The 2018 Best Director category is not entirely unexpected. There is a surprise or two (mainly just one, though), but mainly this race remains the same as it was before the nominations were announced. The only hurdle left for the current front-runner to jump is the DGAs. Let’s talk about that.
- Paul Thomas Anderson – Phantom Thread
- Guillermo del Toro – The Shape of Water
- Greta Gerwig – Lady Bird
- Christopher Nolan – Dunkirk
- Jordan Peele – Get Out
Will Win: Guillermo del Toro
Could Win: Christopher Nolan
Dark Horse: Greta Gerwig
Despite my predictions, it looks like both of the contending new directing talents have made it into this category. It follows the DGA noms (which I was not aware of when I made my earlier predictions, but that’s no excuse). What doesn’t follow the DGAs is PTA making it in for Phantom Thread. While his direction is stellar in that film, the lack of connection there makes it a tough sell that he’ll win here.
Additional note: the lack of Martin McDonagh in this category could spell the doom of Three Billboards for Best Picture, but that is a discussion for a different article.
Gerwig and Peele seem long shots. Despite making great films that have been heavily lauded, the Academy seems more likely to reward a veteran talent this year. Look for del Toro to take it here, but don’t be surprised if Nolan upsets. Dunkirk may not have a very strong award season stock, but that film is a massive technical achievement for Nolan to have pulled off.
It just seems hard to imagine a scenario in which the far-and-away Academy nomination leader (The Shape of Water, with 13 nods) does not translate to a win for del Toro. Watch the DGAs for any turning tides—a win for anyone but him there could change the race substantially.
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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)