Oscar Talk: Best Director


David O. Russell American Hustle

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While many people believe the style of American Hustle copies better directors, one has to respect Russell for the performances he gets out of his actors. Last year, David O. Russell’s film Silver Linings Playbook was the first film in over thirty years to get an Oscar nomination in all four acting categories. Now he has become the only director to complete this achievement in back-to-back years. A lot of people forget that the directors are responsible for getting the proper performance out of their actors and actresses. With this said, to have back-to-back movies nominated in all four acting categories is a feat that needs to be recognized; and David O. Russell will have actors and actresses ‘lining up’ to work with him.

Alfonso Cuarón Gravity

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People will either criticize or appreciate Alfonso Cuarón’s work on Gravity; yes, I criticize Gravity for being an Avatar-like film and also for Sandra Bullock’s performance. However, respect needs to be shown to Alfonso Cuarón, a director I have loved for a very long time. While Children of Men is his best film, Gravity shows the director’s technical prowess. And to people who criticize this film because it is a CGI heavy film: it is possible that hundreds of people worked on the look of this film, but the look of the movie comes solely from Cuarón’s vision.

Alexander Payne Nebraska

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While I was surprised that Payne was nominated, I realized that like Scorsese, Payne is an ‘Academy darling.’ While his direction in Nebraska is simpler than his previous films, the simple style suits the single-minded nature of its main character. On top of this, the choice to use a ‘black and white’ color palette reflects both an optimistic and pessimistic tone: which perfectly blends the directing with the writing. But of course, the highlight of this movie is the acting; like American Hustle the acting is the product of the director, and in this case Payne did a fantastic job. Last, to the criticism that this is not Payne’s best work, it is certainly more memorable than The Descendants.

Steve McQueen 12 Years a Slave

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There is no doubt that 12 Years a Slave is a beautiful film and McQueen handles the ‘harder scenes’ with a precision that many cannot imitate. However, 12 Years a Slave is not his best film; by far Shame is a better-acted and directed affair. With that said, you already heard me talk about this film and, unfortunately, there is not much more to say. But I must point out that this is only McQueen’s third film; and with this movie, along with Shame and Hunger, he has become one of the most exciting filmmakers of this generation. Which means he is now apart of the upper echelon of working directors: with the likes of Scorsese, Fincher, Paul Thomas Anderson, and the Coens.

Martin Scorsese The Wolf of Wall Street

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Again, I stated that Scorsese is an Academy darling and no matter how polarizing The Wolf of Wall Street is, he was going to be nominated. The main reason why he should be nominated is the pace and energy of the film. Martin Scorsese is a seventy-year-old man and with that age he is supposed to slow down; however, he just directed the most vigorous film of his career. On top of that, while Scorsese’s longer films have been good; none have had the pace of Wolf. In fact, The Wolf of Wall Street is his longest film to date, but the fast paced nature makes it feel short when in comparison to his previous work. Does Scorsese get better with age? Will he ever slow down? I pray that he is around for another fifty years so he can continue to make pictures.

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The directorial race is between two candidates: Steve McQueen and Alfonso Cuarón. While McQueen has the subject matter to back his film, Alfonso Cuarón’s technical achievements will push the voting into his favor and make him 2014s Best Director.

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