Everyone can agree that the very first Oscar-nominated directorial debut, Orson Welles/Citizen Kane, is the best. What, of those listed, then, is the 2nd best?
The others I did not list:
Stephen Daldry for Billy Elliot (2000)
Peter Cattaneo for The Full Monty (1997)
Kevin Costner for Dances with Wolves (1990)
Kenneth Branagh for Henry V (1989)
Roland Joffe for The Killing Fields (1984)
Robert Redford for Ordinary People (1980)
Warren Beatty & Buck Henry for Heaven Can Wait (1978)
Frank Perry for David and Lisa (1962)
Jerome Robbins (and Robert Wise) for West Side Story (1961)
Jack Clayton for Room at the Top (1959)
My top 5 of the 21:
1. Orson Welles, Citizen Kane (1941)
2. Mike Nichols, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
3. Spike Jonze, Being John Malkovich (1999)
4. John Singleton, Boyz n the Hood (1991)
5. Sidney Lumet, 12 Angry Men (1957)
I guess by nominated you mean in Best Director category? Roman PolaÅ„ski made fantastic debut with “The Knife in the Water”, nominated in Best Foreign Language Film category.
Robert Redford should have been included (certainly over Delbert Mann, John Singleton and Chris Noonan) and would be my winner. Among listed my vote goes to Sidney Lumet.