While writing a column about a particular film from the 1950s, I noticed that one of its Oscar nominations was in the category of Best Director, and that it was also the director's first movie. "Hmm," I thought. "I wonder how rare that is, for someone to get a Best Director nomination his first time at bat?" (Sometimes I use sports metaphors when I think.) Having little else to occupy my time now that Lost is over, I found a list of all the nominated directors, then checked to see which ones were nominated for their first movies.

There are 23. Five of them actually won the Oscar, too, which is even more impressive. Mind you, these are Best Director Oscar nominations for their first theatrically released narrative features. Two of them had previously made a documentary, and a few had made shorts or TV movies. Oh, and there are actually 24 names: one of the nominated films had two directors who shared the nomination. (Hint: They weren't brothers.)

We'll post the list after the jump. Trivia fans might want to see how many they can name on their own, before seeing the answers. We'd turn it into a contest, but it would be too easy to cheat. To get you started, here are the years that the films were released: 1941, 1955, 1957, 1959, 1962, 1966, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1984, two from 1989, 1990, 1991, 1995, 1997, two from 1999, 2000, 2005, 2007.

Which filmmakers got Best Director nominations for their first theatrically released narrative features? More hints, and then the answers, after the jump.



A few more hints:

- The years where the nominated first-time directors actually won the Oscar were 1955, 1980, 1983, 1990, and 1999.
- Three of the directors were already well-known actors.
- 2 of the films were adaptations of TV movies; 8 were based on books; 4 were based on plays; 2 were later turned into plays; 4 were about real people and real events.

We'll go ahead and spoil the obvious one.




Filmmakers who got Best Director Oscar nominations for their first theatrically-released narrative features.
(Asterisks indicate they won the award, too.)

Orson Welles, Citizen Kane (1941)
*Delbert Mann, Marty (1955)
Sidney Lumet, 12 Angry Men (1957)
Jack Clayton, Room at the Top (1959)
Frank Perry, David and Lisa (1962)
Mike Nichols, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
Warren Beatty and Buck Henry, Heaven Can Wait (1978)
*Robert Redford, Ordinary People (1980)
Hugh Hudson, Chariots of Fire (1981)
*James L. Brooks, Terms of Endearment (1983)
Roland Joffe, The Killing Fields (1984)
Jim Sheridan, My Left Foot (1989)
Kenneth Branagh, Henry V (1989)
*Kevin Costner, Dances with Wolves (1990)
John Singleton, Boyz n the Hood (1991)
Chris Noonan, Babe (1995)
Peter Cattaneo, The Full Monty (1997)
*Sam Mendes, American Beauty (1999)
Spike Jonze, Being John Malkovich (1999)
Stephen Daldry, Billy Elliot (2000)
Rob Marshall, Chicago (2002)
Bennett Miller, Capote (2005)
Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton (2007)

Most common reaction: "Kevin Costner got nominated for his first directorial effort? And WON?? Meanwhile, Martin Scorsese didn't get nominated until his seventh film, and didn't win until his 20th?! What is this crap?"

Least common reaction: "Ah, yes, Jack Clayton, the man behind Room at the Top. I remember him and it well!"