2016 Oscar Predictions: Best Director

this post was updated January 7th (FINAL PREDICTIONS)

Time for more predictions for the 2016 Oscars. These are FINAL. Well, maybe. This is the one category I reserve the right to make changes to because we’re still waiting on the Directors Guild (DGA) to announce their nominees and those are very telling.

A lot of very different contenders this year. George Miller and Ridley Scott are respected veterans who helmed technical masterpieces with Mad Max: Fury Road and The Martian, respectively. Spielberg is always in the race. With The Revenant, Alejandro G. Inarritu’s ambition alone may get him an afterglow nom (he won last year). Tom McCarthy (Spotlight) and Todd Haynes (Carol) both displayed tremendous, albeit understate, talent. Tarantino has a film in play. Danny Boyle has a film in player. Then you have rising stars like Ryan Coogler (Creed), Lenny Abrahamson (Room), Dennis Villeneuve (Sicario), and Alex Garland (Ex Machina).

With all that being said, this isn’t THAT strong of a year for the directors. I’m pretty darn confident in my five but maybe the DGA will shake things up.

My FINAL Predicted Nominees…

1. George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)

I’m, like, 95% sure he’s going to win the DGA. He’s appeared all over the place thus far. He’s respected, and also historically underappreciated. Mad Max is a directorial achievement above anything else this year. The momentum is there for him to win, which he SHOULD.

2. Steven Spielberg (Bridge of Spies)

A likely DGA nom will confirm this. Bridge of Spies appears poised to gain 6+ noms despite some folks not loving the film. He’s a titan who makes every other director in the race seem like a relative no-name. This film may not even be one of his 10 best, and he still might win. IT’S FUCKING SPIELBERG.

3. Ridley Scott (The Martian)

Has gotten so much love from critics and various other precursors. The “return to form” narrative is strong after a few mediocre films from him. Like Miller and Spielberg, he’s a widely respected veteran, only Scott is Oscarless.

4. Alejandro G. Inarritu (The Revenant)

I’ve been up-and-down on his chances given some of the pause his film gave critics initially but even the detractors are coming around on how impressive the sheer ambition of it is. I don’t think he can win two years in a row, he really needed something more substantial to do so, but Inarritu should hear his name called on Oscar morning.

Can Inarritu go back-to-back?

5. Tom McCarthy (Spotlight)

DGA will be telling. Spotlight is viewed as more of a writing achievement than a directing one, which is fair, and McCarthy co-wrote the script, but if Spotlight is winning BP it’s a very good bet to be nominated here (though Argo won without Affleck being nominated).

RIGHT on the bubble…

6. Adam McKay (The Big Short)

The films position keeps him in the hunt but is it too soon for the director of Step Brothers to become an Oscar nominee? DGA nom would be huge.

7. Todd Haynes (Carol)

Critics have cited him and the overdue narrative is strong but he’s not getting in as a lone director and it’s starting to look like Carol might miss out on BP, which is sad, because it’s great.

8. F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton)

Not really thought of as a maker of “prestige films”; his next project is Furious 8, but with Straight Outta Compton making moves in BP he’s in the discussion.

9. Dennis Villeneuve (Sicario)

The late rise of Sicario puts this GREAT director on the Oscar map. It’s still probably too soon for him, especially with some of the veterans in the mix, but if his film manages a BP nom it’ll be hard not to nominate him, right?

‘Sicario’ director Dennis Villeneuve is gonna get one soon enough.

10. Lenny Abrahamson (Room)

He looked a lot stronger a few weeks ago. Is Room more than just Brie Larson? It’d certainly be hard to justify him getting in over the names above him even if Room gets a BP nom.

And possible spoilers…

11. Quentin Tarantino (The Hateful Eight)

He has a lot of fans and has never won a directing award but the reality is The Hateful Eight didn’t land the way Tarantino films usually do. He’ll likely have to settle for a screenplay nom.

12. John Crowley (Brooklyn)

Still too young, but Brooklyn is in a position where it needs to be considered everywhere. Another film seen as more of a writing/acting achievement (a la Spotlight).

13. Danny Boyle (Steve Jobs)

Boyle made some unique choices with Steve Jobs and he’s obviously an Oscar favorite but given the films struggles with critics, guilds, and audiences alike it’s hard to see this happening for him this year.

14. Ryan Coogler (Creed)

He’s maybe the most buzzed about young director in the game. He’s certainly deserving. But Creed isn’t doing much work outside of Stallone. Does him choosing a Marvel movie as his next project make him lesser in the eyes of the branch?

15. Alex Garland (Ex Machina)

He’s the auteur behind one of the year’s best, and most loved, films. Again, it’s doubtful he gets in for his directorial debut but Ex Machina has come bursting through as a possible BP player.

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