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Best Director. My Choices and Theirs.

This is one of those awards seasons in which I curse my time management skills. I prefer to post my annual Film Bitch Awards in the traditional Oscar categories before the nominations to avoid undue influence from the west coast, however subtle that influence may be. I didn't manage in time this year, partially due to Oscar's rushed schedule. Imagine my joy when both Benh Zeitlin and Michael Haneke were nominated for an astonishing debut and a culmination of gifts respectively for Oscar's Best Director list. Then imagine my frustration when I realized that nominating them both a week later -- though they'd been irreplaceable factors in every lineup I considered naming -- would seem like sloppy seconds. I had predicted that Haneke's decade long ascendance as a World Great would be enough for Oscar's Director's Branch to recognize him this year but I was genuinely surprised to see Zeitlin's work on Beasts of the Southern Wild recognized instead of big Hollywood names. I personally don't care who they had to shove aside to make room for him because he absolutely deserved the kudos. If it looks like I am only copying AMPAS's two most brilliantly fringe nominations this year, so be it. They're the only Oscar choices that show up on in my nominated director's field.

No really. To me Soderbergh is an OBVIOUS choice for any lineup this year

I imagine that my most controversial choice will be Steven Soderbergh but that strikes me as madness and typical of the dearth of imagination that most awards bodies (and, yes, to their shame critics groups) suffer once you've dropped them anywhere outside a 5 mile radius of "prestige". Consider how wrong Magic Mike could have gone in any number of ways but instead it's this beautifully subtle and earnest slice-of-life drama and character/ milieu study despite the pelvic thrusts and plentiful ass cheeks. (But points to Soderbergh for not skimping on those either for the sake of "reputable" filmmaking.)


Have you voted on the Oscar poll yet in this category?

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Reader Comments (17)

I'm still a bit sad that Paul Thomas Anderson didn't get nominated for "The Master," which, along with "Amour," was my favourite film of the year. From the Oscar nominated lineup, I definitely want to see Haneke take it.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBill_the_Bear

With you on Soderbergh. He's in my top five too.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

My bitching is about all I ever had for a plea to those who refuse The Master — How can I encourage someone to engage a movie from an intuitive place?

Paul Thomas Anderson has a clear objective and lays it out in plain language and yet the audience rejects, dismisses, ignores, denies.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

Now that I've seen Silver Linings Playbook and Life of Pi, I'm really disappointed that Russell and Lee got nominated instead of Bigelow. Both of their films are infinitely inferior to their best work, whereas I actually prefer Zero Dark Thirty to The Hurt Locker.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJan

3rtful -- I think you're feeling uneccessary self-pity about this. A LOT of people love this movie and think it's briliant. so you don't have to feel that it's being dismissed or denied or even ignored. A lot of plaudits this year. I just don't happen to be a fan.

Jan -- when you start looking at a director's overall filmography i think what happens in best director can get really confusing. I mean DAVID O RUSSELL did *brilliant* work on THREE KINGS and really strong work on HUCKABEES and FLIRTING WITH DISASTER (especially in terms of keeping comedy bubbling and nailing ensemble punchlines but he wasn't anointed till THE FIGHTER (obviously one of his best) and now for one of his weakest efforts. It's all in the timing I suppose.

January 18, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Nathan, I love the way you write. My Top Five: Bigelow, Zeitlin, Haneke, Spielberg, Lee

Jan, in agreement definitely about Bigelow and Russell

3rtful, even if you're an ardent admirer of The Master, saying that Anderson has a clear objective and lays it out in plain language has to be a joke, right?

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

"I imagine that my most controversial choice will be Steven Soderbergh"

Controversial? Whoever doesn't see the brilliance of the direction behind "Magic Mike" needs to rethink what the craft of filmmaking is all about. Soderbergh has an effortless way of immersing his audience into his characters' mind, and that gift is used to utter perfection in this move (i.e. think Cody Horn observing Channing Tatum dance). Amazing choice!

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBVR

On your nominations, you should have stats just like the ones for the Academy Awards. I would love to know how many times a director has been nominated or won for the Film Bitch Awards.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRodney

Rodney -- i figure that's for y'all to obsess over. I don't want to get weird about "snubbed again!" or "MERYL ALWAYS GETS NOMINATED" or things hanging over my head when i do my balloting conversations with self. Although I suppose i should release the first ten years book soon since i know it is unfair that you can't look tehse things up online anymore.

January 18, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

BVR -- whoever doesn't see ... wouldn't that be everyone. I never heard him mentioned all awards season long. (sigh)

January 18, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Woah, usually I am obsessively checking the blog for updates all day, and today I wasn't able to and behold all these awesome articles! Love these nominees. Even if a couple of the movies aren't to my personal taste (never warmed to Haneke and didn't fall in love with Holy Motors like so many others), there's no denying that these five men approached their films with incredible control of craft and concept.

My top 5 would probably be Zeitlin, Soderbergh, Bigelow, Ursula Meier, and Jacques Audiard, give or take the Dardennes, depending when you consider the release date for The Kid With A Bike. Runners up would be Sarah Polley, Rian Johnson, Joe Wright, and Wes Anderson.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTB

My top 6 are Leos Carax, Rich Moore (Wreck-It Ralph), Joss Whedon, Katherine Bigelow, Lorene Scafaria (Seeking a Friend for the End of the World), and Benh Zeitlan. I can't fault you for Soderbergh. I was shocked by how much I liked Magic Mike and the direction was a big reason why.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

Nathaniel: that's true :( anyway, the Film Bitch Awards are the ones that really matter

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBVR

BVR -- awwww. ;)

Robert G -- Rich Moore, huh? care to explain why?

TB -- I wish i could weigh in on Ursula Meier's film but havne't had a chance to see it yet.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

Paul Thomas Anderson should be nominated for the Oscar. The Master is a masterpiece and I think he is the best american director working today.

Of the nominees I hope Haneke wins.

January 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHelen M.

Nathaniel, Wreck-It Ralph found that perfect tone between nostalgia and a brand new adventure. The voice acting is all very strong and consistent in approach and the balance between the different phases of the story is even and tonally consistent. The action scenes are very engaging but don't detract from the emotional investment in the story. It's the first time I've really noticed a director's hand at play in an animated film since Kung-Fu Panda (which was all action and beautifully crafted action at that), only Wreck-It Ralph had a far more ambitious story to tell.

January 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

that area of engaging scenes and emotional investments also are the ones I have been seeing as a spotlight of this...I completely agree then with you Rober G

May 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGeraldine

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