Oscar 2012: Best Director Race

Over the next few weeks (when I feel like it and get through the remainder of the Oscar nominees) I will examine each of the races in the top eight categories. I am in no way trying to keep this objective or subjective; like with everything else in this blog, I’m writing what I think and don’t really filter it.

The Nominees
Woody Allen – Midnight in Paris
Michel Hazanavicius – The Artist
Terrence Malick – The Tree of Life
Alexander Payne – The Descendants
Martin Scorsese – Hugo

Ever since the Best Picture category extended beyond the boundaries of five movies, the Best Director category has served to give clarity to which movies WOULD have been nominated should the category remained smaller.

This year brings us a quartet of truly accomplished filmmakers and Michel Hazanavicius, who is the odds-on favorite to win the big prize. The five films are just about as diverse as you can get; everything from 3D animation to romantic comedy to dark comedy, silent film and whatever you think the Tree of Life is.

Will Win: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist. The Arist is a truly amazing film, keeping even us 140-character-or-less folks riveted in a silent film. What a truly wonderful vision Hazanavicius had; and congratulations to the folks who invested money in that film, making a 21st Century silent movie.

Should Win: Yeah, after all that gushing: Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris. It was Allen’s superb direction and sense of whimsy that truly brought this film to life. Allen also made each of the famous characters ironically more real by overplaying their stereotypes (Adrian Brody’s Dali was hysterical) but towing the line without ever crossing it. Annie Hall is considered a classic, but Midnight is better.

Snubbed: David Yates, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. Yates, who was basically a TV director in the UK before taking on the world’s most lucrative movie franchise, deserved at least some recognition for the last entry in the series.

Overhyped: Terrance Malick, The Tree of Life. I didn’t love the film, nor did I hate it. I thought it was quite interesting, and certainly got Malick’s vision. However, I see films primarily as a form of modern day storytelling, and though Malick has an incredible vision, the film was much more like a visual poem than a story.