Probably the most locked category of the night, but it doesn’t make it any less exciting because it comes with such history and importance.
With her Best Director nomination for The Power of the Dog, Jane Campion became the first woman in Oscar history to be nominated in the category twice. At the time of her first, for 1993’s The Piano, she was only the second woman ever to be nominated. At that time, while her film won three Oscars, including one for herself in Original Screenplay, she was up against the behemoth that was Schindler’s List and Steven Spielberg’s coronation for Best Director. The two are matched up once again this year, but inevitably we will see very different results.
So secure is Campion this year that not only has the tide started to turn in her film’s favor in Best Picture (although we still have everything in front of us) but even it loses to Belfast, she is still the overwhelmingly predicted winner for director, with an astonishing 37 critics’ wins (and more to come). How close is Kenneth Branagh to her in this race? Likely not very, he couldn’t even muster up a BAFTA nomination on his home turf and he’s not winning Critics’ Choice or DGA over Campion’s first feature directorial effort in 12 years. With Chloé Zhao’s win last year for the Best Picture winner Nomadland (only the second woman ever), if Campion wins it will also mark the first time in Oscar history that women have won in consecutive years.
For Spielberg, Ryusuke Hamaguchi and Paul Thomas Anderson, their nominations are their reward this year, with each of their films possibly going home with one award on Oscar night, just not this one.
Precursor Watch: DGA is March 12, Critics’ Choice and BAFTA are March 13. Oscar winner voting is March 17-22.
Here are my ranked 2022 Oscar predictions in Best Director for February.
1. Jane Campion – The Power of the Dog (Netflix) – GG, CCA, BAFTA, DGA
2. Kenneth Branagh – Belfast (Focus Features) – GG, CCA, DGA
3. Steven Spielberg – West Side Story (20th Century Studios) – GG, CCA, DGA
4. Ryusuke Hamaguchi – Drive My Car (Sideshow/Janus Films) – BAFTA
5. Paul Thomas Anderson – Licorice Pizza (MGM/UAR) – CCA, BAFTA, DGA