While Nomadland‘s Chloé Zhao remains the overwhelming favorite and frontrunner, at least with critics so far, Spike Lee (Da 5 Bloods) is moving up as one of his fellow Netflix competitors moves down.
Lee just earned his first ever Best Director nomination two years ago with BlacKkKlansman, a film that also won him his first competitive Oscar (for Adapted Screenplay). Lee is one of only two directors that has yet to breach Zhao’s dominance in the critics’ race for best director; he has three wins so far (including NBR, where the Da 5 Bloods also won Best Film). The Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice nominations next week could cement his place even before we get to the DGA noms on March 9.
Regina King (One Night in Miami) is the other director who has a critics’ prize under her belt; she has the Black Film Critics Circle as well as two debut director wins and moves up the chart this month. Currently, Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) is the leader for this season’s first time/debut director wins (as well as the original screenplay champ) and she moves up into the top 10 for the first time with a Spirit Award nomination in her pocket.
Some major drops this month come to Florian Zeller for The Father. As I mentioned in Best Actor, I don’t know what’s going on with Sony Pictures Classics and this film. It could have, should have, been a slam dunk across the board but each week it drops in visibility. There’s no doubt that SAG, the Globes and BAFTA could revive it but for right now, there isn’t a place for Zeller here.
David Fincher, shockingly, also makes a plunge. Still in the top 5 (for now) but Mank has only just barely begun to crack the regional critics’ awards nominations. Fincher has yet to earn a single win and barely shows up in the nomination process. Only New Mexico has given the film some love and they still snubbed him here.
Here are my ranked 2021 Oscar predictions in Best Director for January.
Green – moves up; Red – moves down; Blue – new entry this month
1. Chloé Zhao – Nomadland (Searchlight Pictures)
2. Spike Lee – Da 5 Bloods (Netflix)
3. George C. Wolfe – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Netflix)
4. Aaron Sorkin – The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Netflix)
5. David Fincher – Mank (Netflix)
6. Paul Greengrass – News of the World (Universal Pictures)
7. Lee Isaac Chung – Minari (A24)
8. Regina King – One Night in Miami… (Amazon Studios)
9. Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman (Focus Features)
10. Shaka King – Judas and the Black Messiah (Warner Bros)
Other Contenders: Thomas Vinterberg – Another Round (Samuel Goldwyn Mayer), Florian Zeller – The Father (Sony Classics Pictures), Kelly Reichardt – First Cow (A24), Ron Howard – Hillbilly Elegy (Netflix), Eliza Hittman – Never Rarely Sometimes Always (Focus Features), Kornél Mundruczó – Pieces of a Woman (Netflix), Christopher Nolan – Tenet (Warner Bros), Lee Daniels – The United States vs Billie Holiday (Hulu)
Da 5 Bloods image credit: David Lee/Netflix