Such a split between Best Picture and Director has happened 22 times in the 85-year history of these awards with the most recent being last year when Ang Lee won his second Oscar for helming the 3-D spectacle "Life of Pi" while "Argo" won Best Picture despite director Ben Affleck being snubbed. That marked only the fourth time in Oscar history that the director of the Best Picture had not been nominated. In the other 18 instances, Best Picture went to one film and Best Director went to another even though the helmer of the big winner was nominated.
Cuaron has swept the precursor prizes, including most tellingly that of the Directors Guild of America. In the 65-year history of that guild honor, its winner has gone on to take home the Oscar on 58 occasions. The seven exceptions have been:
1968 -- DGA to Anthony Harvey for "The Lion in Winter" and Oscar to Carol Reed for "Oliver!"
1972 -- DGA to Francis Ford Coppola for "The Godfather" and Oscar to Bob Fosse for "Cabaret"
1985 -- DGA to Steven Spielberg for "The Color Purple" and Oscar to Sydney Pollack for "Out of Africa"
1995 -- DGA to Ron Howard for "Apollo 13" and Oscar to Mel Gibson for "Braveheart"
2000 -- DGA to Ang Lee for "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and Oscar to Steven Soderbergh for "Traffic"
2002 -- DGA to Rob Marshall for "Chicago" and Oscar to Roman Polanski for "The Pianist"
2012 -- DGA to Ben Affleck ("Argo") and Oscar to Ang Lee ("Life of Pi")