dino De Laurentiis.

6. A SUBTLE SCIENCE FICTION REFERENCE PLAYS A KEY ROLE.

The words Ash must utter to safely retrieve the Necronomicon (“Klaatu verata nikto”) are actually a variation on a phrase from the original version of The Day the Earth Stood Still. In that film, “Klaatu barada nitko” is the phrase one must say to stop the robot Gort from destroying Earth.

7. THE SKELETON DEADITES WERE AN HOMAGE.

Their design is a tribute to visual effects legend Ray Harryhausen.

8. THE STAY PUFT MARSHMALLOW MAN MAKES AN APPEARANCE.

Billy Bryan, the actor who portrays the second monster in the medieval pit, also portrayed the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in Ghostbusters.

9. SAM RAIMI'S BROTHER WORE A LOT OF HATS.

Ted Raimi—who makes cameos in all of his brother’s films—appears as three different background characters in Army of Darkness. He is first seen as a sympathetic villager, then as a dying soldier during the final battle, and, finally, as an S-Mart employee in the last scene.

10. RAIMI HAD TO FIGHT FOR AN R-RATING.

In keeping with the gory first two films in the series, Army of Darkness received an NC-17 rating from the MPAA. It was subsequently bumped down to an R rating after the filmmakers pointed out that the ostensible gore in the film was happening to skeletons.

11. PLAYING EVIL ASH WAS TOUGH FOR CAMPBELL.

It took makeup artists three hours to get Campbell ready for shooting.

12. RAIMI STORYBOARDED EVERY SINGLE SHOT IN THE MOVIE HIMSELF.

About 25 shots in the final battle are taken from storyboards originally used in the 1948 Victor Fleming film Joan of Arc, which were brought to Raimi’s attention by visual effects supervisor William Mesa. Mesa got them from a friend, who got them from Fleming himself.

13. THERE'S AN EASTER EGG FOR TREKKIES.

Star Trek fans will recognize the location where Ash learns the “Klaatu verata nikto” incantation. The scene was shot at the iconic Vasquez Rocks in Agua Dulce, California, where the famous “Arena” episode from Star Trek was also shot. The movie also shot in the Bronson Canyon area of Griffith Park in Los Angeles that served as the Batcave for the 1960s Batman television show.

14. THE STUDIO CHANGED THE ENDING.

Bruce Campbell stars in 'Army of Darkness' (1992)
Universal Pictures

The original conclusion of the film—which Universal Studios deemed too negative—featured Ash taking too much potion to get back to the present day and waking up in a future, post-apocalyptic London. The ending can be seen on subsequent director’s cuts of home video versions of Army of Darkness.

15. EVEN AFTER YEARS OF TRYING, A SEQUEL NEVER MATERIALIZED.

Beginning in 2015, Bruce Campbell reprised his role as Ash in the Ash vs Evil Dead TV series. While fans of the Evil Dead franchise love it, Raimi spent years trying to get a sequel to Army of Darkness off the ground. On the commentary track for the first season of Ash vs. Evil Dead, Raimi even shared a few of the discarded ideas he had for the film.

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