Best Picture and Best Director matched up almost completely at the Oscars during the 1970s, with one notable exception in 1972 when Bob Fosse won Best Director for “Cabaret” while “The Godfather” won Best Picture. This was a decade of sweeps for many of the films that won Best Picture, and their respective directors were rightfully rewarded for bringing all the technical elements together into one cohesive narrative. But which Best Director Oscar winner of the 1970s is your favorite? Look back on each winner and vote in our poll below.
Franklin J. Schaffner, “Patton” (1970) — Schaffner was the first Best Director winner of the 1970s for “Patton,” his epic George S. Patton biopic. He was not nominated for any other Oscars, though he did collect three Primetime Emmys for multiple projects in the ’50s and ’60s.
William Friedkin, “The French Connection” (1971) — Friedkin won his Oscar for directing the gritty crime drama “The French Connection.” He would go on to earn another Best Director nomination just two years later for “The Exorcist,” but he did not win.
Bob Fosse, “Cabaret” (1972) — The only instance of a Picture/Director split happened in 1972 with Fosse winning for the musical “Cabaret.” This film has the distinction of holding the record for most Oscar wins for a film without winning Best Picture, at eight. He was nominated again in 1974 for “Lenny” and 1979 for writing and directing “All That Jazz.”
George Roy Hill, “The Sting” (1973) — Hill is one of few directors to win an Oscar for what is primarily a comedy film, “The Sting.” He was previously nominated in 1969 for “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” which also happened to star Paul Newman and Robert Redford.
Francis Ford Coppola, “The Godfather Part II” (1974) — Those upset that Coppola did not win Best Director for “The Godfather” just had to wait two years for voters to give him the trophy. Already a two-time winner for writing “Patton” and “The Godfather,” he added three trophies to his collection for producing, directing and writing “The Godfather Part II.” He earned nominations in various categories for “American Graffiti” (1973), “The Conversation” (1974), “Apocalypse Now” (1979), and “The Godfather Part III” (1990).
Milos Forman, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (1975) — The recently departed Milos Forman was part of a big sweep for mental institution drama “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” also winning Picture, Actor, Actress, and Adapted Screenplay. Forman hit gold again in 1984 with “Amadeus,” becoming one of few people to win two Director prizes. He would be nominated again for “The People vs. Larry Flynt” (1996).
John G. Avildsen, “Rocky” (1976) — Avildsen won his Oscar for the beloved boxing drama “Rocky,” which was also the no. 1 movie of the year at the box office in 1976. The director was nominated at the Oscars again in 1982 for the documentary short “Traveling Hopefully.”
Woody Allen, “Annie Hall” (1977) — Allen has been an Academy favorite for years, and it all started with his romantic comedy “Annie Hall.” His list of nominations in Original Screenplay is almost too long to name, while his Director nominations were for “Interiors” (1978), “Broadway Danny Rose” (1984), “Hannah and Her Sisters” (1986), “Crimes and Misdemeanors,” “Bullets over Broadway” (1994), and “Midnight in Paris.” His screenplay wins were for “Annie Hall,” “Hannah and Her Sisters,” and “Midnight in Paris.”
Michael Cimino, “The Deer Hunter” (1978) — Cimino won both Best Director and Best Picture for the harrowing war epic “The Deer Hunter.” With by far the shortest filmography of any winning director here, “The Deer Hunter” was his only Oscar notice.
Robert Benton, “Kramer vs. Kramer” (1979) — The decade closed with Benton taking home the Oscars for writing and directing the divorce drama “Kramer vs. Kramer.” He won again for writing “Places in the Heart” (1984), for which he was also nominated for Director. He earned other writing nominations for “Bonnie and Clyde” (1967), “The Late Show” (1977), and “Nobody’s Fool” (1994).