Actors’ Director — An Introduction

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Robert Altman was considered to be one of the best friends an actor could have. In addition to stacking his casts with craft, unorthodox players, he was known for his generosity with the assembled thespians, giving them room to explore and build characters. Especially after his Player-fueled resurgence in the early nineteen-nineties, actors flocked to him. Tthe posters for his films — whether the finished product was great or dismal — roughly equivalent to stream-of-consciousness lists generated by someone who’d been prompted to name every interesting actor they could think of in thirty seconds. Despite all that, Altman never directed an Academy Award–winning performance.

By comparison, Tom Hooper, the director of Cats, has already ushered three actors to Oscar glory. The path to Hollywood’s highest honor is mighty twisty.

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Although a myriad of factors shape the long process of bringing a character to the screen — and promoting that work into the favor of the Academy membership — there’s no denying a director’s influence on the performance that ends in the entertainment industry’s most prestigious honor. When a director presides over a lauded performance multiple times, it’s worth examining. That’s the goal of this feature.

“Actor’s Director” will consider the award-winning performances connected to a single director. Any director who’s literally called the shots for at least two different Oscar-winning performances across at least two-different films is fair game for the feature. (Sorry, Jim Sheridan and John Madden.)

We’ll start tomorrow, with a director who oversaw two lead performance wins in the span of about six years and has spent the thirty years since putting out movies at a steady clip without coming anywhere near the Oscars again.