2013 Oscar Predictions: Best Director Finds Tarantino, Lee, Russell and Hooper Competing for Two Slots

(from left to right) Quentin Tarantino, Tom Hooper, David O. Russell and Ang Lee
(from left to right) Quentin Tarantino, Tom Hooper, David O. Russell and Ang Lee
Photo: The Weinstein Co. / Universal / 20th Century Fox

One quick look at the Awards Calendar and you'll see this week is actually a pretty big week. On January 3, not only will the WGA, Art Directors, Producers Guild announce their nominees, but the Oscar nomination voting ends at 5PM PST. In previous years Oscar voters have had the pleasure of seeing a few of these nominations, but with the nomination schedule moved up it means voters won't have advanced knowledge of some of these guild results to sway their voting decisions.

One batch of nominees that may certainly play a role will be that of the Directors Guild nominations, which won't be announced until January 8, two days before the Oscar nominations are announced and five days after voting has closed. I personally don't really believe these changes will have much effect as I see virtually every race each year coming down to 3-4 supposed locks with one or two slots open to likely nominees and/or a potential surprise. Maybe this year will be more prone to a surprise than a likely nominee, but that might be just what the doctor ordered.

When it comes to the Best Director category I am looking at two slots that are nearly impossible to predict with four contenders for those two slots following the likes of Steven Spielberg (Lincoln), Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty) and Ben Affleck (Argo) as my locks.

The final four are Ang Lee (Life of Pi), Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained), David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook) and Tom Hooper (Les Miserables). To choose two with any measure of confidence is nearly impossible.

A few days ago it would have been easier to drop Lee out of the top five as Fox has done very little to promote Life of Pi to this point, but Blu-rays started arriving in voters' hands on Christmas Eve, so perhaps that push is finally starting to begin. Of the four, I think Lee is the one I have the most confidence will get in.

Then we have Russell and the Weinstein's handling of the Silver Linings release, but screeners of the film have been in voters' hands longer than the other three films. When it comes to both Les Miserables and Django, voters only received those screeners about two weeks ago, though screenings of the former took place far earlier and really may help Hooper's chances, which is why I have kept him in that fifth slot. Well, that and because of the following reaction from the following two parents, which I can't believe will be a reaction they won't share with some Academy voters...

So with that said (and seen), here are my current Best Director top five in ranked order...

Best Director

  1. Steven Spielberg (Lincoln)
  2. Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty)
  3. Ben Affleck (Argo)
  4. Ang Lee (Life of Pi)
  5. Tom Hooper (Les Miserables)

You can find my complete Best Director predictions contenders and rankings right here.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Aleonardis/ Aleonardis

    I think I'm starting to understand what Kris Tapley has been saying over at Hitfix. That "85% of voters who are 65 years and older" are going to react exactly like those peeps. Les Mis could EASILY win Picture. Then Bigelow or Spielberg winning director. And I think Hooper gets in to director easy. That movie is all about sheer direction and ambition.

    • http://www.criterion.com/my_criterion/27913-criterion10 Criterion10

      Yup, agree about Les Mis. I personally think even though Tom Hooper won a few years ago, his film still has a major chance.

      It's a three horse race this year in my book between Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty, and Les Mis. I really hope ZDT wins.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Aleonardis/ Aleonardis

        How'd you feel about Les Mis?

        • http://www.criterion.com/my_criterion/27913-criterion10 Criterion10

          Didn't see it yet. Will hopefully catch it this weekend.

          • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Aleonardis/ Aleonardis

            I'm interested in your reaction. In general, response has been SO polarizing. I personally liked it quite a bit. Flaws and all, it all is just SO ambitious that it's hard for me to nitpick something like a flat voice.

            • http://www.criterion.com/my_criterion/27913-criterion10 Criterion10

              Yeah, reviews seem to be a bit all over the place. It looked pretty good to me, though the lengthy running time for a film like this does seem a bit daunting.

              • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Aleonardis/ Aleonardis

                It's going to be something you either go with or you don't. If you don't mind musicals then you'll be fine with the runtime I think. Musicals are almost ALWAYS 2 and a 1/2 hours if you think about it.

      • DavidG

        I very much agree about your Best Picture choice. I think it is going to be between those two. I would have it ranked right now for likelihood at Lincoln, ZD30, Les Mis. As far as director goes, I think that it will be Spielberg, Bigelow, Affleck, Lee, Hooper. I am rooting for Lincoln for best picture though that is more personal taste than anything.

    • John Debono

      I disagree, I loved Les Mis, but Hooper's recent win and the somewhat mixed reaction hurts his chance. While Bigelow will also suffer from the recent win. To be honest, my prediction is for Lincoln to have a pretty epic sweep. Its a critical and comercial success, its been nearly 15 years since Spielberg has not only won an oscar but really has had a drama really connect on this large a scale and the subject matter is as safe in the Academy's taste as possible. I think Speilberg gets picture and director.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Aleonardis/ Aleonardis

        What we're saying on the internet has no sway in the way the academy thinks. They've probably been bowled over by Les Mis and Argo and then left cold by Lincoln and Zero Dark. They're ALWAYS going to go for the more emotive movie.

        • John Debono

          I agree that Zero Dark Thirty is too emotionally distant a film to win best picture, but I found there is a lot in Lincoln that would fit what they love, even if it is a bit talky. While I would personally have no issues with Les Mis or Argo winning, my gut feeling is with 3 films the Academy would probably love, Speilberg gets it over a recent winner (Hopper) or a relatively up and coming director (Affleck). It might not be entirely fair but I feel like that is how the Academy thinks.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/HarryFuertes/ Harry Fuertes

    I agree with our choices but personally I would have put Russel and Tarantino in those two spots. They deserve it. However, watching Les Mis yesterday, I wouldn't mind if Hooper got nominated instead.

  • Jesse3232

    I completely agree except I'd switch Hooper out and put Tarantino in. This isn't a personal opinion I just think Django is having much more momentum and being talked about A LOT more then Les Mis. The Weinstein influence will definitely help as well.

  • http://www.twitter.com/milesmaker Miles Maker

    Pull David O. Russell OUT of this conversation now--it's not happening, and if it does it's a big overrated joke.

    • DavidG

      I actually really thought he did a great job with direction on Silver Linings. I really like his directorial touch and the empathy he brings to his characters. However, his directing is certainly more understated and subtle than others in competition, so I agree with you that it is very unlikely he gets a nom.

  • http://www.criterion.com/my_criterion/27913-criterion10 Criterion10

    Life of Pi will be the only big contender that I missed out on this year, so I can't comment on the film's quality. But, I still don't think Ang Lee will make it, but rather O. Russell will.

    Tarantino has very little chance in my opinion, and so I do see Tom Hooper making it over him. Plus, Les Mis is the type of film that all the Academy members have to do is watch the trailer and they will put it on their ballots.

    • Disco Paco

      Life of Pi is worth a look in theaters in 3D. I am not a huge of the 3D but Ang Lee made me open my mouth in awe many times. The editor even cut the film in 3D.

      • DavidG

        I entirely agree with you.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Corbin/ Corbin

      That is my exact opinion. Although I haven't seen Django yet, It really doesn't feel like Tarantino has much of a shot. And I think O'Russell has a much better shot of getting in over Lee.

  • Winchester

    Oscars wise I think currently -

    Spielberg, Bigelow, Hooper, Tarantino and Affleck may fluke one. I'm not convinced Lee will make the cut but another bubble Director could take the fifth slot.

  • http://hypethemovies.wordpress.com Jordan B.

    My predictions are almost the exact same as you Brad, as I think the same 5 get in but I have a feeling it's going to be:

    1. Spielberg
    2. Affleck
    3. Bigelow
    4. Lee
    5. Hooper

    I would love to be wrong and see Russell get in over Hooper though. Les Miz was greatly under-executed, in my opinion, and it really struggles to come together, while Silver Linings thrives due to its cast, screenplay, and director. Hooper will likely get because of the ambition of staging Les Miz in the way that he did, but Russell is far more deserving, in my opinion. Tarantino has the Weinstein Co. backing, but I think he'll be on the outside looking in as well.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/G-Man/ G-Man

    Unlike those parents, I had a big smile on my face at the end of Les Mis, as it was finally over, haha.

    • http://hypethemovies.wordpress.com Jordan B.

      Same. Here.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

    QT doesn't have chance. I'd say those 5 are about as good a prediction as you could make. I'm sure there will be at least one surprise (there usually is). Lincoln is going to sweep.

  • http://smartfilm.blogspot.com SmartFilm

    I personally thought Tom Hooper's direction was the downfall of Les Mis. There was just this palpable sense that he had no control.
    And it's really a damn shame that the Academy can't get their heads out of their asses and finally give Tarantino a nod.

  • Chris138

    I still think PTA will get the fifth slot, especially after his LA critics win. I see him as this year's Terrence Malick.

    • Lewis

      I agree with you, Chris138. I feel the Academy will show the love and recognition for The Master (as it did with The Reader). It is expertly directed. PTA's technical skills are on full display in this film (as it is in all his films)..

      I'm predicting...
      Supporting Actor
      Original Screenplay

  • Reza

    QT doesn't have a chance?? That's blasphemous.
    Django and Argo were the best films of the year.
    They both did a fantastic job directing those films.
    Either one should win.

  • Chris

    1. Bigelow
    2. Affleck
    3. Spielberg
    4. Tarantino
    5. O'Russell

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Travis/ Travis

    I agree with your five, with Tarantino a very close sixth. I think that those two get in on the risk factor-on top of both films being ones to win over the older vote, they were both incredibly ambitious, with the one man in a boat with CGI premise and the live singing factor. The combination of both will get them nominated. Tarantino has a chance at a nomination, but I don't know if he is beloved by the Academy enough to get it, and Silver Linings, as good as it was, didn't feel like the kind of directorial film the Academy nominates. The directing wasn't necessarily what stood out to me (I felt the same about Lincoln, but Spielberg is a lock, so I'm keeping him in)

  • Lewis

    I still think the Academy will come to their senses and nominate Paul Thomas Anderson for The Master.

  • Lewis

    Wait for the DGA nominees coming out soon. They usually match at least 4 of the 5 who will get the eventual Oscar nomination.

  • Lewis

    Also, the biggest surprise might be

    Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild. Although at this point, I don't think he'll score a nom. Instead, the Academy will recognize his wonderful film for, and I'm predicting...

    Adapted Screenplay
    Original Score

  • Alex

    No one is talking about Life of Pi

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Xarnis/ Xarnis

    Man, i really hope Argo will win. It seems unlikely, but that was my favorite movie of the year (having not seen Zero Dark Thirty). I doubt it will, but it will be an awesome surprise if it does.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Xarnis/ Xarnis

      2. Affleck
      3. Bigelow
      5. Lee

      I don't think O. Russel will get in, but I can maybe see Tarantino sneaking in to push Lee out. Although, usually the DGA nominations usually are close to the Oscars, so that will help finalize my predictions. Also, PTA seems like a bit of a mystery at this point. Could The Master be this years Tree of Life?

  • Jack

    1. Argo
    2. Lincoln
    3. Les Miserables
    4. Zero Dark Thirty
    5. Silver Linings Playbook
    6. Life of Pi
    7. The Master
    8. Django Unchained
    9. Beasts of the Southern Wild
    10. Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

    1. Ben Affleck
    2. Steven Spielberg
    3. Kathryn Bigelow
    4. Tom Hooper
    5. Paul Thomas Anderson

    1. Daniel Day Lewis
    2. Hugh Jackman
    3. Bradley Cooper
    4. Joaquin Phoenix
    5. Denzel Washington

    1. Jennifer Lawrence
    2. Jessica Chastain
    3. Naomi Watts
    4. Marion Cotillard
    5. Emmanuelle Riva

    1. Leonardo DiCaprio
    2. Tommy Lee Jones
    3. Philip Seymour Hoffman
    4. Robert DeNiro
    5. Alan Arkin

    1. Anne Hathaway
    2. Sally Field
    3. Helen Hunt
    4. Amy Adams
    5. Maggie Smith

    1. The Master
    2. Zero Dark Thirty
    3. Django Unchained
    4. Moonrise Kingdom
    5. Amour

    1. Argo
    2. Lincoln
    3. Silver Linings Playbook
    4. Life of Pi
    5. Beasts of the Southern Wild

  • Jack

    1. Ben Affleck
    2. Steven Spielberg
    3. Kathryn Bigelow
    4. Ang Lee
    5. Quentin Tarantino

  • Lewis

    I don't think there will be 10 Picture nominees this year.

  • Dale

    I think the final five will be Steven Spielberg (most likely winner), Kathryn Bigelow (the fact that she won her first Oscar so recently will hurt her chances), Ben Affleck (I think Academy voters will think the nomination should be enough for the time being), Tom Hooper (same problem as Bigelow's), and Quentin Tarantino (I believe he's seen as too much of a maverick, an Orson Welles type). Spielberg's win will be due to the fact that he hasn't won in a long time, he's made so many blockbusters, and his movie is about a beloved American icon, which he by now is pretty much one himself. I'd give it to Affleck.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/jinjuriki187/ jinjuriki187

    i am 18 years old and i can honestly say that it was f*%king amazing! by far the best musical ive ever seen, which i dont like many, not even sound of music, the only other musical i liked was sweeny todd. right now its in my top 5 favorite movies of the year although i still have to see zero dark thirty. this movie was unbelievable, truly masterful.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Ian/ Ian

    Spielberg, Bigelow, Affleck, Hooper, Li. That's how I see it. Russell and PTA are probably the only others with a chance. I LOVED Django...best movie of the year and maybe Tarantino's best ever...but it's clearly not the Academy's taste.

  • William

    Tom Hooper will definitely make the cut, the Academy loves him.

    For the final spot...I don't know. I honestly don't think it'll be Ang Lee, even though he has a rich history with the Academy as well, but I can actually see Russell or Tarantino having a better chance than Lee at this point.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/JustPete/ Just Pete

    I think it's going to be Affleck, Bigelow, Hooper, Lee and Spielberg. Russell and Tarantino are the only possible nominees who have written their movies so they are going to be nominated anyway and Russell has a great chance of winning Adapted Screenplay.