Wings, Grand Hotel, Driving Miss Daisy, and Argo.

Wings is acknowledged as the first Best Picture recipient (although there was a second award for "Artistic Quality of Production" - sometimes referred to as "Unique and Artistic Production" - which had virtually identical criteria, awarded to Sunrise, which also failed to be nominated for Best Director) and was the pet project of William A. Wellman, who was a flier in WWI and did some of the stunt piloting in the film. Wellman was overlooked in the nominations in favor of winner Frank Borzage for Seventh Heaven, King Vidor for The Crowd and the surprising selection of Herbert Brenon for the potboiler Sorrell and Son (who should have been ignored in favor of Wellman, F.W. Murnau for Sunrise or Josef von Sternberg for The Last Command), as well as nominees for Comedy Direction for Lewis Milestone, Ted Wilde and Charles Chaplin (whose name was removed from the final balloting when he was presented a Special Award instead). Wellman did receive three Best Director nominations later in his career and won the award for Original Screenplay for the 1937 version of A Star is Born.

Grand Hotel is the only film to win the Best Picture Oscar without any other nominations, which is surprising because it features some brilliant acting (especially by Joan Crawford in the finest performance of her career) and a magnificent art deco set design. But its greatest achievement may have been the direction of Edmund Goulding, who did a miraculous job of reigning in the All Star egos of his All Star cast. Goulding was bypassed in the nominations by winner Frank Borzage for Bad Girl (a ridiculous choice that was credited to Borzage's social connections within the industry), Josef von Sternberg for Shanghai Express, and King Vidor for The Champ. Goulding never received an Oscar nomination in his workmanlike career at MGM, despite directing Best Picture nominees Dark Victory and The Razor's Edge.

Producer David Brown complained bitterly in his Oscar acceptance speech about Bruce Beresford's snub as a Best Director nominee for Driving Miss Daisy, and deservedly so. Unlike his predecessors named above, Beresford had a one-in-five chance of being nominated and saw Woody Allen for Crimes and Misdemeanors, Kenneth Branagh for Henry V, Jim Sheridan for My Left Foot, Peter Weir for Dead Poet's Society and winner Oliver Stone for Born on the Fourth of July selected over him. But Beresford's Oscar miss wasn't exactly a brush-off, since Driving Miss Daisy was named Best Picture by the Golden Globes and the National Board of Review as well as the Academy, but Beresford didn't receive so much as a nomination from any other major awards organization for his direction. Beresford was nominated for Oscars for Best Director for Tender Mercies (1982) and Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium for "Breaker" Morant (1979).

The omission of Argo to receive a Best Director nomination for Ben Affleck (who had one previous Oscar to his credit for the screenplay to Good Will Hunting) was considered a shocking surprise, even moreso after the film went on to win the top prizes from the Golden Globes, BAFTAs, Screen Actors Guild, Writers Guild of America and the Best Director Award from the Director's Guild of America. Its awards momentum carried on at the Oscars as it won the Best Film Editing and Best Adapted Screenplay Awards in addition to the Best Picture prize for producers Affleck, Grant Heslov and George Clooney. With Affleck (and fellow snubbed expected nominees Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty and Tom Hooper for Les MisÚrables) out of the running, the Best Director Oscar was expected to go to Steven Spielberg for Lincoln but was won in a surprise decision by Ang Lee for Life of Pi.

The only films to win Best Picture without a writing nomination are:
Wings (1927/28)*
The Broadway Melody (1928/29)
Grand Hotel (1931/32)
Calvacade (1932/33)
Hamlet (1948)
The Sound of Music (1965)
Titanic (1997)

* Sunrise was also overlooked in the writing nominations

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