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?
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).
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.
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).
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.
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.