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2011 Oscar Contest: Category Highlight: Best Director

February 20th, 2011

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 nominees should just feel honored to be nominated. This weekend we wrap things up with our final two categories, starting with Best Director, which looks to be a two-horse race. But what a race!

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

Best Director

Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan
Tomatometer Score: 88% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: Independent Spirit Awards, DGA, and Golden Globes
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None (one pending)
Director's Previous Major Nominations: One Independent Spirit Award
Director's Previous Major Wins: None
Notes: Darren Aronofsky is quickly becoming one of those directors who as soon as he becomes attached to a film, you assume it will be an Awards Season player. Since his debut with Pi, all but one of his subsequent films has earned at least one Oscar nomination, while the lone exception, The Fountain, did earn a Golden Globe nomination, so it wasn't completely shut out. It is very likely he will win an Oscar sooner rather than later, but very unlikely he will win this year. He hasn't won either of the previous two major awards he was nominated for, while this film earned the weakest reviews of the four nominated films.

Joel and Ethan Coen for True Grit
Tomatometer Score: 95% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Director's Previous Major Nominations: Three Independent Spirit Awards, two DGAs, Two Golden Globes, and Two Oscars
Director's Previous Major Wins: Two Independent Spirit Awards, One DGA, and One Oscar
Notes: While this is an amazing movie, most think it is a long shot to win. In fact, many think it shouldn't have been nominated and that Christopher Nolan was robbed for his work with Inception. I agree with the former, but not the latter. (This film did earn much better reviewed than Inception's reviews, for instance.) Having won an Oscar just three years ago for No Country for Old Men, I think it's too soon for a repeat performance. Plus all of the buzz is going toward two other films.

David Fincher for The Social Network
Tomatometer Score: 97% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: DGA and Golden Globes
Movie's Previous Major Wins: Golden Globe
Director's Previous Major Nominations: One DGA, One Golden Globe, and One Oscar
Director's Previous Major Wins: None
Notes: One of two films with a real shot at winning the Oscar. David Fincher did pick up the Golden Globe win, but lost out at the DGAs to The King's Speech, which puts these two films in a tight race. On the one hand, he's made a lot of excellent movies over the years, but never earned a major win, so he's due. On the other hand, the DGAs are usually a better indicator than the Golden Globes are, while it's looking like it could be The King's Speech's year.

Tom Hooper for The King's Speech
Tomatometer Score: 95% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: DGA and Golden Globes
Movie's Previous Major Wins: DGA
Director's Previous Major Nominations: None
Director's Previous Major Wins: None
Notes: The other film with a real shot at winning Oscar. Compared to The Social Network, this film has earned slightly weaker reviews, but it won the more prestigious of the two previous awards, while the buzz seems to be growing at the ideal time. My only major concern is the lack of a track record during Awards season, as this is Tom Hooper's first major Awards Season player. Voters might look at the record of David Fincher and say, 'He's overdue for a win.' It's really too close to call.

David O. Russell for The Fighter
Tomatometer Score: 90% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: DGA and Golden Globes
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Director's Previous Major Nominations: Independent Spirit Awards
Director's Previous Major Wins: None
Notes: An also ran. That's not to insult the director or the film, which deserves the success it has earned. But while there's little chance it will go home empty handed on Oscar night, there's even less chance it will win this Oscar. It has no success previously, this is the director's first Oscar nominated film, and all the buzz is going to other films.

Conclusion: This is essentially a coin toss between >David Fincher for The Social Network and Tom Hooper for The King's Speech. For every factor that supports one over the other, there's a factor that says the opposite. If I were a betting man, I would bet on a different category, to be honest. If forced to pick a favorite, I would go with The King's Speech, but by the tiniest of margins.


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Filed under: The Fighter, True Grit, The Social Network, Black Swan, The King’s Speech