Did They Get it Right? – Best Director – Oscars 1957

Here are the five nominees: (Winner in Bold)

David Lean (The Bridge on the River Kwai)
Joshua Logan (Sayonara)
Sidney Lumet (12 Angry Men)
Mark Robson (Peyton Place)
Billy Wilder (Witness for the Prosecution)

Biggest Snub:

Stanley Kubrick – Paths of Glory

My Overall Thoughts:

This was a year where one film blew all of the others out of the water and steamrolled through winning much of the directing awards this year even if two of the other films would have been considered very worthy to win in any other given year.

My Rankings:


5. Mark Robson 
4. Joshua Logan
3. Billy Wilder 
2. Sidney Lumet 
1. David Lean


5. SayonaraVery interesting story that helps shed light on unjust Armed Forces regulations during the Korean War. Great cast especially Buttons and Umeki who both won Oscars for their roles. Despite all this, I can’t say that this movie aged so well.
4. Peyton PlaceGreat character study of how small town life is similar to big town life yet harder to keep secrets when everyone knows each other. The characters are all developed extremely well and we easily can relate to all of them and to their predicaments. Tame by today’s standards yet extremely scandalous when it was made.
3. Witness for the ProsecutionLaughton is amazing here as the barrister. Expertly written by Christie because they keep hitting us with more and more surprises as things keep moving. One of the best courtroom dramas ever filmed because it is done so well. Definitely deserved the Best Picture Nomination but it was such a strong year that even an amazing film like this didn’t have much of a chance.
2. 12 Angry MenExcellent movie that despite taking place in one room is very engaging and keep you on the edge of your seat with some amazing dialogue. Every one of the characters has a unique personality and were written perfectly. Many organizations use this movie to help train their employees in team work and conflict resolutions. Amazing cast led by an exceptional Fonda.
1. The Bridge on the River Kwai  –Amazing movie that still moves me every time I see it. The story is built so well that we get a clear understanding of the scope of the entire plot and it’s effect on the war effort of both sides. The cast is superb and Lean does a great job moving between the three sides of the overall story while still keeping focus on the overall storyline. The characters are all developed extremely well and we easily understand the motivation of all three main characters and how they wish to further the war effort for themselves in the enormous scope of the ways of war. Iconic music helps this story move in a way most people couldn’t even imagine. Loved how each of the three main characters looks at the idea of imprisonment in different ways and each is a prisoner to their own way of life. Very deserving of it’s 7 Oscars including Best Picture. One of the greatest films ever made IMHO.

Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Most Definitely!  Lean does an amazing job with BotRK and very few other films in history can top that kind of directorial work

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

One thought on “Did They Get it Right? – Best Director – Oscars 1957

  1. Paths of Glory had every bit as much impact on me as River Kwai – maybe moreso (and I was lucky enough to see it for the first time on a movie screen as part of an AFI Festival), so you are absolutely correct in naming it as your “snub”. Peyton Place was a well made soap opera, but Paths should’ve taken its spot. The rest are all wonderful films. I can’t argue with Lean and his Bridge – a marvelous film which wove a WW II adventure into a small character study and expertly done. Lumet was a master with 12 Angry Men in somehow weaving a superb tale in such a confined space – and telling the audience the entire story of the trial through the eyes of the jury without ever setting foot inside the courtroom to hear a word of testimony. A classic.Another courtroom gem, a la Agatha Christie, was Billy Wilder’s excellent Witness For The Prosecution – sporting some acting bravura from Laughton, Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich (big kudos here) and Elsa Lanchester and Hitchcock favorite – John Williams. Haven’t seen Sayonara in a while – so you could be right about the “ageing”, but at the time, post WW II – it had a lot to say (along the lines of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “South Pacific”) and was fairly cutting edge. Again – Lean deserved his win – and it was a bout of bad timing for some of the others like Wilder (stepping a bit out of his wheelhouse) and Lumet – who might have won going away in another year vs. weaker competition.


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