Monday, January 23, 2012

Awards Tracker - Best Director

The critics groups were fairly consistent with their nominations, backing four main contenders, and two minor ones:  Michel Hazanavicius came out top with eighteen nominations & nine wins for The Artist, followed closely by Terence Mallick for The Tree of Life, with fifteen nominations & eight wins. Scorsese's Hugo clocks in with twelve nominations & Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive with eleven. Behind them, Alexander Payne managed six nods for The Descendants, and Woody Allen four for Midnight in Paris. 

The bigger awards groups were a bit more all over the place, with a total 27 directors mentioned in just 13 awards. Mostly, they put their weight behind Michel Hazanavicius (eight nominations), Martin Scorsese (six), Nicolas Winding Refn (five) & Alexander Payne (five), while Terence Mallick - close second with the critics - didn't manage a single nomination.

Woody Allen, Sean Durkin (Martha Marcy May Marlene), Steven Spielberg (War Horse) & Tomas Alfredson (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy) each managed at least multiple nominations (three for Allen, two for the rest), while the remaining nineteen directors each got one only. Most significant of the single nominees, however, is David Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which landed a surprise nomination from the important Directors Guild, ringing the death knell for Winding Refn's Drive (which was also excluded from the Golden Globes in favour of George Clooney for Ides of March).

So where does this leave us? With the really creative contenders (Tree of Life, Drive) out of the picture, and the foreign front runner (Michel Hazanavicius) making it all but impossible for the more obscure foreigners (Lynne Ramsay, Tomas Alfredson) to edge their way in, we're likely looking at a pretty straight forward & American year for Best Director.

The two movies about movies (The Artist, Hugo) are locks, two American masters (Woody Allen, Alexander Payne) will get nods for elegantly directing their own hot screenplays & the fifth slot is a mystery: is their room for syrupy sentiment from Steven Spielberg (War Horse), a dark European tale brought to life by a dark American legend (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)a tight political thriller (The Ides of March) or will the Academy smart up & nominate the most epically ambitious American achievement of the year (The Tree of Life)? Only time will tell, and frankly I don't know where my money is. I'll follow my heart & predict what I hope against logic to see:

Michel Hazanavicius - The Artist
Martin Scorsese - Hugo
Alexander Payne - The Descendants
Woody Allen - Midnight in Paris
Terence Mallick - The Tree of Life

(More likely) Alternate:
David Fincher - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo