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Directors (For Sama)
Lulu Wang (The Farewell)
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Best Director Fun. What a Category This Year!

How cute is this? Here's Adapted Screenplay nominee Barry Jenkins (If Beale Street Could Talk) celebrating Spike Lee's Best Director nomination for BlacKkKlansman:


In related news: the Best Director Chart is updated and ready for your votes (who should win? vote every day!) and commentary. We've added trivia, stats, as well as speculated on "How'd they get nominated?" as is our annual habit. Let's take Spike Lee as an example. This is how'd we'd wager Spike got his nomination...

35% Reputation and do-over. An iconic director who'd never been so honored. Sorry about Do The Right Thing!
30% His biggest hit and best film in several years. Critically adored and guild supported, too. 
16% Timely themes - plus the world has caught up to him.
12% Cannes gave him an early boost and his movie instant highbrow cred.
7% Had the summer all to itself to percolate as Best Picture worthy

Find out how the others got nominated on the chart. Agree? Disagree? Are we forgetting a key factor? Do tell in the comments.

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Reader Comments (24)

Ang Lee won for "Life of Pi," not "Crouching Tiger."

January 23, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

"22% - Europeans love it" Pawel Pawlikowski, Cold War

Oh, you make me laugh!

January 23, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Your triivia on winning Best Director twice without winning Best Director overlooks George Stevens, who won in 1951 for A Place in the Sun (BP was An American in Paris) and 1956 for Giant (BP was Around the World in 80 Days).

Also, thanks for all these great pieces on the nominees! It’s catnip to me, keep it coming!!

January 23, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDoug

Yes, George Stevens. (Doug got in first.)

But thanks for all the work on these charts.

January 23, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterTravis C

Clint Eastwood got an Directing Oscar nod after winning an honorary award, right?

January 23, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMarsha Mason

Does anyone else think Alfonso Cuaron is a stealth hottie?

January 23, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

If someone had told me after I viewed Dogtooth in 2009 that Lanthimos would have BP/BD noms and multiple others, I'd have definitely looked shocked.

January 23, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBruno

Barry Jenkins is so cute in general. And handsome. And talented. Basically.. I just love him.

January 23, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBrad

They Academy really did a remarkable job with this category. Lee, Cuaron, Lanthimos and Pavlikowski is way better than we had any right to hope for. (Naturally, McKay gets the Ron Howard Spot.)

January 23, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

Nobody told me that Yorgos Lanthimos was Hot!

January 23, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

I have feelings for Yorgos. 184cm of height, bear shape of body, calm way of talking. Lord, I need a shower.

Didn't see yet VICE, but Debra Granik not being nominated is something that hurts me a lot!!
All the other four men are deserved!

My personal vote goes to Yorgos. I really loved The Favourite!

But if Spike wins, boy I will be glad too!

I will not be very happy for the other three. I must say. My lineup for directing was more difference this year:

Debra Granik - Leave no Trace
Yorgos Lanthimos - The Favourite
Chloe Zhao - The Rider

Barry Jenkins - If Beale Street Could Talk (our afrodescendent Wong Kar-Wai - and that is the Asian Barry Jenkins -)

Luca Guadagnino - Suspiria (yes, I fucking love the film and fiablly Luca happens with me!)
Hirokazu Kore-eda - Shoplifters (long fan of him! His masterpiece!)

January 23, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSOSHUA

Adam McKay trivia - at 6' 5" it's possible he's the tallest best director nominee ever.

Also of note - all the directors are all nominated for period pieces, though McKay's is recent history and Spike's leaps forward in the epilogue

January 23, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMichael C


January 23, 2019 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Years ago, a lot of people would have guessed that Spike Lee would be the first African-American director to break through and be nominated in this category. But it was John Singleton, and then Lee Daniels, Steve McQueen, Barry Jenkins, and Jordan Peele.

None of them won, so maybe Spike Lee wins and gets to be the first after all. (Slate has an interesting article about how BlacKkKlansman is the only Best Picture nominee that has no real drawback. It has the precursor and guild support, is represented with nominations in the right categories, and does not suffer from any backlash at this time.)

January 24, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBrevity

I think Cuaron will win for Roma but Best Picture will go to Driving Mr Daisy.... I mean Green Book. Spike Lee will have to be content with Screenplay Adaptation. BTW how the hell is Green Book an Original Screenplay if it is based on a book by the son of the chauffer?

January 24, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBette Streep

And both Cuaron and Lanthimos won in Venice! Roma the Golden Lion and The Favourite the Grand Prize. If Roma wins best picture it would be the second consecutive year that a Golden Lion Winner winner also wins at the Oscars.

Bette Streep - I see Roma winning with 6-8 Oscars or maybe Blackkklansmann with three. And I think that Roma will also win screenplay and Grant for supporting actor, so Green Book will go home with zero in his hands.

January 24, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBrown Cow Stunning

I really think Spike Lee will win this and pair it with a with a BP win for BlacKkKlansman.

January 24, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterV.

Adam Mckay Trivia - He is one of the ex Saturday Night Live members to be nominated to/win an Oscar like Eddie Murphy, Kristen Wiig, Howard Shore, Randy Quaid, Dan Ayckroyd and Bill Murray, among others.

January 24, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDoodie

I'm loving all this director nominee trivia! Such an interesting category, as so often.

To add to George Stevens and Ang Lee: Frank Borzage also won twice without his film winning Best Picture - for Seventh Heaven, which lost Best Picture to Wings, and for Bad Girl, which lost Best Picture to Grand Hotel.

Can't think of any Adam Mckay trivia at present (to add to Michael C's one about his height).

January 24, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

This really is a killer lineup - with only McKay not up to par with the rest. My heart wants Spike Lee to get this. But Cuaron is thoroughly deserving should he win.

January 24, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRob

McKay is the first SNL alumni nominated for best directing

January 24, 2019 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

While I believe BlackkKlansman is a middle entry in his canon, I am so happy for Spike Lee. This should be at least his 4th nomination (DTRT, Malcolm X, 25th Hour).

January 24, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSawyer

For those impressed by the physique of Yorgos Lanthimos I recommend that you see "Attenberg". To date is the only film in which he has acted and he has sex scenes with Ariane Labed.

January 24, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterHarmodio

Oh please, there's nobody more anti-erotic than Lanthimos, for all his brilliance as a director.

January 24, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDg

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