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Friday, February 21, 2014

2014 Oscar Preview: Best Director

- Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)
- Alexander Payne (Nebraska)
- David O. Russell (American Hustle)
- Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street)
- Steve McQueen (12 Years A Slave)

SHOULD BE HERE: Spike Jonze (Her)

Her is one of the best films of the year, and when you make one of the best films of the year, you deserve to get a Best Director nomination. Sure, it's mainly bolstered by Spike Jonze's amazing script, but his script in the wrong hands is easily nominated for a butt load of Razzies. Plus, Jonze deserves a nomination solely for making Joaquin Phoenix lovable and easy to root for.


ALFONSO CUARON: Cuaron's pet project was a bold and daring idea that paid off beautifully. This ingenious creative endeavor not only did very well at the box office, but it was a really good movie. Cuaron deserves all the credit in the world (pun intended) for Gravity. The world already knew what a great director he was from such films as Y Tu Mama Tambien, Children of Men, and even Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and now we really got to see what he's made of when he gets to make the movie he wants to make.

DAVID O. RUSSELL: Principal filming for this movie started in April, so it's impressive that the film was completed by the end of the year. But frankly, the sloppiness shows. There are many noticeable awkward camera shots, and  I was never sucked in or engaged with the film (and considering the great acting performances, that's the fault of the director). I think Russell did a poor job with this final project, and if he spent a few more months on it, I think the film would have turned out better.

MARTIN SCORSESE: I don't understand why David O. Russell is getting loads of credit for doing a great Scorsese impression, yet when Martin Scorsese makes a film that shows he's at the top of his game, he seemingly gets left out of the conversation. The Wolf of Wall Street is excellent, and is on par with Goodfellas and The Departed.

STEVE McQUEEN: McQueen is a very talented director, and if 12 Years A Slave doesn't prove that, then watch his 2011 film Shame. McQueen clearly has his own point of view and vision, and Slave shows that, but the biggest problem with the film is that it's extremely boring. I think that's a huge flaw, and a problem that completely stems from McQueen himself. The film is a beautiful piece of art, and I understand why it's getting the praise that it is, but at the same time, any movie in this medium needs to have some modicum of entertainment value to it. You can make an "entertaining" movie about a topic as horrific as this that's also artfully done (the biggest example that comes to mind is Schindler's List), but 12 Years A Slave is not that movie. It feels more like a film you show in an 8th grade Civics or History class, and for that, I only rated it 2.5 stars.

ALEXANDER PAYNE: Which one of these films is not like the other: Nebraska, The Descendants, About Schmidt, Sideways, and Election. Four of these films are coming of age stories for older men, and one is about a crazy high school student and her teacher. Something must have happened once the millennial hit, because Payne starting making similar movies, and all of them completely different than Election. That's not a bad thing, not at all. In fact, I really like all of his films. Even though Nebraska is absolutely the type of movie Payne makes and has made, he tells this story beautifully. It's an extremely simple story where not a lot happens, yet Payne makes sure you get your 2 hours worth.

- Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)
- Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Don Jon)
- Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street)
- Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips)
- Spike Jonze (Her)


WHO SHOULD WIN: Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street)
WHO WILL WIN: Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)


I'm surprised that Paul Greengrass wasn't nominated this year. He received an Oscar nod for his work directing United 93, and Hollywood seems to love his handheld camera style. He was also nominated by the Golden Globes and the Director's Guild of America for his work on Captain Phillips. While I normally don't like Greengrass's style, I thought it worked splendidly for the film. I wouldn't go to bat for Greengrass on the film (not like I would for Scorsese or Cuaron), but I'm just surprised is all.

Who was your favorite director in 2013?

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