The Rundown 2012: Director

For our seventh Rundown article, we look at a category where the most accurate precursor cannot help us in the slightest. After the jump, you’ll find our winner and runner-up predictions for Best Director as well as general commentary about the race. Tomorrow, we’ll cover two categories that are among the most visually arresting.

Best Director

Winner Predictions

  • Michael Haneke – Amour (O)
  • Ang Lee – Life of Pi
  • David O. Russell – Silver Linings Playbook
  • Steven Spielberg – Lincoln (O) (O)
  • Benh Zeitlin – Beasts of the Southern Wild

Runner-Up Predictions

  • Ang Lee – Life of Pi (R) [New] (R) [New]
  • David O. Russell – Silver Linings Playbook (O)

(color and symbol key at bottom of page)

Wesley Lovell: With nothing to guide us to who might win the Oscar, this year’s Best Director race is up in the air and only post-game analysis will tell us what signs we could have seen coming. Benh Zeitlin is the only director of the five that is unlikely to carry home the Oscar. Everyone else is fair game. Steven Spielberg is the most likely winner. His two previous Oscars are the only thing standing in his way of a third. The Academy may not feel inclined to give him a third and the film has proven to be liked, but not loved. Michael Haneke could become the first foreign language film director to take the prize while David O. Russell’s been playing nice with Hollywood and has Harvey Weinstein behind him. Ang Lee could end up the beneficiary of indecision on who to recognize. Life of Pi will likely be the year’s most Oscared film, which might be enough to earn him the prize as the film with so many technical achievements. I’m still leaning towards Spielberg, but I could buy most of the others as winners.
Peter J. Patrick: The Oscar nominations really knocked this category for a loop when it failed to nominate DGA nominees Ben Affleck for Argo; Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty and Tom Hooper for Les Misérables. With DGA winner Affleck out of the running, it’s an open race. I’m not feeling much love for Steven Spielberg, David O. Russell or Benh Zeitlin. This gives the Academy the perfect opportunity to honor the director of a foreign language film for the first time in its history.
Tripp Burton: How do you predict a category when the man winning every precursor isn’t nominated? It makes this, usually one of the easiest categories to crack, extremely difficult. I am leaning back on the Hollywood legend whose film is the most nominated film and a strong contender for Best Picture. Steven Spielberg has won twice in this category before, and has come out of the gate this year with his best (and most praised) film in years, assembling all the right pieces and creating a film that has registered with the American public more than could be expected. I don’t see how he loses here, and if he does I think we may be in for a much more surprising night than even people are feeling for now.


Appears on Three Lists
Appears on Two Lists

Wesley Lovell Peter Patrick Tripp Burton
(New) = New Prediction
(O) = Original, Post-Nomination Prediction
(R) = Rundown Series Prediction


Add a Comment
  1. Haneke has Best Original Screenplay in the bag and that will be his award.

  2. This year is so unique, that it is hard to get any historical help. The first two times a film won without its director being nominated (Wings/Sunrise and Grand Hotel) is too far removed, with barely any precursors, so they will be of little help. In 1989, there were only 5 best picture nominees and only 3 corresponding best directors – Oliver Stone, Jim Sheridan and Peter Weir. Even though the precursor awards were distributed among many directors: Kenneth Branagh, Spike Lee, Paul Mazursky,Gus Van Sant, it was Oliver Stone who picked up the DGA and Golden Globe. This made the pick fairly easy. This year, all five directors have their films nominated and no DGA, GG or BAFTA help.

    So, who to pick. I think Spielberg is the safe choice. Even though he really hasn’t won anything so far, the 12 nominations have to indicate widespread support for Lincoln. That said, I’m picking Ang Lee. He has won three precursors – which ones, I don’t remember and don’t feel like looking up. Unfortunately for him, the important precursors have been won by Affleck. Secondly, Life of Pi does have 11 nominations, and most importantly, it just feels like a director’s movie. Michael Haneke certainly has a shot, and like Peter said, it’s a perfect time to finally honor a director of a foreign language film.

  3. I agree with Peter.

    I think Haneke will win the oscarm and Ang Lee as a runner up.

    To get a third oscar for Director Spielberg will have to make another Schindler’s List

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