Winner: Paul Thomas Anderson, SOGGY BOTTOM
- Adam McKay, DON’T LOOK UP
- Paolo Sorrentino, THE HAND OF GOD
- Ridley Scott, HOUSE OF GUCCI/THE LAST DUEL
- Steven Spielberg, WEST SIDE STORY
I am all aboard the PTA train as of now. The past two years we have seen Director and Picture go hand in hand, and I think this year will be no different with PTA winning his first Director award as long as Picture.
Aside from him, I have to trust Adam McKay, for now, strictly for the fact that both of his last two films did incredibly well at the Oscars. Ridley Scott has two chances this year to break back into the Director race for the first time since 2002’s Black Hawk Down. His better chance is likely House of Gucci, which is poising itself as a much bigger player than The Last Duel, but don’t count out his period drama just yet. If almost anyone else was remaking such a well known classic, I would be less optimistic, but since it is Steven Spielberg at the helm of West Side Story, this could be the legendary directors first return to the directing race since 2012’s Lincoln.
Paolo Sorrentino is a true wildcard when it comes to the race. Over the past few years, there has been a foreign director, usually the director of the International Feature frontrunner, make it into the final lineup. Sometimes this nomination is predicted like Cuaron for Roma and Bong for Parasite, but there have also been some surprises such as Pawel Pawlikowski for Cold War, and most notably Thomas Vinterberg for Another Round. The trailer for Sorrentino’s The Hand of God looked stunning, and if the pattern sticks, he could be the director slotted here.
Aside from these 5, you also have Jane Campion‘s return to the Oscar race since winning screenplay for The Piano in 1994. Denis Villeneuve for Dune, who I did remove from the 5 because of his recent divisive remarks, but I still think Dune is a perfect vehicle for a director nomination. Guillermo del Toro is back for the first time since winning the Oscar for The Shape of Water, and Sian Heder is slowly creeping her way up the list for fan favorite CODA. Kenneth Branagh, who is a well known face in the Academy, 1960’s Black and White film could be just what he needs to get back into the Dolby Theater.
- Jane Campion, THE POWER OF THE DOG
- Denis Villeneuve, DUNE
- Guillermo del Torro, NIGHTMARE ALLEY
- Sian Heder, CODA
- Keneth Branagh, BELFAST
Also in Contention (Alphabetical by Film):
- Steven Chbosky, DEAR EVAN HANSEN
- Asghar Farhadi, A HERO
- Stephen Karam, THE HUMANS
- Maggie Gyllenhaal, THE LOST DAUGHTER
- Fran Kranz, MASS
- Pedro Almodovar, PARALLEL MOTHERS
- Joel Coen, THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH