Did They Get it Right? – Best Director – Oscars 1956

Here are the five nominees: (Winner in Bold)

Michael Anderson (Around the World in Eighty Days)
Walter Lang (The King and I)
George Stevens (Giant)
King Vidor (War and Peace)
William Wyler (Friendly Persuasion)

Biggest Snub:

John Ford – The Searchers

My Overall Thoughts:

This is another very good year which pitted numerous epic films directed by great directors against one another. A case can be easily made for 3 of the 5 taking home Gold, but 1 is slightly better presented.

My Rankings:


5. William Wyler 
4. Michael Anderson
3. Walter Lang
2. King Vidor
1. George Stevens


5. Around the World in Eighty DaysEpicly done, but there is a bit missing in the story itself, seems too choppy since they try to cram too much into a shortish running time of 2:45 minutes.
4. Friendly PersuasionInteresting film that questions war vs. peace and militarism vs pacifism in an interesting way. Enjoyed the way the family is structured that even though they live together each and every one of them has different views on how to deal with the fact that the war keeps getting closer and closer to home. Cooper is quite good here as the patriarch of the family and we slowly see how the ideas of the family members are probed by the differing opinions of those around them.
3. War and PeaceEpic portrait of how the world of Russian people were affected by the coming war with Napoleon and his forces. Amazing cast helps accentuate the story and even though Fonda plays a role much too young for him, it still works quite well. Vidor was deservingly nominated for Best Director for this film especially given the fact that he is able to make such a long and drawn out novel into a compelling, interesting and comprehensible film (even if it’s 3 and a half hours long). Parts of the story feel very soap operapy yet as things move along, it’s completely understandable why this are played out like that.
2. The King and INice musical that has some great tunes. Kerr and Brynner are both great together both in the musical scenes and in the dramatic one because they seem like equals the whole time. The dialogue is great because it gives off the effect of being both dominating and humorous at the same time. Won 5 of it’s 9 Oscar nominations including Actor (Brynner), Sound, Costumes, Musical score and Art Direction. It lost Picture, Director, Actress (Kerr) and Cinematography.
1. GiantSuch an amazing film that uses its epic scale to really show us so much about life on a ranch for a family during the early part of the 20th Century. Amazing cast helps make this story quite impactful whether they are dealing with changing the way Texicans look at the ways a man or a woman runs a ranch to the racial issues of Mexicans living nearby. Hudson and Taylor are able to play their parts quite well and their characters age realistically during the course of the film. Dean is great at the beginning, but the makeup used for when he gets older just doesn’t work very well eventhough he plays the character quite well. Was nominated for 10 Oscars, but only managed to win Best Director for George Stevens. As great as this movie is, I’m sure the book delves even deeper into the storylines and is even better.

Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Yep!  Of the 5 nominees, Stevens was the best and was deserving of winning this award.

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

One thought on “Did They Get it Right? – Best Director – Oscars 1956

  1. Interesting. In a weak year, the most deserving probably won. But that being said – the iconic SEARCHERS got no nod for John Ford – and if it had – it should have easily beaten the 5 nominees hands down. Sometimes (often), I have no idea what the Academy voters are thinking – especially those in the Directors branch. This year, to use your word – they got it epically wrong. It was also the year that Around The World in 80 Days won Best Picture – so they were consistent. Along with The Greatest Show on Earth – that remains oe of the most dunderheaded choices for BP in Academy history.


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