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The LAMB Devours the Oscars 2018 | Best Directing

It's Oscar time again which means it's time for we at The Large Association of Movie Bloggers to devour them. Why not check out what else is going on with The LAMB Devours the Oscars. This year I'm looking at The Academy Award for Best Directing, which "is given in honour of a film director who has exhibited outstanding directing while working in the film industry."

Francis Ford Coppola won in 1974

Previous winners include:

  • 1929/30 - Lewis Milestone (All Quiet on the Western Front)
  • 1939 - Victor Fleming (Gone with the Wind)
  • 1943 - Michael Curtiz (Casablanca)
  • 1959 - William Wyler (Ben-Hur)
  • 1967 - Mike Nichols (The Graduate)
  • 1971 - William Friedkin (The French Connection)
  • 1982 - Richard Attenborough (Gandhi)
  • 1992 - Clint Eastwood (Unforgiven)
  • 2006 - Martin Scorsese (The Departed)
  • 2013 - Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity)

Originally the award was divided into two categories:
  • Dramatic - awarded to Frank Borzage for 7th Heaven
  • Comedy - awarded to Lewis Milestone for Two Arabian Knights
After the first ceremony the categories were removed and the award was limited to a single winner. But is this a move that should be reconsidered? Restoring the two categories to this award - and Best Picture while I think about it - would enable movies like The Big Sick to get more recognition from the Academy.

Ang Lee won in 2005 and 2012

For the first 11 years, a director could receive nominations for more than one movie in the same year. After Michael Curtiz was nominated for Angels with Dirty Faces and Four Daughters in 1938, the rules were changed so that a director could only receive one nomination. However, this all changed again in 2000 when Steven Soderbergh became only the third director to receive two nominations for Best Directing in the same year. He was nominated for Traffic (for which he won the award) and Erin Brockovich.

Now there is a direct link between the awards for Best Directing and Best Picture. All of this year's nominees for Best Directing have been nominated for Best Picture. Out of 89 Best Picture winners, 63 have also won Best Directing. In fact, only four Best Picture winners haven't received a nomination for Best Directing:
  • 1927/28 - 28 Wings (William Wellman)
  • 1931/32 - Grand Hotel (Edmund Goulding)
  • 1989 - Driving Miss Daisy (Bruce Beresford)
  • 2012 - Argo (Ben Affleck)
Should it be considered odd or a snub to receive a nomination for only one of these two awards? Can a movie be worthy of one and not the other? What are your thoughts?

Overall, 69 different directors/directing teams have received this award. John Ford has 4 wins under his belt, more than any other director. William Wyler is the most nominated director, with 12 nominations. Unfortunately, Best Directing is a category that's painfully lacking in diversity. Ang Lee was the first non-Caucasian director to win, first in 2005 for Brokeback Mountain and then again in 2012 for Life of Pi. Alfonso Cuarón became the second in 2013 when he won for Gravity and Alejandro G. Iñárritu the third with consecutive wins for Birdman in 2014 and The Revenant in 2015. Only five women have ever been nominated and out of those five, Kathryn Bigelow is the only winner with 2009's The Hurt Locker. Five black directors have been nominated and none have won so far, but could this be the year that changes?

What makes this year interesting is that none of the nominees have any previous Oscar wins. Three of the five have previously been nominated, but none of them are winners...yet.

This years nominees are:

Christopher Nolan - Dunkirk

The British director - responsible for some of the most awe-inspiring and mind-boggling movies of the 21st Century - has previously been nominated three times. In 2001 he was nominated for Best Original Screenplay with Memento, and in 2010 for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay with Inception. This year he has received his second nomination for Best Picture and his first for Best Directing with Dunkirk, the story of the evacuation of British and French troops from the French coast in 1940, codenamed Operation Dynamo. Dunkirk utilises fictional characters and Nolan's trademark of screwing with the timeline to create an experience. One that allows the audience to get an idea of what it was like for the men involved in the operation. In fact, there were so many stories that differ so greatly, Nolan created amalgam characters in order to tell as many as possible.

Jordan Peele - Get Out

For his directorial debut, Jordan Peele has received nominations for Best Picture, Best Directing and Best Original Screenplay. Get Out follows Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) as he travels with his girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) to meet her parents for the first time. Chris' feelings of discomfort initially stem from said meeting but he soon begins to suspect that something more sinister is going on. Although classed as a horror movie, Get Out isn't a horror in the traditional sense. But it is a remarkably tense and engrossing story that's deeply symbolic of the current racial climate in the US. 

Greta Gerwig - Lady Bird

Greta Gerwig has also received nominations for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. Lady Bird is a coming of age story that follows 17-year-old Christine "Lady Bird" MacPherson through her senior year of high school as she explores who she is and tries to figure what she wants from life. Although inspired in part by Gerwig's own life, the director stresses that the movie is in no way autobiographical, "even though I start with things that are close to me, they so quickly spin out and become their own characters." She described Lady Bird as "a flawed heroine that I invented" and "the opposite of how I was in Catholic school." 

Paul Thomas Anderson - Phantom Thread

Paul Thomas Anderson has been waiting a long time for an Oscar win. He was first nominated back in 1998 for Best Original Screenplay with Boogie Nights and again in 2000 with Magnolia. In 2008 he was nominated for Best Picture, Best Directing and Best Adapted Screenplay with There Will Be Blood and in 2015 he received his second nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay with Inherent Vice. This year he has been nominated for Best Picture and Best Director with Phantom Thread, a story loosely based on the life of British fashion designer Charles James and driven by powerful performances. Set in the 1950's, Phantom Thread revolves around Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis), a renowned fashion designer haunted by the death of his mother, whose life is basically controlled by his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville). All of this changes after his chance encounter with waitress Alma Elson (Vicky Krieps), who becomes his muse and lover. Their relationship develops to a point of obsession, a love that can only be described as toxic. Phantom Thread marks PTA's second collaboration with Day-Lewis after There Will Be Blood, for which Day-Lewis received his second Best Actor win. Will history repeat itself this year, or will this be the year PTA finally walks away with a win? Maybe they both will.

Guillermo del Toro - The Shape of Water

The man behind two Hellboy movies, Pacific Rim and Crimson Peak was previously nominated for Best Original Screenplay and Best Foreign Language Film in 2007 with Pan's Labyrinth. This year he's up for the big three; Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. In 1962, a humanoid amphibian (Doug Jones) is captured in South America, the US Government intend to study him and use his abilities against the Soviets. Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins) - a mute cleaner who works at the government facility - and the creature develop a strong bond despite not being able to talk to each other. When Elisa learns of the government's intent, she enlists her friends to aid her in helping the creature to escape. The Shape of Water is inspired by classic monster movies and themes of communication, forbidden love and our abilities to be cruel and divide ourselves. Guillermo del Toro stated in an interview with the National University of Mexico that if The Shape of Water had flopped, he would have retired from directing due to the deep personal nature of the project. Somehow I don't think there's any danger of that happening any time soon! 

2018 is a great year for this award. Five incredible movies have been nominated, all of whom deserve to win. And that's what makes this so fun...and difficult; if all five are equally deserving, how do you choose between them? Guillermo del Toro won this year's Golden Globe and BAFTA for Best Director with The Shape of Water, does that make him a shoo-in for the Oscar? Or will the Academy go a different way? At this point it's anyone's guess.

My own personal favourites are Christopher Nolan and Jordan Peele, but I'm not sure I could pick one over the other. It's a choice that could differ from day to day. I would be happy to see either one of them receive the award.

Who do you hope will win this years Oscar for Best Directing? Let us know by leaving a comment below or find us on Facebook and Twitter.

Don't forget to check out the entire roster for The LAMB Devours the Oscars


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