2023 Oscars Best Director nominees: A 2-time champ versus 5 rookies

The 2023 Oscar nominees for Best Director are Todd Field (“TAR”), Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”), Martin McDonagh (“The Banshees of Inisherin”), Ruben Östlund (“Triangle of Sadness”), and Steven Spielberg (“The Fabelmans”). Our odds currently show that Kwan and Scheinert – aka the Daniels – are most likely to win (16/5), followed in order by Spielberg (19/5), McDonagh (9/2), Field (9/2), and Östlund (9/2).

Spielberg is the only returning directing contender in the bunch, with eight past bids under his belt for “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (1978), “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1982), “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” (1983), “Schindler’s List” (1994), “Saving Private Ryan” (1999), “Munich” (2006), “Lincoln” (2013), and “West Side Story” (2022). He prevailed on both his fourth and fifth outings and shared in a Best Picture win as a producer of “Schindler’s List.” This new notice makes him the first back-to-back directing nominee since 2015 and 2016 champion Alejandro González Iñárritu (“Birdman” and “The Revenant”).

For the first time in Oscars history, every Best Director hopeful is also competing for Best Original Screenplay. All but Östlund, who did not produce his film, are included on the Best Picture roster as well. McDonagh is now a three-time original writing nominee, since he was previously recognized for “In Bruges” (2009) and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (2018). Field is new to the original category but has two past adapted screenplay bids to his name for “In the Bedroom” (2002) and “Little Children” (2007).

The Daniels are only the fourth directing team to ever achieve recognition here, after Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise (“West Side Story,” 1962), Warren Beatty and Buck Henry (“Heaven Can Wait,” 1979), and Ethan Coen and Joel Coen (“No Country for Old Men,” 2008 and “True Grit,” 2011). Robbins and Wise and the Coen Brothers (2008) all emerged victorious. Since they are both 35 years old, the Daniels are at least six years younger than any of said six individuals were when they received their nominations.

The average age of the 2023 directing nominees is 50, which is lower than that of last year’s group by nine years. In the past, this award has gone to only five people younger than Kwan, who is the youngest in the current lineup. The low-end age record is held by Damien Chazelle (32, “La La Land,” 2017), who is followed by Norman Taurog (32, “Skippy,” 1931), Lewis Milestone (33, “Two Arabian Knights,” 1929), Sam Mendes (34, “American Beauty,” 2000), and Frank Borzage (35, “7th Heaven,” 1929). Conversely, Spielberg (76) could become the oldest winner in the category’s history by surpassing the record set by 74-year-old Clint Eastwood (“Million Dollar Baby”) in 2005.

Kwan, who is of Chinese descent, is also the ninth Asian director ever nominated here. He could now make history as the first Asian American to take the prize, which has previously been won by Asian-born directors Ang Lee (Taiwan; “Brokeback Mountain,” 2006 and “Life of Pi,” 2013), Bong Joon-ho (Korea; “Parasite,” 2020), and Chloé Zhao (China; “Nomadland,” 2021).

The most recent directing victors are Jane Campion (“The Power of the Dog,” 2022), Zhao, Bong, and Alfonso Cuarón (“Roma,” 2019). This year’s winner will be revealed during the 95th Academy Awards ceremony, airing March 12 on ABC.

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