Oscars 2011: Best Director Prediction

One of the fiercest duels at the Academy Awards on Sunday night will be for Best Director. The category probably has the most prestige of any Oscar presented and usually serves as an indicator of Best Picture.

The tale behind last year’s battle, two filmmakers (Kathryn Bigelow and James Cameron) at one point married to each other knowing their win could easily clinch an Oscar for their two equally strong but totally different pictures. Oh, the drama. This year’s drama is a bit different. 

Best Achievement in Directing

  • (40%) Tom Hooper – “The King’s Speech”
  • (40%) David Fincher – “The Social Network”
  • (10%) Darren Aronofsky – ”Black Swan”
  • (2%) David O. Russell  – “The Fighter”
  • (8%) Joel and Ethan Coen – “True Grit”

Before I get into the core battle, I must lament a bit for Darren Aronofsky. He might have done the best job of any of these directors and for some reason he’s received zero accolades for “Black Swan.” We can be assured that he will be making movies of Oscar caliber for a long time to come, but “Black Swan” was a towering achievement and he won’t get honored for no tangible reason other than he’s made a sexually charged psychological thriller and that doesn’t fit Academy tastes when it comes down to voting time.

Also, this is the paragraph where I acknowledge Christopher Nolan should’ve been on this list, but it doesn’t matter because he’d get screwed anyway. The Coens and David O. Russell, however, are equally deserving. The Coens maybe didn’t need to be there because they’re so used to it, but all is irrelevant because this award will go to either Mr. Hooper or Mr. Fincher.

The story goes like this. David Fincher swept every single major critics award and other award from Dec. 1 through the Golden Globes. He was an unstoppable force. The director of “Se7en,” “Fight Club” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” was finally going to get his due.

Enter “The King’s Speech.” Suddenly, everything and anyone to do with this movie is winning awards left and right. A week after the Globes, the film won the Producer’s Guild Award for Best Picture. Then, damn it all, little-known Tom Hooper took the highly coveted Best Director prize at the Directors Guild Awards.

Tom Hooper put together the highly lauded “John Adams” mini-series and directed Michael Sheen in the football (soccer) film “The Damn United.” Just his third notable project and boom, he’s the new frontrunner for Best Director, an award that Fincher had all wrapped up.

When you boil it down, however, historical precedent is the only reason Tom Hooper is being so strongly considered. In the last 10 years, only Rob Marshall won the DGA honor but lost the Oscar (to Roman Polanski for “The Pianist”). Marshall that year was the sexy musical director pick and Polanski the “honoring a longtime vet.” Is Fincher a longtime vet? Yes, though he’s only been nominated for one other Best Director Oscar. The bigger thing here is that Hooper is still a rookie and his film had more going for it than his direction.

While Directors Guild of America members with Academy membership might still be slobbering all over “The King’s Speech,” I think when most other AMPAS members take a look at that list, they’re going to see Fincher’s name much clearer than Hooper’s. The resume backs him up and we’ve begun to see the Academy vote to recognize great filmmakers. In recent memory, Joel and Ethan Coen as well as Martin Scorsese have been honored. Kathryn Bigelow was the first woman to win in her category. We’ve seen a drift toward prestige voting in this category.

So when all is said and done, I think sentiment here will be split 50/50. It would be easy to say that “The King’s Speech” is an Academy type of film and will clean up in every major category, giving Hooper a decisive edge, but I don’t think everyone in Hollywood is a mindless drone. The critics’ unanimous honoring of David Fincher doesn’t constitute nothing; they know what good filmmaking is too.

For me, breaking the tie comes to personal opinion and Fincher deserves every bit of my favor. Most directors could’ve made something special out of “The King’s Speech” and its empowering story, but few could turn what many were laughing at as “the Facebook movie” into a seminal American film.

Prediction: David Fincher for “The Social Network”



You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment