Why He Could Do It: Bennett Miller made one of the more assured feature debuts in recent memory with 2005's smart, tender and impeccable " Capote," which picked up Best Picture & Director Oscar nominations, and won for its star Philip Seymour Hoffman. Miller took his time for his followup, but it finally came when he stepped in for Steven Soderbergh on " Moneyball," and again did a tremendous job, producing the best studio movie of 2011, one that proved that he could do great work within the system. And while he's sticking to more leftfield territory for his next film, the currently-shooting " Foxcatcher," with Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo and Sienna Miller, the director seems to have expressed some interest in moving into the franchise world. Miller was down to the last two to make " The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," and it was seemingly only his insistence that the tentpole be delayed six months so that he could make " Foxcatcher" first that saw the job go to Francis Lawrence. Clearly, Miller's keen for the cachet that could come with a massive studio picture, feels ready to make such a film, and presumably wouldn't be too upset about the money. With "Foxcatcher" heading for a fall 2013 release, he could be ready to move on to Bond by the end of next year, and as far as we're concerned, could be a great choice to pick up where Mendes left off. They both have the same skill with actors, the same strong, stately visuals, and the capacity to pull off something surprising and entertaining.
Why He Might Not: We're assuming a 2015 date, but if Eon & co. want to get back on the film-every-two-years track, they'd probably need someone working on the film full-time from the summer, and with Miller likely to be on the awards circuit next season, that would be impossible. Even if 2015 is the case, Miller may not be the natural choice. There hasn't been any real action element in anything he's made so far, and while picking a prestige-y choice turned out well with Mendes, it didn't so much with previous Bond helmer Marc Forster, whose inability to shoot and cut for action really hampered the picture (after all, Mendes had at least had some gunfire in " Road To Perdition" and " Jarhead"). Also, Bond holds a particular lure for British (or at least Commonwealth) helmers, and Miller may simply not be a huge fan of the franchise. It's also worth noting that an American has never directed a Bond movie, though we can't see many people objecting were that to be the case. Still, we reckon he could be a solid choice.
Why He Could Do It: Only two films into his career, and Cary Fukunaga (who's still only 35) is shaping up to be one of the more exciting and unpredictable directors of the next wave. The NYU grad made his debut with 2009's thrilling Spanish-language film " Sin Nombre," a gripping picture about Mexican immigrants trying to make it to the U.S., and followed it two years later with something at the entirely different end of the scale -- the haunting, romantic period-drama " Jane Eyre." Both were excellent, and have placed Fukunaga firmly on the map. The director was on the shortlist for both " The Wolverine" and " The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," and he's got a two-part adaptation of Stephen King's " It" set up at Warner Bros. So he's clearly not telling his agency to turn down franchise prospects, and while an artist, he's careful to make his films entertaining at the same time. Technically gifted, and good with suspense and tension ("Sin Nombre" was more exciting than most blockbusters released that year), he could be a fine choice for Bond -- and having spent a couple of years in the U.K. for "Jane Eyre," might be a little more of an Anglophile than some of the options.
Why He Might Not: He's very, very busy, for one. The HBO crime series " True Detective" with Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson is now rolling in front of cameras, and on deck he's got a Civil War train heist picture " No Blood, No Guts, No Glory," sci-fi flick " Spaceless" and " It " all jostling for attention. This doesn't rule Fukunaga out unless he then goes on to a movie straight away, but it makes things trickier. Furthermore, what Fukunaga lacks is marquee value. Sam Mendes might not be quite a household name, but as an Oscar winner, he certainly was able to convince some audience members who might otherwise be Bond-averse. Fukunaga has fans in our circle, but is essentially unknown to the general public, and a 007 flick "from the director of 'Jane Eyre,'" doesn't have the same effect as "from the director of 'Road to Perdition.'" So hiring Fukunaga, as inspired a choice as it might be, could end up risking the momentum gained on "Skyfall."
Juan Antonio Bayona
Why He Might Do It: A man whose sole released film to date was a foreign-language ghost tale might not be the obvious call for a Bond movie. The 37-year-old Spaniard came up through music videos and shorts before enlisting Guillermo Del Toro to produce his feature debut, " The Orphanage." The clever, wrenching and terrifying spookfest premiered to raves at Cannes in 2007, and he immediately became a hot property in Hollywood, as he was courted to make the third "Twilight" movie, and was attached to direct " Hater" for Universal. Neither came to pass, and it's taken Bayona five years to follow up his first film, but " The Impossible" saw him work on a bigger, broader scale than before with a highly emotional tsunami-set real-life drama that sees Bayona achieve an impressive degree of destruction on a relatively meager budget. Bayona's ended up on recent shortlists for " The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" and " Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes," so again, he could well be on the hunt for this sort of thing, and has the right blend of critical plaudits and commercial appeal to be in the mix. Plus he has nothing firm lined up after this, so could get to work quickly, and he'd be on the cheaper end of the scale, which always helps.
Why He Might Not: Nothing in "The Orphanage" or "The Impossible," other than the heat behind them, makes Bayona an obvious pick for Bond. The films have a very specific style, and the horror of his first film, and the bruising disaster-movie stylings of his second, doesn't quite fit into either. This isn't to say he couldn't do a good job (he's arguably got more experience at large-scale action and set pieces than anyone on this list), but we wonder if he's tonally the best fit. He also just signed up to helm Warner Bros. " Robotech " and may be committed to that franchise first.