Mon. Nov 18th, 2019

2020 Oscar Nomination Predictions: BEST DIRECTOR (October)

Martin Scorsese, THE IRISHMAN (Netflix)

I haven’t been as high on Martin Scorsese for The Irishman as virtually all of my peers and colleagues have been so either I’m on to something or I’m on something. He seems undeniable, no? The reviews are there. It’s a massive, sprawling, classically Scorsese project. So why do I feel down on his chances?

Maybe because once again we have incredibly strong women directors knocking on the door of Best Director: Lulu Wang (The Farewell), Marielle Heller (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood), Lorene Scafaria (Hustlers), Kasi Lemmons (Harriet), Melina Matsoukas (Queen & Slim) and the last female Best Director nominee, Greta Gerwig (Little Women). This happened to a lesser extent last year, too. Great films directed by women, critically acclaimed all of them. But each fell short in big or small ways through awards season and by the time Oscar nominations were announced the writing was on the wall and we ended up with an all-male lineup once again. Sasha Stone of Awardsdaily has said that she thinks when there are women directors in the running there has to be a ‘consensus’ on just one of them to make it. I think there’s a lot of validity to that and speaks to how some voters look at this category especially. The directing branch has benefitted from more new non-American members in the last few years than any single branch (which will benefit Bong Joon-ho big time) but it’s still overwhelmingly male (as all branches are). They can be and still are protective of their seemingly entitled five slots but if a woman can’t get in this year, when will it happen again? Wang is the most likely to break into this year’s boys club as her film stands the best chance in Best Picture along with its likely nominations in Best Actress, Supporting Actress and Original Screenplay. It’s only October, we still have critics’ awards season and industry and televised awards to light the way.

Right now is starting to feel like a consensus five, as my current top 5 represents (even with the unseen 1917 from Best Director winner Sam Mendes), and it’s difficult to call out who is the most vulnerable. But there is advancement by Jay Roach for Bombshell (great reviews from the screening) and Fernando Meirelles for The Two Popes (proven audience pleaser) as well as the return of two-time Best Director winner, 89-year old Clint Eastwood for Richard Jewell.

Here are my 2020 Oscar Nomination Predictions in Best Director for October 18, 2019.

Green – moves up Red – moves down Blue – new/re-entry

1. Bong Joon-ho – Parasite (Neon)
2. Noah Baumbach – Marriage Story (Netflix)
3. Quentin Tarantino – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Sony/Columbia)
4. Sam Mendes – 1917 (Universal)
5. Martin Scorsese – The Irishman (Netflix)

NEXT UP (alphabetical by film)

Jay Roach – Bombshell (Lionsgate)
Lulu Wang – The Farewell (A24)
Taika Waititi – Jojo Rabbit (Fox Searchlight)
Greta Gerwig – Little Women (Sony/Columbia)
Fernando Meirelles – The Two Popes (Netflix)

WATCH OUT FOR (alphabetical by film)

Marielle Heller – A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Sony/TriStar)
James Mangold – Ford v Ferrari (20th Century Fox)
Lorene Scafaria – Hustlers (STX)
Todd Phillips – Joker (Warner Bros)
Clint Eastwood – Richard Jewell (Warner Bros)

OTHER CONTENDERS (alphabetical by film)

James Gray – Ad Astra (20th Century Fox)
Tom Harper – The Aeronauts (Amazon)
Tom Hooper – Cats (Universal)
Todd Haynes – Dark Waters (Focus Features)
Kasi Lemmons – Harriet (Focus Features)
Terrence Malick – A Hidden Life (Fox Searchlight)
Destin Daniel Cretton – Just Mercy (Warner Bros)
Edward Norton – Motherless Brooklyn (Warner Bros)
Pedro Almodóvar – Pain and Glory (Sony Classics)
Melina Matsoukas – Queen & Slim (Universal)
Jordan Peele – Us (Universal)
Trey Edward Shults – Waves (A24)

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