Post Venice/Telluride/Toronto Predictions
Danny Boyle "Steve Jobs"
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu "The Revenant"
Tom McCarthy "Spotlight"
David O. Russell "Joy"
Steven Spielberg "Bridge of Spies"
Other Contenders - Quentin Tarantino "The Hateful Eight", Todd Haynes "Carol", Ridley Scott "The Martian", George Miller "Mad Max: Fury Road", J.J. Abrams "Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens", John Crowley "Brooklyn", Lenny Abrahamson "Room", Tom Hooper "The Danish Girl", Laszlo Nemes "Son of Saul", Scott Cooper "Black Mass", Angelina Jolie "By the Sea", Sarah Gavron "Suffragette", Denis Villenueve "Sicario", Pete Docter "Inside Out", Ron Howard "In the Heart of the Sea", Cary Joji Fukunaga "Beasts of No Nation", F. Gary Gray "Straight Outta Compton", Billy Ray "Secret in Their Eyes", Sam Mendes "Spectre", Jay Roach "Trumbo", Bill Pohlad "Love & Mercy", Adam McKay "The Big Short", Paolo Sorrentino "Youth", James Vanderbilt "Truth", Andrew Haigh "45 Years", Justin Kurzel "Macbeth", Guillermo Del Toro "Crimson Peak", Robert Zemeckis "The Walk", Bill Condon "Mr. Holmes", Ryan Coogler "Creed", Olivier Assayas "Clouds of Sils Maria", Paul Weitz "Grandma", David Gordon Green "Our Brand is Crisis", Peter Landesman "Concussion", Joss Whedon "Marvel's The Avengers: Age of Ultron", Paul Feig "Spy", Charlie Kaufman "Anomalisa", Rick Famuyiwa "Dope", Alfonso Gomez-Rejon "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl", Alex Garland "Ex-Machina", Paul King "Paddington"
Commentary - This race, as always, is simply brutal. Right now some of the folks sitting on the outside looking in: Tom Hooper for The Danish Girl, Ridley Scott for The Martian, Ron Howard "In the Heart of the Sea", and most importantly, Quentin Tarantino for The Hateful Eight. All of these directors brilliant, previous winners or nominees, and all huge threats. But for now they are on the outside looking in. Danny Boyle has yet to be nominated since his win in 2008 for Slumdog Millionaire, but the reviews and box office for Steve Jobs suggest that he could easily snag nod number two. Tom McCarthy is one of my favorite indie directors from recent years with films like The Station Agent, and Win Win. His latest Spotlight (after last year's The Cobble was an epic disaster), is now the current Oscar front runner for Best Picture, and he, of course, looks like he will come along for the ride. Finally, of the seen contenders, Steven Spielberg's Bridge of Spies has premiered, and while it is definitely an old-school type of film, it is getting raves from critics, and most of the praise is in the fact that it is simply a hell of a movie, impeccably made by a director, and a stunning creative teams, that is still at the top of his game. Then there are the that have yet to be seen, but I would be stupid not to predict. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu returns just a year after winning for Birdman, with The Revenant, and David O. Russell hopes to go 4 for 4 with Joy. Both are in this until evidence suggests otherwise. So beyond those five, and the four mentioned in the beginning, the race just continues to deepen. You have newcomers like John Crowley, Lenny Abrahamson, and Sarah Gavron who has struck Oscar buzz with positive festival premieres. The legendary George Miller finally showed a lot of other directors out there (George Lucas), how to correctly reboot and revision a franchise, Angelina Jolie hopes to overcome the Unbroken problem with By the Sea, Pete Docter should be in the conversation for the best film of 2015 so far Inside Out, and Cary Joji Fukunaga is getting a lot of critical support for his brutal Beasts of No Nation. There are the big guys like J.J. Abrams, Guillermo Del Toro, Sam Mendes, F. Gary Gray, Joss Whedon, and Paul Feig, who hope to ride box office success to Oscar glory. Robert Zemeckis and Bill Condon are veterans with well-liked new projects. Paolo Sorrentino and Laszlo Nemes hope to join other foreign directors who have managed to capture the attention of the Directors Branch. Throw in James Vanderbilt, Olivier Assayas, Jay Roach, Bill Pohlad, Paul Weitz, David Gordon Green, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, Scott Cooper, Ryan Coogler, Justin Kurzel, Peter Landesman, Billy Ray, Charlie Kaufman, and Andrew Haigh, and this is a race that could be a mystery till the nominations are announced.