The past few years of Best Director winners have proven that cinema stylists who can deliver scale and scope often get rewarded: see Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi,” Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity” and A.G. Inarritu’s “The Revenant,” not to mention Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land.”
But the Academy directors branch also recognizes breakout talent (Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight,” Benh Zeitlin’s “Beasts of the Southern Wild”) and great international directors such as Pedro Almodóvar, Michael Haneke and Mike Leigh. And they appreciate films featuring a showcase performance or two.
They welcomed back Paul Thomas Anderson (“Phantom Thread”) among the familiar Oscar players who have 2017 projects bursting with impressive casts. They also embraced first-time directing nominees Guillermo del Toro (romantic fantasy “The Shape of Water”), Christopher Nolan (action epic “Dunkirk”), Jordan Peele (Hitchcockian thriller “Get Out”), and Greta Gerwig, who made a splash on the film festival circuit with “Lady Bird” and became the fifth woman to land an Oscar nomination.
Stewart Cook -Variety/REX/Shutterstock
Guillermo del Toro (“The Shape of Water”)
Christopher Nolan (“Dunkirk”)
Paul Thomas Anderson (“Phantom Thread”)
Jordan Peele (“Get Out”)
Greta Gerwig (“Lady Bird”)