Friday, March 2, 2018

Oscar Winner Predictions: Best Director

The competition: Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk), Jordan Peele (Get Out), Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird), Paul Thomas Anderson (Phantom Thread), Guillermo Del Toro (The Shape of Water)

Previous winners: Damien Chazelle (La La Land), 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)
My winner: Announcing shortly after the Oscars!

The facts: Just won of these directors is a returning nominee, and that’s Anderson, who was previously nominated for two original screenplays, two adapted screenplays, and for directing “There Will Be Blood.” Nolan had two screenwriting bids for “Memento” and “Inception.” Del Toro was nominated for writing “Pan’s Labyrinth.” This year, Anderson and Nolan are also nominated as producers, Gerwig as a writer, and Peele and Del Toro as writers and producers. Del Toro won the Golden Globe, the DGA Award, and the Critics’ Choice Award. He also won the BAFTA, though Nolan was the only other one from this list nominated. A director who has won both the Golden Globe and the DGA Award has gone on not to win the Oscar exactly three times: in 1949, when Robert Rossen lost for “All the King’s Men” to Joseph L. Mankiewicz for “A Letter to Three Wives,” in 2000 when Ang Lee lost for “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” to Steven Soderbergh for “Traffic,” and in 2012 when Ben Affleck wasn’t even nominated for the Oscar for “Argo.” The last two years, the film that won this award did not win Best Picture, but, aside from Affleck in 2012, the DGA winner has gone on to win this prize since 2003.

Who should win: I don’t know what necessitated the inclusion of Anderson here when his film is hardly in the same category as the rest. I can understand the enthusiasm for Peele even if I don’t think that the film merits the buzz it’s gotten, though I suppose directing would probably be the best place to honor it. Gerwig did a wonderful job bringing her story to life and would be a decent choice. It’s shocking that Nolan earned his first Oscar directing bid for a film that’s so normal in so many ways, but it’s still a tour de force. Over the rest, I would choose Del Toro’s vision of his mesmerizing universe.

Who will win: Anderson doesn’t have a shot, but the other four will all get votes. The fact that Del Toro has pretty much won everything thus far means that he’s far enough ahead that a victory for Peele or Gerwig’s films would happen in the original screenplay or Best Picture category instead. Nolan might have had a good chance if he had collected more prizes thus far this awards season.

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