Now that he’s won the Directors Guild Award, Guillermo del Toro (“The Shape of Water”) is a virtual lock for the Oscar equivalent. If he prevails, he’ll join his fellow Three Amigos Alfonso Cuaron and Alejandro G. Inarritu as Best Director winners. But will the academy have Cuaron and Inarritu present the category and literally welcome their pal into the club at the ceremony? More importantly, should they?
Tapping Cuaron and Inarritu to present Best Director is awfully presumptuous, but the academy is not above stunts like this. The Oscars love doing that wink-wink even though producers don’t know the winners when plotting out the show; they can only assume like you and me and hope it works out.
Eleven years ago, the Oscars trotted out Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas to present Best Director to their overdue friend Martin Scorsese (“The Departed”). Eight years ago, Barbra Streisand noted “the time has come” before announcing Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker”) as the first female Best Director champ. Just last year, Ben Affleck and
guest Matt Damon presented Best Original Screenplay to Kenneth Lonergan for “Manchester by the Sea,” which was produced by Damon and almost starred him until he gave up the lead role to Casey Affleck. The second big bro Ben opened the envelope and let Damon read it, you knew Lonergan had won.
But sometimes these hopeful presenter-winner pairings backfire. Former Spielberg player Harrison Ford had to present Best Picture to “Shakespeare in Love” (1998) instead of “Saving Private Ryan” (1998). Four years ago, Robert De Niro gave the Best Original Screenplay Oscar to Spike Jonze (“Her”) instead of his “American Hustle” writers David O. Russell and Eric Warren Singer. And though “Arrival” was not expected to win Best Adapted Screenplay last year, Amy Adams was tasked with handing out that award to “Moonlight.”
The prospect of having Cuaron, who won for “Gravity” (2013) and Inarritu, who took home back-to-back Oscars for “Birdman” (2014) and “The Revenant” (2015), present to del Toro is incredibly enticing. It’d create a buzzy, heartwarming moment that everyone will pounce on and rewatch, which is what you want as a producer. Three BFFs from Mexico winning four Best Director Oscars in five years all on stage together? That writes itself.
The downside is the utter transparency of it all, which is frankly kind of insulting to the other nominees. And then, of course, there’s the chance that del Toro, who’s in first place in our odds, doesn’t win and things could get awkward. Which, to be fair, is another possible “moment.”
What do you think? Should the academy ask Cuaron and Inarritu to present Best Director? Vote in our poll below.
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