Saturday, February 27, 2016

Oscar Winner Predictions: Best Director

The competition: Adam McKay (The Big Short), George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road), Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (The Revenant), Lenny Abrahamson (Room), Tom McCarthy (Spotlight)

Previous winners: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Birdman), Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity), 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: TBA
The facts: Inarritu won this award last year for "Birdman" after being previously nominated in 2006 for "Babel." Though Miller has been nominated for and won Oscars in other categories, this is his first directing bid. McCarthy was previously nominated for writing "Up" and is also recognized for penning the screenplay for his film this year. Inarritu won the Globe, the DGA, and the BAFTA, but in none of those cases have all of these men been nominated. Miller won the Critics' Choice Award. The last director to win this trophy back-to-back was Joseph L. Mankiewicz in 1950 and 1951.

Who should win: He hasn't won anything, but McCarthy is my choice. "Spotlight," which is definitely the Best Picture from among the nominated bunch. He was snubbed by BAFTA and I was worried Oscar voters would forget him too, but he did a tremendous job of guiding his film. Ditto Abrahamson, a fun inclusion who unfortunately knocked Ridley Scott, another deserving helmer, out of the race. Inarritu did a good job too, but this film was nowhere near as tremendous as "Birdman." McKay put in a solid effort for a good film, but he doesn't need to be here. And though it wasn't for me, I can appreciate Miller and, for whatever reason, think I would prefer to see him win than to see Inarritu repeat even if I think that Inarritu is more worthy of the award when it comes to these two over-nominated films since I liked "The Revenant" much more than "Mad Max: Fury Road."
Who will win: The last time this race was really wide open was in 2012 when Ben Affleck wasn't nominated for the locked Best Picture winner, "Argo." That race is up for grabs too, but here Inarritu is a frontrunner but by no means a guarantee. Abrahamson and McKay won't win, and I sincerely doubt that McCarthy could muster an upset, though that would make me happier than anything. It's sort of like two years ago when Steve McQueen didn't have a shot for Best Director even though "12 Years a Slave" ended up winning Best Picture - why shouldn't he be considered? Ultimately, I think that Miller is going to be honored for a body of work and for reinvigorating a franchise decades after it began. It could just as easily be Inarritu, but I'm betting against it.

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