WINNER: Ron Howard
WON FOR: 'A Beautiful Mind'
SHOULD HAVE WON FOR: 'Apollo 13,' the 1995 docudrama that remains his best film - and which somehow managed to score nine nominations, including Best Picture, without a nod for Howard's direction. Howard played on the Academy's guilt pretty aggressively with 'A Beautiful Mind,' aiming the picture straight at voters' sweet spots (He's a tormented genius! No, wait, he's suffering from debilitating mental illness! No, wait, he's a tormented genius suffering from debilitating mental illness who won the Nobel Prize!) and campaigning furiously through the 2001-2002 ballot season. It paid off with a near-sweep, winning Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress for Jennifer Connelly. Only Russell Crowe went home empty-handed, partly because it was Denzel Washington's year - and after all, he'd just won the previous year for 'Gladiator.'