The Academy Award for Best Director is one of the most coveted prizes in Hollywood, shining the spotlight on the visionaries behind the camera. The distinction has been a part of the Oscars since the ceremony’s inception in 1929 (originally split between comedy and dramatic categories, it merged one year later).
But in spite of its long history, we are still seeing the award evolve. In 2017 the youngest director ever, Damien Chazelle, won for “La La Land” at the age of 32. Three of the last four winners were Mexican filmmakers. To date, only one woman has won the award: Kathryn Bigelow for 2009’s “The Hurt Locker.” This year could yield the second woman (Greta Gerwig) or first African-American (Jordan Peele) ever to win the prize. And in this exciting 2018 race, for all five nominees—Paul Thomas Anderson (Focus Features’ “Phantom Thread”), Guillermo del Toro (Fox Searchlight Pictures’ “The Shape of Water”), Gerwig (A24’s “Lady Bird”), Christopher Nolan (Warner Bros.’ “Dunkirk”), and Peele (Universal Pictures’ “Get Out”)—a win would mean their first Oscar in any category.
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