ENTERTAINMENT

These 17 Men Are Vying For Best Director At The 2016 Oscars

It's a solid list, but where are the women?

Welcome to For Your Consideration, The Huffington Post's breakdown of all things Oscar. Between now and Feb. 28, 2016, entertainment editors Matthew Jacobs and Joe Satran will pore over awards season and discuss which films will make the most noise at the 88th annual Academy Awards.

First and foremost, sorry to all the female directors out there. We wanted so badly to include someone -- anyone -- from the fairer sex on this list, but there simply aren't any women in this year's Best Director race. It's no surprise, unfortunately: Only four ladies have been nominated in this category throughout the Oscars' history. Hollywood, you still have a long way to go. Alas, with less than a month until nominations are announced, onward we march, enumerating the 17 gentlemen in competition for the prize. 

  • 17 John Crowley, "Brooklyn"
    "Brooklyn" is the type of movie you leave with a smile on your face and tears in your eyes. It's heartwarming but poignant. A
    Nicholas Hunt via Getty Images
    "Brooklyn" is the type of movie you leave with a smile on your face and tears in your eyes. It's heartwarming but poignant. And it would be easy to underestimate the artistry that went into its painterly compositions, with their pops of saturated color, and period costume and set design. Still, the movie ended up being more nice and appealing than impressive. There was something small about it. And safe. It felt, at times, like the pilot of a very good, slightly slow TV drama, rather than one of the landmark movies of the year. It's not clear that Crowley could have done anything to change this, given the source material in Colm Tóibín's novel. But it's also not clear that voters are excited enough about the movie to actually put Crowley's name on their ballots. - Joe Satran
  • 16 F. Gary Gray, "Straight Outta Compton"
    What will the Academy do with "Straight Outta Compton"? Its ride on the awards-season roller coaster has been bumpy: SAG and
    Steve Granitz via Getty Images
    What will the Academy do with "Straight Outta Compton"? Its ride on the awards-season roller coaster has been bumpy: SAG and the National Board of Review both put it on their lists of the year's best movies, but then it was shut out at the Golden Globes, where the cast's lack of star power probably hurt it. But few films this year galvanized audiences -- especially black audiences -- like "Straight Outta Compton." It's pulled in over $200 million worldwide, putting it behind only "The Martian" and "Star Wars" among the contenders -- and garnered reviews far better than anyone imagined a movie about N.W.A. could. Yet it's also, of course, far from a typical Oscar movie. (Which is part of why people who live more than two miles away from Sunset Boulevard loved it so much.) The closest analogues from the 2000s are "8 Mile" and "Hustle & Flow," which each came away with one Oscar, for Best Original Song. Although F. Gary Gray would probably prefer we compare it to 1991's "Boyz in the Hood," which netted John Singleton Oscar nominations for both writing and directing. Can he make it? It's hard to say, but he's probably not in a great position. Certainly, though, he brought the panache he learned as a prolific music video director to bear on the movie, to stirring effect. And even if he comes away empty-handed, he'll still have gained a plum prize: He was tapped to direct "Furious 8" in October. Which could well lead to a "Star Trek" movie -- which has been known to lead to "Star Wars" movies. - JS
  • 15 Danny Boyle, "Steve Jobs"
    Danny Boyle slotted high in prognosticators' expectations a few months ago, before "Steve Jobs" fizzled out at the box office
    Jason LaVeris via Getty Images
    Danny Boyle slotted high in prognosticators' expectations a few months ago, before "Steve Jobs" fizzled out at the box office. The movie is an interesting case study because, despite strong reviews, its reputation was soiled with its limited shelf life. Nonetheless, voters will surely nominate Michael Fassbender's and Kate Winslet's performances and Aaron Sorkin's screenplay, which means they at least haven't forgotten about the movie altogether. Boyle, whose theater roots are on display in the biopic's three-act structure, won Best Director for 2008's "Slumdog Millionaire" -- can he garner enough mercy from the Academy to re-enter the race? Probably not. - Matthew Jacobs
  • 14 Tom Hooper, "The Danish Girl"
    Tom Hooper won in 2011 for "The King's Speech," a movie that cemented his penchant for lavish sets and detailed costumes. Tho
    Teresa Kroeger via Getty Images
    Tom Hooper won in 2011 for "The King's Speech," a movie that cemented his penchant for lavish sets and detailed costumes. Those interests continued with "Les Misérables," and they're seeped into every corner of "The Danish Girl." Hooper has been making the rounds to promote the film, but its Oscar chances have seemed largely DOA since its Venice and Toronto film festival debuts. Critics were mostly warm toward the movie, but the chief complaint was that Hooper may not have been the right person to direct it. That signals bad things for his potential Oscar repeat. "Danish Girl" would need to do dynamite business in its forthcoming wide release to see any sort of resurgence. - MJ
  • 13 Ryan Coogler, "Creed"
    Ryan Coogler is 29. "Creed" is only his second feature. So how did he end up in the running, alongside some of the more stori
    Kelly Sullivan via Getty Images
    Ryan Coogler is 29. "Creed" is only his second feature. So how did he end up in the running, alongside some of the more storied veterans in the industry? By making a stellar movie that's resonated with audiences in a big way. "Creed," the latest installment in the "Rocky" saga, has already brought in more than $80 million, on a reasonable $35 million budget, positioning it as one of the most profitable movies in the running. Is it one of the most groundbreaking or artistically daring? Probably not. And Coogler's name hasn't been on many best director lists this year. So he's probably not going to make it into the elite five now, but it would be shocking if he didn't land there at some point. - JS
  • 12 Adam McKay, "The Big Short"
    "Adam McKay" and "Oscars" have probably never been mentioned in the same sentence until now. The frequent Will Ferrell collab
    Jim Spellman via Getty Images
    "Adam McKay" and "Oscars" have probably never been mentioned in the same sentence until now. The frequent Will Ferrell collaborator (he helmed "Anchorman," "Step Brothers" and more) sneaks a dose of so-called prestige into "The Big Short," a rowdy examination of the finance insiders who outlined the 2008 housing collapse before it ravished the American economy. The movie -- originally slated for an early-2016 release but bumped up after Paramount pinpointed Oscar potential -- landed a cover story in New York magazine last week and made good money in limited release. It's like "Wolf of Wall Street," only far better because it doesn't glamorize the misfits who profited off of others' distress. If it doesn't fizzle out after opening nationally next week, "The Big Short" could be a spoiler come Oscar night. - MJ
  • 11 J.J. Abrams, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens"
    George Lucas copped a Best Director nod for 1977's "Star Wars," and J.J. Abrams' latest installment hews more closely to
    Yuriko Nakao via Getty Images
    George Lucas copped a Best Director nod for 1977's "Star Wars," and J.J. Abrams' latest installment hews more closely to the original trilogy than any of the franchise's prequels did. Abrams skips the CGI and wooden dialogue in favor of stunning practical effects and bravura myth-making. Since it could become the most successful movie in history, "The Force Awakens" is one of several blockbusters the Academy will consider. That's a blessing and a curse: High visibility helps, but "Mad Max" and "Creed" are also franchise reboots, while "The Martian" is awards season's go-to blockbuster. - MJ
  • 10 Cary Fukunaga, "Beasts of No Nation"
    You don't have to be Rust Cohle to figure out how&nbsp;Cary Fukunaga emerged victorious from his rumored feud with <a href="h
    Dominique Charriau via Getty Images
    You don't have to be Rust Cohle to figure out how Cary Fukunaga emerged victorious from his rumored feud with his "True Detective" collaborator Nic Pizzolatto. The HBO show floundered in Fukunaga's absence -- while the 38-year-old director went on to write and direct one of the year's most acclaimed movies, "Beasts of No Nation." The story of child soldiers is, at times, brutal to watch, but Fukunaga makes sure to inject the whole thing with enough surreal beauty to avoid alienating viewers. It's an unusual type of movie for an American to make, made all the more distinctive by Netflix's involvement. Idris Elba stands a better chance of being recognized for his work, especially since there are so many heavy hitters gunning for Best Director. But Fukunaga also presents the Academy an opportunity to anoint one of the industry's hottest up-and-comers. - JS
  • 9 Lenny Abrahamson, "Room"
    When people talk about the awards chances for "Room," they mostly talk about Brie Larson's performance. (And the soft reviews
    Kevin Winter via Getty Images
    When people talk about the awards chances for "Room," they mostly talk about Brie Larson's performance. (And the soft reviews for "Joy" only make her more of a front-runner.) They might also mention Jacob Tremblay's and Joan Allen's supporting roles, Emma Donoghue's screenplay and Best Picture. The name Lenny Abrahamson, the movie's director, doesn't come up as much. That may be because the movie has a pretty restrained look; much of it happens in a single dingy room. But there's one sequence, right around the middle of the movie, that's as thrilling and engaging as any this autumn. And clearly the elements of the movie that have gotten awards attention wouldn't have been possible without Abrahamson steering the whole ship. And that includes the acting. In the end, Abrahamson may rise or fall on the strength of Academy's reception of the movie as a whole. If it winds up getting three nominations, Abrahamson almost certainly won't be one of them. But if gets nine, he probably will. - JS
  • 8 David O. Russell, "Joy"
    Little-known fact! David O. Russell came out with two movies this year. He made the first, "Accidental Love," back in 2008, i
    Gilbert Carrasquillo via Getty Images
    Little-known fact! David O. Russell came out with two movies this year. He made the first, "Accidental Love," back in 2008, in the dark period between "I Heart Huckabees" and "The Fighter." The production was rather catastrophic, though, so it wasn't released until January. The reviews were abysmal -- and the box office was even worse. It only made $4,500 in its tiny run. Compared to that, "Joy" is already a smashing success. It's gotten lots of buzz and a handful of award nominations. But not compared to Russell's last three movies. Reviews have been decidedly mixed, with many arguing that its plot is aimless and implausible. Everyone agrees that Jennifer Lawrence is as sensational as ever, so her nomination chances are solid, but David O. Russell's are much less certain. For the record, I loved the movie. I interpreted the mania of its story as a commentary on plot itself, and found Joy's struggle to succeed deeply compelling. Even though it was about mops! So I'd be thrilled to see Russell land his fourth Best Director nomination. But it's far from a sure thing. - JS
  • 7 Quentin Tarantino, "The Hateful Eight"
    Quentin Tarantino, one of our most iconic and stylish directors, has never won Best Director. He <i>has</i> won two Oscars --
    Joel Ryan/Invision/AP
    Quentin Tarantino, one of our most iconic and stylish directors, has never won Best Director. He has won two Oscars -- but they were for writing the screenplays for "Pulp Fiction" and "Django Unchained." Surely the Academy will give him a directing statue at some point. And they'd better act fast: Tarantino claims that he's only going to make 10 movies. But the chances of "The Hateful Eight" being the movie they award look slim. The issue is that the vast majority of the movie takes place in a single room. For that reason, it almost feels more like a play than a movie. (Indeed, Tarantino is exploring the idea of adapting it for the stage.) The strong performances and the dynamism of the action in that one small space speak to Tarantino's skill behind the camera, but the movie just doesn't scream Best Director. It hasn't picked up any major nominations or awards in that category thus far this season. It was one of the last movies to screen for critics and voters, so it could get more love at the Oscars than elsewhere. But the acting and screenplay categories are probably more likely than Best Director. - JS
  • 6 Steven Spielberg, "Bridge of Spies"
    Never discount Steven Spielberg,&nbsp;a seven-time nominee whose "Bridge of Spies"&nbsp;is seen by some as one of his best re
    Andy Kropa /Invision/AP
    Never discount Steven Spielberg, a seven-time nominee whose "Bridge of Spies" is seen by some as one of his best recent movies. Its polished, traditional storytelling -- the kind the Academy proverbially admires. But with Ridley Scott's "overdue" narrative and George Miller's accolades from several critics' groups, Spielberg has been bumped to the second tier of this race. The movie did decent business, but Spielberg missed out on the pivotal Globe nomination that could have helped his case. Compared to some of the edgier players in this category, the Cold War spy flick could feel slightly too safe of a choice.  - MJ
  • 5 Todd Haynes, "Carol"
    "Carol" is a director's movie. Much of its beauty stems from the way Phyllis Nagy's script comes to life via understated edit
    Pacific Press via Getty Images
    "Carol" is a director's movie. Much of its beauty stems from the way Phyllis Nagy's script comes to life via understated edits and characters' subtle expressions. It's the contemplative tone that makes the movie special, as Haynes injects the 1950s romance with a grainy mistiness that defines its poise. He was previously nominated for writing 2002's "Far From Heaven" and has collected recent nods from the Golden Globes, Independent Spirit Awards and several critics groups. At this point, Haynes has gained a huge advantage for what seems like an arty selection for the Academy.  - MJ
  • 4 Tom McCarthy, "Spotlight"
    Lots of the filmmakers&nbsp;in this race are being heralded for boisterous, effects-driven sagas. Tom McCarthy, on the other
    Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP
    Lots of the filmmakers in this race are being heralded for boisterous, effects-driven sagas. Tom McCarthy, on the other hand, seems like a shoo-in for the opposite reason: "Spotlight" is admirably unfussy. But don't mistake that for a walk in the park. It's very difficult to make an ensemble film in which each cast member gels, and "Spotlight succeeds on every level. The film has maintained momentum since wowing critics at fall's festivals, and McCarthy has collected nods from the Golden Globes and Independent Spirit Awards. After the last few director trophies went to the single-take ruse of "Birdman," the technical feat of "Gravity" and the stylish water-color palette of "Life of Pi," an effortless human drama like "Spotlight" could be just what the directors' branch is seeking. - MJ
  • 3 George Miller, "Mad Max: Fury Road"
    Many of this year's most acclaimed movies featured low-key visual styles. But not "Mad Max: Fury Road." It was one of the mos
    Imeh Akpanudosen via Getty Images
    Many of this year's most acclaimed movies featured low-key visual styles. But not "Mad Max: Fury Road." It was one of the most astonishing-looking, -sounding and -feeling movies of the year, if not the decade. Much of the credit goes to 70-year-old George Miller. He spent years toiling over "Fury Road," and every second shows. It's full of unforgettable images: the polecats, the chromed mouths of the War Boys, the overweight women Immortan Joe uses for breast milk. And, of course, Imperator Furiosa. Several critics groups have already recognized Miller's stellar work in the movie. He even got a crucial Golden Globe nomination. If the Academy can overcome its bias against big-budget genre movies (a big if), Miller stands to be one of the strongest contenders in this race. If anyone can beat the two gentleman at the top of this list, it's him. - JS
  • 2 Alejandro González Iñárritu, "The Revenant"
    "Birdman" scored&nbsp;Alejandro Gonz&aacute;lez I&ntilde;&aacute;rritu a Best Director trophy earlier this year, and he could
    Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP
    "Birdman" scored Alejandro González Iñárritu a Best Director trophy earlier this year, and he could be poised to repeat for "The Revenant." He's already picked up a nomination from the Golden Globes, and the Academy has consistently favored his films over the years. There's a good chance voters will be impressed by the arduous conditions under which he reportedly filmed "The Revenant," though we should be clear that one of them definitely did not involve a bear raping Leonardo DiCaprio. The movie is a bleak survival epic with clear Terrence Malick influences. It's not fun to watch, but it's an impressive feat, and that could be enough to push him ahead. - MJ
  • 1 Ridley Scott, "The Martian"
    The conventional wisdom about the Best Director race is that it goes to the person who directed the movie that wins Best Pict
    Evan Agostini/Invision/AP
    The conventional wisdom about the Best Director race is that it goes to the person who directed the movie that wins Best Picture. There's some solid statistic evidence behind this theory: Less than a third of the movies that have won Best Picture have failed to win Best Director. But it's happened in two of the past three years: Alfonso Cuarón won for "Gravity" the year "12 Years A Slave" won Best Picture, and Ang Lee won for "Life of Pi" the year "Argo" won Best Picture. (Ang Lee also won for "Brokeback Mountain" in 2005, the year "Crash" infamously beat it out for Best Picture.) And there's good reason to think this strange pattern could happen again this year. While "Spotlight" is a solid front-runner for Best Picture, having won the lion's share of the preliminary awards, many people attribute its success more to great acting and writing than visionary directing. "The Martian," on the other hand, was a visual feast -- and the rare Oscar movie was also an exciting popcorn thriller. The film's 78-year-old director, Ridley Scott, has been in the business for a whopping 50 years, and was responsible for some truly iconic movies. ("Alien," "Blade Runner," "Thelma & Louise," "Gladiator," "The Counselor"! Err… forget that last one.) But he has never won on Oscar. He should this year. - JS

Also check out our coverage of the Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor races.

 

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