Thursday, August 18, 2011

August Predictions: Best Achievement in Directing

I’m just going to post these as I get them done and hope to have them all done by the end of the month so I can officially call these my ‘August Predictions’.

Director is always kind of dependent entirely on Best Picture.  It’s like everyone who votes automatically assumes that if the film is your favorite then the direction must be your favorite; but that is not always the choice.  With the new Best Picture voting system it becomes increasingly more difficult for ‘lone director nominations’ to sneak into the mix, and I don’t think we’ll see one this year (or any other for a while).  In fact, the five names I’m predicting are the five films I think will have the strongest impact on the Oscar race.

Here are my thoughts at the moment:

1)      David Fincher/The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo:
Why?  The loss last year really stings, and it still will come Oscar season.  But here’s the thing; Fincher is a master of his own style, and ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’ is pretty much the perfect canvas for his breed of direction.  I really think that if he nails this it will be one of those tour-de-forces the Academy will not be able to ignore, and they may even pat themselves on the back for waiting a year and giving him the award for his ‘best’ work; even if there is no excuse for giving his rightful Oscar to that troll Tom Hooper.

2)      Stephen Daldry/Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close:
Why?  They really love him; like REALLY.  Sure, there are those who doubt Oscars obsession with Stephen Daldry, but the man has only made three films and all three have netted him Directing nominations, and two of them have been up for Best Picture.  I’ve read the novel this film is adapted from, and I ADORE it, so maybe I’m a tad bias, but this is really baity stuff.  With the ten year anniversary of 9/11 upon the horizon, it may be deemed kind of trashy or manipulative to ‘plan’ the release like this, but overall I think that narrative it far too strong to ignore and both Daldry and his film are going to be in serious contention for the gold.

3)      George Clooney/The Ides of March:
Why?  He’s George Clooney.  He has a knack for directing political yarn and this film looks rather exciting.  The Ryan Gosling factor will play heavy, since he’s having one of THOSE kinds of years.  Beside, he’s George and the Academy worships him now (what the hell) and so they are going to nominate him somewhere, and I just can’t rally behind that uninteresting borefest that is ‘The Descendants’ (I could be so wrong, but that trailer made the film look AWFUL).  I don’t think he’ll be a serious candidate for the win, but a nomination seems pretty safe at this point.

4)      Michel Hazaavicius/The Artist:
Why?  The buzz around this film is very loud, and there is a lot of talk about the direction being a major asset.  The directors branch always has been (or at least mostly has been) a tad more liberal than the Oscar voting branch as a whole (thus those surprising yet amazing lone director nominations) so I could see him getting in with or without a Best Picture nod, but the Best Picture nod almost looks locked up (shocking, I know…but talk is BIG here) and that will only help Hazaavicius.

5)      Tomas Alfredson/Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy:
Why?  I just really want this to happen.  I loved what he did with ‘Let the Right One In’ and the trailer alone for this film has me so wet with excitement that I’m ready to call Alfredson my personal winner in this category based on that stunning trailer.  This is going to rely heavily on a steady directorial hand to work right (as to all genre films like this) and he certainly has the ability to pull it off.  If this movie winds up being more than just the Gary Oldman show, which I’m betting on at the moment, then Alfredson could be welcomed to the prestigious group of nominated directors.  Like I said, I really want this to happen…but I really think it could!

6)      Roman Polanski/Carnage:
Why?  This is just a hunch, but I think that ‘Carnage’ is going to do very well with Oscar.  The film just seems to be very Oscary.  Sure, it’s a black comedy, and Oscar loves it some drama, but it’s a BLACK comedy and it seems to be seething at the teeth with some real bite.  Plus, you have two Oscar winning goddesses of screen (I’ve not always ‘felt’ Foster, but Oscar loves her), a newly christened Oscar winning actor and John C. Reilly, who is always dependable and understands the nature of comedic undertones very well.  I think that this will do very well with the acting branches and that love may spill over into other categories, including Director.  Besides, despite all of the drama surrounding Polanski and his life, he is still very much respected by his peers and so if ‘Carnage’ is as intricate and engrossing as it promises to be, I can see them welcoming him back to the event with open arms.

7)      Clint Eastwood/J. Edgar:
Why?  He’s Clint Eastwood, and that means a lot.  Sure, he hasn’t really been on a roll lately (Changling managed some nominations, but no real traction) but this is a different animal.  He’s directing Leonardo DiCaprio in a period biopic about a controversial subject in human history and the buzz surrounding DiCaprio’s eventual Oscar win is already mounting enough to validate predicting an Eastwood nomination based on DiCaprio’s name alone.  I only took him out of my top five/six because of that ‘overkill’ feeling that sets in when I think of Eastwood and Spielberg and how they already have two of these things and I often hope that the Academy would think about spreading the wealth as opposed to lazily nominating their heroes.  Whatever, Eastwood is probably going to win his third this year.

8)      Terrence Malick/The Tree of Life:
Why?  All of Malick’s works are, without doubt, directorial pieces.  If anything in this film, outside of cinematography, is going to land #1 placements on ballots it’ll be his direction.  But, the film has landed very mixed reactions from critics and audiences.  Some love it and some hate it.  Will the love be enough to gain momentum during the next few months, or will the hate kill off all of its chances before the real season begins?  At one time I felt that Malick was a lock here, but the subject matter and Malick’s continually making films that mean something to HIM may edge him out.  He’s only really been Oscar’s cup-of-tea once, and it was when he was tackling their favorite subject.

9)      Steven Spielberg/War Horse:
Why?  His name alone warrants inclusion in this category, and ‘War Horse’ certainly ‘looks’ pretty enough to garner directing recognition.  I’m one of the few who thinks that this film isn’t going to make a big splash with Oscar outside of the techs considering that the trailer left a rather ‘family film’ feel in my mouth, and family entertainment rarely translates into ‘Oscar Nominee’.  Still, this is Steven Spielberg we’re talking about; two time Oscar winner (in this category), so he’s always on the radar.  If the film has more cohunes than it initially appears to then maybe it’ll actually be a force to reckon with come Oscar season.

10)   Angelina Jolie/In the Land of Blood and Honey:
Why?  Who ever thought that Angelina Jolie would be a possible contender here, but it looks like her film ‘In the Land of Blood and Honey’ could really be a contender.  She obviously put her heart into this, and her passion usually bleeds through loud and clear.  The subject matter is strong and kind of screams Oscar (and I have a feeling her film may win the Globes ‘Foreign Language Film’ award, since that award doesn’t require your film be submitted from a foreign country) and she is a very respected woman, not just actress, and so I could see them wanted to show their admiration for her growth as an artist.  It all depends on the finished piece (it could be terrible), but if it’s great or even moderately respectable then I could see her placing on quite a few ballots.

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