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I do not understand how the best director awards are determined each year. It seems impossible to assess the method of a movie director unless you are part of the crew.

So, how do the nominators/judges assess the directors' performance each year?

  • What award ceremony are you referring to as there are a lot of them. The main one for Hollywood movies are the Oscars, for example – Tablemaker Mar 30 '12 at 12:15
  • Most of the Best Directors awards, Oscar is one of them. – andondraif Mar 30 '12 at 12:36
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From eHow:

In Hollywood, the nominating and selecting for the Oscars are done by the writers, actors, directors, animators, art directors and executives. The only requirement is that each participant be a part of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Members of AMPAS are courted by film studios with free screeners, gifts and social evenings in the run up for most award ceremonies. Considering how much extra revenue is on the line when a film wins an award, the expense of these promotions are considered well worth it.

When I was a member of the Animator's Guild, I would be sent screeners of the major films released that year, along with cells from the films, making of books, postcards, whatever would work to secure my vote.

Then the nomination ballots are mailed to all AMPAS members, usually in December, and they have a limited amount of time to get their votes in.

In the case of the directors' awards, your statement 'It seems impossible to assess the method of a movie director unless you are part of the crew' is correct, but the directors are being assessed on their output, not their method. Subject matter can be a great influence, as can the current zeitgeist or even a really solid marketing campaign. It's a general rule of thumb that films picking up awards early in the season jump on the rollercoaster and pick up speed all the way to the Oscars.

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    This answer leaves out a crucial aspect: If the directors are judged based only on their output, what is the difference between Best Director and Best Picture? It seems that the directing itself, i.e. the method, must play a role here. Which are the factors, observable by the Oscar jury, that can make a movie worthy of one award but not the other? – Jakob Aug 27 '17 at 14:38
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    Best director would be for a single person or small group. Best Picture would be that group plus all the others involved: writers, actors, costumers, musicians etal. So while someone may win best director, they may not be the best of the rest of the crew. While a so so director, can be part of Best Picture because the crew pulled it off. – DCook Aug 28 '17 at 12:42
  • @DCook Would you like to expand that comment into a complete answer, possibly with references? – Jakob Aug 29 '17 at 17:16
  • Well eyes would be a good choice. When they announce best director, only the director(s) go up. When they announce best picture, you get the director, cast, writer. So pretty easy to figure out. – DCook Aug 29 '17 at 17:26
  • I thought that only other directors voted for best director, actors for best actor, etc., with the only exception being that all academy members vote for best picture. Is this not (or no longer) the case? – Todd Wilcox Aug 30 '17 at 4:38

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