Spielberg, Eastwood among six Best Director champs back in Oscars race

While the Best Picture slate may number as many as 10 nominees, Best Director remains restricted to five contenders. Only one of last year’s nominees — David Fincher (“The Social Network“) — could be back in the race as he helms the English-language version of the Swedish hit “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”

However, a half dozen past champs are in the mix, including a pair of two-time winners. Steven Spielberg (“Schindler’s List,” 1993; “Saving Private Ryan,” 1998) delivers both the period drama “War Horse” and the performance capture “The Adventures of Tintin Secret of the Unicorn” in December while Clint Eastwood (“Unforgiven,” 1992; “Million Dollar Baby,” 2004) vies with the biopic “J. Edgar.”

Have Your Say: Predict the Best Director nominees here!

Also in the running are four other Oscar champs: Woody Allen (“Annie Hall,” 1977) for “Midnight in Paris,” his most successful film in decades; Steven Soderbergh (“Traffic,” 2000) for the medical thriller “Contagion“; Roman Polanski (“The Pianist,” 2002) for “Carnage,” his adaptation of the 2009 Tony-winning “God of Carnage”; and Martin Scorsese (“The Departed,” 2006) for his first 3-D film, the fantasy “Hugo.”

Besides Fincher, other Best Director also-rans hoping to finally win the Oscar include: Pedro Almodovar (“The Skin I Live In“), George Clooney (“The Ides of March“), Stephen Daldry (“Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close“), Terrence Malick (“The Tree of Life“), Bennett Miller (“Moneyball“), Alexander Payne (“The Descendants“) and Jason Reitman (“Young Adult“).

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