Last Update: 9/21
1. David Fincher, The Social Network (prev: 4)
Fincher has slowly been making a name for himself in Hollywood, and his nomination in this category in 2008 for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button announced his arrival at the top. This is as high-profile a follow-up as he could have picked, and provided AMPAS voters aren’t scared away by the overall youthfulness of the production, he could pull out a win.
2. Christopher Nolan, Inception (prev: 1)
One of the most exciting (and financially dependable) directors of the decade, Nolan is way overdue for some recognition. He was snubbed in 2008 for The Dark Knight, though I doubt Oscar will make that same mistake again. I don’t think a win is necessarily a possibility, though.
3. Danny Boyle, 127 Hours (prev: 9)
The film was one the biggest hits of the festival circuit so far, and Boyle still has a lot of goodwill from Slumdog Millionaire. The fact that he won so recently means he’s not much of a contender for the win, but a nomination is definitely in play.
4. Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech (prev: 24)
I almost didn’t include Hooper (he might be too much of a fresh face for this category), though at the moment the film itself is too big to ignore. As long as it is able to maintain it’s Toronto momentum (and especially if it gets a number of critics’ awards), Hooper will be swept up into a nomination.
5. Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan (prev: 5)
Aronofsky has directed some of the most acclaimed and respected films of the last 10 years, though Oscar has been notoriously wary of his quirky and dark style. The success of The Wrestler surely meant he was close to securing a nomination in this category in 2008, and Black Swan will likely be his biggest film yet.
6. Mike Leigh, Another Year (prev: 8 )
7. Ben Affleck, The Town (prev: 17)
8. Lisa Cholodenko, The Kids Are All Right (prev: 10)
9. Peter Weir, The Way Back (prev: 2)
10. The Coen Bros., True Grit (prev: 12)
11. Sofia Coppola, Somewhere (prev: 13)
12. David O. Russell, The Fighter (prev: 14)
13. Mark Romanek, Never Let Me Go (prev: 15)
14. John Cameron Mitchell, Rabbit Hole (prev: 22)
15. Edward Zwick, Love and Other Drugs (prev: 11)
16. Clint Eastwood, Hereafter (prev: 7)
17. Martin Scorsese, Shutter Island (prev: 19)
18. Debra Granik, Winter’s Bone (prev: 20)
19. Doug Liman, Fair Game (NEW)
20. Lee Unkrich, Toy Story 3 (prev: 23)
21. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Biutiful (prev: 16)
22. Roman Polanski, The Ghost Writer (NEW)
23. Derek Cianfrance, Blue Valentine (NEW)
24. Tyler Perry, For Colored Girls (NEW)
25. Julian Schnabel, Miral (prev: 21)
Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life (prev: 3) – moved to 2011
Robert Redford, The Conspirator (prev: 6) – moved to 2011
William Monahan, London Boulevard (prev: 18)
Julie Taymor, The Tempest (prev: 25)