The competition: Denis Villeneuve (Arrival), Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge), Damien Chazelle (La La Land), Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea), Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)
Previous winners: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (The Revenant), 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)
My winner: To be announced soon!
The facts: Gibson is the only returning nominee in this category, previously winning in 1995 for “Braveheart.” Both Chazelle and Lonergan were previously nominated for screenwriting and both contend there also this year, along with Jenkins. “Hacksaw Ridge” is the only film in this category without its screenplay nominated, and “Manchester by the Sea” is the only film without a Best Film Editing bid. The past two Best Director victors have won without one of those accompanying nominations, but it is rare.
Who should win: I love the work that Chazelle did staging such a great musical, and I think I’d choice him over Lonergan steering the best film of the year. Villeneuve is also a great choice, and I see why people like Jenkins, who I wouldn’t mind seeing win.
Who will win: I think Chazelle can hang onto a win after victories at the Golden Globes and SAG.