The Grammy for Best New Artist is famously nicknamed “the kiss of death” for how often its failed to pick enduring acts (Starland Vocal Band? Debby Boone?) The Oscars don’t have a similar award, but the MTV Movie Awards did, and they usually nailed it.
Since 1992, MTV has held its own Movie Awards. The categories are fan-voted, and less stodgy than the Oscars, with awards for things like “Best Villain” and “Best Kiss.” From 1992 to 2002, there was an award for Best New Filmmaker. It was almost always an accurate bellwether. Some past winners:
Wes Anderson (1996)
Anderson won his MTV award for his first feature, the heist comedy Bottle Rocket. After that, he developed a singular film style, marked by a love of vintage objects, warm colors, and British Invasion soundtracks. He’s been Oscar nominated for The Royal Tenenbaums, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Moonrise Kingdom, and, this year, for The Grand Budapest Hotel. He’s competing for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay.
Doug Liman (1997)
Actor Jon Favreau wrote the romantic comedy Swingers to give himself a movie project, but Liman directed it. Liman won his MTV Award for that low-budget, indie film fit, but soon moved on to become one of Hollywood’s top action directors. Liman has helmed The Bourne Identity, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and Edge of Tomorrow.
Guy Ritchie (1999)
He might be better known for being married to Madonna, but Ritchie has written a slew of British comic crime films, such as Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels (for which he won the MTV award), Snatch, and the recent Sherlock Holmes movies.
Spike Jonze (2000)
Jonze got his start directing innovative music videos for alternative rock groups like Weezer, the Beastie Boys, and Dinosaur Jr. His first full-length movie was this comic mind bender: Being John Malkovich. Last year, he won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for Her.
Sofia Coppola (2001)
Coppola, daughter of The Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola, was critically drubbed for her wooden performance in The Godfather Part III. She turned to filmmaking, and won the MTV award for her first movie, The Virgin Suicides. Two years later, her second film Lost in Translation was nominated for nine Oscars. She was the second woman ever nominated for Best Director (she lost to Peter Jackson for The Lord of the Rings) but won the award for Best Original Screenplay.
Christopher Nolan (2002)
One of the most successful filmmakers working today, Nolan makes dense, brainy movies (like his award-winner, Memento) that are also big-budget blockbusters. For example: The Dark Knight, Inception, and this year’s Interstellar.