Oscars 2018: Will a foreign filmmaker win Best Director for the 7th time in 8 years?

Is the Oscar for Best Director now the domain of foreign filmmakers? Six of the last seven winners have been non-American. That streak was broken last year when the Rhode Island-born Damien Chazelle claimed the award for “La La Land,” becoming not only the youngest winner ever but also the first American champ since Kathryn Bigelow (2009’s “The Hurt Locker”) seven years earlier. However, judging from our latest racetrack odds, the Best Director race is likely to return to foreign hands this year.

As of this writing, British filmmaker Christopher Nolan (“Dunkirk”) is the frontrunner to win with leading odds of 5/2. That includes support from 16 of the Expert film journalists we’ve polled: Thelma Adams (Gold Derby), Edward Douglas, Joyce Eng (Gold Derby), Bonnie Fuller (Hollywood Life), Tim Gray (Variety), Matthew Jacobs (Huffington Post), Dave Karger (IMDb), Michael Musto (NewNowNext), Christopher Rosen (Entertainment Weekly), Keith Simanton (IMDb), Krista Smith (Vanity Fair), Sasha Stone (Awards Daily), Anne Thompson (IndieWire), Peter Travers (Rolling Stone), Sara Vilkomerson (Entertainment Weekly), and Susan Wloszczyna (Roger Ebert.com).

Mexican auteur Guillermo Del Toro (“The Shape of Water”) is close behind with 3/1 odds. He’s backed by seven Experts: Erik Davis (Fandango), Tariq Khan (Fox News), Jack Mathews (Gold Derby), Tom O’Neil (Gold Derby), Brian Truitt (USA Today), Adnan Virk (ESPN), and Glenn Whipp (LA Times). Del Toro may be an underdog according to our Experts, but he’s actually ahead of Nolan according to the predictions of Gold Derby’s Editors who cover awards year-round and our All-Star Top 24 Users who got the highest scores when you combine the last two years’ Oscar nominations predictions. Del Toro would be the third Mexican filmmaker this decade to prevail following Alfonso Cuaron (2013’s “Gravity”) and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (2014’s “Birdman” and 2015’s “The Revenant”).

The other three foreign directors who won over the last seven years were Brit Tom Hooper (2010’s “The King’s Speech”), Frenchman Michel Hazanavicius (2011’s “The Artist”), and Taiwanese Ang Lee (2012’s “Life of Pi”). So can any American come through this year to make the Oscars great again?

The highest ranked in our predictions is Californian multi-hyphenate Greta Gerwig (“Lady Bird”) with 13/2 odds. One of our Editors, Chris Beachum, currently thinks she will prevail, which would make her only the second woman ever to claim that prize, following Bigelow’s aforementioned “Hurt Locker” win. Gerwig is followed by Ohio native Steven Spielberg (“The Post”) with 17/2 odds. He has won twice before, for “Schindler’s List” (1993) and “Saving Private Ryan” (1998). One of our Experts, Andrea Mandell (USA Today), and one of our Editors, Marcus James Dixon, are betting on him to take his third victory lap.

But there are more foreign filmmakers with a strong chance to make the cut, especially Italian director Luca Guadagnino for “Call Me by Your Name” (ranked fifth with 14/1 odds) and British-Irish director Martin McDonagh for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (ranked sixth with 16/1 odds).

In recent years, in response to the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, the motion picture academy has greatly expanded its membership in an effort to increase representation for female, people of color, and international film professionals. That may increase the likelihood of international representation among the nominees and winners. Are you excited for the potential for more gender, racial, and geographic diversity among this year’s contenders?

Be sure to make your Oscar nomination predictions so that Hollywood studio executives and top name stars can see how their films are faring in our Academy Awards odds. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on January 23. And join in the fierce debate over the 2018 Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our film forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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