Amy Ryan
November 11, 2008 AT 12:00 PM EST

Ingmar Bergman never won a competitive Oscar. Hard to believe, but out of all his nominations for writing, directing, and producing, the Swedish cinema giant went 0 for 9. (He did win the Academy’s honorary Irving Thalberg prize in 1970.) He was nominated for both writing and directing awards for his monumental swan song, 1983’s Fanny & Alexander, but that was the year that Terms of Endearment was not to be denied. James L. Brooks (pictured) won three of that film’s many Oscars that year, for directing, writing, and producing the now-classic tearjerker. By usual Academy Awards logic, Bergman didn’t really have a chance at a Directing prize that year, since his movie was not also nominated for Best Picture (though it did win Best Foreign Language Film). Same with Mike Nichols, whose Silkwood displayed uncharacteristically quiet and measured work from the director, but which also failed to score a Best Picture nod. (Conversely, the two Best Picture nominees that went unrepresented in the Best Director race were The Big Chill and The Right Stuff, thus shortchanging Lawrence Kasdan and Philip Kaufman. Sorry, guys.)

Also in the directing competition in 1983: Peter Yates for The Dresser, an exquisitely acted movie that nonetheless looks stagebound and claustrophobic, though that fits the story’s backstage setting; and Bruce Beresford for the homespun Tender Mercies, a movie whose gentle subtlety has often been mistaken for blandness and inertia. Still, Beresford coached Robert Duvall to his only Oscar win and told a beautiful, sad story of loss and redemption.

Looking back from today’s perspective, which of these directors doyou think did the best job? Vote in our poll, and list your comments below.(For a refresher, watch the clips embedded after the jump, which may contain some NSFW language.) Remember, we’ll be running the Recall the Gold surveys every Tuesdayand Thursday until January, so you may go back at any time and vote inthe other polls (click hereto see them all), reexamining the Oscar races of 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25years ago. On Thursday, Nov. 13, we’ll look at the 1998 Best Actresscompetition. Watch also for commentary and context throughout,including on Dave Karger’s Oscar Watch blog.

addCredit(“Ron Galella/WireImage”)



Bruce Beresford’s Tender Mercies

Ingmar Bergman’s Fanny & Alexander

James L. Brooks’ Terms of Endearment

Mike Nichols’ Silkwood

Peter Yates’ The Dresser

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