2018 Oscar nominations surprise: Sean Baker, Dee Rees, Denis Villeneuve or… [POLL]

Readers have been voicing their opinion on which actors and actresses are most likely to score out of left field Oscar nominations. And in this unpredictable year, there are plenty of directors hoping that they too can pull off a Hail Mary with the Academy.

The Directors Guild named Greta Gerwig, Martin McDonagh, Christopher Nolan, Jordan Peele, and Guillermo del Toro as their best director nominees. Will the Academy fall in line with the guild? History says that at least one of the top five contenders is likely to miss out. Take a look at the directors who are lacking industry kudos as of late, and let us know which one you think will pull off an Oscar jaw-dropper in our poll below.

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Paul Thomas Anderson, “Phantom Thread” – Though he has contended for his screenplays four times, Paul Thomas Anderson has only competed once as a director, for “There Will be Blood.” It remains to be seen if “Phantom Thread” will find broad support with the Academy, given that much of the films’ awards narrative surrounds the costumes and Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance. But there are glimmers of hope with a best director win from the Vancouver Film Critics Circle and a second place finish with the National Society of Film Critics.

Sean Baker, “The Florida Project” – Sean Baker might not be a familiar Hollywood name. His most notable work is 2015’s “Tangerine.” But “The Florida Project” has cemented itself as a player for Best Picture with a passionate fan base in the film industry. Baker wasn’t nominated by the DGA, but the more singularly minded directors branch of the Academy is just the type of group to reward this fresh face. After all, they nominated unknown Benh Zeitlin for a similar indie passion project “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”

Luca Guadagnino, “Call me by Your Name” – Early in the season, Luca Guadagnino was a shoe in. But after nominations from the Independent Spirits, Gothams, and Critics Choice, he has dropped in our rankings as the Best Director category began focusing on helmers who also wrote their respective films. With “Call me by Your Name” still expected to land in Best Picture, Guadagnino will hope to woo the directors branch enough to bump out a frontrunner.

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Dee Rees, “Mudbound” – Much ado has been made about Greta Gerwig’s Best Director bid because she would be just the fifth female nominee in Oscar history. But another woman has a formidable claim to a Directing nomination and that’s Dee Rees. She skillfully weaves together the many story threads in “Mudbound” and won Best Director from the New York Film Critics Circle Online for her efforts. If she is able to fight past the Academy’s bias towards rewarding Netflix films, she will become the first black woman nominated in this category.

Denis Villeneuve, “Blade Runner 2049” – Directors like Christopher Nolan and Guillermo del Toro are praised for the audacious scope of their epics. But one would be hard pressed to find a film from 2017 more audacious than “Blade Runner 2049.” Denis Villenueve took on the daunting task of helming a sequel to what many consider the greatest sci-fi film of all time. The BAFTAs gave him a surprise nomination for succeeding in this endeavor, despite not naming the film itself among their Best Picture nominees. Will this past nominee for “Arrival” pull off that rare feat again at the Oscars?

PREDICT the Oscar nominees now; change them until January 23

Be sure to make your Oscar nomination predictions so that Hollywood studio executives 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.

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