1) Alejandro G. Iñarritu, The Revenant
2) Lenny Abrahamson, Room
3) Adam McKay, The Big Short
4) Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
5) George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
The race for Best Director saw a formidable match-up last year where Alejandro G. Iñarritu prevailed over Richard Linklater, who among many circles was favourote to win. Iñarritu, who was nominated for Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), went on to make a feature film that would attract even more attention. The Revenant opened to mostly rave reviews thanks to Leonardo DiCaprio‘s lead performance and Iñarritu‘s masterful direction, one that, for the second year in a row, has earned him one of the 12 Oscar nominations The Revenant has received. The director also won the Director’s Guild Award — a major but not definite precursor for the Oscars — today, and in doing so remains the strongest contender.
A win would make Oscar history, as no one has ever won the award for Best Director twice in a row. That in itself, however, could be a reason why he might not win, especially when one considers the fact that he’s in a pool of talented directors, forming one of the closest races in recent memory.
The nominations sent shockwaves across film and Academy Award fans as Ridley Scott was left out of the race. Instead, the name that was announced was that of Room director Lenny Abrahamson. The film is a powerful story of struggle and resilience that featured a brilliant first half, and Abrahamson‘s chops shine through every shot. But considering his very nomination was a surprise, it’s safe to say he will not win the Oscar.
Third on the list is The Big Short director Adam McKay. The director is known for his quirky style and his mediocre comedies, but this shift towards drama with the same comedic, quintessentially McKay touch has proven a force to be reckoned with. The film recently took home the PGA for Best Picture, which gives the film a real chance at the Oscars. But will the same apply for the film’s helmer? It’s a tough call. While I wouldn’t exclude him from the race, I also wouldn’t put him in front either.
Veteran director George Miller stupefied audiences earlier this year with his impeccable revival of the Mad Max series with Mad Max: Fury Road. Not only is the action film one of the best of the year, it’s also one that will be in textbooks for its incredible work in visuals. Those elements together coupled with the ever loved comeback kid scenario give Miller an edge that might just see him go all the way — deservedly so.
Rounding up the five is Spotlight director Tom McCarthy. The film is said to be the one to beat for the Best Picture nod, which puts McCarthy in a good place in the race. But the lack of star power the film has when matched with other contenders this year might hurt the director. A lack of wins in all of the precursors also spells trouble for the director, so we can go ahead and count him out.
So, where does that leave us? Here’s what we think, but it could go either way:
Winner: George Miller
Possible/Probable Upset: Alejandro G. Iñarritu
Honourable Mention: Adam McKay