Denis Villeneuve "Arrival"
Denzel Washington "Fences"
Damien Chazelle "La La Land"
Kenneth Lonergan "Manchester By the Sea"
Barry Jenkins "Moonlight"
Other Contenders - Martin Scorsese "Silence", Mel Gibson "Hacksaw Ridge", David MacKenzie "Hell or High Water", Garth Davis "Lion", Theodore Melfi "Hidden Figures", Stephen Frears "Florence Foster Jenkins", Jeff Nichols "Loving", Jeff Nichols "Midnight Special", Clint Eastwood "Sully", Pablo Larrain "Jackie", Mike Mills "20th Century Women", Peter Berg "Patriot's Day", Jon Favreau "The Jungle Book", Maren Ade "Toni Erdmann", Ben Affleck "Live By Night", Tom Ford "Nocturnal Animals", Matt Ross "Captain Fantastic", Yorgos Lanthimos "The Lobster"
Commentary - We know three are in for sure, as Lonergan, Chazelle, and Jenkins feel like solid bets at this point. The last two slots are tricky, and with this directing branch, you just never know. Martin Scorsese is a favorite, and if any branch is going to appreciate Silence it is going to be the Directors. Mel Gibson, another previous winner might finally be forgiven, and Hell or High Water is a modern western masterpiece. Instead, I am going with Denis Villenueve, who brilliant constructs Arrival, and Denzel Washington. In this year of auteurs, maybe Washington doesn't make sense. But I think there is so much love for him in this Academy, that he will make the cut. That leaves the directors of Lion, Hidden Figures, Florence Foster Jenkins, Loving, Jackie, 20th Century Women, Clint Eastwood, Tom Ford, and Ben Affleck on the outside looking in.