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2013 Oscar Nominees Profiled: Best Director

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It’s that time of year again, as Hollywood’s finest find themselves, with alarming regularity, donning outfits that cost more than your house and jewellery worth more than you will earn in a lifetime. But awards season is all building to one supreme event, the Empire Awards Oscars on February 24. Ahead of that milestone, we assess the chances of each nominee in the major categories, and see who’s looking good ahead of the big night...

See also: Best Picture Profiles
See also: Best Adapted Screenplay Profiles See also: Best Original Screenplay Profiles See also: Best Supporting Actor Profiles See also: Best Actress Profiles
See also: Best Actor Profiles See also: Best Supporting Actress Profiles

Film: Life Of Pi

Why He Will Win

1 As feats of directing go, turning an unfilmable book into a gorgeous, lyrical film via about a bajillion effects shots is pretty much climbing Everest. 2 He’s a previous winner for directing Brokeback Mountain and was also nominated for Crouching Tiger, so he has form. 3 Who doesn’t love Ang Lee? Did you not see his immensely likeable speech when he won before? Also, he might set his tiger on the Academy if he loses.

Why He Won't Win

1 The Academy doesn’t generally acknowledge the difficulty of working with big effects shots – see the habitual snubbing of Nolan, C. – so that’s probably a count against Lee. 2 Unlike Brokeback, this effort is not a very American film and might not connect so thoroughly to US voters. 3 He’s probably too self-effacing to really campaign on his own behalf.
Film: Lincoln

Why He Will Win

1 The film is a beautifully balanced look at the 16th (and best?) American President, and his struggle to fight prejudice without giving up peace. The high morals still feel inspiring. 2 It’s directed with a light, subtle hand that lets the characters speak for themselves, with few of Spielberg’s usual flourishes (even John Williams’ score is underplayed). It’s almost like an actor playing down their looks, and the Academy loves that! 3 Spielberg has all the other nominations necessary to indicate a likely winner, notably Best Picture – and Ben Affleck isn’t nominated.

Why He Won't Win

1 Spielberg only wins when he gives the Academy no choice – and in a strong year, will professional jealousy hurt his chances? 2 Is Lincoln too restrained for its own good here? Subtlety is, after all, not what the Oscars are known for. 3 Spielberg hasn’t won many awards in the run-up to the Oscars, so may have snatched underdog status despite his many Oscar nominations.

Film: Amour

Why He Will Win

1 He has one of the most respected bodies of work in movies today, and has hitherto been entirely overlooked by Oscar – so that’s a little embarrassing. 2 Amour is a meditative and immensely moving film about aging and death, which should be of interest to the Academy’s older voters. 3 The spoof twitter account has been campaigning hard.

Why He Won't Win

1 Generally speaking, respected arthouse filmmakers only win Oscars if they turn in something commercial and mainstream – which this isn’t, really. 2 The subject matter may be a little unpleasant for Hollywood types, who after all spend most of their time trying to avoid the aging process. 3 The real Michael Haneke isn’t campaigning nearly so much.

Film: Silver Linings Playbook

Why He Will Win

1 The film has some serious momentum, and those all-important Best Picture and Best Editing nods, along with a whopping four Acting nominations. 2 Russell’s a previous nominee and clearly a rising Oscar director, making the sort of character drama the Academy loves. 3 A Russell win would allow the Academy to reward someone new (unlike Lee or Spielberg) without going crazy leftfield (like a Haneke or Zeitlin win).

Why He Won't Win

1 Russell hasn’t been bringing home the bacon in the pre-Oscar awards shows, so he may have to settle for just a nomination. 2 Silver Linings Playbook does feel like the sort of film that wins acting nominations but not necessarily the big categories. 3 Russell’s reputation for feuding with actors could potentially hurt him we suppose, assuming anyone’s holding a grudge.

Film: Beasts Of The Southern Wild

Why He Will Win

1 He crafted a beautiful and lyrical film on a budget of roughly 50p, working with non-actors and drawing one of the performances of the year from a 6 year-old. 2 He’s a fresh face among a crop of old-timers, and the Academy does occasionally worry about looking out of touch. 3 That he’s nominated over the much-favoured Affleck and Bigelow suggests that he has a bit of a fanbase among voters.

Why He Won't Win

1 This feels like the pat-on-the-back, well-done-little-film-for-trying nomination that the Academy gives out now and again. No disrespect to Zeitlin, who thoroughly deserves the kudos, but in the realpolitik of Oscar voting he’s not looking good. 2 The average age of an Oscar winning director is 46, and the youngest ever – way back in 1931 – was 32. Zeitlin’s only 30, and the Academy may want to wait and make sure he’s not a flash in the pan. 3 Will enough Academy voters have seen the film?

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