Willie Waffle is the movie critic for people who hate movie critics.

Oscar Nominee Predictions - Best Director

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spielberglincoln.jpgIt will be a very early Thursday morning for those directors (and any nominee hopefuls) dreaming of Oscar gold. 

Oscar is the only bald man anyone in Hollywood desires, and Thursday's announcement of nominees by The Academy's new president Hawk Koch and whatever glamorous young starlet can be coaxed out of bed in time to make the 5:38 AM Pacific telecast (or, they might just find a glamorous young starlet who decides to stay up all night, but Lindsay Lohan can stop calling them and offering to do it) will leave 5 lucky directors in the race, while Sylvester Stallone wonders why he didn't get honored for The Expendables 2.  

Who will duke it out in the ultimate Battle Royale? 

The nominees will be:

Steven Spielberg (Lincoln)

Ben Affleck (Argo)

Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty)

Tom Hooper (Les Miserables)

David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook)

Because directors nominate directors, we normally would look at the list of Best Director nominees at the Director's Guild of America awards to give us guidance.  Many of those voters also vote at The Oscars, but those nominations are not announced until Tuesday, January 8, and I am a man who has to meet a deadline.  So, I am going out on a limb with these.

Spielberg is the most obvious nominee.  Lincoln is a frontrunner for Best Picture, and Spielberg is one of the most respected Hollywood players who has ever lived.

Affleck, after getting snubbed for The Town, finally gets the recognition he deserves for Argo.  Also a possible Best Picture contender, the movie proved what everyone has been saying about Affleck over the past few years - this guy has created a whole new and prosperous career as a director.  No more worrying about him showing up for Gigli 2.  I honestly believe he is the Clint Eastwood of his generation and will be delivering Oscar caliber material for the next 30 years.

Bigelow, the only woman to ever win Best Director, has been heralded in every circle for potential Best Picture winner Zero Dark Thirty.  I think the movie might lose steam as we get into the heat of the Oscar race, but she deserves a nomination for putting out a movie that does well as a criminal procedural, but soars as an action film when the Navy S.E.A.L.S. fly into Pakistan. 

Hooper can count on a nomination for delivering the biggest spectacle of the year.  Les Miserables was innovative in how it recorded the actors singing live for the final product, and it's a movie that is MASSIVE.  The scope, the details, the story, the sets, the production all appeal to old Hollywood. 

The last nominee is the toughest to predict.  Plenty of people think it will be Ang Lee for Life of Pi.  Like Les Miserables, it is considered a BIG movie.  Massive scope.  Mastery of modern technology and a story that is touching and heartfelt. 

However, I am leaning towards Russell.  He might not be considered a lovable Hollywood figure, but you can't deny his track record.  Three Kings helped revolutionize storytelling and movie making.  He was a nominee for The Fighter.  And, Silver Linings Playbook is a real contender for Best Picture.  Not just as a nominee, but a legitimate contender to win the whole thing.  He might be handed an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay as some sort of consolation prize, but I think Academy voters will support the director of a real Best Picture contender before honoring a guy who might have directed a Best Picture nominee (Lee and Life of Pi), but it's a movie no longer on anyone's lips when they talk about the best movies out there right now. 

Plus, The Weinstein Company wages some of the best Oscar campaigns in the business, and they are the ones behind Silver Linings Playbook.  It's Fox behind Life of Pi, and they don't exactly have all that much experience competing for Oscars.  Maybe Razzies.

Tomorrow, Best Picture Nominee Predictions.

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