The top 5 in Best Director this month stays the same with a bit of movement with that group. In fact, the top 10 is all the same but with slight, but important, changes.
Alfonso Cuarón still holds the top spot with his personal epic ROMA but first-time director Bradley Cooper inches up in what could be the fight of the season. Cuarón is already a Best Director winner (for Gravity, which lost Best Picture) but Cooper’s reviews for A Star Is Born as a filmmaker have been stellar and he’s going to be the most-nominated individual this season with his Picture, Actor, Adapted Screenplay and Original Song all up for grabs for the four-time Oscar-nominated actor.
Barry Jenkins also moves up, from #4 to #3 after a small but successful fall festival run with If Beale Street Could Talk. That means Yorgos Lanthimos is down one for The Favourite. A small move.
The sole debut is the return of Clint Eastwood. He churned out The Mule is classic Eastwood time and that film will go wide in mid-December. It’s hard to tell if it will be a box office hit or an awards player but I would never discount the old guard of the Academy (which nominated Mel Gibson just two years ago) to bolster its base for the grizzled two-time Best Director Oscar winner.
Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman), however, ticks down from #2 to #5, his lowest point on the chart since it began last spring. I would say it’s largely all just part of the ebb and flow as each month brings new festivals, screenings, reviews and everything that leads to small and big changes. We still have AFI Fest next month but the next big changes will come when studios reveal where their FYC ad dollars are going to go and which film in their arsenal is going to be their #1 push. There’s still so much room and time for movement.
Two other Oscar winners, Damien Chazelle (First Man) and Adam McKay (Vice) are also working their way down the chart instead of up it. Chazelle on the lack of strength of his film after its failure to launch opening and McKay because I wonder what the reaction is going to be to a satire of one of the most reviled political figures in recent history is going to be in light of our current political turmoil. The tone of the first trailer is definitely comedic and that might rub Academy members the wrong way at the wrong time.
I still have Peter Farrelly in the Next Up section and I gotta say, I don’t feel great about it. On one hand, I think Green Book is a top player in multiple categories and a Best Picture contender. On the other hand, it would be a pretty classic move to nominate the film all over the place and then snub it in Director. Not only because Farrelly’s career has been one of directing crass comedies (but then, Adam McKay was too) but all of those Driving Miss Daisy comparisons would ring even truer if it happened. Still, I feel I’m probably underestimating him and I imagine he’ll move up next month, or more likely in an upcoming Frontrunner Friday first.
Here are my 2019 Oscar Predictions in Best Director for October 19, 2018.
Green – moves up; Red – moves down; Blue – chart debut
1. Alfonso Cuarón – ROMA (Netflix)
2. Bradley Cooper – A Star Is Born (Warner Bros)
3. Barry Jenkins – If Beale Street Could Talk (Annapurna)
4. Yorgos Lanthimos – The Favourite (Fox Searchlight)
5. Spike Lee – BlacKkKlansman (Focus Features)
6. Ryan Coogler – Black Panther (Disney)
7. Steve McQueen – Widows (20th Century Fox)
8. Damien Chazelle – First Man (Universal)
9. Adam McKay – Vice (Annapurna)
10. Marielle Heller – Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Fox Searchlight)
Joel Edgerton – Boy Erased (Focus Features)
Nadine Labaki – Capharnaüm (Sony Classics)
Karyn Kusama – Destroyer (Annapurna)
Peter Farrelly – Green Book (Universal)
Clint Eastwood – The Mule (Warner Bros)
Paul Greengrass – 22 July (Netflix)
The Coen Brothers – The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Netflix)
Felix van Groeningen – Beautiful Boy (Amazon)
Susanne Bier – Bird Box (Netflix)
Pawel Pawlikowski – Cold War (Amazon)
Jon M. Chu – Crazy Rich Asians (Warner Bros)
Jason Reitman – The Front Runner (Sony)
Debra Granik – Leave No Trace (Bleecker Street)
Josie Rourke – Mary Queen of Scots (Focus Features)
Orson Welles – The Other Side of the Wind (Netflix)