Ryan Coogler "Black Panther"
Bradley Cooper "A Star is Born"
Alfonso Cuaron "Roma"
Yorgos Lanthimos "The Favourite"
Spike Lee "BlacKkKlansman"
Other Contenders - Barry Jenkins "If Beale Street Could Talk", Peter Farrelly "Green Book", Adam McKay "Vice", Damien Chazelle "First Man", Debra Granik "Leave No Trace", Pawil Pawlikowski "Cold War", Paul Schrader "First Reformed", Lynne Ramsay "You Were Never Really Here"
Commentary - This race still has suspense, and I don't think the DGA will solve the mystery. This year, there are some auteurs that are lurking in the race, that could cause a surprise on Oscar nomination morning. Names like Debra Granik, Pawil Pawlikowski, Paul Schrader and Lynne Ramsay are the type of directors whose films may not have a lot of love in other categories, but could win over votes in this always quirky branch. We know that Cooper, Cuaron, and Lee are most likely in. They just have the buzz, precursors, and overall support for their films. The last two slots are up in the air. Barry Jenkins could easily return to this race, but I'm a bit worried about the overall support for Beale Street. Adam McKay's Vice was on a role with the Globes and Critics Choice. But I wonder if the film's mixed reviews and lackluster box office have moved it further down on people's lists. Damien Chazelle should be in this race, but First Man has definitely lost buzz. Peter Farrelly is another one that at one time was easily a top five contender, but I think that the negative buzz for Green Book has softened some of its appeal. Instead, I have filled those last two slots with Yorgos Lanthimos, whose stylish directorial vision should appeal to these voters (and the film is still doing well overall), and Ryan Coogler. Black Panther looks like the real deal, and if they love this film as much as it appears they do, then they will make room for Coogler, who truly elevated it to the contender it is.