Best (Foreign-Born) Directors: 1980 – 2014

At last night’s 87th Academy Awards, Mexico native Alejandro González Iñárritu took home the awards of Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Picture for the film Birdman. Iñárritu, who is the second Mexican to win the Academy Award for Best Director, dedicated his win to his fellow Mexicans and called for immigrants in America to be “treated with the same dignity and the respect of the ones who came before and (built) this incredible immigrant nation.”

Iñárritu is not the first foreign-born director to make a splash at the Academy Awards. In fact, since 1980, 15 of the 35 Best Director winners have been from countries outside the United States. Check out the list below, and join PNAE in thanking them for their great artistic (and economic!) contributions.

Year: 2014
Best Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Country of Origin: Mexico
Film: Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Box Office Earnings: $76.5 million

Year: 2013
Best Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Country of Origin: Mexico
Film: Gravity
Box Office Earnings: $716.4 million

Year: 2012
Best Director: Ang Lee
Country of Origin: Taiwan
Film: Life of Pi
Box Office Earnings: $609 million

Year: 2011
Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Country of Origin: France
Film: The Artist
Box Office Earnings: $133.4 million

Year: 2010
Best Director: Tom Hooper
Country of Origin: England
Film: The King’s Speech
Box Office Earnings: $414.2 million

Year: 2008
Best Director: Danny Boyle
Country of Origin: England
Film: Slumdog Millionaire
Box Office Earnings: $377.9 million

Year: 2005
Best Director: Ang Lee
Country of Origin: Taiwan
Film: Brokeback Mountain
Box Office Earnings: $178 million

Year: 2003
Best Director: Peter Jackson
Country of Origin: New Zealand
Film: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Box Office Earnings: $1.1 billion

Year: 2002
Best Director: Roman Polanski
Country of Origin: France
Film: The Pianist
Box Office Earnings: $120 million

Year: 1999
Best Director: Sam Mendes
Country of Origin: England
Film: American Beauty
Box Office Earnings: $356.3 million

Year: 1997
Best Director: James Cameron
Country of Origin: Canada
Film: Titanic
Box Office Earnings: $2.2 billion

Year: 1996
Best Director: Anthony Minghella
Country of Origin: England
Film: The English Patient
Box Office Earnings: $232 million

Year: 1987
Best Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Country of Origin: Italy
Film: The Last Emperor
Box Office Earnings: $44 million

Year: 1984
Best Director: Miloš Forman
Country of Origin: Czechoslovakia
Film: Amadeus
Box Office Earnings: $52 million (North America)

Year: 1982
Best Director: Richard Attenborough
Country of Origin: England
Film: Gandhi
Box Office Earnings: $127.8 million

About NAE

New American Economy is a bipartisan research and advocacy organization fighting for smart federal, state, and local immigration policies that help grow our economy and create jobs for all Americans. More…