Thursday, January 15, 2015

Oscar Nominees: Best Director

My predictions: 3/5, picking DuVernay and Chazelle over Miller and Tyldum
My ballot: Come back in February!
The nominees: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Birdman), Richard Linklater (Boyhood), Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher), Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)

Two years ago, this category was nuts, and I think everyone was expecting something crazy this year. What we got wasn’t actually all that surprising, save for one thing of course. Three of the choices made by both the Globes and SAG – Inarritu, Linklater, and Anderson – made the cut, as did another DGA selection, Tyldum. Globe nominee Ava DuVernay and DGA pick Clint Eastwood got their films fast-tracked to the Best Picture race without being recognized here. Globe nominee David Fincher got dumped entirely, as his film ended up with just one nomination, for Best Actress, after seeming locked for a few races. Somehow, Bennett Miller, who was only ever nominated once before, in 2005 for “Capote,” stole the last spot and pulled off the same feat that Fincher did at the Globes, earning bids for director and screenplay without a corresponding Best Picture nod. This is the first time that has happened since before the Oscar system switched to have more than five Best Picture nominees, effectively killing the “lone director” trend. While it’s interesting that it happened again, it doesn’t make much sense, since you’d think something so well-directed would be considered one of the ten best films of the year. I also didn’t love the film, and I would have preferred to see something else. Based on how well it performed in other categories, it’s strange not to see Damien Chazelle take this last spot for “Whiplash.” Inarritu and Miller are the only returning nominees, and it’s good to see Anderson finally recognized, even if it’s not for the right film. Tyldum, who was an AFT Award finalist two years ago for “Headhunters,” a great movie, managed to catch up to his film, which was running rampant without him, a fate that befell James Marsh, whose “The Theory of Everything” did very well but left him behind. There will surely be more to say about this race later.

My current bet to win: Since DuVernay isn’t nominated, this is a fight between Inarritu and Linklater that I think the latter will emerge victorious.

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