The next category in our Oscar Watch 2012 recap is Best Director. It’s usually a pretty tight race between these candidates, and this year is no exception.
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Critics are calling this romantic comedy one of Allen’s best films in years. Starring Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams and Kathy Bates, it follows the story of a family on a Paris business trip. Playing the son-in-law to be, Wilson discovers a magical connection with the City of Light. This is soon followed by the dissolution of his relationship with his fiancé (McAdams), who doesn’t share the same romantic notions. As writer and director, Allen performs admirably in focusing on the romantic and realistic elements of the film. It’s refreshing to see a great Woody Allen movie again.
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
With this film, Hazanavicius took on the monumental task of writing and directing a silent, black and white film that takes place in Hollywood between 1927 and 1932. He cast his real-life wife Berenice Bejo to play a rising young actress opposite an older silent film star played by Jean Dujardin. Critics are applauding this as a masterpiece, and Hazanavicius has already won the BAFTA for Best Director. Can he follow up with an Oscar?
Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life
I’m most familiar with Terrence Malick’s style from the 1998 war film he directed, The Thin Red Line. Similar to Line, his 2011 film has been met by polarized reviews from both critics and audiences. The movie is highly visual and existential, not to mention incredibly long (140 minutes). Honestly, I had a difficult time sitting through this one, although I can appreciate Malick’s poetic and impressionistic vision. I think the Academy will also have split reviews, and this one will not bring home the Oscar.
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
Many people know Alexander Payne for his 2004 Academy Award winner Sideways, but I have to admit my favorite of his is Election. A close second is his latest film, set in Hawaii, about a father trying to reconnect with his daughters. The on-location filming and beautiful camerawork (including a crucial underwater scene) make this movie unforgettable. Come Oscar night, I think Payne will win over the Academy voters.
Martin Scorsese, Hugo
The last but certainly not the least nominee is Martin Scorsese for his 3D family epic about the adventures of an orphan living in a Paris train station in the 1930s. This film is unlike any other that the legendary director has ever made. It was critically acclaimed but lackluster at the box office. I am a huge Scorsese fan and would love to see him win, but I’m not sure he’ll get the nod this year from the Academy.