Winning streak: Mauvaise Graine (1934), The Major and the Minor (1942), Five Graves to Cairo (1943), Double Indemnity (1944), The Lost Weekend (1945), Death Mills (1945), The Emperor Waltz (1948), A Foreign Affair (1948), Sunset Boulevard (1950), Ace in the Hole (1951), Stalag 17 (1953), Sabrina (1954), The Seven Year Itch (1955), The Spirit of St. Louis (1957), Love in the Afternoon (1957), Witness for the Protection (1957), Some Like It Hot (1959), The Apartment (1960), One, Two, Three (1961), Irma la Douce (1963), Kiss Me, Stupid (1964), The Fortune Cookie (1966), The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970), Avanti! (1972), The Front Page (1972), Fedora (1978), Buddy Buddy (1981)

Back during Hollywood's "golden age," from the 1940s through '50s, Billy Wilder was unstoppable. Starting with the excitable reception of his seedy 1944 noir Double Indemnity, the Austro-Hungarian filmmaker went on a 37-year tear that resulted in eight Academy Award nominations for Best Director (two of which he won) and five Golden Globe victories.

Widely regarded for his heartfelt comedies, which dominated the later part of his career, Wilder began his Hollywood reign with rather heavy, psychologically devastating fare, like The Lost Weekend (about a man's life-ruining battle against booze) and Sunset Boulevard (the classic dissection of fading vanity as seen through has-been movie star Norma Desmond, played with tragic empathy by Gloria Swanson).

Still, Wilder's lighter romps, namely Sabrina and the Marilyn Monroe vehicle Some Like It Hot, paved the way for intelligent comedies dedicated to balancing belly laughs with top-notch acting, warmth, and accessibility.