1969

One Vision: Film direction gets its own category
Think of the creative forces behind the movies we love, and most of us will think first of the director. So it might surprise you to learn that the Academy didn’t introduce a specific award for direction until 1969. Until that point, directors had usually collected the award for best film (once they had their own prize, that perk tended to go instead to the producer).

The launch of the award was well timed, coming as it did at the moment the traditional Hollywood studio system was giving way and a new generation of young iconoclastic directors began making some of the greatest films in cinema history. In changing times, there could hardly have been a more fitting first winner than Mike Nichols for The Graduate.

Image: Like Mike Nichols, Martin Scorsese belonged to the new generation of young iconoclastic directors who challenged the traditional Hollywood studio system. Over his decades spanning career, Scorsese has been nominated eighteen times.



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BAFTA Archive/Ian Derry

Video: Shirley MacLaine presents the Best Director award to John Schlesinger for Midnight Cowboy in 1970 (Source: ITV Studios Limited).