Best Director Oscar Predictions Update: Russell, McQueen, Cuaron, Hancock and Payne

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2014 Oscar Predictions Update: Best Director
Sandra Bullock, George Clooney and Alfonso Cuaron on the set of Gravity
Photo: Warner Bros.

Without having seen films such as American Hustle, Saving Mr. Banks, The Monuments Men, The Wolf of Wall Street, Foxcatcher and Her the Best Director category is one of the toughest to weigh in with early predictions, but now that several more movies have been seen since my last update it feels we are finally starting to get things sorted.

I’m still sticking with David O. Russell in the #1 slot for American Hustle as I expect his streak to continue and I can’t help but wonder, has a director ever been nominated three times in a row for Best Director and not won?

Behind him I have fall film festival standouts in Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave) and Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity), though the Cuaron one is still one I question, only because the Academy decided not to nominate him for Children of Men. However, I think this time around his technical precision will outweigh the fact Gravity‘s story is second to the film’s spectacle.

The one film I’m giving a vote of confidence virtually across the board, sight unseen, is John Lee Hancock‘s Saving Mr. Banks. I’ve heard good things and after The Blind Side, it seems Hancock has the talent to make those “Oscary” films the Academy tends to fall for year after year. I expect this to be almost the anti-12 Years a Slave, which could really rile up the Oscar pundits across the web depending on the reception it receives at its New York Film Festival premiere.

And my top five is currently rounded out by Alexander Payne for Nebraska. This is a hard one to place right now with the multitude of films I listed above as unseen, but given the Academy’s demographic it feels like the safest prediction this early in the game.

Finally, while some have already seen Captain Phillips, Sony hasn’t decided to screen it here in Seattle yet (we’re second class critical citizens up here), and I’ve avoided the early reviews wanting to go in fresh. So my ranking of Paul Greengrass may be a little low for now, but I’m really excited to see what the film has to offer.

I’ve included my top five as of right now directly below and you can browse my complete list of 27 ranked contenders right here.

  1. David O. Russell (American Hustle)
  2. Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave)
  3. Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)
  4. John Lee Hancock (Saving Mr. Banks)
  5. Alexander Payne (Nebraska)

You can find all of my latest 2014 Oscar Predictions posts right here and my full look at each category right here.