Which Living English-Speaking Director is the Best to Never Win an Oscar?

Now that Stanley Kubrick is dead and Martin Scorsese has finally won his Oscar, there’s a new debate a-brewing among movie buffs. To wit: Which English-speaking director is the best to have never won an Oscar. (Since Bergman, Fellini, Kurosawa, etc. never won a Best Director Oscar, we can conveniently leave out of the argument any contemporary foreign-language director.) Recently, IMDB’s daily poll revolved around this question; the winner can only be described as some of joke.
Alexander Payne? I mean what’s up with that? Can any of you even name a movie this dude director. Almost as shocking as Payne’s winning with nearly a quarter of the vote is that David Fincher garnered only 1%. Let’s take a look at the authentic possibilities.

Quentin Tarantino

One thing’s for certain; he’s probably the most well-known of the competitors. The Payne league got to Tarantino as well; he garnered a mere 2.5% of the vote. Now, I’m not a huge Tarantino fan. But let me explain what I mean by that. I think the man is tremendously talented at creating interesting characters, as well as at putting those characters into interesting situations. But deep is not a word that should be used to describe Quentin Tarantino’s movies. While there’s no doubt that he has directed some of the most memorable scenes in recent movie history, one would be hard put to place him in the same category as Martin Scorsese. Scorsese’s visceral appeal and violence betray an incisive running commentary on the ugly underbelly of the American system. Tarantino’s films, on the other hand, are far more useful as a reference system for pop culture.

Tim Burton

A big favorite among his fans and not even worthy of contention among his detractors. It is too glib to apply the love him or hate him acid test to Burton, but the face remains that when he’s working at the top of his talent-Ed Wood or Pee Wee’s Big Adventure-he’s obviously a major talent, but when he’s looking to make a blockbuster-Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or Sleepy Hollow-he’s merely a craftsman. His film about the so-called worst director of all time was one of the best films of the 90s and his Pee Wee movie is an exercise in modern surrealism, but he’s just make far too many clunkers to be deserving of the title.

Spike Lee

In this Jan. 25, 2015 photo, writer-director Spike Lee poses for a portrait to promote the film, “Da Sweet Blood of Jesus”, at the Eddie Bauer Adventure House during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Victoria Will/Invision/AP)

Kind of like Tim Burton. At his incendiary best-Do the Right Thing-he has no equal. Unfortunately, for every Do the Right Thing he’s got two or three movies that utterly wasted his significant talents. I’ve only seen parts of Bamboozled but the parts I’ve seen indicate I really need to Netflix it; it could be a masterpiece. Maybe it’s because he pissed off too many people or maybe it’s because-like a lot of artists-he only excels when he cares, but Spike’s resume right now is too hit or miss. There’s still time, however to rise to the heights of greatness.

David Lynch

Although I’m an enormous fan of Twin Peaks, I really haven’t been enamored of Lynch’s movies. I think I should probably take another look at some of them however, because my initial viewing of his movies took place before my conversion to radical politics. Now that I’ve been exposed to a bit more philosophy than I had been when I first saw such movies as Eraserhead and Blue Velvet, perhaps I can appreciate them a bit more. Keep him on the list for now.

Ridley Scott

Look, one bona fide masterpiece-Alien-simply doesn’t make up for tripe like Black Rain and Gladiator.

Michael Mann

Good one. Very funny whoever slipped his name in here. Hilarious.

David Fincher

In another ten years when he’s still on the list of those who haven’t won an Oscar we’ll talk. By then we’ll know for sure if this guy is the real thing he appears to be or not. Until then we can definitely say for sure he got screwed out of an Oscar for Fight Club.

Danny Boyle

Much like Fincher we can expect in ten years he will still be Oscar-less. He’s definitely going to be in the running if he keeps making movies like he’s been making. Boyle has one of the finest visual senses in cinema today. Trainspotting was a top tenner for the 90s and so far there’s no reason to think he can’t do it again.

The Coen Brothers

Yep. There it is. As far as I’m concerned it’s a no-brainer. I mean just look at the resume of this brother team: Raising Arizona, Miller’s Crossing, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, O Brother Where Art Thou?, Intolerable Cruelty, and the rest. Can there be any doubt who is the most deserving English-speaking directors who are yet to win an Oscar. Back in the days before Kubrick kicked the bucket, there was a valid room for argument between him and Scorsese. The argument, at presents, makes for a really boring time.