In 2010 the academy reintroduced the preferential ballot to decide the Best Picture winner. Over the ensuing 13 years, there has been a difference between the winners of that award and Best Director at six Academy Awards ceremonies. Prior to this such splits were fairly rare. Why the change? (Scroll down for the most up-to-date 2023 Oscars Best Director predictions.)
The winner of Best Picture is now determined by a weighted ballot while the other 22 races, including Best Director, are decided by a popular vote. While voters simply check one nominee in those other races, when it comes to Best Picture they are asked to rank all the nominees. If one contender garners more than 50% of the first-place votes, it wins. If, however, no nominee crosses that threshold, the film with the fewest first-place votes is eliminated, with its ballots being reapportioned to the second-place pick. This process continues until one nominee reaches 50% plus one vote. The goal, says the academy, is to award the Best Picture award to a consensus choice.
With two different voting systems, it’s easy to understand how this split happens so often. In 2022, Jane Campion won Best Director for “The Power of the Dog” but “CODA” was named Best Picture. In 2019 Alfonso Cuaron won Best Director for “Roma” only to see his film eclipsed in the top race by “Green Book.” That had happened to Cuaron in 2014 as well when he won for “Gravity” but Best Picture went to “12 Years a Slave.” And while Ang Lee (“Life of Pi”), Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (“The Revenant”) and Damien Chazelle (“La La Land”) all won the Best Director Oscar, their films lost to “Argo” (2013), “Spotlight” (2016) and “Moonlight” (2017) respectively.
Inarritu also won Best Director for a film that took the top Academy Award: “Birdman” (2015). As with “The Revenant,” this also was a bravura directorial achievement and had strong support throughout the creative categories. Indeed, six of the last 10 films that won Oscars for helming also took home the lensing prize. When it comes to Best Director, bigger is better. So, who is making that kind of movie this year?
Please note: To read full descriptions of each film, check out our 2023 Oscars Best Picture predictions.
UPDATED: July 27, 2022
Leading Contenders (in alphabetical order)
James Cameron, “Avatar: The Way of Water”
Damien Chazelle, “Babylon”
Alejandro G. Inarritu, “Bardo”
Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”
Martin McDonagh, “The Banshees of Inisherin”
Sam Mendes, “Empire of Light”
Ruben Ostlund, “Triangle of Sadness”
Sarah Polley, “Women Talking”
Martin Scorsese, “Killers of the Flower Moon” (may move to 2023)
Steven Spielberg, “The Fabelmans”
Strong Contenders (in alphabetical order)
Noah Baumbach, “White Noise”
Peter Farrelly, “The Greatest Beer Run Ever”
Todd Field, “Tar”
James Gray, “Armageddon Time
Luca Guadagnino, “Bones and All”
Yorgos Lanthimos, “Poor Things”
David O. Russell, “Amsterdam”
Maria Schrader, “She Said”
Olivia Wilde, “Don’t Worry Darling”
Florian Zeller, “The Son”
Possible Contenders (in alphabetical order)
Darren Aronofsky, “The Whale ”
Park Chan-wook, “Decision to Leave”
Chinonye Chukwu, “Till”
Andrew Dominik, “Blonde”
Marc Forster, “A Man Called Otto”
Rian Johnson, “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery”
Joseph Kosinski, “Top Gun: Maverick”
Baz Lurhmann, “Elvis”
Gina Prince-Bythewood, “The Woman King”
Lila Neugebauer, “Causeway”
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