2018 Oscar Predictions: Best Director

The time has finally come. After being snubbed for The Dark Knight and Inception, Christopher Nolan will get his elusive Best Director nomination for Dunkirk. The Directors Guild of America is far ahead of the Academy in regard to Nolan, nominating him for Memento and the two aforementioned films. But Nolan’s work on Dunkirk is too masterful to be passed up again. If the Academy does indeed snub him, it’s certainly lost a lot of credit, especially with the DGA nominating Nolan for the fourth time.

“Vision” is a key word when it comes to directors, and perhaps the most “visionary” film alongside Dunkirk is Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water. del Toro seems to be competing toe-to-toe with Nolan as far as frontrunner position goes, and it’s not undeserved either. He won at both the Critic’s Choice and the Golden Globes, and was nominated at BAFTA and DGA. The film just won at PGA too.

Where it was once just talk, the campaign for Jordan Peele for Best Director is shaping up supremely. Get Out is a heavyweight Best Picture contender, and it’s as “visionary” and simply as well directed as the other films on this list. That double DGA nomination in both first feature and feature could bode well for him here.

And considering the year we’re having, and the absolute powerhouse that is Lady Bird, a snub of Greta Gerwig is too absurd to even fathom, so we’ll safely and easily predict her finding a spot, especially with her receiving a DGA nomination.

The final spot is tough. Logic says to predict Martin McDonagh for the heavyweight Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri. He received both a DGA and BAFTA nomination. But DGA usually doesn’t match up with the Oscars for all five directors. The other four don’t really feel too weak in anyway.

So, we’re thinking that Sean Baker will take that spot ahead of McDonagh. Baker feels like the pick that the Academy makes and the DGA doesn’t, similar to Lenny Abrahamson’s nomination for Room a few years ago. The film is well loved throughout the industry and could be a big passion vote.

Call Me by Your Name may be shut out of key categories such as Cinematography and Film Editing. But director could still be strong. Similarly to Kenneth Lonergan with Manchester by the Sea last year, Luca Guadagnino has masterfully directed what is undoubtedly the most critically acclaimed film of the year. And Lonergan got in easily, so don’t count out Guadagnino just yet.

Brand names can also elevate a director and put them in contention, though. Steven Spielberg’s The Post got good reviews, and it’s Steven Spielberg, so he might swipe a spot from one of these contenders.

Denis Villeneuve just received his first director nomination for ArrivalBlade Runner 2049 showcases those same strengths that got him there, in addition to a controlled sense of scale. A nomination, even for the director of a genre blockbuster, is not out of the question.

Finally, in a just world, Dee Rees would be in heavy contention. Mudbound‘s momentum has sadly deflated, but Rees’ work is just too good to count out.

The 5
Christopher Nolan — Dunkirk
Guillermo del Toro — The Shape of Water
Sean Baker — The Florida Project
Jordan Peele — Get Out
Greta Gerwig — Lady Bird

Could contend
Luca Guadagnino — Call Me by Your Name
Steven Spielberg — The Post

Denis Villeneuve — Blade Runner 2049
Martin McDonagh — Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
Dee Rees — Mudbound


Featured image via Melinda Sue Gordon/Warner Bros.

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