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Oscar's Best Director 2021

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Who will be named Best Director?
0%
0 votes
Lee Isaac Chung, Minari
9.09%
1 votes
Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman
27.27%
3 votes
David Fincher, Mank
0%
0 votes
Thomas Vinterberg, Another Round
63.64%
7 votes
Chloé Zhao, Nomadland
11 votes. You may not vote on this poll




The five directors nominated this year. Who will win?



Lee Isaac Chung, Minari
Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman
David Fincher, Mank
Thomas Vinterberg, Another Round
Chloé Zhao, Nomadland
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I never could get the hang of Thursdays.
Surprised to see Vinterberg with a nomination.
Me too, but in a good way. I haven't seen Another Round yet, but I think he's a good director in general.



Yeah, I preload a lot of likely nominees for the Oscar picks pool so I can have it live quickly, and I gotta admit, he wasn't on there. Had to rush to add him.



I'd say Fincher deserves an Oscar, but I can't say he deserves it for Mank. He's done way better films. He should have won it for Se7en.

I'll still say Fincher.
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David Fincher is the only of the five directors to have previously been nominated. He got nods for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Danny Boyle won for Slumdog Millionaire) and The Social Network (Tom Hooper won for The King's Speech). While known and loved for his thrillers (SE7EN, Zodiac, Fight Club, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Gone Girl) his fellow filmmakers in the directors branch of the Academy give him props for his dramas. His fanbase will get more of what they love with his next project, The Killer, starring Michael Fassbender with SE7EN scribe Andrew Kevin Walker adapting Alexis Nolent's graphic novel, but his fellow directors grooved to Mank, even if it held up the screenwriter as the "hero" and not the legendary director Orson Welles. Mank's title character negotiating his way through Hollywood, California politics, and his own excesses and consternations was never designed to be a crowd-pleaser, but other than hardcore film buffs the Academy voters may turn out to be the perfect target audience. Will Mr. Fincher's fictionalized behind-the-scenes look at Citizen Kane's script be the one that gets him that overdue Oscar?




Lee Isaac Chung has been toiling in the arthouse circuit for over a decade now, including two movies about Rwanda in Munyurangabo and the documentary I Have Seen My Last Born. For his latest he turned to his own life. Minari tells a story very similar to his: a small family of first-generation immigrants from Korea move to Arkansas in Reagan's 1980s America to try their hand at farming. The father has been making a decent living sexing chicks (which is not anywhere as fun nor as dirty as that sounds) but has a dream of growing Korean vegetables in American soil for the waves of his countrymen moving to the U.S. The film is seen largely through the eyes of the young son, the view known very well by Chung who lived it. This warm but unvarnished, authentic bit of near autobiography has catapulted Lee Isaac Chung into the spotlight. He is unlikely to win but a worthy nomination.




Thomas Vinterberg was one of the biggest surprise nominations Oscar morning. Only thirty-three other filmmakers have taken one of these five slots for a foreign language film, and one of them was Clint Eastwood for Letters from Iwo Jima. However the last two instances were the first to actually win the award: Alfonso Cuarón two years ago for Roma and of course Bong Joon-Ho last year for Parasite. Will the Dutchman Vinterberg continue that unprecedented streak from a movie released in a year full of the unprecedented? Highly unlikely. His nomination was surprise/reward enough. Vinterberg had his international breakthrough over twenty years ago with Festen, the first Dogme 95 film. He has made some darn good films, including The Hunt (also starring Mads Mikkelsen), Submarino, and The Commune in his native Denmark as well as a Sundance hit Dear Wendy and the 2015 adaptation of Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd starring Carey Mulligan.

This nomination should make Another Round the odds-on favorite to win Best International Feature Film. This is only the twelfth Danish film nominated in that category (one of them was Vinterberg's The Hunt), and three of them have won: Babette's Feast (1987), Pelle the Conqueror (1988), and In a Better World (2010). But as big a surprise as it was for Vinterberg to make the cut as a nominee it would be an absolute shock if he were to actually win Best Director.


In the 92 previous years of The Academy Awards there have only been five women ever nominated as Best Director: Lina Wertmüller for Seven Beauties (1976), Jane Campion for The Piano (1993), Sofia Coppola for Lost in Translation (2003), Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker (2009), and Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird (2017). Bigelow is the only of those who won. This year there are two women up for Best Director and one of them is the early favorite.



Before this year Emerald Fennell has been best known as an actress. She had smaller supporting roles in films like The Danish Girl, Albert Nobbs, and the 2012 adaptation of Anna Karenina starring Keira Knightley and she is better known for her television work including "Call the Midwife" and most recently playing Camilla Parker Bowles on the current season of "The Crown". Her feature debut as not just a director but in fact a writer/director is Promising Young Woman which has landed her as a double Oscar nominee. Her dark comedy of revenge was hatched in the perfect #MeToo climate. I think it is smart and fun and apparently her fellow directors agreed. Yes, there were fewer films released but Fennell made the cut over the veteran likes of Spike Lee, Paul Greengrass, Kevin MacDonald, Lee Daniels, Christopher Nolan, and Aaron Sorkin. Even with the hot-button topic I don't suspect she'll win, but you can't have a much better calling card as a filmmaker than your debut netting Best Picture, Director, and Original Screenplay nominations. If she has other stories to tell there will surely be producers to finance them and if she can pull them off as well as Promising Young Woman she may ditch the whole acting thing.




Chloé Zhao has been at this a little longer, though Nomadland is only her third feature. She was an immediate force in the indie film world with her debut Songs My Brothers Taught Me (2015) getting good notices and her follow up The Rider (2017) was strong enough to get her some Oscar buzz, Independent Spirit Award nominations, and a deal with Marvel - she has helmed the upcoming Eternals starring Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, and the buff Kumail Nanjiani. But while she was putting her stamp on the MCU she was also periodically going off to shoot Nomadland. Frances McDormand had optioned the book and after seeing The Rider wanted Zhao. She got her and now she is the favorite to win Best Director. Win or lose Chloé Zhao is just getting started.



Will Mr. Fincher's fictionalized behind-the-scenes look at Citizen Kane's script be the one that gets him that overdue Oscar?
Really don't see Fincher winning...Mank is being shut out of everything thus far, I don't see that changing now.



Admittedly haven't seen Another Round but in terms of accomplishing what they set out to do with their film I'd give it to Fennell. Seems like Zhao will take it though as Nomadland is the only thing with even a remote amount of buzz around it.



I will give this one to Chole Zao. Really really impressed with the direction!
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Chloé Zhao won the DGA Award Saturday night making her the prohibitive favorite to win the Oscar for Best Director. Of all the guilds and other awards shows nothing is as reliable a predictor as to who will win the corresponding Academy Award as the Directors Guild of America. Since 1950 these two awards have not matched only eight times. Eight out of sixty-nine is 88%. Some of these "predictors" from other shows and ceremonies hover much closer to 50% and 60% accuracy. Not usually smart to bet against the DGA.

Of those eight discrepancies in seven decades three of them were even stranger anomalies in that the DGA winner wasn't even nominated for the Oscar. Those were Steven Spielberg for The Color Purple (Sydney Pollack won the Oscar for Out of Africa), Ron Howard for Apollo 13 (Mel Gibson won the Oscar for Braveheart), and Ben Affleck for Argo (Ang Lee won the Oscar for Life of Pi). Which means when the DGA winner is nominated for the Best Director Oscar they have won all but five times in sixty-nine years! Now you're up to 93% accurate.

Chloé Zhao of course is nominated for both which means you are going against some serious history if you bet against her winning Oscar gold. HOWEVER, the DGA had it wrong last year. They picked Sam Mendes for their top prize while the Oscar went to Bong Joon-Ho. That was the first time the two prizes were different with the same eligible winner since 2002 when Rob Marshall earned the DGA for Chicago but Roman Polanski got the Oscar in absentia for The Pianist. The only other three misses in Oscar history were 1968 when Anthony Harvey won the DGA for The Lion in Winter and Carol Reed the Oscar for Oliver!, 1972 when Francis Ford Coppola won the DGA for The Godfather but Bob Fosse the Oscar for Cabaret, and 2000 when Ang Lee won the DGA for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Steven Soderbergh the Oscar for Traffic. When it happened two out of three years to open the 21st Century that was the closest the misses ever came. If anyone but Chloé Zhao wins come Oscar night it will not only be rare because the two awards are usually the same but the first time it has ever happened in back-to-back years.

Bong Joon-Ho was the exception to the rule last year, and if you had him in your Oscar pool you looked like a genius. But exceptions are just that. It would still be unwise to bet against anyone but Zhao. Zhao and Emerald Fennell are only the sixth and seventh women ever nominated as Best Director - the first time ever with two on the same ballot - and it is looking like Chloé will join Kathryn Bigelow as the only female winners.





Bong Joon-Ho was the exception to the rule last year, and if you had him in your Oscar pool you looked like a genius.
For reference, here's last year's winners list, including the percentage of people who got each one right in their pools. And, as you allude to, just 14% of people looked like geniuses, the lowest correct percentage of any of the awards, and by a lot (the next-lowest was 26%).