UPDATED: Best Director Predictions

Current Predictions 10-25-11:
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
Terrance Malick, The Tree of Life
Tomas Alfredson, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Bennett Miller, Moneyball
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist

Best Director Notes: While it’s hard to give up on Nicolas Winding Refn, I have to concede that his appearance on the Best Director list would be a surprise. The past month has brought continued buzz for The Artist and The Descendants. Buzz for Moneyball and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy has weakened a bit. Then there’s Woody Allen and Terrance Malick who seem to be continuously picking up steam as Oscar talk starts heating up.

If early discussion is correct, then either Malick or Allen will get into the Best Director race. I feel like a lot of predictions air on the side of honorary Oscar type nods and I’m not sure, for all it’s favoritism, the Oscars really give these kinds of nominations that often. Midnight in Paris certainly is not a director’s movie and while it’s a slight return to form for Allen, I can’t imagine anybody seeing it as a distinct enough vision to applaud it’s innovative guidance. That said, Malick’s film obviously has his stamp all over it. As an art piece it’s also had enormous critical acclaim. If voters are going to hand over a nomination to a legend then my money has to be on Malick.

My guess is that Bennett Miller will stick around all way to the end. Moneyball gained much respect and made a formidable box office return. While the praise has weakened as other films begin to come into focus, I still think the achievement of Moneyball will be viewed as strong enough to deserve recognition. Its early release date maybe its biggest detriment. If critic awards start mentioning Moneyball then it will be a lock soon after, if not then this slot may swing to someone else.

It’s incomprehensible to me that Tomas Alfredson might wind up on the outside looking in at this category. His work in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy plays wisely on classic drama tropes while adding a layer of intuitive nuance and pace that brings freshness to the thriller genre. This film is a masterful directorial vision. Anything less than a nomination would be a travesty yet I fear that Academy might miss this film entirely.

The big elephants in the room are still Stephen Daldry and Steven Spielberg. Both  have yet to be seen films but many are already handing them the nominations sight unseen. I have a gut feeling that at least one of these will fall flat, rendering early buzz completely useless. Smart money would be on Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close being the one that opens to shaky reviews though War Horse may actually prove a misfire. Just a hunch.

Good Bets:
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist

Good Bets, But Shaky:
Tomas Alfredson, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Bennett Miller, Moneyball
George Clooney, Ides of March
Stephen Daldry, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Steven Spielberg, War Horse
Terrance Malick, Tree of Life
Wood Allen, Midnight in Paris

Strong Possibilities:
Nicolas Winding Refn, Drive
Clint Eastwood, J. Edgar
David Fincher, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Tate Taylor, The Help

Wishful Thinking:
David Cronenberg, A Dangerous Method
Steve McQueen, Shame

Possible…I Guess:
Roman Polanski, Carnage
Pedro Almodovar, The Skin I Live In
Gavin O’Conner, Warrior

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