Early 2014 Oscar Predictions: First Best Director Line-Up

Yesterday it was Best Picture and we're keeping the ball rolling today with Best Director as we lay out some early 2014 Oscar predictions, and I have 28 early names I'm considering for the honor as of now.

Surely the list will expand and contract as the year goes on, names will drop off and be added on, but for now this is how I see it without having seen a single one of the films mentioned. So, like the Best Picture predictions, all of this speculation is based on previous efforts and the content each director is working with and the strength of the cast and crew they have assembled.

I guess I should note, before I get too far, I have already updated my Best Picture predictions upon reporting the news David O. Russell's new film will hit theaters this year. I've actually now moved it into the top three alongside The Monuments Men and The Wolf of Wall Street. And, as it turns out, the gentlemen directing those three films top my Best Director list, just not in the exact same order.

My #1 on both the Best Director and Picture charts at this time is George Clooney and his film Monuments Men. Clooney has been nominated as a director once before and the World War II content of this latest film and the cast he's working with screams Oscar and at this point he is certainly one of the leading front-runners.

Behind him I have Russell who is a hair's breath away from that top spot. Having been nominated for both The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook recently and never being entirely out of either race makes him a no-brainer top contender for his new film, which boasts an impressive cast and just might come with the old saying, "The third time's a charm."

Then there's Martin Scorsese and The Wolf of Wall Street, reteaming him with Leonardo DiCaprio, whom he's worked with four times prior and been nominated three out of those four times, with Shutter Island being the outlier.

In fourth I have Bennett Miller for Foxcatcher. With Capote and Moneyball in his pocket already, this could be the film that makes him an Academy mainstay and depending on how it turns out, could win him his second nomination and perhaps even the statue.

I have placed Alfonso Cuaron in my fifth spot with Gravity. I can't figure out what I expect from Gravity, but at the very least I expect it to be ambitious and a showcase of Cuaron's skills, even if it doesn't attract a wide audience or a lot of attention outside of hardcore moviegoers. As a result, I'm currently counting on the Academy to award him for these efforts though I was just as ready to place newcomer Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale) into that slot as well as Steve McQueen (Twelve Years a Slave). We know one thing at least, Coogler isn't going anywhere.

You can find the complete list of 28 names right here. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the rankings so far and what names you think I have wrongly left off the list. As you can see with my Best Picture predictions, these things are going to change a lot and whenever necessary.

By the way, if you missed yesterday's Best Picture piece, you can check it out here.

I will also remind you, as I said yesterday, if you don't have a free RopeofSilicon account you may want to register for one. Later this year, all contenders below the Bubble Line and not among my projected nominees will only be visible to logged in and registered members of the site. So if you haven't registered yet, you may as well do so now. It only takes a second.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/MovieFan/ Movie Fan

    - Martin Scorsese
    - George Clooney
    - John Lee Hancock
    - Ridley Scott
    - David O. Russell

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

    1. O. Russell - Untitled/Abscam Picture
    2. Clooney - The Monuments Men
    3. Scorsese - The Wolf of Wall Street
    4. Steve McQueen - 12 Years a Slave
    5. Spike Jonze - Her

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

      Shit, can't believe I forgot Bennett Miller. Swap him for McQueen.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Andrew13/ Andrew13

    Clooney's my favorite at this time, though I think Scorsese's right behind him.

    George Clooney - Monuments Men
    Alfonso Cuaron - Gravity
    Alexander Payne - Nebraska
    David O. Russell - Untitled Abscam Film
    Martin Scorsese - The Wolf of Wall Street

    My full predictions: http://letterboxd.com/andrew13/list/premature-2014-oscar-speculations/

  • Wrinklebottom

    I really think Bennet Miller is over-rated as a director. In both Capote & Moneyball, it's literally nothing but static shot for 3 seconds, static shot for 3 seconds, ad nauseum...no long takes, little to no camera movement, etc. I know being a director also includes, pacing, performances, etc., but I just find his visual style so boring, and frankly, a little bit lazy...

    I think if "The Counselor" is good, Ridley will perhaps get a nod, as he's getting up there in age and he's had several nominations but no wins...

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

    1 Martin Scorsese - The Wolf of Wall Street
    2 George Clooney - Monuments Men
    3 Alfonso Cuaron - Gravity
    4 Ryan Coogler - Fruitvale
    5 Steve McQueen / Spike Jonze - I can't decide between them

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Jake17/ Jake17

    1. O. Russell, American Bullshit
    2. Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street
    3. Clooney, Monuments Men
    4. Cuaron, Gravity
    5. Payne, Nebraska
    Bubble Line
    6. McQueen, 12 Years A Slave
    7. Miller, Foxcatcher
    8. Scott, The Counselor
    9. Cooler, Fruitvale
    10. Coens, Inside Llewyn Davis

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Jake17/ Jake17

    *Coogler. Quick question. Why are people including Jonze in their Top 5? I'd really be interested in your answer.
    Also, Brad, I may have missed it, and it's a long shot, but how about James Gray for Lowlife?

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AndrewJ.S./ Andrew J.S.

    1. David O. Russell
    2. George Clooney
    3. Martin Scorsese
    4. Steve McQueen
    5. Alfonso Cuaron

    6. Benette Miller
    7. Nat Fixon and Jim Rash (The Way Way Back)
    8. Alexander Payne
    9. Lee Daniels
    10. Ridley Scott

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

    1. O. Russell- Abscam
    2. Scorcese- The Wolf of Wall Street
    3. Bennet Miller- Foxcatcher
    4. George Clooney- The Monuments Men
    5. Jason Rietman- Labor Day
    Alt. Ron Howard- Rush

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

    1. George Clooney, The Monuments Men
    2. Martin Scorcese, The Wolf of Wall Street
    3. John Lee Hancock, Saving Mr. Banks
    4. Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
    5. John Wells, August: Osage County
    ---bubble line---
    6. Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
    7. Ryan Coogler, Fruitvale
    8. Alexander Payne, Nebraska
    9. Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips
    10. Ron Howard, Rush

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

      I'm going to put in David O. Russell somewhere, but I'm not sure where yet.

  • Flewellen

    Having seen "Fruitvale" at Sundance, I don't think Coogler will get a Best Director nom, even though I enjoyed the film very much. However, I can easily see him getting a Best Original Screenplay nom.

  • Anna

    1 - George Clooney
    2 - David O. Russel
    3 - Martin Scorsese
    4 - Alfonso CuarĂ³n
    5 - Alexander Payne
    6 - Bennet Miller
    7 - Ridley Scott
    8 - Steve McQueen
    9 - Ryan Coogler
    10 - Jason Reitman

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

    I had a feeling O. Russell would squeeze his film in this year. He only took 33 days to film SLP. Im not sure about the fighter...
    Id say he is definitely in the mix for director. But I think Clooney leads the pack. Could be that the Academy might steer away from him and spread the love a bit. Like give him Director or picture but not both. I dont know, though. How much of an anomaly was this last Oscar awards in splitting picture and director?

  • Dale

    Since Ben Affleck evidently won't have a directed film out this year, so the Academy can say they're sorry, your top five selections look about right to me.

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

    I'm thinking the same 5 as Brad with Payne, Coens and Ridley Scott on the outside looking in.

  • Gautam

    Brad, this is looking a bit odd. You have placed Alfonso Cuaron @ 5 on Director's list but Gravity doesn't figure even in Top 15 of your Best Picture list. I believe if Cuaron gets nominated so will Gravity. It's impossible to imagine, especially after Best Picture line extended upto 10, that the director makes the cut but the film doesn't. Or are you thinking something completely out of the box and hedging your bets ??

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

    my money's on Clooney as he has the best beard

  • Bertram J. Krogh

    I don't have much faith in Gravity at this point, but Clooney, Scorsese, Miller and O. Russell are definitely the safe choices right now. Maybe Coogler could pull a Zeitlin as the new kid on the block. Even though I really want McQueen to get some recognition sometime, I don't think the academy is ready to recognize his work yet, depends on the subject matter of 12 Years a Slave I guess. If Nebraska is solid, Payne would be a good pick as well.
    But I don't think we are remotely right in the end, look at last year. No one would have guessed that Zeitlin and Haneke would be nominated. I love surprises.

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

    George Clooney
    Martin Scorsese
    David O. Russell
    Bennet Miller
    John Wells
    Ridley Scott
    Steve Mcqueen
    Jason Reitman
    Alfonso Cuaron
    Alexander Payne
    Paul Greengrass
    Ron Howard

  • Eoin Daly

    George Clooney, The Monuments Men
    Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
    Alexander Payne, Nebraska
    David O. Russell, Untitled Project
    Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street

    I agree with 4 out of your five nominees, however I picked Payne over Miller (who was my sixth) because he has two previous director nominations and it's propably his most personal film to date. Miller could get in but I go with Payne.

    My winner prediction is O.Russell over Clooney (who is my second), I believe O.Russell has been building up momentum and this film will turn out to be his win after losing the last two times. Clooney could win but I feel he might get the screenplay award as his price and maybe producer again. But I cannot see O.Russell losing now the film is set for 2013.

  • Jack

    George Clooney and David O. Russell facing off in the director match?

    1. George Clooney
    2. David O. Russell
    3. Bennet Miller
    4. Martin Scorsese
    5. Steve McQueen- they usually don't go for slavery films, even Spielberg missed his directing nod for Color Purple, but I have him in as the auteur slot

  • The Seeker

    1. Martin Scorsese
    2. David O Russell
    3. Bennett Miller
    4. Alexander Payne
    5. Alfonso Cuaron or Clooney (I cannot decide)

    I'd happy if this slate happends.

    Alt: John Wells, Steve McQueen, Ridley Scott and maybe Farhadi (the Haneke of this year?)