‘Triangle of Sadness’: 5 reasons why Ruben Östlund could receive Best Director Oscar nomination

Ten years ago, there were five clear frontrunners for the Oscar for Best Director of 2012: Ben Affleck for “Argo,” Kathryn Bigelow for “Zero Dark Thirty,” Tom Hooper for “Les Misérables,” Ang Lee for “Life of Pi” and Steven Spielberg for “Lincoln. But when the nominations were announced, only Lee and Spielberg made the cut. Replacing Affleck, Bigelow and Hooper were Michael Haneke for “Amour,” David O. Russell for “Silver Linings Playbook” and Benh Zeitlin for “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”

Talk about an Oscar race going wild.

The lesson learned was that the Directors Branch of the Academy can be very unpredictable. They might overlook a big Hollywood star for helming a critical and commercial success, and instead go with an obscure director for their work on a tiny arthouse film. With that said, we should be prepared for some surprises in the directing category when the nominations are revealed on January 24. There’s one in particular that I’m cautiously predicting. I’m not confident by any means, and don’t expect to sway anyone’s opinion. But in the event that it happens, at least I can say that I warned of this possibility.

Here are five reasons why Ruben Östlund could receive a Best Director Oscar nomination for “Triangle of Sadness.”

1. “Triangle of Sadness” won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

It’s considered one of the most prestigious prizes in the world of cinema. Some might argue that it’s on par with the Academy Award for Best Picture. As early as the 1960s, a number of Palme recipients would go on to earn Oscar noms for their directors. That includes Federico Fellini for 1960’s “La Dolce Vita,” Claude Lelouch for 1966’s “A Man and a Woman” and Michelangelo Antonioni for 1966’s “Blowup.”

In more recent years, Palme winners have enjoyed even greater success in securing Oscar nominations for both Best Picture and Director. Consider 1993’s “The Piano,” 1994’s “Pulp Fiction,” 1996’s “Secrets and Lies,” 2002’s “The Pianist,” 2011’s “The Tree of Life,” “Amour” and 2019’s “Parasite.” “Parasite” would go on to become only the second singular Palme champion to claim the Best Picture Oscar, after 1955’s “Marty.” “Parasite” would even deliver Bong Joon Ho the Best Director Oscar, after losing most of the precursors to Sam Mendes for “1917.” A “Parasite”-style Palme victory could point Östlund in the direction of a Directing nomination.

SEE Ruben Östlund: ‘Triangle of Sadness’ writer-director [Exclusive Video Interview]

2. “Triangle of Sadness” is truly an example of an achievement in directing.

Östlund brings out rich and dynamic characterizations from a diverse cast. He’s the rare filmmaker who can turn chaos and conflict into clever comedy. But what is most notable about his steering of “Sadness” is the film’s spectacular second act (spoiler alerts ahead) – which shows guests in a luxury yacht dining room as heavy waves start to powerfully rock the boat. The staging of the upheaval, the flying food, the passengers’ sicknesses and the boat’s eventual sinking is nothing short of remarkable. It’s arguably one of the most memorable movie moments of 2022. It might be compared to the similar sea-set scenes presented by Lee in “Life of Pi.” Lee’s impressive handling of that drama in the ocean helped him to steal the Oscar that year. Östlund’s comparative work in the water could steer him toward Oscar.

3. The Directors Branch likes to nominate international and/or arthouse filmmakers.

That gives Östlund a double dose of Oscar appeal. There are so many examples of such selections throughout history. In addition to the international or arthouse directors already referenced in this article, here are a few others (year reflects that of US release): Hiroshi Teshigahara for 1965’s “Woman in the Dunes,” Gillo Pontecorvo for 1968’s “The Battle of Algiers,” Costa-Gavras for 1969’s “Z,” François Truffaut for 1974’s “Day for Night,” Ingmar Bergman for 1976’s “Face to Face,” Lina Wertmüller for 1976’s “Seven Beauties,” Édouard Molinaro for 1979’s “La Cage aux Folles,” Akira Kurosawa for 1985’s “Ran,” David Lynch for 1986’s “Blue Velvet,” Lasse Hallström for 1987’s “My Life as a Dog,” Krzysztof Kieślowski for 1994’s “Red,” Spike Jonze for 1999’s “Being John Malkovich,” Pedro Almodóvar for 2002’s “Talk to Her,” Fernando Meirelles for 2003’s “City of God,” Mike Leigh for 2004’s “Vera Drake,” Julian Schnabel for 2007’s “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” Paweł Pawlikowski for 2018’s “Cold War,” Thomas Vinterberg for 2020’s “Another Round” and Ryusuke Hamaguchi for 2021’s “Drive My Car.” This time around, it could be Östlund who crashes the Directing race.

SEE ‘Triangle of Sadness’: A SAG ensemble nomination will boost Oscar hopes

4. Östlund is considered a visionary director.

His 2014 film “Force Majeure” was met with international acclaim and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. His 2017 follow-up “The Square” would bring another shot at the Globe, as well as his first Oscar bid for Foreign Language Film. Given the raves for “Triangle,” it could be the work that brings him full circle – with his first citation for Best Director of the year.

5. “Triangle of Sadness” could cruise into other Oscar categories.

The film has already swept the European Film Awards. It’s competing for two Golden Globe Awards, including Best Comedy Film and Best Supporting Actress for breakout star Dolly de Leon. The delightful de Leon has a real shot at an Oscar nomination, and a Best Original Screenplay bid seems all but guaranteed. Even a spot in the Best Picture lineup isn’t out of the question. So don’t be shocked if “Triangle” captain Östlund sails into the Oscar race for Directing, hopelessly happy thanks to the success of “Sadness.”

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