The writing and directing races are being dominated by familiar faces, which can break some records in Oscar’s history.
Suppose the Vivaraenews awards circuit Oscar predictions charts are to be believed. In that case, eight of the top 12 candidates for director are former nominees and winners, leaving little room for first-timers, such as Maggie Gyllenhaal (“The Lost Daughter”), Ryûsuke Hamaguchi (“Drive My Car”), Siân Heder (“CODA”) and Reinaldo Marcus Green (“King Richard”). If the Oscar nominees consisted of all former hopefuls, it would be the first time in 71 years that this would occur in the category. The 1950 lineup included George Cukor (“Born Yesterday”), John Huston (“The Asphalt Jungle”), winner Joseph L. Mankiewicz (“All About Eve”), Carol Reed (“The Third Man”) and Billy Wilder (“Sunset Boulevard”).
The hurdles ahead of the potential rookie nominees are significant. Except for Green, all the filmmakers also serve as writers for their movies, and could be rewarded in those categories. However, it is worth noting that in the nominations stage, each category is voted on by a different branch of the Academy. The entire membership votes on the winners.
The directors’ branch has been known to be an exclusive club that has snubbed the likes of Ben Affleck (“Argo”), Ava DuVernay (“Selma”) and Shaka King (“Judas and the Black Messiah”). Crowding the race this year are such big names as Joel Coen for “The Tragedy of Macbeth” and Steven Spielberg for “West Side Story.”
Coen’s first outing without his brother Ethan is critically acclaimed, with searing performances from two-time Oscar-winner Denzel Washington, and recent lead actress winner, co-producer and wife Frances McDormand.
Spielberg, who has two directing statuettes for “Schindler’s List” (1993) and “Saving Private Ryan” (1998), is arguably due for another trophy, especially after losing for films such as “Lincoln” (2011). His remake has also been critically acclaimed, but it is not the box- office success many had hoped for.
With the pic’s cast factoring in the acting races, particularly Ariana DeBose in supporting actress, voter nostalgia could propel the 75-year-old helmer
to a nom.
Other former nominees contending include Jane Campion for “The Power of the Dog.” Campion already made history as the second woman ever to be nominated for a directing Oscar with “The Piano” (1993), for which she won original screenplay. She would be the first woman ever to be nominated a second time if selected.
It’s been six years since Denis Villeneuve nabbed his first Oscar nom for “Arrival” (2016) and his passionate work on the first installment of “Dune” is destined to dominate the artisan categories.
Paul Thomas Anderson (“Licorice Pizza”) has been an Academy favorite with eight previous noms but has yet to take home the trophy. Four of his Oscar noms have been in the screenplay categories, which could serve as his best opportunity to get a statue.
Critics are split on Adam McKay’s satirical “Don’t Look Up,” but that isn’t unique to the filmmaker’s brand as his last movie, “Vice,” drew criticism and still managed six noms, including best picture. Nevertheless, the branch is fond of him, and it would be foolish to count him out. The same can be said for Guillermo del Toro and his noir “Nightmare Alley”; his last film, “The Shape of Water,” won best picture and director.
Will there be room for someone new?