Did They Get it Right? – Best Director – Oscars 1981

Here are the five nominees: (Winner in Bold)

Warren Beatty (Reds)
Hugh Hudson (Chariots of Fire)
Louis Malle (Atlantic City)
Mark Rydell (On Golden Pond)
Steven Spielberg (Raiders of the Lost Ark)

Biggest Snub:

Sidney Lumet – Prince and the City

My Overall Thoughts:

This is an interesting year for nominees because 4 of the 5 nominees are all quite good and manage to give us very interesting stories.

My Rankings:


5. Louis Malle
4. Hugh Hudson
3. Mark Rydell
2. Warren Beatty
1. Steven Spielberg


5. Atlantic CityNot sure why this movie is considered to be so great. Story is average and the characters are quirky but somewhat likable, but not much more than that. Was nominate for 5 Oscars, but didn’t manage to win any of them.
4. RedsGood epic biopic but it moves way too slowly. Its easy to see how much this was a labor of love for Beatty. Amazing cast helps a bit. I can understand how this film could garner 12 Oscar Nominations with 3 wins, but the story isn’t as engaging as one would hope. Really liked how they managed to intersperse real interviews with friends and compatriots of Reed and Bryant, but as epic as it may be, it feels too disjointed.
3. Chariots of FireVery inspirational movie, but lacks developed characters which hurts the story so much.  Music is quiet memorable, but they should have spent more time on the characters instead of the event itself.
2. On Golden PondExcellent movie, amazing acting based on a well written play.  Fonda, Hepburn and Fonda are all amazing in this film and give us such a great and emotional story.
1. Raiders of the Lost ArkSuch an amazing and iconic film. So glad I got the dual privilege to see it in such a unique venue and at the same time introduce my wife to such an amazing series. The film is filled with nonstop thrills and action and rarely even pauses to take a break along the way. The effects are great and make it all seem so realistic. The music by John Williams has become so ingrained in society that very few people are not able to recognize the Indiana Jones theme. Ford is superbly cast in the lead and shines in this role throughout. It’s hard to choose which is the best film in the trilogy (yes, I said trilogy) because it’s so easy to make a case for all 3. Can’t wait to see this film again.

Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Yes and No!  Spielberg clearly did the best job of these five nominees, but since the Academy is the Academy, they still chose to give the award to one of their darlings eventhough he was not the most worthy of choices.  That being said, Beatty does a nice job with this film but it’s easy to see how deep he embedded himself into the story which also causes the film to lose focus along the way.

Let me know what you think about these films and my rankings!

One thought on “Did They Get it Right? – Best Director – Oscars 1981

  1. First off – waste of time to second guess the Academy – and 2nd – your opinion is YOUR opinion – to which you are entitled of course. I LOVED Raiders. I might’ve voted for Spielberg, but as you said – the Academy (even with the nom) probably ultimately saw it as a big fun popcorn movie without the gravitas of some of the others – like REDS. I was not a REDS fan. Overlong and for me, a bit of a bore. I liked Atlantic City a lot. Fascinating story with interesting characters. As for your remark about it garnering 5 nominations and no wins… so what. Neither is a gauge of quality. The Color Purple got 11 nominations and no wins. Doesn’t mean a thing when talking about how good the film was. Disagree with you as well on the level to which the characters in Chariots of Fire were “developed”. I knew and understood each and every one. The fact that they were low key and showed their emotions through their events – their running – spoke volumes and told me what I needed to know. The electronic score by Vangelis enhanced it all – but don’t give that too much credit. Also a fan of On Golden Pond – both for the actual story – and the subliminal one told via Jane playing Henry’s onscreen daughter.


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