Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
2015 Tribeca Film Festival Line-Up Announced: James Franco’s ‘Adderall Diaries,’ Olivia Wilde In ‘Meadowland’ & More 2015 Tribeca Film Festival Line-Up Announced: James Franco’s ‘Adderall Diaries,’ Olivia Wilde In ‘Meadowland’ & More First Look: Joseph Gordon-Levitt As Edward Snowden In Oliver Stone's 'Snowden' First Look: Joseph Gordon-Levitt As Edward Snowden In Oliver Stone's 'Snowden' Drew Goddard To Write And Direct Sony & Marvel's 'The Spectacular Spider-Man'; 'Sinister Six' Scrapped Drew Goddard To Write And Direct Sony & Marvel's 'The Spectacular Spider-Man'; 'Sinister Six' Scrapped Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2016 Best Picture Contenders Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2016 Best Picture Contenders Watch: Original Short Film Version Of 'Whiplash' Starring Oscar Winner J.K. Simmons Watch: Original Short Film Version Of 'Whiplash' Starring Oscar Winner J.K. Simmons Watch: Nifty Video Examines David Fincher’s Subtle Repetition Of Framing And Blocking In 'Gone Girl' Watch: Nifty Video Examines David Fincher’s Subtle Repetition Of Framing And Blocking In 'Gone Girl' Sigourney Weaver Says She'll Be Playing A New Character In The 'Avatar' Sequels Sigourney Weaver Says She'll Be Playing A New Character In The 'Avatar' Sequels Margot Robbie Says 'Suicide Squad' Is More 'The Dark Knight' Than 'Avengers'; David Ayer Says Joker Is "Majestic" Margot Robbie Says 'Suicide Squad' Is More 'The Dark Knight' Than 'Avengers'; David Ayer Says Joker Is "Majestic" Kristen Stewart Joins Kelly Reichardt’s Untitled Montana Drama With Michelle Williams & More Kristen Stewart Joins Kelly Reichardt’s Untitled Montana Drama With Michelle Williams & More Watch: Paul Thomas Anderson's Sophomore Short 'Cigarettes & Coffee' Watch: Paul Thomas Anderson's Sophomore Short 'Cigarettes & Coffee' Another Oscar? First Look At Eddie Redmayne In Tom Hooper's 'The Danish Girl' Another Oscar? First Look At Eddie Redmayne In Tom Hooper's 'The Danish Girl' 'Prisoners' & 'Enemy' Director Denis Villeneuve To Helm 'Blade Runner' Sequel, Harrison Ford Confirmed To Return 'Prisoners' & 'Enemy' Director Denis Villeneuve To Helm 'Blade Runner' Sequel, Harrison Ford Confirmed To Return The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far "I F*cked It Up": Neill Blomkamp Says He Wants To Go Back To 'Elysium' And "Do It Correctly" "I F*cked It Up": Neill Blomkamp Says He Wants To Go Back To 'Elysium' And "Do It Correctly" New Looks At Daniel Craig, Dave Bautista, And Lea Seydoux In 'Spectre' New Looks At Daniel Craig, Dave Bautista, And Lea Seydoux In 'Spectre' The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki

Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2014 Best Director Nominees

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist March 1, 2013 at 12:23PM

In recent years, trying to predict the Oscar nominees in the Best Director category has been especially tricky. In the past, you could just translate over your Best Picture nominees, maybe swap one out for a better-known or showier filmmaker, and you were relatively likely to be correct. But ever since the Academy made the switch to having more than five nominees in the top category it's become more unpredictable, especially if you're trying to make your predictions a year in advance.
12
Premature Predictions, directors, Oscars 2014

In recent years, trying to predict the Oscar nominees in the Best Director category has been especially tricky. In the past, you could just translate over your Best Picture nominees, maybe swap one out for a better-known or showier filmmaker, and you were relatively likely to be correct. But ever since the Academy made the switch to having more than five nominees in the top category it's become more unpredictable, especially if you're trying to make your predictions a year in advance.

We've never done a long-range pick of the potential directing nominees before, but rest assured that if we'd done such a thing twelve months ago, we would not have suggested that Michael Haneke would make it in. But having already picked out Best Picture, Actor, Actress and the Supporting categories, we wanted to close out our week of 2014 Oscar long-distance predictions with a challenge, so you'll find our guesses below. You can find out if we're right early in 2014, and in the meantime make your own predictions in the comments section. Our Oscar coverage is going into hibernation for a little while (they might resurface briefly at Cannes, but that'll be it otherwise), but look for it to pick up towards the end of the summer, by which time many of our early questions will have been answered.

Strong Contenders

Gravity
Alfonso Cuaron - "Gravity"
While adored by geeks and cinephiles, Alfonso Cuaron isn't necessarily a name that rings many bells with the Academy; his last three films were a raucous coming-of-age sex comedy ("Y Tu Mama Tambien"), a "Harry Potter" film, and an apocalyptic sci-fi ("Children Of Men"), none of which is exactly typical Academy material. But the latter made a fair Academy impact despite being undervalued by many, earning three nominations including a screenplay nod shared by Cuaron himself. And if he ever breaks through further, a showy space picture starring Academy darlings Sandra Bullock and George Clooney would seem to be a good bet. If rumors are to be believed, it raises Cuaron's long, impressive takes from "Children Of Men" to a whole new level, with the opening shot said to last as long as twenty minutes, so it'll be a showcase for him as much as for Bullock, and it's the kind of 3D extravaganza that just won Ang Lee the Oscar. Now, the film could end up on a knife-edge; maybe seen by some as too commercial, and by others as too arty. But if Cuaron can get the balance right and the film works, this could well be a good bet.

Bennett Miller
Bennett Miller - "Foxcatcher"
Having picked up a nomination for his first feature "Capote," Bennett Miller missed out when "Moneyball" was nominated for Best Picture last year. On the one hand, it was a little puzzling (the old complaint of "What, did the film direct itself?"), but on the other hand, Miller has an unfussy, story-first style, so it's understandable why he was excluded, even if the meat-and-veg directorial work was arguably more impressive than some of the others who were nominated last year. We're expecting "Foxcatcher" to be a big player in the awards season, but will Miller be excluded again? Or will voters want to make up for him missing out last time? It's a tough call to make: the film, on the page, looks unlikely to be any more attention-grabbing for its filmmaker than his previous two films. But assuming he does the same impeccable job that he did on "Capote" and "Moneyball," he's always going to be viable, and our gut says that Miller will make the cut this time, although he's probably the shakiest of this Top 5.

Silver Linings Playbook David O. Russell
David O. Russell - "Untitled David O. Russell Abscam Project"
Once, when he was the headbutted-by-George-Clooney, shrieking-at-Lily-Tomlin enfant terrible of the indie scene, a nomination for David O. Russell was unthinkable. But the filmmaker has mellowed in recent years, and now has two nominations in three years thanks to "The Fighter" and "Silver Linings Playbook," and was seen by many as a viable winner for the latter, though Ang Lee beat him to the punch. But even before that happened, we thought that Russell might be a great threat in 2014. As we said when discussing the Best Picture possibilities, the Abscam project (which has the almighty cast of Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence and Louis CK) is likely to have all the advantages of Russell's recent work, while also being a period piece, and with arguably more serious subject matter at play. The filmmaker is a perfect match for the script, so unless it's a surprising misfire in execution (or if it slips into 2014, which is possible), we expect him to be among the nominees, and possibly even the front-runner.

Martin Scorsese
Martin Scorsese - "Wolf Of Wall Street"
Any time that Martin Scorsese has a film out, you know he's going to be a threat in this category; he has seven nominations in total, and while he finally won for "The Departed," he still challenged quite heavily for "Hugo" in 2012, even if he ultimately lost to Michel Hazavanicius. So with a new film in 2013 -- and one that involves examining the root of the global economic crisis in the excesses of a high-living stockbroker -- he's very much in the running, with material that might be his most awards-friendly since "The Aviator." In the last decade, Scorsese has only failed to nab a nomination for "Shutter Island," his most genre-led work in recent memory, so he's a safe bet for a nod. That said, in a tough year which could be seen as something of a changing of the guard, with young bucks like Alfonso Cuaron and Steve McQueen competing, Scorsese can't simply phone the film in.

Alexander Payne
Alexander Payne - “Nebraska “
Like Russell, Payne was once outside of the establishment, with his controversy-baiting debut "Citizen Ruth." But now, the filmmaker has firmly been embraced by the Academy, with six nominations in total including directing nods for his last two pictures, "Sideways" and "The Descendants." His latest, "Nebraska," a father-son tale starring the unlikely combination of Will Forte and Bruce Dern, seems to be a lower-key, more personal kind of picture for the filmmaker, shot on a relatively low budget, and to be released in black and white. But despite the lack of star power, voters clearly adore Payne's sensibilities, and unless the film proves truly surprising, he shouldn't be dismissed in this category. If anything, going black and white is likely to give him more credit. The film might not work, of course, and if some of the showier possibilities below deliver, Payne could well fall out (even a film as fine as "About Schmidt" went mostly unrewarded, bar a nod for Jack Nicholson). But we wouldn't want to bet against him.

This article is related to: Oscars, The Amazing Race, Premature Predictions, Alfonso Cuaron, Bennett Miller, Alexander Payne, David O. Russell, Martin Scorsese, Features, Awards, Academy Awards


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome

E-Mail Updates