Critical Confabulations

a theatre, film & pop culture review

Oscars 2012: Best Directing

Note: This is my personal ranking, listed in order from best to worst, with #1 being my favorite. Prediction for the actual winner is in orange.


Terrence Malick 

Martin Scorcese 

Michel Hazanavicius  

Alexander Payne

Woody Allen 

Missing: Nicolas Winding Refn, 
Drive; David Fincher, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I am not a big enough film snob to say I enjoyed The Tree of Life, but I am enough of one to admire and appreciate the crazy-ambitious Vision (yes, that’s a capital V, folks) of Terrence Malick’s epic, messy, indulgent, beautiful, frustrating, fascinating, narrative-adverse passion project (if you need a good laugh, google “The Tree of Life synopsis” — some folks’ attempts to explicate Malick’s infuriating-mad-genius are hilarious, because they’re true: “The universe is formed… Voices ask various existential questions.” (Thank you, Wikipedia.) His pictures are always gorgeous to behold with their frequent tangents into nature, but they’re just too out there (re: pretentious) for the vast majority of voters — even his actors are confused/embittered by his methods (my grandpa spoke out about why he would never work with Malick again). He’s been nominated twice before — screenplay and directing for The Thin Red Line — but he’s unlikely to ever win.

Most unfortunately, neither Drive or The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo made the cut here for their sexy-sleek direction (what have you got against these slicksters, Academy?). Woody Allen, who has bee nominated 15 times for writing (winning for Annie Hall and Hannah and her Sisters), 7 times for directing (winning for Annie Hall) and one time for acting, should keep his hopes for a win relegated to his screenplay nomination for Midnight in Paris (though the chance of a spoiler there is getting stronger…). The same goes for Alexander Payne, who impressively keeps the tone of The Descendants from veering into groan-inducing quirkiness, but it looks like Oscar will see fit to reward him for the screenplay only this time around.

The Best Directing winner is almost always tied to the Best Picture winner, with the last exception to this occurring in 2005 when Ang Lee won for Directing but not Best Picture for Brokeback Mountain. We already know that The Artist will win Best Picture (I hope I’m not spoiling my final post for y’all), and it certainly helps that Michel Hazanavicius already won the Directors Guild Award, which is an even stronger indicator of a win here — the last time both didn’t line up was in 2002 when Rob Marshall won the DGA for Chicago, but Roman Polanski nabbed the Oscar for The Pianist (despite his, um, fugitive state). All this is to say that The Artist should win this for its entirely visual storytelling, which is nicely done, though not exactly the huge risk folks are making it out to be. But then there’s Marty…

And Martin Scorcese will put up a fight, having already gotten a little feisty with his Golden Globe win. It’s hard to believe, but Scorcese only has one Oscar to his name, and he didn’t get it until 2006 for The Departed. What’s clear is that Hugo is obviously his film, with how the camera weaves in and around the bustling train station, taking loving diversions to the quirky supporting characters before swooping back into a vibrant, kinetic child-like world (in 3D, no less). And the movie-within-the-movie? Brilliant. So while chances are slim, I’m hoping for a Scorcese spoiler.


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This entry was posted on February 25, 2012 by in Award Predictions, Directing, Film Reviews, Oscar-Nominated and tagged .



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