Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Oscar Predictions: Best Director

This year, Oscar nominations will be announced on Thursday, January 14th. I’ll be offering detailed predictions in most of the major categories, saving some of the biggest categories for last.

Last year’s nominees: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Birdman), Richard Linklater (Boyhood), Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher), Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)

This year’s locks: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (The Revenant), Tom McCarthy (Spotlight), Ridley Scott (The Martian)

Very likely: George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Possible: Adam McKay (The Big Short), Todd Haynes (Carol), Lenny Abrahamson (Room), Steven Spielberg (Bridge of Spies), Quentin Tarantino (The Hateful Eight)

Unlikely: Danny Boyle (Steve Jobs), Cary Fukunaga (Beasts of No Nation)

The rundown: We’ve had some crazy surprises in this category, like Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow being snubbed in 2012 and then Bennett Miller coming out of nowhere last year when his film wasn’t even one of the eight choices for Best Picture. I think this year could be a lot more boring, since we actually have six true contenders vying for five slots. I’m so worried about Tom McCarthy (Spotlight) not making the cut after his BAFTA snub, but I’m hoping that Oscar voters have just been saving up all their acclaim for this film while other guilds have been shutting it down left and right. It seems unlikely that last year’s winner Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (The Revenant) would be snubbed this year, especially after his recent Golden Globe win. Ridley Scott (The Martian) also seems secure, and George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road) looks pretty likely to earn his fourth Oscar nomination but his first bid in this category. The surprise DGA snub today was Todd Haynes (Carol), who has never been nominated for a directing Oscar but seemed like a sure thing until his film started being shut out by a number of guilds. The one likely to take his place is Adam McKay (The Big Short), who snagged BAFTA and DGA nominations for a film that is building its buzz. Steven Spielberg (Bridge of Spies) was a BAFTA and Critics Choice nominee, and he could certainly show up, but I don’t see that happening. Lenny Abrahamson (Room) could surprise if his film is held in high regard and does well. Beyond that, I don’t think we’re likely to see other names. Quentin Tarantino (The Hateful Eight) is a possibility, Danny Boyle (Steve Jobs) is very unlikely, and Cary Fukunaga (Beasts of No Nation) needed to land big nominations before now to really be in the game. I’m predicting the exact DGA lineup, something that hasn’t matched up since 2007.

One possible crazy scenario: The force is with J.J. Abrams (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), who crashes this race to earn his first-ever directing nomination.

Forecasted winner: I’m leaning towards Miller. Only two directors have ever won back-to-back trophies, and the last time was in 1950, so that doesn’t bode well for Inarritu.

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