Awards season is officially upon us following the recent Golden Globe awards and the BAFTA nominations. With that in mind, and with talk of the 2018 Oscars starting to ramp up (the nominations are announced on 23rd January), we thought we'd present our tips for Best Director, ranking the candidates from most to least likely to win.
The movie The Shape of Water
Chances of winning the Oscar 90%
Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro is one of the most popular and esteemed directors in cinema, responsible for modern classics including Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy and The Devil's Backbone. That makes his lack of Oscar success (not even a nomination to his name) all the more surprising. Still, this may count in his favour this year: the Academy Awards love to honour somebody revered in the industry who hasn't yet had their moment in the sun. Add to this his Golden Globe win for Best Director for The Shape of Water, and we're positioning him as the frontrunner in this race.
The movie Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Chances of winning the Oscar 75%
If you make a movie that gets a mass audience talking, the Oscars are very likely to pay attention. The angry humour and compassionate tone of McDonagh's movie, the story of a bereaved mother taking on her local police force, has had viewers and critics embarking on an emotional rollercoaster. Yet the success of the movie is how its contradictory elements are brought together by the writer-director of In Bruges, a movie for which, let's not forget, McDonagh snagged a Best Original Screenplay Oscar. Considering the sheer weight of Three Billboards' Golden Globes success (six of them, although none for Best Director), we'd say McDonagh is Guillermo del Toro's main threat.
The movie Dunkirk
Chances of winning the Oscar 60%
Christopher Nolan is in that rare position so coveted by major league filmmakers, having racked up a near-constant string of critical hits that, almost always, have also scored major box office success. He subsequently holds formidable clout among the industry, highly regarded by studio heads, creatives and actors alike for his ability to deliver brainy subject matter to a mass audience. His lack of a Best Director nomination thus far becomes all the more galling when considering the remarkable triumph of his feted World War II drama Dunkirk. The movie's extraordinary sense of scale, combined with Nolan's reputation, may finally hasten the Academy to give him that long-overdue Oscar.
The movie Blade Runner 2049
Chances of winning the Oscar 50%
As a movie, Blade Runner 2049 is defined by its direction. Sicario filmmaker Denis Villeneuve not only has to engulf audiences in an astonishing future world that lives up to Ridley Scott's vision. He also has to populate the futuristic landscape with a remarkable level of character detail, advancing the Blade Runner mythology into a new era. Critics agreed that Villeneuve was triumphant in bringing us a sequel we didn't think we needed, although the box office results were lower than expected, which may hurt his Oscar chances. Nevertheless, if they want to honour a filmmaker who envelops and overwhelms the viewer with eye-widening spectacle, Villeneuve surely has this in the bag.
The movie Lady Bird
Chances of winning the Oscar 40%
If Oscars were determined purely in terms of critical merit, Greta Gerwig would have this secured. Her coming of age movie Lady Bird is the most critically lauded movie on this list with 99% on Rotten Tomatoes. Until recently, it held the record for the most unbroken stream of positive reviews on the site, which is a sure indicator of how well its been received. Hailed as a triumph in terms of tone, character and outlook, it hinges on a pitch-perfect evocation of 2002 nostalgia (Justin Timberlake features heavily on the soundtrack) and assured performances from Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf as a bickering mother and daughter. Still, Gerwig has controversially been locked out of the BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations, so we have to peg her chances back a bit.
The movie Phantom Thread
Chances of winning the Oscar 30%
There are certain movies defined by their performances, no matter how superb the filmmaker, and Phantom Thread may be destined to become one of them. The movie has generated significant attention for acting as Daniel Day-Lewis' final movie, therefore acting as an epitaph to an extraordinary career encompassing the likes of My Left Foot and Gangs of New York. Amidst the hoopla over Day-Lewis' final performance, playing a repressed English dressmaker battling with his demons, director Paul Thomas Anderson may struggle for oxygen. He's one of the most lauded filmmakers in the industry, having delivered an unbroken stream of critical hits from Boogie Nights onwards, but if this is anyone's show, it's Day-Lewis'.
The movie The Post
Chances of winning the Oscar 20%
It may seem odd placing Hollywood institution Steven Spielberg at the bottom of such a list, but there are factors to consider. Although his new movie The Post has been met with significant acclaim, he has already won two Best Director Oscars before (Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan). The movie has also struggled to capitalise on its reviews in awards circles, nabbing six Golden Globe nominations but no wins, and, surprisingly, receiving no BAFTA nominations whatsoever. The Post has prestige and A-list credentials on its side (Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep), but owing to the Globe and BAFTA success already enjoyed by others on this list, Spielberg isn't necessarily a frontrunner.
Who do you think will walk away with this year's Best Director Oscar? Let us know @Cineworld. The Academy Awards get underway on 4th March.