Dear AMPAS directors’ branch, we’re done now. In years past, we’ve praised you for your odd-man-out nominations, the ones that paid tribute to tomorrow’s masterpieces that were clearly never going to snag nominations in Best Picture (Mulholland Drive, Talk to Her, Vera Drake). We were disappointed in you in 2005, when you snubbed David Cronenberg, Terrence Malick, and Woody Allen in favor of Bennett Miller and Paul Haggis, but we gave you a simple demerit and forgot about the indiscretion as, in the following years, you gave Martin Scorsese and the Coens the chance to accept their long overdue career achievement-in-disguise prizes. That goodwill is gone now and we’re through making excuses for what is fast becoming the most disappointing branch in the entire Academy. You’ve rewarded a particularly unrewarding Best Picture lineup with a Best Director slate that mirrors the academy’s shame in its every elephantine sag. You’ve shown that you’re only a fan of vital auteurs when they reign in and tame everything about themselves that excites their fans (Fincher, Van Sant). You’ve capriciously decided to end your love affair with all things Clint at the precise moment when he makes a zeitgeist-tapping blockbuster. Jesus fucking Christ, you’ve now nominated Stephen Daldry for every goddamned film he’s ever directed! We’re left with no choice now but to remember the bad times. 2001 is no longer the year you nominated David Lynch and Robert Altman but rather the year you didn’t snub Ron Howard, opening the door for his easy win. 2007 is no longer the year you orchestrated a face-off between the Coens and Paul Thomas Anderson but instead the year you declared Jason Reitman cinema’s great white hope. Face it, directors, you are hacks bent on rewarding hackery, as incapable of venerating your reputation against that of the academy-at-large as the academy-at-large was incapable of voting a competitive Oscar into Alfred Hitchcock’s meathooks. To the extent that we give a watery shit, the academy ought to continue riding the Slumdog Millionaire bandwagon here, just as they rode the Brokeback Mountain bandwagon the last time the Picture/Director slates matched exactly. Meanwhile, directors’ branch, I think you better call on Tyrone.
Will Win: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
Should Win: David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button