Two locks in this category are on the opposite ends of deserving the nomination. Steve McQueen will most certainly be recognized for 12 Years a Slave, and is completely deserving. David O. Russell should get the nod as well, though American Hustle feels slight in comparison to the work of McQueen. A third certainty for Best Director will be Alfonso Cuaron, whose technical mastery on Gravity makes him a definite and deserving candidate.
And then there were two spots, and arguably a dozen possible nominees. Alexander Payne could be recognized for Nebraska, The Coen Brothers for Inside Llewyn Davis, Spike Jonze for her... But they will be left on the sidelines. As difficult as it was for Martin Scorsese to win his Academy Award, the Academy still loves him. And the energy and technical mastery he shows in The Wolf of Wall Street will bring about a deserving nomination. The fifth slot should, and I think will, belong to Paul Greengrass for Captain Phillips, simply because Captain Phillips is a wonderful film.
Steve McQueen - 12 Years a Slave
David O. Russell - American Hustle
Alfonso Cuaron - Gravity
Martin Scorsese - The Wolf of Wall Street
Paul Greengrass - Captain Phillips
An easy way to nail down the first five Best Picture slots is to look at who the director nominees are going to be. From my five predictions, I fully expect 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Gravity, The Wolf of Wall Street, and Captain Phillips to be nominated. And with a year like 2013, I almost expect a full slate of ten films, but there may be too many quality films to divide. The sixth film on the list should be Alexander Payne's heartfelt family drama, Nebraska. Beyond six, if there are seven, her should be there. The final three slots are wide open...
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street
Nebraska (if 6)
Her (if 7)
Inside Llewyn Davis (if 8)
Dallas Buyers Club (if 9)
Lee Daniels' The Butler (if 10)
The OSCAR NOMINEES will be announced Thursday Morning, January 16 at 5am Pacific Time!