- Steven Spielberg (War Horse)The Academy probably doesn't feel the pressure to award Spielberg considering they already gave him Best Director...twice. BUT for now he seems to be the strongest bet for the nomination.
- Alexander Payne (The Descendants)Sure, he has never won BD, but there is a good reason for that...the Academy can always make him settle with a script nod/win, and they'll probably do just that this year, as well.
- Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)Could he become this year's Tom Hooper a.k.a. the relatively unknown, unlikely frontrunner who directed the „Weinstein-crowdpleaser” ?
- Martin Scorsese (Hugo)Considering Hugo is basically a love letter to cinema, I can definitely see the Academy embrace Scorsese's latest in a big way. BUT, as bad as it sounds, I think his film needs some strong legs at the Box Office. An expensive contender like 'Hugo' HAS TO make money.
- Stephen Daldry (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)His excellent yet Oscarless track record, the Academy-friendly genre and release date and the truly outstanding ensemble all scream best picture...AND best director. Hopefully it won't be another 'The Lovely Bones'...
- David Fincher (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)If the film will survive the genre-prejudice, it could go all the way...especially because the Academy MIGHT want to give Fincher an Oscar after last year...
- Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris)Woody Allen's biggest obstacle to overcome is Woody Allen. He is a lock in the original screenplay category, so voters might feel that's enough for him this year.
- Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life)I REALLY hope the Academy will recognize his outstanding achievement and at least nominate him.
- Bennett Miller (Moneyball)Considering the film's outstanding reviews, Miller could easily find himself once again in the Best Director race, even though he has definitely strong competition this year.
- David Yates (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II)
- Clint Eastwood (J.Edgar)The new best picture rule helps him...and if J.Edgar sneaks into best picture, best director isn't that far away, either...
- Tomas Alfredson (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy)We'll see whether US-critics will love it as much as the British ones...if they do, he is suddenly top5...or at least top10.
- Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter)The critical support is undeniable, the question is will it translate into critical awards, as well ? He needs those to stay in the conversation.
- Steve McQueen (Shame)I have no doubt he directed one of THE best films of 2011 but this kind of film is simply not the Academy's cup of tea. They could surprise us all, but for now, it seems unlikely.
- David Cronenberg (A Dangerous Method)I am still hoping this could be the year of his first Oscar nomination...well, it will all come down to the US-reception.
- Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive)He is destined to become one of those highly acclaimed cult directors who rarely get the Academy excited. But hey, that's definitely not a bad thing...
- Lynne Ramsay (We need to talk about Kevin)Although the film received raves all around, I don't think the tiny distributor could pull off a succesful best picture/director campaign...we'll see!
- Jason Reitman (Young Adult)Sure, the film seems too light BUT considering his track record, he should be definitely NOT underestimated. He has a shot...for now.
- Roman Polanski (Carnage)His personal troubles will probably prevent any serious awards love, but even if that weren't an issue, the film doesn't have much buzz, although most people who've seen it acknowledge it is a good film with a good script and good performances...the problem is it would have needed a few „great”s to create some real Oscar-buzz.
- George Clooney (The Ides of March)The Academy loves him and the film got good reviews, but in a year like this, „good” probably won't cut it. Good news, that he seems to be a lock in the Best Actor category and his other film, The Descendants could easily emerge as a very strong contender.
- Cameron Crowe (We bought a Zoo)First of all, Almost Famous is probably my favourite film of all time BUT Crowe lost his magic touch a few years ago. Hopefully he got it back and he will be back with a bang this year.
- Tate Taylor (The Help)It seems like a 'John Lee Hancock' to me...even if 'The Blind Side' made the bp-cut, its director never had a chance
- Angelina Jolie (In the Land of Blood and Honey)Early word is promising, but then again...it always is. IF critics happen to love this one, I think the Academy would LOVE to see a surprise contender in the bd-race who is also a huge movie star...AND to top that, a huge FEMALE movie star.
- Steven Soderbergh (Contagion)His directing achievement here is remarkable...but probably not the Academy's taste. So what ? Critics loved the film and it is a Box Office hit. That's good enough, right ?
- Lars von Trier (Melancholia)Critics seem to love the film but he would need outstanding support from the critics groups to stay in the race...those Hitler-comments probably sealed his fate...as far as this year's race go.