Can Ang Lee stop Steven Spielberg from winning third directing Oscar?

Usually, the Best Director Oscar goes hand-in-hand with Best Picture, but this year the top prize is likely to be awarded to “Argo,” which isn’t nominated in this category. It would be only the fourth time in Oscar history that a film wins Best Picture without a directing bid, and the first time since “Driving Miss Daisy” in 1989.

So with “Argo” sitting out this race, who will win instead?

Steven Spielberg (“Lincoln“)
Spielberg is the slight favorite with 2/1 odds. 12 out of 26 experts, four out of nine editors, and 61% of users predict he will win.

For directing the period biopic about President Abraham Lincoln passing the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery, Spielberg has been nominated by the Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice, and the Directors Guild, losing all three to Ben Affleck (“Argo”). He has yet to win a major directing honor for the film.

His bids for directing and producing “Lincoln” bring him to a career total of 15 Oscar nominations. He has won three times: twice for directing (“Schindler’s List” in 1993 and “Saving Private Ryan” in 1998) and once for producing (“Schindler’s List” in 1993).

Ang Lee (“Life of Pi“)
Lee is a close second with 23/10 odds. 11 experts, five editors, and 24% of users give him the edge to win.

For his film adaptation of Yann Martel‘s novel about a young man stranded at sea following a shipwreck, Lee has received directing nominations from the Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice, BAFTA, and the Directors’ Guild, and he won regional critics’ awards in Kansas City and Las Vegas.

His nominations for directing and producing “Life of Pi” bring Lee’s career total to five. He previously won this category for “Brokeback Mountain”‘ (2005), and his martial arts epic “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” won Best Foreign Language Film in 2000.

-ADDPREDICTION:85:9:Click to predict Best Director:ADDPREDICTION-

David O. Russell (“Silver Linings Playbook“)
Russell is in third place with 5/1 odds. Two experts and 9% of users expect him to win.

Russell wrote and directed this adaptation of Matthew Quick‘s novel about a bipolar former teacher who falls for a sexually compulsive widow, for which he received a directing bid from the Critics’ Choice Awards. He was also honored at the Satellite Awards and contends for a Spirit Award. However, he was snubbed by BAFTA, the Golden Globes, and the Directors Guild.

Including his nomination this year for writing “Silver Linings,” this is Russell’s third Oscar nomination. He was previously nominated in this category for “The Fighter” (2010).

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Michael Haneke (“Amour“)
Haneke is fourth with 13/2 odds. One expert and 4% of users predict he will win.

The internationally renowned filmmaker won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for his drama about an elderly man caring for his dying wife. He also won Best Director from the European Film Awards and the National Society of Film Critics, and was nominated by BAFTA.

Amour” also won Best Foreign Language Film at the BAFTA Awards and Golden Globes, and contends at the Spirit Awards.

Haneke’s nominations for writing and directing the film are his first at the Oscars. His film “The White Ribbon” was nominated for Foreign Language Film in 2009.

Benh Zeitlin (“Beasts of the Southern Wild“)
Zeitlin ranks last according to our predictions, getting 10/1 odds based on support from 1% of users.

He makes his feature directing debut with this film about a young girl living with her single father in a poor Louisiana community. He won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, and since then has won breakthrough awards from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the National Board of Review, the Chicago Film Critics Association, and the Gotham Awards. He also contends for Best Director at the Spirit Awards.

His Oscar nominations for writing and directing “Beasts of the Southern Wild” are his first.

10 thoughts on “Can Ang Lee stop Steven Spielberg from winning third directing Oscar?

  1. This race is actually between Ang Lee AND David O. Russell. On the preferential ballot, the film that is #2 is NOT Lincoln; it’s Silver Linings Playbook. There is SO much industry support for that movie, and it has to win somewhere. Lawrence is losing ground by the day to Riva. De Niro vs. Jones is very close. Watch for Silver Linings + David O. Russell to take either Adapted Screenplay OR Director (more likely).

  2. No one cares about Life of Pi. Their one calling card: VFX. just filed for bankruptcy. Lincoln is DDL show as has been established by every single award show.

    Best Director is David O. Russell for SLP

  3. The more I hear how Steven Spielberg is going to win Best Director the more I become convinced it’s going to be Ang Lee who gets it. I just can’t see an argument for why Spielberg would win this award over Lee who directed the technically superior Pi. I think people who thought Lincoln would be the frontrunner for best film are kind of grasping at straws here. He hasn’t won anything for directing Lincoln. Ang Lee at least got best director from the London Critics. That might not be huge, but it’s something. And Life of Pi is going to win more categories than Lincoln is at the Oscars, so that’s another good indicator that voters might be more wanting to check off Lee on their ballots. I see Russell as the potential spoiler.

  4. It SHOULD go to Spielberg, as challenging a shoot as Pi was. I’m not so sure Pi is going to dominate the tech categories: visual, cinematography, and score, yes, but probably not song (Adele), sound mixing (Les Mis), art direction (Anna Karenina or Les Mis), editing (Argo), or sound editing (anybody’s guess, really). Lincoln SHOULD get Picture, Director, Actor, S. Actor, and Screenplay, but it may only get Actor and S. Actor…but still hopefully Director. Kushner’s snub will be the most painful.

  5. O.Russell has no hope. The Academy gives out Oscars to people it likes, as Tom O’Neill often points out. What love does O.Russell engender? Just look at his reaction to Riva’s win at the BAFTAs, and his history with actors.

  6. Since the DGAs began, no one has EVER won Best Director without at least a DGA nom. That means only TWO possible contenders: Spielberg & Lee. Trust me, it’ll be Spielberg. (And I’m not a fan of Lincoln, but it’ll also beat Argo for Best Picture. Argo CANNOT win BP without a directing nom.)

  7. This is a weird year. The DGA was announced when Oscar voting had ended….the fact that only 2 of the nominees line up with Oscar’s Directing lineup, leads me to think that if there was a year when a non-DGA nominee won Best Director it would be this one. Russell isn’t as hated as you might think and he has NEVER won before. He has consistently gotten great performances, he has the Weinstein machine, AND–most importantly–his film is #2 on the preferential ballot, NOT Lincoln. It SHOULD go to Ang Lee, who turned in the most visionary direction, which guides and focuses the movie; Life of Pi IS a director-driven movie, unlike Lincoln, which falls shortest with its directing, Spielberg not being sure what exactly he wanted his film to SAY. But with Life of PI being a CGI fest and Lincoln not having the support everyone thought it had (Tapley argues it may have never been in this race in the first place), this could go to David O. Russell.

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