First Nomination Predictions
Tim Burton "Big Eyes"
JC Chandor "A Most Violent Year"
Stephen Daldry "Trash"
David Fincher "Gone Girl"
Angeline Jolie "Unbroken"
Other Contenders - Mike Leigh "Mr. Turner", Christopher Nolan "Interstellar", Rob Marshall "Into the Woods", Bennett Miller "Foxcatcher", Paul Thomas Anderson "Inherent Vice", Michel Hazanavicius "The Search", Tate Taylor "Get On Up", Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu "Birdman", Terrence Malick "Knight of Cups", David Ayer "Fury", Richard Linklater "Boyhood", Jason Reitman "Men, Women, and Children", Jean-Marc Vallee "Wild", Cameron Crowe "Untitled Cameron Crowe Project", Sarah Gavron "Suffragette", Wes Anderson "The Grand Budapest Hotel", Woody Allen "Magic in the Moonlight", Clint Eastwood "Jersey Boys", David Dobkin "The Judge", Peter Jackson "The Hobbit: There and Back Again", Tommy Lee Jones "The Homesman", Saul Dibb "Suite Francaise", Ridley Scott "Exodus", Darren Aronofsky "Noaha", David Cronenberg "Map to the Stars", Daniel Espinosa "Child 44", Ned Benson "The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby", Michael Cuesta "Kill the Messenger", Liv Ullman "Miss Julie", Philip Noyce "The Giver"
Commentary - As has been the case the last couple of years, there are a lot of previous nominees and contenders all releasing big projects this year. Some could get moved, some could flop, and even those that succeed will have a hard time crossing that threshold of five. For example, Christopher Nolan has received many Oscar nominations, and his films have won many over the last decade plus, but he has never managed to get into Best Director despite his obviously talented technical wizardry and vision. He is back again with Interstellar, and once again is on the radar. Several other talented previous winners/nominees are looking to get back in, even though I am not currently predicting them.Mike Leigh has managed to get either a directing or screenplay for most of his last couple of projects, including a semi-surprising nod for Another Year. This year he returns with Timothy Spall in the lead as Mr. Turner, and I feel like he could make a splash once again. Rob Marshall hit some rough patches after his successful Chicago. This time around, Into the Woods could prove that his success was not a fluke. Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master was a hit with actors, but not anywhere else, so he needs to prove himself with the directors branch again. Michel Hazanavicius follows up his success with The Artist, with a baity political project starring Berenice Bejo and Annette Bening. Tate Taylor hopes to recapture the magic of The Help with Get On Up, Terrence Malick hopes to rebound from To the Wonder with Kinght of Cups, and Bennett Miller could have another hit on his hands with Foxcatcher. And don't ever forget Alejandro Gonzalez-Inarritu, Jason Reitman, Woody Allen, Cameron Crowe, Jean-Marc Vallee, Wes Anderson, and Ridley Scott. So finally, onto my actual predictions. David Fincher has had a rocky career with the Academy, only making the cut when he had more mainstream crossovers like Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Social Network. Gone Girl looks like the perfect blend of his darker side with a incredibly popular story. Stephen Daldry has made four feature films to date, and every single one of them has either received a Best Director or a Best Picture nomination, and that includes his last two The Reader and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, both of which were simply not that good. Trash looks like it has some promise, and I refuse to underestimate him again. Angeline Jolie has a lot of barriers to break, particularly her gender and the fact that she was an actor first. But Unbroken is such an incredible story, she clearly has a vision, and the Coen Bros. are finishing up the script. If anyone can do, she can. Tim Burton is another artist like Nolan who has never crossed into the top five. He also has a string of live-action clunkers. But I think that the material, and the cast of Big Eyes, could set him up to finally get an overdue Best Director nomination. Finally, JC Chandor is clearly a talented young director, and his films have been flirting with real Academy recognition for a few years now. I think A Most Violent Year looks like an incredibly deep story, and has an incredible cast. This might finally be the film that pushes his film into true Oscar glory.