2012 Oscar Prediction: Best Director

Oscar 2012 Predictions: Best Director

Film directors are responsible for every single aspect of their movie. That doesn’t mean they actually do each and every task on set, but it’s their job (and prerogative) to get each element just right. It’s a lot of responsibility, and judging by the nominees for this year’s Best Director, it’s clearly too much for a woman to handle. Sorry, Kelly Reichardt, Lynn Ramsay, and Sarah Polley…maybe you can bake something nice for the boys who were nominated?

For the record, the director who should walk away with the Oscar this year isn’t even nominated. Nicolas Winding Refn deserved (at least) a nomination for Drive as he was able to craft something of raw beauty from some seemingly disparate parts. The film’s look and style, its exquisitely jarring shifts from calm to explosive, and its unexpectedly affecting score and soundtrack all make for a unique cinematic experience.

The nominees are listed below with my prediction for the winner in red

The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius)

Why He Was Nominated:

Because Hazanavicius’ film reminded Academy members of the silent movies they loved as children.

Why He Might Win:

The Artist has dominated award ceremonies leading up to the Oscars, and Hazanavicius has already picked up seven awards as Best Director including the one from the Director’s Guild of America. That’s fairly telling, though far from definitive, and the momentum seems to be pointing in a repeat here.

Why He Might Not Win:

The film is the odds on favorite to take home the Best Picture award, and the Academy often splits the difference on their two favorites by giving one Best Pic and the other Best Director. There may also be the sense among voters that the film’s success is due more to Jean Dujardin’s charming performance and Ludovic Bource’s omnipresent score.

Previous Nominations: 0

Previous Wins: 0

The Descendants (Alexander Payne)

Why He Was Nominated:

Because Payne captures the gritty reality of “white man problems” better than most.

Why He Might Win:

Payne’s film struck a chord with audiences in its tale of love and responsibility, but more importantly his film is the only gimmick-free one on this list. It’s a movie for adults about real world adult issues that still managed to entertain the masses, and it didn’t require special effects or an artificial hook to succeed.

Why He Might Not Win:

As with The Artist above some people think Payne’s film rests on the talented and charming shoulders of its lead actor. That’s evident in the dozens of awards it’s already won, mostly for acting and adapted screenplay. Only one of them was for directing.

Previous Nominations: 5 (1 for Director, 1 for Picture, 3 for Adapted Screenplay)

Previous Wins: 1 (for Adapted Screenplay)

Hugo (Martin Scorsese)

Why He Was Nominated:

Because Scorsese’s eyebrows are even more impressive in 3-D.

Why He Might Win:

Hollywood loves itself more than anything (except money), and Scorsese is one of its most vocal supporters. He preaches film preservation and has crafted a movie that is all about the importance of cinema. Also, if the Academy does split the difference with The Artist as mentioned above Scorsese will be the one to benefit.

Why He Might Not Win:

If Academy voters are being honest with themselves they’ll acknowledge that Hugo‘s first act is an incomprehensible bore. Yes, things picked up nicely after that, but Scorsese really should have caught that 30-40 minute mess before releasing it to theaters. The ‘Best Director’ vote is open to all Academy members too, not just directors… were it still the other way around Scorsese’s well earned respect and standing may have nudged him towards a win. And an award here would be no more relevant than the career-award he won for 2006’s The Departed because it would be more about honoring his love for films and film history than this actual film.

Previous Nominations: 8 (6 for Director, 2 for Adapted Screenplay)

Previous Wins: 1 (for Director)

Midnight In Paris (Woody Allen)

Why He Was Nominated:

Because Allen gave Owen Wilson a reason to live.

Why He Might Win:

This is Allen’s 44th feature film, and it quickly became his highest grossing release of all time. That’s an incredible feat, and it may seem fitting to some to award him with only his second directing Oscar (after 1978’s beloved Annie Hall). The movie is also a love letter to fans of literature, and I think we can all agree that reading books is highly underrated.

Why He Might Not Win:

Allen’s odds seem pretty good in the Best Original Screenplay race, so the Academy may not feel it necessary to reward him here too. And the appeal of watching the Oscars is seeing the filmmakers mix and mingle and occasionally win awards, but the Academy knows Allen won’t even be there. So why give an award to someone who won’t even be on-hand and probably wouldn’t even prerecord one of those video acceptance speeches?

Previous Nominations: 21 (14 for Original Screenplay, 6 for Director, 1 for Actor)

Previous Wins: 3 (1 for Director, 2 for Original Screenplay)

The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick)

Why He Was Nominated:

Because Malick might just send a Native American to accept his award if he wins, and who doesn’t love Native Americans?

Why He Might Win:

The Tree of Life is a visual feast of stunning cinematography and solid CGI, and Malick ties it together with a very personal story about one family’s existence. His film is easily the most ambitious of any of the nominees, and that speaks to the director’s vision and control. There may also be something to the film being seen as “smart” cinema that no one wants to admit to not understanding. While Payne and Allen have zero chance here, Malick could potentially be the upset winner in this category.

Why He Might Not Win:

Malick is a Hollywood outsider, and while some respect him for that many may feel that his intentional distance from the “family” should be held against him. Some in this town full of heathens may also be conflicted over the film’s, and by extension Malick’s, apparent pro-Heaven message at the conclusion of his challenging film. Doesn’t he know that Hollywood is for liberal atheists only? And if we’re lucky there may just be enough voters who take umbrage at rewarding a two-plus hour screensaver with an Academy Award.

Previous Nominations: 2

Previous Wins: 0

Full Academy Awards Coverage

Rob is the Chief Film Critic of Film School Rejects. He doesn't eat cheese on weekdays.

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