- Woody Allen – Midnight in Paris
- Michel Hazanavicius – The Artist
- Terrence Malick – The Tree of Life
- Alexander Payne – The Descendants
- Martin Scorsese – Hugo
At the 1st Academy Awards there were two directing awards – one for drama and the other for comedy – but the latter was was eliminated the following year.
Only twice has it been awarded to a co-directing team, rather than to an individual director: Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise for West Side Story (1961) and Joel Coen and Ethan Coen for No Country for Old Men (2007).
WOODY ALLEN – Midnight in Paris
MICHEL HAZANAVICIUS – The Artist
TERRENCE MALICK – The Tree of Life
ALEXANDER PAYNE – The Descendants
MARTIN SCORSESE – Hugo