The competition: David O. Russell (American Hustle), Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity), Alexander Payne (Nebraska), Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave), Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Previous winners: Ang Lee (Life of Pi), Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist), Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech), Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker), Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire), Joel and Ethan Coen (No Country for Old Men)
My winner: Paul Greengrass
The facts: The only newbies in this race are the frontrunners, Cuaron and McQueen. Scorsese won in 2006 for “The Departed,” and was previously nominated five times before that. He was also nominated in 2011 for “Hugo.” Russell was a nominee last year for “Silver Linings Playbook” and in 2010 for “The Fighter.” Payne was nominated in 2004 for “Sideways” and 2007 in “The Descendants.” Four times in the last five years, a first-time nominee has managed to win. For those keeping track of statistics, “Gravity” is the only film not nominated for its screenplay, and “Nebraska” is not recognized for its film editing.
Who should win: Cuaron or McQueen
Who will win: The way things have been going, Cuaron will take this and “12 Years a Slave” will win Best Picture. The years in which the two races have been split like this don’t usually have such a pattern of the same split for each guild or group. The closest case is 2004, where “The Aviator” won Best Motion Picture – Drama and the PGA Award, while Clint Eastwood won Best Director at the Golden Globes and DGA Awards. Come Oscar time, “Million Dollar Baby” prevailed in both categories. I think that McQueen is likelier to win here than “Gravity” is to win Best Picture, despite the PGA tie this year. I’ll still go with Cuaron, who I think has this pretty locked up.