Although this stylish British auteur has directed many Oscar-nominated performances---Glenn Close and Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Liaisons, Anjelica Huston and Annette Bening in The Grifters, Judi Dench in Mrs. Henderson Presents---Frears has only earned two nods himself. While well-regarded (and well-awarded) on his side of the pond, the Hollywood machine didn't truly give Frears his due until 2006's The Queen. After launching his career in theater, Frears became an assistant filmmaker, eventually making his feature directorial debut in 1971 with Gumshoe. It would be over a decade before he helmed another feature (1984's The Hit). In between, Frears made his name in British TV, directing and often producing small-screen adaptations of lauded stage productions. He began to make an impression as a film director with the 1985 art-house hit My Beautiful Launderette, which featured all the hallmarks of a Frears film, including strong performances (especially from a then-unknown Daniel Day-Lewis as a gay punk) and pointed political commentary. A string of fine films followed: the unsettling Joe Orton biopic Prick Up Your Ears, the social satire Sammy and Rosie Get Laid, and Frears' Hollywood debut, the deliciously devious Dangerous Liaisons. 1990's The Grifters, a decidedly American film based on a pulp novel, earned him an Oscar nomination, but Frears discovered the fickleness of the American film industry with two successive bombs: Hero, a Preston Sturges-like romp, and the Jekyll and Hyde tale Mary Reilly, which earned him a Razzie nomination. Afterward, Frears opted to helm more artistically minded independent features, scoring modest success with the Nick Hornby adaptation High Fidelity, as well as the European-made films The Van and Liam. The 2002 international hit Dirty Pretty Things, which examined the underbelly of London through immigrants' eyes, earned Frears his best notices in years. But it was 2006's The Queen, starring a riveting Helen Mirren as Elizabeth II, that finally got U.S. audiences to prick up their ears and open their wallets. Frears earned his first Golden Globe nod, as well as his second Oscar nomination, for his work on the surprise hit. In 2009, the director re-teamed with Liaisons star Pfeiffer on another period piece, romantic drama Chéri, but lightning failed to strike twice, and the film went largely unnoticed in the U.S. and abroad.
- Studied law before becoming an assistant director at London's Royal Court Theatre.
- Spent more than a decade directing TV movies for the BBC.
- Helmed his first feature film, Gumshoe, in 1971, and would not direct another big-screen outing until 1984's The Hit.
- His breakthrough film, My Beautiful Laundrette (1985), was originally made for British television's Channel 4.
- Directed Michael Sheen as British Prime Minister Tony Blair in two projects: the 2003 made-for-British-TV movie The Deal and the 2006 feature The Queen.
- Holds the David Lean Chair in Fiction Direction from England's National Film and Television School, where he also teaches.
- 2007, Golden Globe — Best Director - Motion Picture: Nominee
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- 2017, David di Donatello Awards — Best European Film: Nominee
- 1999, Berlin Film Festival — Silver Bear for Best Director: Winner
- 2017, Polish Film Awards - Eagles — Best European Film: Nominee
- 2000, Emmy — Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special: Nominee
- 2014, David di Donatello Awards — Best European Film: Winner
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- 2007, Critics' Choice Awards — Best Director: Nominee
- 2007, BAFTA Film Awards — The Alexander Korda Award for the Outstanding British Film of the Year: Nominee
- 2007, BAFTA Film Awards — The David Lean Award for Achievement in Direction: Nominee
- 2014, BAFTA Film Awards — Outstanding British Film: Nominee
- 2006, Directors Guild of America Awards — Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film: Nominee
- 2006, Oscar — Best Achievement in Directing: Nominee
- 2014, Emmy — Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special: Nominee
- 2003, BAFTA Film Awards — The Alexander Korda Award for the Outstanding British Film of the Year: Nominee
- 2007, Goya Awards — Best European Film: Winner
- 1987, Independent Spirit Awards — Special Distinction (Best Foreign Film): Nominee
- 1986, Independent Spirit Awards — Special Distinction (Best Foreign Film): Nominee
- 1987, Cannes Film Festival — Best Artistic Contribution: Winner
- 2007, David di Donatello Awards — Best European Film: Nominee
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- 1993, Toronto International Film Festival — People's Choice Award: Winner
- 1988, Independent Spirit Awards — Best Foreign Film: Nominee
- 1990, BAFTA Film Awards — Best Achievement in Direction: Nominee
- 2006, David di Donatello Awards — Best European Film: Nominee
- 1990, Oscar — Best Achievement in Directing: Nominee
- Lola Frears — Daughter
- Will Frears — Son
- Francis Frears — Son
- Mary Kay Wilmers — Ex-wife
- Anne Rothenstein — Wife
- Sam Frears — Son
- University of Cambridge, Trinity College, Cambridge, England
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