I’m feeling very good about my Asghar Farhadi prediction last month as his new film, A Hero, was announced in competition for this summer’s Cannes Film Festival. In what seems to becoming a trend, the directing branch of the Academy is leaning towards highlighting a non-English language film and its director more often. When I predicted Thomas Vinterberg to get in last season I knew that I was going out of a limb but I also knew his film, Another Round, was a shoe-in for the International Feature Film Oscar and very close in the Best Actor and Original Screenplay races for nominations.
For Farhadi, two of his films have already won the Foreign Language Film/International Feature Film Oscar (2011’s A Separation and 2016’s The Salesman) and he was nominated for Original Screenplay for the former. I think we’re potentially seeing a very similar situation here with A Hero‘s lead, either Amir Jadidi or Mohsen Tanabandeh. It’s hard to know at the moment who that will be as plot details for the film are still under wraps. But, with Amazon behind it – just as they were with Paweł Pawlikowski for 2018’s Cold War – I feel very good for his chances, even this early in the pre-season.
But I’m also going to keep an eye out for Leos Carax (Annette) Céline Sciamma (Petite Maman), Ruben Östlund (Triangle of Sadness, dependent on being picked up this season, which it surely will), Paolo Sorrentino (The Hand of God), Park Chan-wook (Decision to Leave, distribution dependent), Ari Folman (Where is Anne Frank?, distribution dependent), Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Memoria) and Jonas Poher Rasmussen for Flee, the riveting animated documentary film that was set to debut at Cannes 2020 but instead premiered at Sundance 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
As I talked about last month, due to so many 2020 films being pushed to 2021, the wealth of previously Oscar-nominated talent slated to come out this year is daunting. Jane Campion, Wes Anderson, Adam McKay, David O. Russell, Denis Villeneuve and Paul Thomas Anderson will battle Oscar-winning directors like Guillermo del Toro, Steven Spielberg and Joel Coen. There’s certainly not room for them all so things will get very cutthroat come fall.
Here are my ranked Best Director Oscar predictions for June 2021.
Green – moves up ↑ Red – moves down ↓ Blue – new/re-entry ◊ Black – no movement ↔
1. Guillermo del Toro – Nightmare Alley (Searchlight Pictures) ↔
2. Jane Campion – The Power of the Dog (Netflix) ↑
3. Ridley Scott – House of Gucci (MGM/UA) ↔
4. Joel Coen – The Tragedy of Macbeth (Apple/A24) ↑
5. Asghar Farhadi – A Hero (Amazon Studios) ↔
6. Steven Spielberg – West Side Story (20th Century Studios) ↓
7. Denis Villeneuve – Dune (Warner Bros) ↔
8. Paul Thomas Anderson – Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson aka Soggy Bottom (MGM/UA) ↔
9. Kenneth Branagh – Belfast (Focus Features) ◊
10. Jonas Poher Rasmussen – Flee (Neon) ↑
Other contenders: Leos Carax – Annette (Amazon Studios), Siân Heder – CODA (Apple), Joe Wright – Cyrano (MGM/UA), Adam McKay – Don’t Look Up (Netflix), Wes Anderson – The French Dispatch (Searchlight Pictures), Paolo Sorrentino – The Hand of God (Netflix), Denzel Washington – A Journal for Jordan (Sony Pictures), Ridley Scott – The Last Duel (20th Century Studios), Eva Husson – Mothering Sunday (Sony Pictures Classics), Taika Waititi – Next Goal Wins (Searchlight Pictures), Rebecca Hall – Passing (Netflix), David O. Russell – Untitled David O. Russell aka Canterbury Glass (20th Century Studios)
Will it be out this year?: Alejandro González Iñárritu – Limbo (TBA), Park Chan-wook – Decision to Leave (TBD), Maggie Gyllenhaal – The Lost Daughter (TBD)
Photo: Birkan Yüksel