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Q&A: Directors whose films lead in acting nominations

Directors and actors' Oscar nods

What film director has coaxed the most Academy Award-nominated acting performances not just winners, but most nominated — from his actors? I'm thinking it may be Clint Eastwood, since it seems the actors in his films always earn nominations, but my wife leans more to past directors like Billy Wilder or George Cukor.

The winner is William Wyler with 36 acting nominations for films he directed, according to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Elia Kazan is second (with 24), followed by George Cukor (with 21).

Wyler directed Oscar-nominated actors in films such as Ben-Hur, The Best Years of Our Lives, Roman Holiday, Mrs. Miniver, Jezebel, The Heiress, Wuthering Heights and Funny Girl.

Eastwood, now 80, has directed actors who have pulled in 12 nominations:

• Eastwood himself, twice, for directing and starring in Unforgiven (released in 1992) and Million Dollar Baby (2007). Both films won for best picture and best director, but Eastwood didn't win the acting award.

• Morgan Freeman, twice, for best actor in a supporting role (Million Dollar Baby), which he won, and best actor (Invictus, 2009).

• Gene Hackman, best actor in a supporting role (Unforgiven), which he won.

• Meryl Streep, best actress (The Bridges of Madison County, 1995).

• Sean Penn, best actor (Mystic River, 2003), which he won.

• Marcia Gay Harden, actress in a supporting role (Mystic River).

• Tim Robbins, actor in a supporting role (Mystic River), which he won.

• Hilary Swank, best actress (Million Dollar Baby), which she won.

• Angelina Jolie, best actress (Changeling, 2008).

• Matt Damon, best supporting actor (Invictus).

Among contemporary directors, though, Eastwood trails Martin Scorsese, whose actors have raked in 20 nominations, and Woody Allen, whose actors have 16 nominations.

Streep has most nominations

How many Academy Awards has Meryl Streep been nominated for? And won?

Streep, now 61, is the all-time leader with 16 nominations for acting awards. Her first was in 1979, for best supporting actress in The Deer Hunter, which hit theaters in 1978. Her latest was in 2010, as best actress for Julie & Julia (2009). But she has won just twice: in 1980 for best supporting actress in Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), and in 1983 as best actress in Sophie's Choice (1982).

Katharine Hepburn is the all-time winner with four Oscars, all for best actress: in 1934 for Morning Glory (1932-33); in 1968 for Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967); in 1969 for The Lion in Winter (1968); and in 1982 for On Golden Pond (1981).

Q&A: Directors whose films lead in acting nominations 02/24/11 [Last modified: Thursday, February 24, 2011 1:29pm]
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