Friday, 24 February 2012

Incoherent Oscar: Director

Since the Academy reinstituted best picture nominees in excess of the (previously standard) five, we’ve lost the slot which was once called the lone director spot, so – as has been the case for the last two years – the five nominees for Directing are all celebrating correlating Best Picture nods for their films.

The Nominees: The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius); The Descendants (Alexander Payne); Hugo (Martin Scorsese); Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen); The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick)

Did you know that the ballot for the AMPAS list the directing nominees by film names and not by director’s name? The names of the directors aren’t included on the ballots…that’s why a single can be nominated in the same year for the same category (which can’t happen with actors). It’s about the film, not about the directors. So, bear that in mind as we take a look at the slate.

The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius)
It’s the best picture frontrunner, the DGA and PGA winner, the BAFTA winner and the winner at a slew of other places. On one hand a split between director and picture is not unlikely, but on the other hand this isn’t a Madden/Spielberg scenario where Spielberg’s film (Scorsese would be him in this analogy) is the serious one they respect, but don’t love. The love for the The Artist seems ardent and pronounced, and “newcomer” or not Hazanavicius is more than a threat in the race.

The Descendants (Alexander Payne)
If so inclined, they’ll be able to reward Payne for his writing if they happen to like The Descendants greatly but not GREATLY. I’d say, despite the solid place of his film in the best picture race, Payne is arguably the #5 nominee here. He’s not the big respected guru that Allen or Scorsese is and his isn’t a palpably director’s film like Malick’s is. It’s all speculation, of course, but I think we’d all agree that he is most likely not a threat here, although nominating two Best Picture nominees within ten years is not something disparage.

Hugo (Martin Scorsese)
Logically, and I use the word with reticence (hello, I’m “predicting” the Oscars…but, bear with me) he’s the only real threat to the prize, except he can’t be – can he? Sure, Hugo wins for most nominated film, and sure he got the Golden Globe for Best Director (as did Fincher, Cameron, Marshall and other losers) but that doesn’t really, solidly, suggest that he’s the alternate, does it? Hugo seems destined to go the route of The Aviator, four, or so, wins for its techs and that’s it and Scorsese already has his Oscar so it’s not as if they’re eager to right past wrongs and give him one.

Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen)
Like Payne, he’s nominated for his writing and seems like a likely winner there. Like Payne, he’s also the nominee who doesn’t seem likely to make a voluminous impact on the race. Not because there’s any indication that people don’t love his film but because the race – and it is a race – is one of pros and cons. They can’t all win, and I’d imagine that Woody is going to be one of those who doesn’t.

The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick)
And, then, there’s Malick helming the somewhat surprising Best Picture nominee who – more than Scorsese – is the veteran I think is a more likely choice for an upset win. He, unlike all the other nominees with the exception of the “frontrunner” has never won a competitive Oscar of any sort and his film is a defiantly director’s one. For all its potential abstruse nature for some audiences, it’s the sort of personal, innovative thing that would make sense a threat here, I think.

Prediction: The Artist
Alternate: The Tree of Life
But, it’ll probably just be The Artist all the way through. I’ve resigned myself to that, and I can think of one, two, three winners in the last 20 years I like less. So, it’s all good.

Hazanavicius all the way, or do you smell an upset?

1 comment:

Nick Prigge said...

I'm not smelling any upsets. Anywhere. No whiff of one at all. Oh, how I hope my sense of Oscar smell is wrong!