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2013 Awards Season: Oscar Highlight: Best Director

February 22nd, 2013

With our annual Oscar Prediction contest underway, now is the best time to look at the nominees and try and figure out who the favorites are and which films should just feel honored to be nominated. Today we will look at the Best Director, which is one of the stranger races this year. Before Awards Season began, I thought Kathryn Bigelow would be the favorite. She wasn't even nominated. The evidence suggests Ben Affleck will win. But again, he wasn't even nominated. So with the top two choices not even on the list of nominees, we are looking at the best of the rest.

(Note: All previous awards listed are only for directing and not other categories.)

Best Director

Michael Haneke for Amour
Tomatometer Score: 93% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Director's Previous Major Nominations: None
Director's Previous Major Wins: None
Notes: Foreign language films rarely earn nominations outside of the Best Foreign Language Film category. It is even rarer for them to win. Additionally, there are at least three Best Picture nominees that would have been a more like choice for Best Director, but weren't even nominated, so this film is a long, long shot to win for Best Director.

Ang Lee for Life of Pi
Tomatometer Score: 88% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: Golden Globe and DGA
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Director's Previous Major Nominations: Two Oscars, Three Golden Globes, Three DGAs, and Four Independent Spirit Awards
Director's Previous Major Wins: One Oscar, Two Golden Globes, Two DGAs, and Two Independent Spirit Awards
Notes: I'm torn on this one. A lot of people really loved this film, but there were also many who disliked it. Perhaps enough of the voters disliked it enough to cost it the win. On the other hand, even those that disliked the film admitted it was a visual feast and it was the story that held it back. In this case, while it is unlikely to win Best Picture, it is more likely to win Best Director. Usually these two categories go to the same film, but Ang Lee has won Best Director in the past for a film that didn't win Best Picture, so there is precedent here.

David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook
Tomatometer Score: 92% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: Independent Spirit Awards
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None (One Pending)
Director's Previous Major Nominations: One Oscars, One Golden Globes, One DGAs, Two Independent Spirit Awards
Director's Previous Major Wins: One Independent Spirit Award
Notes: I think David O. Russell will win an Oscar in his career, but I think his first win will likely be for writing and not directing. Don't get me wrong. The film's reviews are excellent and if he did win, it would be deserved, but the lack of Awards Season success thus far means he is a long shot for the Oscar.

Steven Spielberg for Lincoln
Tomatometer Score: 89% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: Golden Globes and DGA
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Director's Previous Major Nominations: Six Oscars, Ten Golden Globes, and Ten DGAs
Director's Previous Major Wins: Two Oscars, Two Golden Globes, and Three DGAs
Notes: Lincoln is arguably the most "Oscar" of the films on this list, and since the film I thought would win this award and the film that has been winning the most awards were not even nominated, Steven Spielberg becomes one of the favorites to win. The big issue is his track record. Steven Spielberg has won so many times that perhaps the voters are reluctant to give him yet another Oscar.

Behn Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild
Tomatometer Score: 86% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: Independent Spirit Awards
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None (One Pending)
Director's Previous Major Nominations: First Film
Director's Previous Major Wins: First Film
Notes: I'm torn between this film and Amour for which film is the longest of the long shots. The film has earned no previous major wins, it is the director's first film, it opened in limited release and hasn't expanded wide enough to be seen by most Oscar voters. It just won't win.

Conclusion: It appears most analysts are predicting Ang Lee will win for Life of Pi. However, I think Steven Spielberg for Lincoln might be the real favorite. Regardless, it should be close and whoever wins, people will be talking about the Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow snubs.


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Filed under: Awards Season, Lincoln, Life of Pi, Silver Linings Playbook, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Amour, Ben Affleck, Kathryn Bigelow, Ang Lee, David O. Russell, Steven Spielberg, Behn Zeitlin, Michael Haneke