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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Oscar Series: Best Director

Achievement in Directing
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, David Fincher

Frost/Nixon, Ron Howard

Milk, Gus Van Sant

The Reader, Stephen Daldry

Slumdog Millionaire, Danny Boyle

They may be some heavyweight directors in this race, but this should be one of the easier awards to predict this year. It's all about the Slumdog helmer, Danny Boyle. Let's look at this race.

David Fincher for Benjamin Button I thought at the beginning of this award season would win this award. This is his first nomination. Everyone thought Button would be the film to beat, but it really fell flat. Fincher suceeded as a director technically, but failed when it came to emotions and really making a compelling film. This film is not horrible, but it didn't reach its potential. That falls on Fincher. We all know he can direct movies (Seven and Fight Club). He may have his day in the sun, but I don't see it with this film.

Ron Howard for Frost/Nixon is one of the most consistent directors today. This is his third nomination (won Best Pic and Best Director in 2001 for A Beautiful Mind). I love the acting in this film and the dynamic between Frost and Nixon, but at times it still feels too much like a play. There's nothing flashy about it and Howard has simply done much better work. Plus, he already has two Oscars. If they are going to give him another one he needs to put out a stronger effort.

Gus Van Sant in Milk has earned his second nomination ('97 for Good Will Hunting). Van Sant has been trying to make this film since the early 90s. You could call it a true passion project. I love his stylistic choice of archival footage. He used it so effectively that it seamlessly fits into the film. It adds an extra boost to the narrative. I see Van Sant as a true spoiler on Sunday with probably little to no chance.

Stephen Daldry for The Reader has directed only three films and been nominated for all three of them. That's damn good. Though, I expect him to go 0/3 on Sunday. No one thought Daldry would be here and he's been getting some backlash for "stealing" Christopher Nolan's spot. That's a whole other story that I'm not going to get into.

Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire is the frontrunner. This is his first nomination. He won the DGA. Slumdog is winning everything. This should be a slam dunk. If Slumdog has a 1% chance of losing Best Picture, then Danny boy probably has a 0.5% chance of losing this race. Honestly, if he can craft an effective love story set to the backdrop of Who Wants to be a Millionaire, then he deserves to win.

Again, this race truly lacks any suspense. I would be shocked if he loses, but never say never. Still, I'm betting the house on Boyle for the win.

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