Who is now the best living director not to have an Oscar (for directing)?

Once Spielberg won for Schindler’s list, the answer to this question was easily Scorsese. Of course, as it is defensible to say Scorsese is the best director of all time (not my position), you could say he held the title before that.

However, with him safely securing his directing Oscar for the Departed, who inherited the title as the best (living) director with out Oscar?

Paul Thomas Anderson.

Arguably, Quentin Tarantino.

I’d probably say Ridley Scott, he’s done some incredible movies over the years and all he’s gotten Academy Awards-wise is three nominations.

Ridley Scott’s a good choice.

Michael Mann is a very good director, but he doesn’t direct many films. (His best was Last of the Mohicans.)

Guy Ritchie came out of the gate strong with Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, but has been uneven after that.

John Sayles ought to be in the conversation, and might be my pick. (Lone Star, Matewan, Eight Men Out)

Tarantino is a good choice.

Christopher Nolan is also a good candidate.

Werner Herzog

Terry Gilliam. Nominated for Brazil, nothing since.

Wim Wenders, who should have won or at least been nominated for directing Wings of Desire and Until the End of the World. He’s only ever received one Academy Award nomination, via his documentary Buena Vista Social Club (it lost, understandably, to One Day In September).

I’m also on board with Paul Thomas Anderson, Werner Herzog, Terry Gilliam, John Sayles and Quentin Tarantino.

I’d say either:

Werner Herzog


Quentin Tarantino - I’m wondering if he’ll get it for Basterds, though.

Of the cited names I’d have to pick Werner Herzog.

A common theme here is that many of these guys don’t direct a LOT of movies. Terry Gilliam is a daring, innovative filmmaker, but he has directed just ten feature films in 34 years. Michael Mann is ridiculously talented but has just ten feature films in 30 years.

Herzog & Wenders (along with Godard, Angelopoulos, Rohmer, Varda, etc.) don’t really count since no director has ever won the prize for a completely foreign language film (and probably won’t for a long time).

So given that Sidney Lumet has an honorary Oscar, I vote for 3-time loser David Lynch with honorable mentions to David Cronenberg and Mike Leigh.

Herzog and Wenders have both directed several English-language films, and will again. Herzog especially seems to focus mainly on English-language films now. He could have and should have gotten nominated for Rescue Dawn, which was tragically overlooked last awards season. Either could win in the future for something truly spectacular, in English.

Good call with David Lynch, though he seems to have set aside directing to concentrate on his David Lynch Foundation and produce movies (including My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done, the next English-language Werner Herzog film). It’s hard to believe Inland Empire was 2006, and he doesn’t have anything on the burner that’s listed on IMDB.

I came in to say John Sayles. I see I’m not the first one.

Peter Weir is high on the list. Nominated four times the last being Master and Commander unfortunately in the same as year as ROTK. I think Master and Commander is the better film but I don’t begrudge Jackson his win for the trilogy as a whole.

Before that he was nominated for the Truman Show, IMO a terrific film and easily better than Saving Private Ryan. I don't care too much for Dead Poet's Society and haven't seen Witness which sounds like an excellent film.

Oops, living. Never mind.

Lumet or Weir for mine. Weir has done terrific movies with casting choices that seem obvious in retrospect but were often surprising at the time. Linda Hunt as a man in The Year of Living Dangerously, Ford in *Witness *, goofy Robin Williams in Dead Poet’s Society, goofy Jim Carrey in The Truman Show. He even made a sex symbol out of Gérard Depardieu in Green Card. Actors must love him.

I also vote for Sayles. I will consider Lumet and Weir.

After thinking about my own question, I add the following names to the list (though no one stands out like Marty did).

Gus Van Sant
Frank Darabont
David Fincher
Stephen Frears
Alexander Paine
Jason Reitman (if we are including youngsters to watch)

Altmann probably held the title until his death.

GOD – Herzog has never gotten an Oscar???

Where is the “weeping” smiley when we need it??

I’d substitute “definitely” for “arguably”. If he doesn’t win for “Basterds” this year, he never will.