It's Oscar season, and later this month movie fans will find out which movies have earned the respect of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences when the nominees for the 2017 Academy Awards are announced on Jan. 24. But for now, there's still time to speculate on which films will hear their names called, and this article will delve into my Best Director Oscar predictions.
As is usually the case, most if not all the nominees will also see their movies nominated for Best Picture. However, unlike the Best Picture category, which can see as many as ten films nominated, the Best Director category is limited to just five nominees. There have certainly been many more who have been deserving this year, but unfortunately won't hear their names called. Among this group, I expect to see Clint Eastwood, who helmed Sully; Jon Favreau, who exhibited technological mastery over The Jungle Book; and Mel Gibson, who could still end up with a nomination for Hacksaw Ridge, but who remains a wildcard in part due to his controversial personal history.
Unfortunately, I don't expect to see any women nominated in the category this year, despite impressive efforts by Andrea Arnold with American Honey and Maren Ade with Toni Erdmann. In fact, since Kathryn Bigelow's historic win in 2009 for The Hurt Locker, no female director has even been nominated — a clear indication that there still simply aren't enough opportunities for female filmmakers in Hollywood.
So with that in mind, here are the five directors whose names I do expect to hear on Jan. 24.
Damien Chazelle — La La Land
Chazelle became a star with 2014's Whiplash, which earned five Oscar nominations, though he missed out on a Best Director nom. Expect that to be rectified this year.
Kenneth Lonergan — Manchester By The Sea
This is only the third film directed by the playwright, and its rave reviews indicate that the Academy will recognize him for it.
Barry Jenkins — Moonlight
Moonlight is just the second film directed by this newcomer, but it's a frontrunner for Best Picture and Jenkins is nearly a lock for a nom in this category as well.
Denzel Washington — Fences
The Hollywood veteran has sat in the director's chair twice before, but never has a film he's helmed drawn so much acclaim.
Martin Scorsese — Silence
With all of this new blood (four first-time nominees, if this list proves correct), the Academy will likely want someone from the old guard in the mix. And who better than this eight-time nominee with the film most representative of his life's work?
These five filmmakers may or may not be nominated for Best Director at the 2017 Oscars, but one thing is certain: They're all deserving.