On to the Best Director category. It appears that Alfonso Cuarón is the frontrunner for his groundbreaking work on Gravity, but I would not be surprised if Steve McQueen steals the show for his equally groundbreaking work on 12 Years a Slave. I really admire both directors quite a bit. It would be a huge surprise if anyone but Cuarón wins since he has won every major directing award he has been up for. Once again, it should be Martin Scorsese winning his second Oscar, cannot believe he only has one win, for the brilliant The Wolf of Wall Street. He would be my pick, but I do not think I will be disappointed if Cuarón or McQueen win. Russell also has a good shot since the Academy admires American Hustle and if the race is tight between Cuarón and McQueen, he might be the default winner. I do not think Scorsese or Payne have a shot, even though Payne's work on Nebraska is some of his best. Also, look at the directors left off: Joel & Ethan Coen (Inside Llewyn Davis), Spike Jonze (Her), J.C. Chandor (All Is Lost), Richard Linklater (Before Midnight), Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips) and Jean-Marc Vallée (Dallas Buyers Club).
Best Director nominees are:
- David O. Russell, American Hustle (5 nominations: 3 directing; 2 screenplay) Russell is one of the best directors working today. He is so successful working with actors, see all the nominations for his actors over the last three films, and even when his films do not fully work, like American Hustle, they are still enjoyable. I have problems with this film, but not so much with Russell's expert direction. He might surprise or be a default winner on Sunday night.
- Alfonso Cuarón,, Gravity (6 nominations: 1 directing; 2 screenplay; 2 film editing; 1 producing) A truly visionary talent beyond words. Cuarón has been knocking it out of the park since his breakthrough hit Y tu mamá también in 2000. The amazing craft, technical brilliance, creativity and the pure genius behind the camera is all presented in Gravity. He definitely deserves a win, but I feel he deserved it more for Children of Men. The frontrunner right now.
- Alexander Payne, Nebraska (7 nominations: 3 directing; 3 screenplay; 1 producing; 2 wins) A personal, touching and hilarious film. It is one of the directors best and one that embraces all that is wonderful about Payne. No one does it better at presenting middle, everyday, honest looking America like Payne does. He gets it. He knows it. I do not think he has a shot to win, but what a beautifully bleak film about aging, relationships and love.
- Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave (2 nominations: 1 directing; 1 producing) A visceral masterpiece of brutality and grace. McQueen took the challenge of directing an honest portrayal of slavery in America and crafted a near-perfect film. He is brilliant with actors, see Hunger and Shame, and, even though my pick would be Scorsese, he should probably be the winner just for the risk and talent being presented on the screen. A wonderful, gifted and beautiful director.
- Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street (12 nominations: 8 directing; 2 screenplay; 2 producing; 1 win) The greatest living director in the business and he proves that with ferocious intensity in his blazing critique of greed and human disregard in The Wolf of Wall Street. The man has still got it and will never lose it. It is just an amazing film and the best of the year. He should win, but the wins and losses will never be a detriment to how great and masterful Mr. Scorsese is in film history.
Tomorrow, the last main category: Best Picture. Enjoy!
Photo credit by cinemablend.com.