Sunday, February 6, 2022

Oscar Predictions: Best Director

This year, Oscar nominations will be announced on Tuesday, February 8th. I’ll be offering detailed predictions in all categories.

Last year’s nominees: Thomas Vinterberg (Another Round), David Fincher (Mank), Lee Issac Chung (Minari), Chloé Zhao (Nomadland), Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman)

My choices: Coming soon!

This year’s locks: Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog), Denis Villeneuve (Dune)

Very likely: Steven Spielberg (West Side Story)

Possible: Paul Thomas Anderson (Licorice Pizza), Ryusuke Hamaguchi (Drive My Car), Kenneth Branagh (Belfast), Adam McKay (Vice), Guillermo Del Toro (Nightmare Alley), Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Lost Daughter)

Unlikely: Pedro Almodóvar (Parallel Mothers), Reinaldo Marcus Green (King Richard)

The rundown: I was ready to predict the exact Directors Guild of America lineup before that slate was announced, and now I’m not so confident since the two groups haven’t matched in twelve years. We’ve also seen a surefire nominee fall out nearly every year, like Bradley Cooper for “A Star is Born” or Aaron Sorkin for “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” and be replaced by a foreign film with lots of momentum that didn’t end up getting nominated for Best Picture – “Cold War” and “Another Round” in those cases. While Pedro Almodóvar (Parallel Mothers), Asghar Farhadi (A Hero), or Joachim Trier (The Worst Person in the World) might have seemed like possibilities earlier on in the season – and could still get votes – that slot is definitely going to Ryusuke Hamaguchi (Drive My Car), who also scored with BAFTA, just like both Paweł Pawlikowski and Thomas Vinterberg, whose films also didn’t appear in the top category with either group. So, that means one of the DGA-nominated directors is out. It definitely won’t be Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog). I think that Denis Villeneuve (Dune) and Steven Spielberg (West Side Story) are safe, even though they missed the BAFTA list (but showed up everywhere else). Paul Thomas Anderson (Licorice Pizza) does get a boost from his BAFTA nod, which he didn’t even get when his last film, “Phantom Thread,” crashed the Oscar party without many top-level precursors. That suggests to me that Kenneth Branagh (Belfast) will be the one to get left off, which makes me sad. It’s also possible that Adam McKay (Don’t Look Up) will show up here, but it does give me some confidence to be reminded that both of his previous bids, for “Vice” and “The Big Short,” followed DGA bids. Guillermo Del Toro (Nightmare Alley) is an endearing member of the industry who won this prize over four years ago, and if his film shows up in a big way, he could too. Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Lost Daughter) scored a Golden Globe nomination and was also included in the DGA’s first-time filmmaker lineup, but I don’t think her film has enough buzz. Fellow nominees Rebecca Hall (Passing) and Lin-Manuel Miranda (tick, tick...BOOM!) will surely get votes too, but either showing up at this point would be a shock. Reinaldo Marcus Green (King Richard) is a possibility since his film will be making it into Best Picture, but he’s collected so few prizes this season that it would be a real surprise.

For your consideration: While her film seems set for a Best Picture bid, sadly Sian Heder (CODA) doesn’t seem to be part of the conversation. She would be a wonderful addition.

Forecasted winner: This looks set to be Campion.

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