What about the auteurs? How can they hope to land the big prize on the night? Well, we have a few sage words of advice…
1. Try to ensure your film is nominated as Best Picture
You pretty much have to make sure your film is nominated for Best Picture to be in with a real shot at this award – the last time someone won Best Director without his film receiving a Best Picture nomination was 1929 – and for preference your film should win Best Picture: the two categories have shared winners 61 times out of 82.
2. Try to be a straight white man
It is the sad fact that in 82 years only one woman has ever won this award (Kathryn Bigelow, for The Hurt Locker) and only two black men have ever been nominated (Lee Daniels for Precious and John Singleton for Boyz In The Hood). One Asian director has won (Ang Lee, for Brokeback Mountain) and three others have received nominations, while 4 out gay or bisexual directors have won, with seven more nominated. Still, your chances are considerably better if you are straight, white and male – statistically speaking. We can hope that things are changing though.
3. If you also act, try to choose which you’d rather win
It is possible to be nominated for both Best Director and Best Actor for the same film – Clint Eastwood and Warren Beatty have managed twice. But to date no-one has won both prizes, so make a decision on which you’d prefer and go for that. Eight people have received this double nod: three of those won Best Director (Eastwood twice), two won Best Actor and three lost both. Beware, multi-hyphenate!
4. Make a film in English
It should be obvious by now, but while you might get a nomination for foreign-language films, no one has won Best Director for a film that was not at least partly in English, so don’t be messing around with any other languages, eh?
5. Be in your 40s
The oldest winner was Clint Eastwood for Million Dollar Baby, aged 74 at the time, and the youngest ever was 32 – but that was Norman Taurog waaay back in 1931. In recent history, the youngest winner was Sam Mendes at 34 for American Beauty. Practically speaking, the average age of winners is 46, so you should be planning to peak just around there.
6. Don’t plan to win twice in a row
While there are quite a few repeat winners of the Best Director prize, only two men have ever managed two-in-a-row: John Ford and John L. Mankiewicz. You’re probably not that good, so if you won last year, take a well-earned break and wait for another time.