Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
The directing category is often the indicator of what movie will win Best Picture, but this year it may actually be the reverse. Every time there has been an award show La La Land has walked away with the night’s biggest prize. La La Land has also tied the record for the most Oscar nominations of all time with Titanic and All About Eve. It seems that every person eligible to vote for an award loves La La Land. Not only that, but Damien Chazelle just won the Directors Guild award, which coincidently contains many of the same voting members who will be picking the Academy Award for best director.
Who Should Win: The director of Moonlight, Barry Jenkins, has the best chance of taking the night's honor from Chazelle. Jenkins' movie deals with much deeper themes and is more artistic, even poetic, in its storytelling. His story is also incredibly original, I can’t think of any other movie with a gay black male character as the lead, let alone one that is hiding his sexuality in a poor, urban setting. Jenkins was also able to get magnificent performances out of all of his actors including a few without much–if any–experience on the big screen.
Who Will Win: Damen Chazelle has the edge due to La La Land's visual storytelling, the terrific performances from his lead actors (both of whom are nominated for their acting), along with all the awards the movie has already won. He is able to gracefully switch the tone of the movie between terrific musical numbers and softer, emotional moments at his will. We've seen many people try to make quality movie musicals, but very few are compared to one of the all-time greats Singing in the Rain. Additionally this movie doesn't come from Broadway or some other adaptation; this is a completely original musical. That kind of creation, storytelling, visual spectacle, and the fact that everyone in Hollywood loves Chazelle’s style are all the reasons why he will win.
On Friday – the big one – Best Picture