Can Steven Spielberg (‘The Fabelmans’) win Best Director Oscar despite BAFTA snub?

It’s crazy to think that legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg has not won an Oscar in 24 years. Despite being a two-time winner for Best Director, he has not nabbed a statuette in this category since 1999 for “Saving Private Ryan” (he also won five years prior for “Schindler’s List,” for which he also won Best Picture as a producer). He now contends for his semi-autobiographical film “The Fabelmans,” which is up for seven total nominations, and could very well win his third directing Oscar for his precise shots and framing techniques to tell such a personal story. Though he could have more of an uphill battle as he is not nominated for directing at the BAFTA Awards, a reliable precursor to the Oscars. Does he still have enough momentum to pull off the win?

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“The Fabelmans” has had an unsteady road throughout this awards season when it comes to nominations; one has to look no further than its dissimilar acting bids at various award shows – Paul Dano at SAG Awards for Best Supporting Actor, Judd Hirsch at Oscars for Best Supporting Actor, and Michelle Williams at Golden Globes and Oscars for Best Actress. But aside from that, Spielberg himself has had a rise and fall in the director category, winning the Golden Globe (where “The Fabelmans” also took home the top award for Best Drama Film), but being completely snubbed at BAFTA, where the film underperformed with only a lone screenplay nomination for himself and Tony Kushner. Not only did Spielberg miss a directing bid, he was not even longlisted by the BAFTA jury.

It is rare for someone to win the Oscar for Best Director without a BAFTA nomination, but it happens. In fact, Spielberg would be the first example since Clint Eastwood for “Million Dollar Baby” in 2005. Before that, we have to go back to 1991 for Oliver Stone for “Born on the Fourth of July,” which was when the BAFTAs were held after the Academy Awards and eligibility windows varied with release dates in the UK, meaning that the nominations could happen a full year after contending for the Oscars. But something else to keep in mind is that since “Saving Private Ryan,” Spielberg films have not fared too well across the pond with the awards, with the exception of “Lincoln” and “Bridge of Spies,” with Spielberg only receiving a directing nomination for the latter, so maybe it was something that people could have seen coming.

But not all hope is lost, as Spielberg does have hardware under his belt with the Golden Globe and is nominated for other award shows, including the Directors Guild of America Award, a principal bellwether for the Oscars, having only incorrectly predicted the winner eight times in its entire 74-year history. Should Spielberg triumph at the DGA Awards, it is all but certain that he would most likely nab the Oscar, and he is currently looking like a frontrunner with 17/5 odds, but it is a close race between him and the duo of Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert for “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” with 18/5 odds. He also competes against Martin McDonagh (“The Banshees of Inisherin”), Todd Field (“Tár”), and Joseph Kosinski (“Top Gun Maverick”), all of whom have 9/2 odds.

At the Oscars, four of five directors from the DGA make the lineup with Ruben Östlund (“Triangle of Sadness”) replacing Kosinski. Once again, it is a tight race between Spielberg and the Daniels, but Spielberg sits in second with 37/10 against the Daniels’ 10/3 odds and more than double the combined users predicting the latter due to the film’s leading 11 nominations. But that can all change when DGA announces their winner on Saturday, February 18. And lest we forget, Spielberg is highly respected in the industry and made a very intimate and sentimental film capturing the essence of his childhood and the magic of movies, which the industry loves to go for and has helped directors and screenwriters who have made similar personal movies like Alfonso Cuarón (“Roma”) and Kenneth Branagh (“Belfast”). All eyes will shift to the future award shows to see what they will go for, but Spielberg is still very much alive in this race.

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