Oscar nominations will be revealed on the 24th.  As arbitrary as the nominations can sometimes seem, there’s definitely method to their madness.  Over the next week, we’ll dive into the potential nominees in each of the big eight categories.  This time around: Director.

VIRTUAL LOCK

  • Martin Scorsese, Hugo
  • Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist

Martin Scorsese is an Oscar fav directing a much-loved film with a significant plot point centering around the birth of film and utilizing 3D in a way that many have proclaimed the best use ever.  I dare you to give me a logical reason why he won’t receive a nomination.  The Academy is generally wary of directors who haven’t been around the Oscar discussion before, but Hazanavicius managed to take a friggin’ black and white silent film to the brink of Oscar glory, so one would imagine he’d get a pass.

GOOD BET

  • Alexander Payne, The Descendants

I keep hearing how the Academy doesn’t appreciate Payne as much as one might think, given his auteur status, possibly because his films tend to look like they didn’t require as much effort as technically trickier ones.  I can’t really speak to that, but given that he is a name and his film seems assured of a nomination, he should be in.

LIKELY IN

  • Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris

Allen has a stronger reputation as a writer than a director, but he does have an Oscar win for directing (Annie Hall) and five additional nominations.  Unless the love for Midnight in Paris is more perceived than real, he should probably get in.

ON THE BUBBLE

  • Terrence Malick, Tree of Life
  • David Fincher, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • Tate Taylor, The Help

For the next to last time, I have absolutely no idea what to do with Tree of Life.  Seems like people either love it or hate it, so it may come down to whether enough people are on the love it side, though people do seem to respect Malick.  Fincher was thrown back into this conversation with a DGA nomination, plus he does have two prior Oscar nominations.  But the film does very much feel like a genre flick, which is almost never a good thing for Oscar.  I remained convinced that the only reason Taylor isn’t a shoo-in here is because he is mostly an unknown.  Well, also, to be frank, if he were female, he’d be in.

DARK HORSES

  • Steven Spielberg, War Horse
  • Nicholas Winding Refn, Drive
  • Bennett Miller, Moneyball
  • Stephen Daldry, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
  • George Clooney, The Ides of March

Sure, War Horse‘s Oscar hopes have been dwindling seemingly daily, but count Spielberg out at your own peril.  I’m looking forward to seeing what Drive is all about.  The film is apparently director-driven, and from prior films, I know Refn has a distinct voice.  If his next film is mainstream enough, look for him to push through there.  Bennett Miller already has an Oscar nomination (Capote) and people seem to like Moneyball, the question may be if enough people love it.  Daldry received director nominations for his prior three films, I would have lost a decent chunk of money earlier in the year if I could have bet on him receiving his fourth in a row this year.  Clooney seems like a long shot, but he did receive a Globe nomination.  And he’s just so darn easy to love.

SHOULD HAVE BEEN CONSIDERED

  • James Bobin, The Muppets
  • Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, Crazy, Stupid, Love.
  • Gavin O’Connor, Warrior
  • Joe Johnston, Captain America: First Avenger
  • Gregg Araki, Kaboom
  • Olivier Megaton, Colombiana
  • James Gunn, Super
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