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    Does William Wyler Deserve To Be The Most Nominated Director In Oscars History? An Investigation

    William Wyler was … a nepo baby. Yes, even over 100 years ago, Hollywood was no stranger to nepotism. Wyler’s cousin happened to be the founder of Universal Pictures, Carl Laemmle. To Laemmle’s credit, he didn’t immediately put Wyler in the director’s chair. He spent years doing grunt work before moving up the ladder to being a director in the mid-1920s, making Western programmers. It wasn’t until the sound era until Wyler started branching out into different genres, and it would take until the 9th Academy Awards for him to earn his first Best Director nomination for “Dodsworth.”

    Out of all the films Wyler was nominated for, “Dodsworth” is one of the least remembered, but that says more about the impacts of the other films than the quality of this one. After all, this was not some rogue nomination for Wyler. “Dodsworth” tied for the most nominations of the ceremony, also earning nods for Best Picture, Best Actor (Walter Huston), and Best Screenplay.

    Though a fairly stately drama adapted from a play by Sidney Howard, which also starred Huston on Broadway, this would still be a somewhat unusual film if made today. This is a relationship drama about a middle-aged married couple trying to figure out what they want in the second halves of their lives, whether that means together or apart. Movies about proper adults with proper adult issues are such a rarity, and “Dodsworth” handles them beautifully.

    Wyler lost the award to Frank Capra for “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town.” Because I’m not the biggest “Deeds” fan, and he already won two years earlier, I’d give it to someone else, though Wyler wouldn’t be my first choice. My winner would be Gregory La Cava for “My Man Godfrey,” but Wyler was a more than worthy nominee. 

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