OSCAR PREDICTIONS: Best Director

Updated: October 23, 2017

AND THE PREDICTED NOMINEES ARE

1

Martin McDonagh
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

PROS:
"In Bruges" was fantastic and "Seven Psychopaths" was well liked. The film won TIFF audience award. Could it catch on like "Dallas Buyers Club" or "The Grand Budapest Hotel?"
CONS:
The film could catch on in many categories but this one would be a bit more difficult. Plus, screenplay is a good way to reward him.

2

Guillermo del Toro
“The Shape of Water” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

PROS:
Was a near miss for "Pan's Labyrinth" and has lots of respect. Early word is that the film is a technical marvel. That usually helps the director.
CONS:
Will the film be too strange for voters?

3

Joe Wright
“Darkest Hour” (Focus Features)

PROS:
Winston Churchill is a great subject to get noticed with. Missed out on "Atonement" and people still remember.
CONS:
Needs the reviews to be intact and critics to notice.

4

Christopher Nolan
“Dunkirk” (Warner Bros.)

PROS:
Has delivered many audience friendly films over the years and has the aura of "OVERDUE" likely more than any other director at the moment. This is Academy friendly and one of the best reviewed films of the year.
CONS:
They pass him over in this category even when they like the film (i.e. "Inception" and "The Dark Knight"). Summer release could have them "forget."

5

Dee Rees
“Mudbound” (Netflix)

PROS:
The acclaimed director of "Pariah," taking on a timely subject material. Sundance reviews were big. Could she achieve where Ava DuVernay came up short a few years ago for "Selma?"
CONS:
Netflix hasn't quite tapped into the Oscar sphere in a major way yet. The track record of women in the director's branch is also a factor.

NEXT IN LINE

6

Denis Villeneuve
“Blade Runner 2049” (Warner Bros.)

PROS:
Off his first nod for ARRIVAL and continues to be one of the more exciting directors.
CONS:
Sequels are hard sells. It'll need to show considerable strength below-the-line.

7

Luca Guadagnino
“Call Me By Your Name” (Sony Pictures Classics)

PROS:
Sundance praised the film and his direction. Could he be the passionate, surprise entry of the year (i.e. Benh Zeitlin, Mike Leigh, Terrence Malick).
CONS:
Though he has accomplishments that critics will cite under his belt, he's a newbie in terms of Oscars.

8

Greta Gerwig
“Lady Bird” (A24)

PROS:
Is said to be a natural in the director's chair. Can she rally the troops?
CONS:
She's had a hard enough time getting in screenplay for the past few years. The very competitive Director's branch can easily look elsewhere.

9

Steven Spielberg
“The Post” (20th Century Fox)

PROS:
Iconic director taking on a subject that feels as timely as ever. Previous winner of "Saving Private Ryan" and "Schindler's List." There are even some that still say he should have won for "Lincoln" and "Munich."
CONS:
The movie is a late comer and when under the pressure of a date, sometimes quality can suffer.

10

Richard Linklater
“Last Flag Flying” (Amazon Studios)

PROS:
Previous nominee for "Boyhood," which many are still bummed he lost for. Could he come back with this drama about grief?
CONS:
Linklater has never been the type of director to reach the masses. It'll need to be a breakout hit.

OTHER TOP TIER CONTENDERS

11

Paul Thomas Anderson
“Phantom Thread” (Focus Features)

PROS:
Paul Thomas Anderson has been snubbed far too often to be declared a "guarantee" but from this far out, he seems reasonable for a long overdue nod/win.
CONS:
He's an acquired taste for many. Late entry in the race.

12

Sean Baker
“The Florida Project” (A24)

PROS:
Director of "Tangerine" pushed by A24. Vocal fans out of Cannes and screening at TIFF and NYFF.
CONS:
The film's direction is rather understated and if he gets his due, it'll likely come in Screenplay.

13

Kathryn Bigelow
“Detroit” (Annapurna Pictures)

PROS:
Previous winner of "The Hurt Locker" and was famously snubbed for "Zero Dark Thirty." Her work on "Detroit" is passionate and palpable.
CONS:
Everyone seems to be in heavy agreement about their dislike of the film's final act. That could cost her. Plus, poor box office.

14

Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris
“Battle of the Sexes” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

PROS:
The acclaimed duo of "Little Miss Sunshine" is taking on a topic that may resonate deeper than many think.
CONS:
Even when "Little Miss Sunshine" was threatening to take the win, they were passed over. Could be too lightweight for voters.

15

Ridley Scott
“All the Money in the World” (Sony Pictures)

PROS:
One of the unrecognized directors and even has a recent snub under his belt for "The Martian." Can he finally have his Martin Scorsese moment?
CONS:
His work is inconsistent as proven by "Alien: Covenant" earlier this year.

16

Alexander Payne
“Downsizing” (Paramount Pictures)

PROS:
Alexander Payne is very popular with Academy. Original story. Great cast.
CONS:
The Venice crowd loved it but it has seemed to teeter as the months have gone on.

17

Sofia Coppola
“The Beguiled” (Focus Features)

PROS:
Previous nominee for Best Director ("Lost in Translation") and winner at Cannes. One of the strongest directions to come out of the first half of the year.
CONS:
With the latter season films heating up, will people remember/care about the film and her direction?

18

Todd Haynes
“Wonderstruck” (Amazon Studios)

PROS:
Oscar-nominee for "Far from Heaven" and was a HUGE omission in 2015 for "Carol." Cannes reviews were positive.
CONS:
Cannes was good but it wasn't "Carol" level good. He needs a resurgence at NYFF (and Telluride).

19

Stephen Frears
“Victoria and Abdul” (Focus Features)

PROS:
Multiple nominee of "The Queen" and "The Grifters." Taking on a British period piece that can speak to a certain voting bloc.
CONS:
The film is rather light for a Director nomination. They'll need to really love it.

20

Darren Aronofsky
“mother!” (Paramount Pictures)

PROS:
The Oscar-nominated director of "Black Swan." The movie is a heavily directed piece and he could get a pocket of support.
CONS:
The movie is a hard watch and has its vocal critics.

ALSO IN CONTENTION

21

Aaron Sorkin
“Molly’s Game” (STX Entertainment)

PROS:
The Oscar-winning screenwriter is making his directorial debut. Can he have the same luck from the director's branch?
CONS:
Initial gut reactions have many thinking it's an acting and screenplay contender

22

Patty Jenkins
“Wonder Woman” (Warner Bros.)

PROS:
Warner Bros. will be mounting a serious campaign and Jenkins has been the story of the film's success. She may be closer than we think.
CONS:
A director from a superhero film? I'll believe it when I see it.

23

Jordan Peele
“Get Out” (Universal Pictures)

PROS:
Directed the most critically well-received film of the year so far. With a likely nod from the DGA (for First-Time Director), could this happen in the end?
CONS:
The director of a horror-comedy is as far-fetched as they come (until it happens).

24

Michael Gracey
“The Greatest Showman” (20th Century Fox)

PROS:
This visual effects supervisor turned director is taking on a musical. Could he be our new Rob Marshall?
CONS:
Musicals are divisive.

25

Angelina Jolie
“First They Killed My Father” (Netflix)

PROS:
Telluride really loved the film and its her best directorial work yet. Also Cambodia's official submission for Foreign Language Feature.
CONS:
It will have its run in Foreign Language. This will be hard to muscle in with Netflix.

26

Taylor Sheridan
“Wind River” (The Weinstein Company)

PROS:
Enjoyed his first nomination for writing "Hell or High Water," along with winning Best Director (Un Certain Regard) at Cannes. Is gaining vocal and strong fans.
CONS:
The film's direction isn't as loud as it could be and will The Weinstein Company put a focus on the film?

27

Woody Allen
“Wonder Wheel” (Amazon Studios)

PROS:
This Oscar-winner of "Annie Hall" is likely capable of one more director trophy in his lifetime. Film premiering at NYFF.
CONS:
He's a controversial figure and his films or usually hit or miss.

28

Kenneth Branagh
“Murder on the Orient Express” (20th Century Fox)

PROS:
Five-time nominee (really?) who hasn't had his Oscar moment yet. Can this remake do it for him? Also good in "Dunkirk."
CONS:
Oscar nod for this remake seems a little far-fetched.

29

Matt Reeves
“War for the Planet of the Apes” (20th Century Fox)

PROS:
Brought the epic series to a heart wrenching close. Fox is giving the film a huge push.
CONS:
It will battle with other blockbusters trying to make a play in Director.

30

Reginald Hudlin
“Marshall” (Open Road Films)

PROS:
Previous nominee for producing "Django Unchained" and even received an Emmy nod for his work on the Oscars in 2016. Could Marshall Thurgood do him
CONS:
The film's been screening but the buzz remains muted. May just be a money play.

OTHER POSSIBILITIES

31

Simon Curtis
“Goodbye Christopher Robin” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

PROS:
The director of "Woman in Gold" and "My Week with Marilyn" taking on another historical figure, the author of "Winnie the Pooh."
CONS:
Seems awfully light for a showing in Director.

32

George Clooney
“Suburbicon” (Paramount Pictures)

PROS:
Previous nominee for "Good Night, and Good Luck" and is always up for an Oscar run.
CONS:
Reviews from Venice were not so positive.

33

Yorgos Lanthimos
“The Killing Of A Sacred Deer” (A24)

PROS:
Writer and director of "The Lobster" whose film received praise out of Cannes.
CONS:
The movie is said to be too weird for Oscar's tastes.

34

James Mangold
“Logan” (20th Century Fox)

PROS:
The director of "3:10 to Yuma" and "Walk the Line" elevated the superhero franchise with his interpretation and conclusion of Wolverine. There's going to be a push.
CONS:
The genre bias is real and he'll need significant help from the critic's awards.

35

Armando Iannucci
“The Death of Stalin” (IFC Films)

PROS:
Premiered at TIFF to decent notices. Director of "In the Loop," and a previous Oscar-nominee.
CONS:
The film didn't sound like it was going to make a big enough impact, let alone in directing.

36

James Franco
“The Disaster Artist” (A24)

PROS:
It could be one of those films that everyone just keeps citing along the way and he surprises just about everywhere.
CONS:
Comedies in Director are such a rarity.

37

James Gray
“The Lost City of Z” (Amazon Studios)

PROS:
No data found.
CONS:
No data found.

38

Lee Unkrich
“Coco” (Pixar)

PROS:
No data found.
CONS:
No data found.

39

Margaret Betts
“Novitiate” (Sony Pictures Classics)

PROS:
No data found.
CONS:
No data found.

40

Ruben Östlund
“The Square” (Magnolia Pictures)

PROS:
No data found.
CONS:
No data found.

CLICK THE CATEGORY TO SEE THE OSCAR PREDICTIONS:

MOTION PICTURE | DIRECTOR |
LEAD ACTOR | LEAD ACTRESS | SUPPORTING ACTOR | SUPPORTING ACTRESS | 
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY | ADAPTED SCREENPLAY | ANIMATED FEATURE |
PRODUCTION DESIGN | CINEMATOGRAPHY | COSTUME DESIGN | FILM EDITING | MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING | SOUND MIXING | SOUND EDITING | VISUAL EFFECTS |
ORIGINAL SCORE | ORIGINAL SONG |
| FOREIGN LANGUAGE |

  • Robotman

    I hope Christopher Nolan wins Best Director.

  • Baggins

    my picks as of right now in Alphabetical order

    Woody Allen – Wonder Wheel
    Guillermo Del Toro – The Shape of Water
    Christopher Nolan – Dunkirk
    Steven Spielberg – The Post
    Joe Wright – Darkest Hour

  • Sentinel666

    my predictions:

    1.Guillermo Del Toro “The Shape of Water”
    2.Luca Guadagnino “Call Me By Your Name”
    3.James Franco “The Disaster Artist”
    4.Martin McDonagh “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
    5.Paul Thomas Anderson “Phantom Thread”

    next in line:

    6.Denis Villeneuve “Blade Runner 2049”
    7.Richard Linklater “Last Flag Flying”
    8.Jordan Peele “Get Out”
    9.Greta Gerwig “Lady Bird”
    10.Taylor Sheridan “Wind River”

  • Cornelius Buttersby

    McDonagh as a winner is a great pick, especially since nearly everyone will be predicting a split. However, the model I see for it is that of Spotlight – winning Best Picture with just a Screenplay win due to preferential balloting, while something more ambitious and divisive wins Best Director.

    As such, though McDonagh is safe for a nomination, I think Best Director will come down to either Del Toro or Nolan. Since I still struggle to see Dunkirk getting in with Rylance, and directors usually need an acting or screenplay nom, I give the edge to Guillermo Del Toro.

    Spielberg could play spoiler, and make a narrative as a worth lone-director winner to put him on par with John Ford as a three-time Oscar winner, but it’s hard to bite the bullet on that until The Post premieres.

    After those four, my gut says Sean Baker gets in on The Florida Project’s passion votes – the film is a clear passion project, and he is a multi-hyphenate who has been gathering career momentum with his recent output (the iPhone-wielding ingenuity of Tangerine in particular has been brought up a lot in interviews and film schools [mine at least; this could be a bubble]).

    This of course leaves out Joe Wright, but I think passion for his film may dwindle and leave him as a Ridley Scott/The Martian or Paul Greengrass/Captain Phillips esque surprise miss that people will ultimately be okay with.

    The next contenders in line would, I think, be Luca Guadagnino (who could easily rally with passion votes if the love for his film continues to build), Villeneuve (if the film does get in, he’d be an easy get, and help to pad out a category of mostly-first-time-nominees), Scott/Thomas Anderson (if either of their films end up in contention they could ride career kudos into surprise last-minute nominations). Further down the line, there could be a surprise nominee (or not-so-surprise nominee depending on how the Best Picture narrative plays out) like Jordan Peele, Dee Rees, Craig Gillespie, Richard Linklater, or Michael Gracey.

    Therefore my current five are:

    Sean Baker- The Florida Project (indie upstart a la Abrahamson, Zeitlin, Daniels)
    Guillermo Del Toro- The Shape of Water (Tech-contender)
    Martin McDonagh- Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (along for a nom to couple with
    his Best Picture contender)
    Christopher Nolan- Dunkirk (Tech-contender Pt. 2)
    Steven Spielberg- The Post (all new-timer categories are exceedingly rare)

  • Cornelius Buttersby

    McDonagh as a winner is a great pick, especially since nearly everyone will be predicting a split. However, the model I see for it is that of Spotlight – winning Best Picture with just a Screenplay win due to preferential balloting, while something more ambitious and divisive wins Best Director.

    As such, though McDonagh is safe for a nomination, I think Best Director will come down to either Del Toro or Nolan. Since I still struggle to see Dunkirk getting in with Rylance, and directors usually need an acting or screenplay nom, I give the edge to Guillermo Del Toro.

    Spielberg could play spoiler, and make a narrative as a worth lone-director winner to put him on par with John Ford as a three-time Oscar winner, but it’s hard to bite the bullet on that until The Post premieres.

    After those four, my gut says Sean Baker gets in on The Florida Project’s passion votes – the film is a clear passion project, and he is a multi-hyphenate who has been gathering career momentum with his recent output (the iPhone-wielding ingenuity of Tangerine in particular has been brought up a lot in interviews and film schools [mine at least; this could be a bubble]).

    This of course leaves out Joe Wright, but I think passion for his film may dwindle and leave him as a Ridley Scott/The Martian or Paul Greengrass/Captain Phillips esque surprise miss that people will ultimately be okay with.

    The next contenders in line would, I think, be Luca Guadagnino (who could easily rally with passion votes if the love for his film continues to build), Villeneuve (if the film does get in, he’d be an easy get, and help to pad out a category of mostly-first-time-nominees), Scott/Thomas Anderson (if either of their films end up in contention they could ride career kudos into surprise last-minute nominations). Further down the line, there could be a surprise nominee (or not-so-surprise nominee depending on how the Best Picture narrative plays out) like Jordan Peele, Dee Rees, Craig Gillespie, Richard Linklater, or Michael Gracey.

    Therefore my current five are:

    Sean Baker- The Florida Project (indie upstart a la Abrahamson, Zeitlin, Daniels)
    Guillermo Del Toro- The Shape of Water (Tech-contender)
    Martin McDonagh- Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (along for a nom to couple with
    his Best Picture contender)
    Christopher Nolan- Dunkirk (Tech-contender Pt. 2)
    Steven Spielberg- The Post (all new-timer categories are exceedingly rare)

  • Cornelius Buttersby

    McDonagh as a winner is a great pick, especially since nearly everyone will be predicting a split. However, the model I see for it is that of Spotlight – winning Best Picture with just a Screenplay win due to preferential balloting, while something more ambitious and divisive wins Best Director.

    As such, though McDonagh is safe for a nomination, I think Best Director will come down to either Del Toro or Nolan. Since I still struggle to see Dunkirk getting in with Rylance, and directors usually need an acting or screenplay nom, I give the edge to Guillermo Del Toro.

    Spielberg could play spoiler, and make a narrative as a worth lone-director winner to put him on par with John Ford as a three-time Oscar winner, but it’s hard to bite the bullet on that until The Post premieres.

    After those four, my gut says Sean Baker gets in on The Florida Project’s passion votes – the film is a clear passion project, and he is a multi-hyphenate who has been gathering career momentum with his recent output (the iPhone-wielding ingenuity of Tangerine in particular has been brought up a lot in interviews and film schools [mine at least; this could be a bubble]).

    This of course leaves out Joe Wright, but I think passion for his film may dwindle and leave him as a Ridley Scott/The Martian or Paul Greengrass/Captain Phillips esque surprise miss that people will ultimately be okay with.

    The next contenders in line would, I think, be Luca Guadagnino (who could easily rally with passion votes if the love for his film continues to build), Villeneuve (if the film does get in, he’d be an easy get, and help to pad out a category of mostly-first-time-nominees), Scott/Thomas Anderson (if either of their films end up in contention they could ride career kudos into surprise last-minute nominations). Further down the line, there could be a surprise nominee (or not-so-surprise nominee depending on how the Best Picture narrative plays out) like Jordan Peele, Dee Rees, Craig Gillespie, Richard Linklater, or Michael Gracey.

    Therefore my current five are:

    Sean Baker- The Florida Project (indie upstart a la Abrahamson, Zeitlin, Daniels)
    Guillermo Del Toro- The Shape of Water (Tech-contender)
    Martin McDonagh- Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (along for a nom to couple with
    his Best Picture contender)
    Christopher Nolan- Dunkirk (Tech-contender Pt. 2)
    Steven Spielberg- The Post (all new-timer categories are exceedingly rare)