One of the most revered directors of his time, Nichols was one of the few filmmakers who had a greater career on the Broadway stage. Over the course of his career, he would win eight Tony Awards for Best Director, the work ranging from the best of Neil Simon to the finest of Arthur Miller.
Nichols became a hugely successful half of a comedy team with the gifted Elaine May, and before he began directing they were staples on late night television. Having studied with Lee Strasberg at The Actors Studio, he possessed a gift with actors, which made him popular for the rest of his career.
Incredibly his debut film as a movie director was nominated for a whopping thirteen Academy Awards, including every major category. The film, Who’s Afraid Virginia Woolf? (1966) was a searing adaptation of the Edward Albee play, which was directed with genius by the first time, yet very confident young filmmaker. For the film he had insisted upon, and got a real life married couple, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton for the leads, each responding with career best performances, Taylor taking enormous risks in her work, all which make hers one of the greatest performances ever given.
Nichols won an Oscar for Best Director the following year for his counter-culture masterpiece The Graduate (1967). Though he received several other nominations, and won Emmys for his work on HBO he never again won an Oscar despite his reputation with actors. Moving easily between film, television and the stage, Nichols was constantly busy, though often out of sight as a film director given to long absences directing plays. The box office and critical flop of The Fortune (1975) left him stunned, not making a film for eight years, which allowed him to shine with one Broadway hit after another. Returning to film in 1983, he stayed with movies consistently after that, dabbling with HBO in his later years.
Nichols might be the last of his kind, a true bi-coastal Director revered by actors, respected by his peers and critics. Here is the list of the top films of Mike Nichols.