Thursday, February 6, 2014

2014 Oscar Predictions: Best Director:

So, I promise this blog will focus on other subjects come March when the Oscars are over, but for now, it's still Oscar time and I am in an Oscar frenzy, which means it's time to start with the predictions of who will win the coveted Academy Award. It's almost a month before the Oscars, so things are still subject to change, but despite the wide array of great films this year, things are starting to settle in and the frontrunners in the major awards have already become fairly clear.

Here is my prediction for the Best Director category.

Alfonso Cuaron—Gravity
Steve McQueen—12 Years a Slave
Alexander Payne—Nebraska
David O. Russell—American Hustle
Martin Scorsese—The Wolf of Wall Street

Will Win: Alfonso Cuaron—Gravity

Should Win: Alfonso Cuaron—Gravity

Most of the time, the Best Picture award goes hand in hand with the Best Director award. In the past ten years, the Best Director Oscar went to the director of the Best Picture winner 8 out of ten times. And, fun fact, those two other times, the award went to Ang Lee (first for Brokeback Mountain which lost to Crash, and then last year for Life of Pi which lost to Argo). Since Argo won Best Picture last year without winning Best Director (after the shocking snub of Ben Affleck) it would be especially surprising if this happened for two years in a row...but that's exactly what I think will happen!
As I have previously discussed, it looks like either 12 Years a Slave or American Hustle will take home the top award. And McQueen and Russell might just win, but practically every single award for directing this year has gone to Cuaron. And deservedly so. The difference between Gravity and the other films nominated is that Gravity works specifically because of Cuaron's direction. The film needed his eye and his vision to work. Cuaron's hand is so visible in the film that he becomes the obvious choice for the award, even if Gravity is only a dark horse to win Best Picture. It's especially gratifying to see Cuaron nominated after he's been unrecognized for years (everyone should check out Children of Men-- which features a long shot which is even better than the stunning one which opens Gravity).

Should have Been Nominated:  Paul Greengrass—Captain Phillips

Captain Phillips seems to have been well-received by the Academy, receiving a commendable six nominations, including some in major categories like Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay. But Captain Phillips received two distinct snubs-- the much-discussed omission of Tom Hanks for Best Actor, and also Greengrass for Best Director. Greengrass is a master of this style of filmmaking, and received a Best Picture nomination for his very similar work in United 93 in 2006. Captain Phillips has a difficult story to tell, and I struggle to imagine anyone other than Greengrass pulling it off. The raw and realistic performances he pulls out of his actors are gritty and extraordinary. Captain Phillips was not a perfect film, but Greengrass is the name that comes to mind when I think of who's missing from this category.

What are your thoughts? Who will/should win best director? And who should have been nominated? Do you agree with me? Do you think I'm way off the mark? Do you wonder how I didn't even mention Martin Scorsese in all of this discussion? Let me know in the comments!

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