Director Sam Mendes Director Sam Mendes. He made his feature film debut in 1999 with American Beauty which won an Academy Award for Best Picture. Mendes also won an Oscar for directing. Prior to that Mendes made his mark directing theatre productions in London (revival of Cabaret and The Rise and Fall of Little Voice)and on Broadway (The Blue Room). He directed the new film Road to Perdition starring Tom Hanks, Paul Newman and Jude Law.