Maybe the toughest one to call this year. All these directors turned in some solid work. I have a feeling the winner might not have their movie called at the end of the night though.
Lenny Abrahamson – Room
Whenever I see a great performance from a child actor I usually give extra credit to the director. That’s not to take a single thing away from the child actor but it takes a special kind of director to make that happen. This is the case with Abrahamson. The unfortunately non-nominated Jacob Tremblay is magnificent as Jack in Room. This 7-year old (at the time production began) should have been up for Best Actor, not supporting as some suggested. He’s that good and he is in nearly every frame of the movie. But it’s not just his performance that highlights the excellence of his direction. Shooting over half the movie in one room and capturing the confinement without showing the audience the same thing over and over again was a significant challenge. He made it work. He made it great.
Alejandro G. Iñárritu – The Revenant
If Iñárritu wins back-to-back directing Oscars that will be the first time it will have happened in almost 65 years (Joseph Mankiewicz – A Letter to Three Wives and All About Eve). I think he genuinely has a shot to repeat this year for his breathtaking work in The Revenant. There were moments I was just mesmerized by what he was doing visually in this wilderness epic. I’m not sure his work on The Revenant is as good as last year’s Birdman but it might be the best of this year’s bunch.
Tom McCarthy – Spotlight
For the most part Tom McCarthy has been writing and directing some excellent films throughout his career without much recognition. Up, The Visitor and The Station Agent are all top notch. He also wrote and directed The Cobbler with Adam Sandler but we won’t hold that against him. The brilliance of Spotlight has more than made up for it. The pacing of this movie couldn’t be better and he masterfully meshed some of the best working actors today into a single acting behemoth. It’s kinda like the Voltron of movie making. The direction here isn’t flashy but if anyone deserves to keep Iñárritu from repeating it Tom McCarthy.
Adam McKay – The Big Short
McKay faced a different kind of challenge. Take the often misunderstood and mysterious world of the housing market and how the banks operate and tell a story about it without inducing mass comas in theaters nationwide. Mission accomplished. Making it one of the best pictures of the year? Herculean! It’s not just the slick script. Like McCarthy, it’s the way he utilized an all-star cast to do it.
George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road
Sure, you know George Miller directed the original Mad Max movies. But did you know George Miller has been nominated for 4 other Oscars? But did you know those nominations were for Lorenzo’s Oil, Babe and Happy Feet? I bet you didn’t. I didn’t and I’m an Oscar junkie. He won Best Animated Feature for Happy Feet! This guy is pretty versatile. Mad Max: Fury Road is as great a thrill ride as it gets. His courage to take on this world again and tell a fresh and compelling story with great action, great acting and great visuals is why he’s getting his first directing Oscar nomination. Next year he’s doing the adaptation of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. (just kidding)
PREDICTION: As much as I’d love to see McCarthy get it we will have our first back-to-back directing winner since 1950. Iñárritu takes home his 2nd straight Oscar in a very competitive category.
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Check out my other predictions right here.
Tomorrow we’ll wrap it all up with my prediction for Best Picture of the Year.