Post Venice/Telluride/Toronto Predictions
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu "Birdman"
Bennett Miller "Foxcatcher"
David Fincher "Gone Girl"
JC Chandor "A Most Violent Year"
Angelina Jolie "Unbroken"
Other Contenders - Christopher Nolan "Interstellar", Morten Tyldum "The Imitation Game", James Marsh "The Theory of Everything", Clint Eastwood "American Sniper", Richard Linklater "Boyhood", Ava DuVernay "Selma", David Ayer "Fury", Rob Marshall "Into the Woods", Paul Thomas Anderson "Inherent Vice", Wes Anderson "The Grand Budapest Hotel", Tim Burton "Big Eyes", Mike Leigh "Mr. Turner", Jean-Marc Vallee "Wild", Tate Taylor "Get On Up", Damien Chazelle "Whiplash", Tommy Lee Jones "The Homesman", Lasse Halstrom "The Hundred-Foot Journey", Will Gluck "Annie"
Commentary - It is kind of funny that at the same time that The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything shot up the Oscar charts, most people could not name the two men who actually directed the films. They were being praised for their performances, being elevated by their subject matter, but neither came out of the gate with reviews talking about the directing. If both continue to do well, then I am certainly willing to move James Marsh and Morten Tyldum up the charts, maybe they can become the next Tom Hooper? Or maybe their films get all the glory without their help? We'll have to wait and see. For now I am sticking with the big guns, the proven favorites, until we get a clearer picture. Hype continues to rise for Unbroken, and it could be that Angelina Jolie becomes yet another actor to successfully cross over into directing. Birdman premiered to great reviews, and while its buzz has died as new contenders have emerged, I find it hard to believe that the directors will not recognize what is said to be a truly visionary film. Foxcatcher is one of those that so many are underestimating. Miller may have criminally missed the cut for Moneyball, but do not discount the power of that film, which I think has staying power. Gone Girl is getting great reviews, most of which commenting on the technical prowess and vision of David Fincher. He too missed the cut in 2011 for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, but I think that Gone Girl will be an easier pill to swallow for Academy voters. The last slot is one where I am going out on a limb. Christopher Nolan seems like an easy choice but the directors have never nominated him (something I truly do not understand). Clint Eastwood is a two-time winner and American Sniper looks to be a taut thrill-ride. Richard Linklater could be rewarded for his visionary film, and should be recognized for the work he put into it. Ava DuVernay could breakthrough with Selma, which is getting tons of buzz out of production. Fury has the unfortunate mishap of being up against Unbroken, but it could be the big war film that wins the day, bringing along the talented David Ayer with it. Rob Marshall could rebound after several misfires and regain his Chicago glory. Tim Burton could knock it out of the park, get back on track as well and finally get a nomination for directing. Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice just hit New York, and so far the reviews have been good, and we know that The Grand Budapest Hotel is well-liked, but the dueling Andersons have a huge hill to climb as both films are uniquely un-Academy-esque. Mike Leigh has snuck in here several times, whose to say he doesn't pull it off again? In the end, I think that JC Chandor will finally get some due. I have said it ten times, and I will say it ten times more, A Most Wanted Man could be the big one for Chandor, and I think he will breakthrough big time come Oscar nomination morning.