Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Best Director Predictions

This is probably the easiest major category to boil down.  I still am keeping an eye on Lone Survivor as a potential surprise, but Peter Berg will be penalized for Battleship for a while.  Despite the reception of Mud and Enough Said Jeff Nichols and Nicole Holefcenter are sitting this year out in this category.  Blue Jasmine is not strong enough of a "good Woody Allen" for him to get another nomination.  Labor Day looks to be reminiscent of Jason Reitman's last film and be completely shut out.   Normally All is Lost is the type of film that would highlight a director but JC Chandor has not gotten any sort of attention.  If Ben Affleck could not get a nomination for Argo then Ben Stiller definitely can't get a nomination for the mildlly received Secret Life of Walter Mitty.  Rush surprised at the Globes, but Ron Howard is not in the race this year.

There are really only two outside contenders that could potentially surprise.   If there is a contender for a surprise career nomination (ala Terence Malick or Michael HaenekeRichard Linklater could receive a nom for Before Midnight, but that is not happening without a best picture nomination which will most likely not happen.  John Lee Hancock is the only director of a major best picture contender to not be up for a nomination.  Saving Mr. Banks is not enough of a director's movie and he is not respected enough to be in the main predictions.

Even thought The Butler is weak in the race Lee Daniels could be remembered if the film hits with the academy.  Having his name in the title could hurt or help him.  People always default to predicting Joel and Ethan Coen on the basis that they are the Coen Brothers, but voters don't always vote for them.  This is a much more competitive year and Inside Llewyn Davis is a much more low-key film than their other recent efforts.  Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler could pull a Bienh Zeitlin and surprise this year.  If a first time or newer director is getting in it will be him.

Paul Greengrass just earned a DGA nomination, which makes him and Captain Phillips look like a stronger contender.  Martin Scorsese is clearly a legend who still does well at the Oscars and The Wolf of Wall Street has been said to be among his best.  Voters will most likely take notice, but there is some controversy that could help or hurt him.  Spike Jonze's original movie Her has a clear directorial stamp and the Oscars have nominated the unique director before.  His nomination is dependent on how the Academy receives his film, which is difficult to say.  People felt that Alexander Payne would win two years ago and Nebraska is one of the strongest Oscar contenders this year, although he did just miss out on an important DGA nomination.

There are three directors that I would say are locked (although as evidenced by last year, nothing is ever certain).  These four are respected and relevant.  David O. Russell's career is in the perfect position for a third nomination and potential win for American Hustle The Academy has been consistently recognizing directors of 3D spectacles, which bodes well for Alfonso Cuaron and Gravity.  Fan-favorite director Steve McQueen directed the Oscar frontrunner and looks like the likely winner barring any surprises from the Director's Guild.

Predicted Five:
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
David O. Russell, American Hustle
Alexander Payne, Nebraska
Martin Scorsese, Wolf of Wall Street
Runner-Up: Spike Jonze (Her), Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips)

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