Since the last Best Director predictions we’ve had dozens of critics awards and the Golden Globe and Critics Choice Awards nominations, including their director picks and they told us two things we pretty much already knew: Bong Joon Ho (Parasite) and Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) are the frontrunners and locked in a tight battle.
While Bong has the clear and overwhelming lead with critics, Tarantino has picked up a couple and, as we all know, critics aren’t Oscar voters. The recent history of the Oscars picking non-American born directors for the Oscar has been a curious one and I think it speaks to the broadening member base having more of a diverse voice. That puts Bong in the lead for me, especially as Parasite is such a threat in Best Picture. For Tarantino, his career seems to have been building to a Best Director (and Best Picture) win ever since Pulp Fiction and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is not only his best shot ever, it might be his last.
Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story) missing out on a director nomination at the Globes was an eye-opener and made me question the placement of his film in this race, which I really thought could be a BP winner (in what would probably be another split year). But that miss, especially when Joker‘s Todd Phillips made it in certainly deserves some scrutiny. Phillips is a real threat here. He feels like a DGA pick that ends up snubbed at the Oscars but each day he becomes a stronger player.
There’s not really many that can break into this group at this point, barring some wild DGA and/or BAFTA choices. Women have, once again, been completely sidelined in this race despite fantastic films by Greta Gerwig (Little Women), Lulu Wang (The Farewell), Lorene Scafaria (Hustlers), Alma Ha’rel (Honey Boy) and Céline Sciamma (Portrait of a Lady on Fire). While the Spirit Awards gave them some love, the Golden Globes denied and Critics Choice offered one of their seven slots to Gerwig. But it’s not just these groups; no major critics group (or even a 2nd tier or regional) has given a woman their Best Director honors this season. The specialized Black Film Critics Circle gave Kasi Lemmons (Harriet) a shared Best Director prize with Martin Scorsese (The Irishman) and the British Independent Film Awards (BIFA) gave a shared Best Director award to For Sama‘s Waad Al-Kateab (with Edward Watts).
Jay Roach (Bombshell) climbs a bit on the strength of his film’s performance at SAG but then, this happened with his Trumbo and that didn’t work out for anyone other than Bryan Cranston. Bombshell is definitely many rungs higher on the awards ladder than Trumbo ever was though.
For Clint Eastwood however, he’s fallen and he can’t get up. After the utterly anemic opening of Richard Jewell, he won’t be returning this season.
Here are my 2020 Oscar Nomination Predictions in Best Director for December 20, 2019.
Green – moves up Red – moves down Blue – new/re-entry
1. Bong Joon Ho – Parasite (Neon)
2. Quentin Tarantino – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Sony/Columbia)
3. Sam Mendes – 1917 (Universal)
4. Martin Scorsese – The Irishman (Netflix)
5. Noah Baumbach – Marriage Story (Netflix)
NEXT UP (alphabetical by film)
Lulu Wang – The Farewell (A24)
James Mangold – Ford v Ferrari (20th Century Fox)
Taika Waititi – Jojo Rabbit (Fox Searchlight)
Todd Phillips – Joker (Warner Bros)
Greta Gerwig – Little Women (Sony/Columbia)
WATCH OUT FOR (alphabetical by film)
Marielle Heller – A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Sony/TriStar)
Jay Roach – Bombshell (Lionsgate)
Lorene Scafaria – Hustlers (STX)
Fernando Meirelles – The Two Popes (Netflix)
Josh and Benny Safdie, Uncut Gems (A24)
OTHER CONTENDERS (alphabetical by film)
Todd Haynes – Dark Waters (Focus Features)
Terrence Malick – A Hidden Life (Fox Searchlight)
Pedro Almodóvar – Pain and Glory (Sony Classics)
Clint Eastwood – Richard Jewell (Warner Bros)
Jordan Peele – Us (Universal)