Sat. May 30th, 2020

2019 Oscar Predictions: BEST DIRECTOR (July) – Alfonso Cuarón makes big chart jump

ROMA ro-mah-mah! Alfonso Cuarón returns after a five-year hiatus with his most personal film yet

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Things are starting to happen as we’ve crossed the halfway point of the year. While obviously the fall and winter films have yet to be seen by critics or the general public, many have been seen by festival programmers and next week we’ll have the lineups for Venice and TIFF.

The big move this month is Alfonso Cuarón for Roma. It was just announced yesterday that the film will be the New York Film Festival Centerpiece selection. Historically it’s not the most trustworthy spot for Oscar players (Wonderstruck landed it last year) but Roma could upend that. It’s been five years since Cuarón’s Oscar-winning juggernaut Gravity which won him the Academy Award for Best Director. For Roma, he eschews deep space and visual effects for a very down to Earth and personal film and I think the Academy could eat it up. The other major Roma news that dropped this week was that Netflix had procured Lisa Taback, arguably the most influential Oscar strategist in the business. She was partially responsible for Mudbound‘s breakthrough last year and could knock down a few more doors this year.

Damien Chazelle, the Oscar-winning director of La La Land, will see his next film, First Man, open this year’s Venice Film Festival. La La Land also nabbed this spot before its next stop at Telluride, domination of the fall fests and 14 Oscar nominations. But, he falls this month for me just a bit. Mostly to make room for the huge rise of Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite) but also because I wonder how much audiences, critics and Academy voters will see First Man through the lens of La La Land and Chazelle’s previous win. It’s all speculative but I’m remaining cautious.

Same goes for Oscar winners Steve McQueen and Barry Jenkins. Follow-ups are not always easy, especially if you’ve gotten so much acclaim for your last film. Widows might end up being a good popcorn flick that earns massive box office. Maybe it’s all of that and an awards player. If Beale Street Could Talk could be an artsy indie too far outside of mainstream or awards appeal. But then, that’s what a lot of pundits said about Moonlight and then it won Best Picture.

I’m feeling more positive about Karyn Kusama and Destroyer week to week. It’s only gut and instinct at this point but it has to start somewhere. Kusama represents so much about Hollywood at its crossroads right now; women in film, especially directors. Minority recognition and opportunity; Kusama would be the first Asian-American woman nominated in Best Director if she makes it in. Hell, she’d be the first non-white woman period. But, will Annapurna prioritize her over Jenkins and Adam McKay (Backseat)?

Joel Edgerton also rises this month with Boy Erased. Focus Features is positioning the film as a major awards player and the Academy loves actors turned directors. Although, Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born) may already have that spot sewn up.

Is anyone else excited by the prospect of Orson Welles being an Oscar nominee in 2019 for The Other Side of the Wind? I know it’s way, way out there as a chance but again, now that Netflix has the best awards publicist in the business I’m not crossing anything out. Speaking of Netflix, Susanne Bier debuts with Bird Box. With so many strong female directors in the mix this year she could be in contention.

Here are my 2019 Oscar predictions in Best Director for July 19, 2018.

Green – moves up
Red – moves down
Blue – chart debut

1. Spike Lee – BlacKkKlansman (Focus Features)
2. Adam McKay – Backseat (Annapurna)
3. Yorgos Lanthimos – The Favourite (Fox Searchlight)
4. Steve McQueen – Widows (20th Century Fox)
5. Damien Chazelle – First Man (Universal)
6. Bradley Cooper – A Star is Born (Warner Bros)
7. Alfonso Cuarón – Roma (Netflix)
8. Barry Jenkins – If Beale Street Could Talk (Annapurna)
9. Karyn Kusama – Destroyer (Annapurna)
10. Marielle Heller – Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Fox Searchlight)


James Gray – Ad Astra (20th Century Fox)
Ryan Coogler – Black Panther (Walt Disney)
Joel Edgerton – Boy Erased (Focus Features)
Jason Reitman – The Front Runner (Sony)
Josie Rourke – Mary Queen of Scots (Focus Features)
Mimi Leder – On the Basis of Sex (Focus Features)
Orson Welles – The Other Side of the Wind (Netflix)
Mike Leigh – Peterloo (Amazon)
Pippa Bianco – Untitled Pippa Bianco aka Share (A24)


Felix van Groeningen – Beautiful Boy
Susanne Bier – Bird Box
Bryan Singer – Bohemian Rhapsody
Nadine Labaki – Capharnaüm
Jon M. Chu – Crazy Rich Asians
Julia Hart – Fast Color
Sebastián Lelio – Gloria Bell
Alice Rohrwacher – Happy as Lazzaro
Ari Aster – Hereditary
Kim Nyugen – The Hummingbird Project
Wes Anderson – Isle of Dogs
Justin Kelly – JT Leroy
Debra Granik – Leave No Trace
Paolo Sorrentino – Loro
Rob Marshall – Mary Poppins Returns
Jonah Hill – Mid 90s
Jennifer Kent – The Nightingale
Paul Greengrass – Norway
David Lowery – The Old Man & the Gun
David Mackenzie – Outlaw King
Chloe Zhao – The Rider
Jacques Audiard – The Sisters Brothers
László Nemes – Sunset
Luca Guadagnino – Suspiria
Jason Reitman – Tully
Susanna White – Woman Walks Ahead
Robert Zemeckis – Welcome to Marwen
Lynne Ramsay – You Were Never Really Here
Benh Zeitlin – Wendy
Amma Asante – Where Hands Touch

2019 Oscar Predictions: ADAPTED and ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY (July)

2019 Oscar Predictions: BEST ACTRESS (July)

2019 Oscar Predictions: BEST ACTOR (July)

2019 Oscar Predictions: SUPPORTING ACTOR (July)

2019 Oscar Predictions: SUPPORTING ACTRESS (July)

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