Wednesday, October 10, 2012

October Oscar Predictions: Director

So, not it’s time to update the Director predictions for this year.  In doing so, it raised a debate on AD that I’d like to air out here.  Basically, in feeling out my own predictions, I flirted with the idea of Paul Thomas Anderson receiving a nomination for The Master.  The idea in it of itself is not a bizarre, strange or ridiculous one.  BUT, if you recall, I am not predicting The Master to receive a Best Picture nomination.  The lone director nomination is not something new or even rare when it comes to Oscar.  They have been known to nominate a director for a film not nominated for Best Picture, and that dates back for like, forever. 
BUT, as was pointed out to me by many other prognosticators, the state of the Best Picture race has changed.  We are no longer nailed down to five nominees and so many feel that with this new expanded field we will never see the likes of a lone director nomination again.  I don’t feel the same way, but the argument has caused me to rethink Anderson’s chances.
In looking over the past decade, we’ve had Daldry, Lynch, Scott, Almodovar, Meirelles, Leigh, Greengrass and Schnabel nominated without having their films nominated for Best Picture.  That is a lone director in every year of the aughts except 2005 and 2008.  There were TWO nominated in 2001 (Lynch and Scott).  So, as you can see, it is far from uncommon.  But, the question arises that, with the expanded field, would any of them have been lone director nominees? 
I think we can rule out Daldry, Scott, Almodovar, Meirelles, Leigh and Schnabel rather easily.  All of their films racked up other important nominations and were truly respected all the way around. 
So that leaves us with Lynch and Greengrass.  Greengrass is an interesting case.  United 93 was noted all year as a truly impressive piece of filmmaking and was cited by a lot of critics as one of their favorites of the year, and yet the important groups failed to mention it nearly anywhere, except for BAFTA which also failed to nominate if for Best Picture.  2006 was also a rather weak year with few options for Best Picture.  The Globes went with the likes of Little Children and Bobby, but I have a hard time seeing the Academy nominating them.  Little Children is a possibility, but it also opened to an unexpected lukewarm reception.  Dreamgirls is really the only film that would have definitely made it in.  I’m even tempted to suggest that there would have only been six nominees in 2006. 
No need for debate, because I don’t see any way in hell that Mulholland Drive would have been nominated for Best Picture in 2001, especially not with Black Hawk Down, Amelie and Shrek in the mix.
So, we have two examples (purely speculative) in the past decade where we could have (and most likely would have) seen a lone director nomination with an expanded field.  So, that raises the question of whether or not it could happen this year, and with The Master in particular? 
The Master opened with some really strong notices, but as the weeks progressed it became obvious that the film was extremely divisive, which is something most of us predicted.  Still, the strong reviews seemed like enough to carry it, especially in an expanded field.  It had some truly passionate supporters.  The thing is, the end of the year usually carries with it some really big Oscar fare.  Many prognosticators were predicting some of them to fail in a big way, leaving room for more divisive fare to sneak in.  So far, that doesn’t look to be the case.  Those big films are stirring up more buzz and great early ink, so my thought at the moment is that this race (Best Picture) is going to be too stacked for something like The Master to sneak in.
Still, The Master is truly a director’s film, and Anderson could garner quite a few #1 votes, and we all know that that is the most important thing in any of the races, those #1 votes.  Will it be enough?  Then the question arises, is The Master divisive enough to get one and not the other.  I mean, is it as divisive as Mulholland Drive?  The answer, in a nutshell, is no.  I mean, one thing I completely forgot about was the rest of the fields.  The Master is looking to rake in THREE acting nominees, as well as some techs (like cinematography) and Original Screenplay.  It may or may not win any of those (I’m currently thinking it loses them all) but the fact remains that a film netting all those nominations is not going to get a lone director nomination.  Either the film AND director are in, or they are both out.
Right now, I’m thinking they both miss.
So, that brings me to my actual predictions. 
1)      Hooper/Les Miserables
2)      Affleck/Argo
3)      O. Russell/Silver Linings Playbook
4)      Lee/Life of Pi
5)      Zemeckis/Flight
I’m not sold on Spielberg.  He certainly has the respect and the friends in the industry to get a nomination.  He was nominated in ’05, a lot of that on name alone, but Lincoln hasn’t garnered the best early ink, and while I think that it is assured a Best Picture nomination on name alone, I’m not so sure here. 
So, those are my two cents.  What do you think about this race?  What do you think about the lone director discussion? 



  1. Wow. Zemeckis getting in? That would surprise me, but in two months' time it might be a different story.

    I'm stumped on The Master. The Tree of Life still got in last year, so there's a chance of Picture/Director nods. Hmmm....

    Until TDKR gets shut out by critics groups and the important precursors, I'm keeping hope alive. Has the Dark Knight/WALL-E theory gone away altogether? Part of me still thinks: How can they not nominate Nolan THIS time? But I'm probably wrong.

    1. I was on the Nolan bandwagon for a while, but I've given up. TDKR really needed a bigger critical reception, and it just didn't get the reviews or the buzz needed to sustain it. It's even going to struggle to get technical nominations at this point, especially with larger, baitier productions vying for the same spots. As you saw in my 2008 Fistis, I totally respect what Nolan has done with the series, but he needs to do something more AMPAS friendly if he wants them to recognize him.