For the first time in Oscars history, the five nominees for Best Director also wrote or co-wrote the films in which they were nominated for.
These five directors, Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk), Guillero del Toro (The Shape of Water), Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird), Paul Thomas Anderson (Phantom Thread) and Jordan Peele (Get Out). With all the change happening for the Academy, these five auteurs reflect a positive change in diversity, style and unconventionality for the 90th Academy Awards. Only one of them has previously been nominated for the Best Director award, Paul Thomas Anderson for 2007’s There Will Be Blood.
This history-breaking moment for the Academy reinforces the willingness of the Academy to recognize the efforts of some intimate and unconventional movies, instead of playing it safe which has been the trend for a while. Steven Spielberg could have most definitely gotten a nomination for The Post, but the Academy chose these five directors.
Christopher Nolan, one of the most widely recognizable of the bunch, got his first Best Director nomination, having previously been nominated for Best Picture for Inception. Nolan was also nominated for Best Original Screenplay for both Inception and one of his first features, Memento. His nomination this year was probably the most conventional, but Dunkirk is anything but, twisting the story of three moments during the WWII battle and making a new kind of suspenseful war film.
Guillermo del Toro stands up there with Nolan in terms of fan base, having directed films such as Hellboy and Pan’s Labyrinth. His intimate and original tale about a monster romance has been garnering a lot of awards steam and is a heavy favorite moving into the awards show on March 4.
Paul Thomas Anderson has only made eight films to date and his nomination came as a shock to most. The Phantom Thread is the lowest grossing film among the Best Picture nominees, only garnering $15 million domestically. But, Anderson is the definition of an auteur, having writing credits on all his films. This year could get him his first win in eight nominations.
Greta Gerwig is only the fifth woman ever to be nominated for Best Director and the first since Kathyrn Bigelow won for The Hurt Locker in 2009. Her semi-autobiographical tale about coming of age in San Francisco came out of nowhere to be one of the most charming stories to embrace the screen this year. Her nomination came as no surprise and is a culminating moment in a push for representation of female artists working on awards-worthy movies.
Jordan Peele made his directorial debut with Get Out and is nominated for three Oscars this year on his woke discussion of race/thriller. Get Out is such an unconventional movie that grabbed the attention of the world a year ago and hasn’t let go. His rise from comedian to auteur is so inspiring and it’s wonderful to see the Academy nominate a passion project that is more with the times instead of a safe bet.
Only one can take home the award for Best Director on March 4, but the field is strong, diverse, and talented. Regardless, we are excited to see what each auteur does next.
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