The most important event in the Award Season is upon us, so it’s high time for us to share our predictions when it comes to nominees. As usual, we’re dealing with five dramas here, but the potential winners in the category of Best Director could not be more colorful. Different backgrounds, different approaches. Let’s take a look!
Chloé Zhao – Nomadland
Only six years after her directorial debut, Chloé Zhao became the most awarded person in a single award season this year, thanks to her work on “Nomadland”. Among these accolades, is the Golden Globe, which usually is a good indicator for the Oscars. The 38-year old was the first Asian-American woman to receive the honor.
“Nomadland”tells the tale of modern day drifters, told through the eyes of Fern (played by the Academy Award winning Frances McDormand), who joins the colorful caravan after the loss of her husband. Searching for meaning and purpose, she finds a home among those who live on the road.
Her upcoming project, will be “Eternals”, an MCU title about the eponymous race of immortal aliens. It will feature Angelina Jolie and Salma Hayek, among others, and is scheduled to be released in November this year.
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman
Her 2018 short film (“Careful How You Go”) aside, first time director Emerald Fennell resurrected the old exploitation genre of rape and revenge film with her “Promising Young Woman”, giving it a modern twist in the post #MeToo world. Far more sophisticated than the infamous “I Spit On Your Grave” (which received a rare zero-star rating from Roger Ebert), the film was produced by Margot Robbie.
The story revolves around Cassie (Carrey Mulligan), a med school dropout, who sworn revenge on real and potential rapists after her best friend, Nina, was gang raped in college and the subsequent investigation was dropped. Pretending to be drunk, she lures potential perpetrators into her trap, after which she confronts them. She suddenly finds a new lead in Nina’s cold case after hearing about the main suspect from an old classmate.
Lee Isaac Chung – Minari
The director, coming from a South-Korean family, already made ripples, with his first feature-length movie, “Munyurangabo” (2007), which was widely considered to be a masterpiece, but it took him 14 years to be nominated for an Oscar. Chung’s movie was well received everywhere, from Toronto International to the Sundance Film Festival, and is considered to be a strong contender against “Nomadland”.
The plot of the film is about the Yi family’s new life in Arkansas, their personal struggles, hardships and trying to find meaning and love despite the obstacles of running a farm and dealing with cultural differences. Most of the dialogues are in Korean, which made the film (due to a controversial decision) ineligible for the Best Film Award at the Golden Globes.
David Fincher – Mank
Hollywood veteran, and the director behind three such productions, that garnered seven Academy Awards, David Fincher brought the most expensive, and the most star-studded production of this roster to the table. For him, it was certainly a passion project, as the original screenplay was written by his late father, Jack Fincher, and was intended to be filmed in the late 90’s. After more than 20 years of anticipation, the younger Fincher finally delivered.
Gary Oldman’s Harold Mankiewicz just got the job to write a script for Orson Welles’ “Citizen Kane”. “Mank” struggling from depression and alcoholism, tries his best to finish the screenplay before the deadline, which will feature lead actress Marion Davis (Amanda Seyfried), who is among the many who try to convince Harold to rewrite the script.
Fincher is known to be somewhat of a perfectionist, some say he’s like a watchmaker in his approach, other accuse him of being a tyrannical director, who will leave no room for improvisation. That could mean, that some credit might be thanks to the actors’ excellent performance, but will that be enough to grant him his first Oscar for directing? Who knows?
Thomas Vinterberg – Another Round
Vinterberg personal struggles left their mark on the Danish director’s most recent work. The core idea came from his daughter, who sadly passed away in a car accident, in the middle of the writing process. Originally meant to be a whole lot more cheerful, Vinterberg rewrote the scrip after the tragedy.
Plotwise, “Another Round” is about a small social experiment between a group of friends in which they test a theory that purposes that a relatively small, constant blood alcohol level can be beneficial for creativity. Mads Mikkelsen’s Martin takes part in the test, but starts to travel down a slippery slope…
Vinterberg is on of many Scandinavian directors, who are adherents of the Dogme 95 movement, started by him and film industry black sheep, Lars von Trier. The aim was to focus the attention of filmmakers on the traditional values of their trade, while consciously rejecting the use of flashy and expensive special effects.
If we’re going by the numbers of the previous honors, “Nomadland”seems to be a pretty safe bet, but Minari, which due to its stylistic choices got robbed of the chance for a Golden Globe, although it did end up being the Best Foreign Language Film. “Promising Young Woman” was a little more divisive than the others, just as “Another Round”. And though Hollywood bigwigs like nothing more than a movie about Hollywood, whether “Mank” is going to be the next “La La Land” is highly questionable.
Our money is on “Nomadland”.