There is this debate that I think will rage on until it actually happens, that no director can be nominated here without having his or her film land in Best Picture, thanks to that rule change. I’m firmly in the camp that says that lone director nominations can and will still happen, eventually. Still, it is going to be a very rare thing, and it will take a very special or beloved director with a film that none too many people are truly passionate about. I thought that it could have happened with Malick and ‘The Tree of Life’ and then again with Anderson and ‘The Master’, but we see how both of those turned out (very different spectrums of the same scenario).
So maybe I’m wrong, but one day I may be right!
So, considering that directing lineup for this year’s Academy Awards, I shuffled through the names associated with my picks for the top ten Best Picture nominees, and then added a few to the mix. Like I’ve said before, I’ve been high on the Oscar chances for ‘The Counselor’, and there was a point where I claimed this Ridley’s deserved Oscar ticket. The new trailer has me dubious. It just looks too ‘thriller-esque’ and when that happens you have to be perfect. Alas, I still think Scott could happen here. I also think that if ‘Rush’ becomes a solid contender, Ron Howard would be a safe choice here, and one that AMPAS would totally go for. Then you have Woody Allen, who should never be ruled out, and George Clooney, although the trailer for ‘The Monuments Men’ was so horrid I doubt Clooney will factor here.
My biggest questionmark surrounds Spike Jonze. He could totally happen. Remember when he got that surprise nomination in 1999? It could happen again, especially if ‘Her’ makes a big splash at the festivals and winds up being a serious contender. Jonze is a very smart director, and one who has enough style to catch you eye coupled with enough depth to steal your heart. I’m not predicting him yet, but he’s on the bubble.
But for now:
1) David O. Russell/American Hustle
It’s his time, or so it would appear. The new trailer is electric and kind of makes ‘American Hustle’ feel like a really big deal. They like him (or do they?) and he has one of the big end of year releases that looks like it will deliver on that promise. Leftover goodwill from last year’s loss could also play in here.
2) Alfonso Cuaron/Gravity
Like I’ve said a few times, the event of the year is right here and I have a strong feeling this will be seen as the directing triumph of the year as well. If he nails this, then he could be Russell’s strongest competition for the win.
3) Ryan Coogler/Fruitvale Station
I was one of the only people predicting Zeitlin this time last year, and I was being laughed at by everyone. I bowed to peer pressure, despite feeling certain that he’d make it in, and look what happened. I’m not letting that happen this time. Coogler is the breakout of the year, and this film is building on the hype and buzz by actually delivering. He’s in.
4) Martin Scorsese/The Wolf of Wall Street
He’s Martin Scorsese, so he’s already got an edge here. If the film delivers like the trailer promises to, then I see him riding this all the way to a nomination. In fact, the loss in 2011 could factor in, since ‘Hugo’ had many passionate supporters. He could even make a play for the win.
5) J.C. Chandor/All is Lost
The increased word out of Cannes is really strong, and Chandor is already an Oscar nominee (for writing) so he has an in already. Besides, much like ‘Gravity’, this is seen by many as a director’s work, and that bodes well in this category. My only wonder is if ‘Gravity’ and ‘All is Lost’ will compete for a spot instead of getting them together.