It’s difficult to imagine an upset here as Sam Mendes (1917) has won the Golden Globe, tied Bong Joon Ho at the Critics Choice, DGA and BAFTA and there simply isn’t a precedent for a loss after that momentum, especially in a shortened season.
What’s especially interesting with a potential and likely win for Mendes is that he will become just the fourth director to helm two Best Picture winners in the last 50 years (his first feature was 1999’s American Beauty). The other three? Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather I and II), Milos Forman (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Amadeus), and Clint Eastwood (Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby). William Wyler is the only three-time helmer of a Best Picture winner.
- William Wyler – Mrs. Miniver (1942), The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), Ben-Hur (1959)
- Frank Lloyd – Cavalcade (1933), Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
- Frank Capra – It Happened One Night (1934), You Can’t Take It with You (1938)
- Elia Kazan – Gentleman’s Agreement (1947), On the Waterfront (1954)
- Vincente Minnelli – An American in Paris (1951), Gigi (1958)
- Billy Wilder – The Lost Weekend (1945), The Apartment (1960)
- David Lean – The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
- Robert Wise – West Side Story (1961), The Sound of Music (1965)
- Fred Zinnemann – From Here to Eternity (1953), A Man for All Seasons (1966)
- Francis Ford Coppola – The Godfather (1972), The Godfather: Part II (1974)
- Milos Forman – One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), Amadeus (1984)
- Clint Eastwood – Unforgiven (1992), Million Dollar Baby (2004)
What will separate Mendes apart from those wins is that his will be 20 years apart, the longest gap of any double BP director.
So, is there room for a Bong Joon Ho upset here? What if Parasite is actually our Best Picture winner? This decade has seen an unprecedented amount of director/picture splits, which doesn’t work in Bong’s favor and, as much as he has been loved and embraced by Hollywood this year, this is a category that consistently rewards major directorial spectacles like Gravity and The Revenant and Bong’s only win so far was in a tie with Mendes at Critics Choice. He’s solidly in second but this is already a crazy year so maybe not that far off after all.
Here are my ranked Final Oscar predictions for Best Director with a chart of a decade of related precursors and history.
|1. Sam Mendes – 1917 (Universal)||BAFTA, CCA, DGA, GG|
|2. Bong Joon Ho – Parasite (Neon)||BAFTA, CCA, DGA, GG|
|3. Quentin Tarantino – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Sony/Columbia)||BAFTA, CCA, DGA, GG|
|4. Martin Scorsese – The Irishman (Netflix)||BAFTA, CCA, DGA, GG|
|5. Todd Phillips – Joker (Warner Bros)||BAFTA, CCA, GG|