'Tiger Lily' Resurfaces: Oscar-Winning Directors' Embarrassing Early Films

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Ben Affleck isn't the only lauded filmmaker with a secret history of very bad movies. In fact, he's in very good company.

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Benedict Pictures

Argo, Ben Affleck's third feature film, is looking more and more like a lock for the Best Picture prize at Sunday's Oscars, and even if the man himself didn't get a Best Director nomination, it's still a remarkable culmination of one of the most fascinating second acts in Hollywood. The actor-turned-director seemed shockingly confident and assured in his first feature, 2007's marvelous Gone Baby Gone, but as The Playlist reminded us this week, his first film (pre-Good Will Hunting, even) was a 1993 short inventively titled I Killed My Lesbian Wife, Ηung Ηer on a Μeathook & Νow I Have a Three-Picture Deal with Disney. It is, as is often the case with these things, not very good, and (to his credit) Affleck is the first one to admit it: "It's horrible. It's atrocious. I knew I wanted to be a director, and I did a couple of short films, and this is the only one that haunts me. I'm not proud of it. It looks like it was made by someone who has no prospects, no promise."

But Affleck can take comfort in the fact that he's not the only filmmaker with a cinematic skeleton in his closet. Below are eight auteurs who rose to the Best Director Oscar from rather humble cinematic beginnings.

This post also appears on Flavorpill, an Atlantic partner site.

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Jason Bailey is the film editor at Flavorwire, and has also written for Slate, Salon, and the Village Voice.

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