Predicting the Oscars 2015: Best Director

Predicting the Oscars 2015: Best Director

The Academy Award-nominated helmsmen and the woman they missed

As we lead up to the 87th Academy Awards, our Film Reviews Editor Emma Simmonds makes her predictions on this year's likely Oscar winners. Here, we look at the contenders for Best Director (last year's winner: Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity).

Best Director

The nominees:
Alejandro G Iñárritu – Birdman
Richard Linklater – Boyhood
Bennett Miller – Foxcatcher
Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Morten Tyldum – The Imitation Game

What we say: It's difficult to argue that Richard Linklater doesn't deserve the gong given the scope and seeming impossibility of his 12-year filmmaking endeavour; and that it's resulted in such a triumph means it would be impossible to begrudge him it. He's an almost unrivalled collaborator, particularly with actors who are encouraged to improvise and personally develop their characters. His approach has drawn Oscar-nominated work from Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke and a strikingly sensitive performance from his inexperienced lead, Ellar Coltrane, which says it all.

Wes Anderson, on the other hand, is a man of singular vision. The Grand Budapest Hotel may be his most impressively realised film yet, but might not fit voters' tastes. Alejandro G Iñárritu's Birdman is similarly bursting with flavour and he's seen as Linklater's stiffest competition, while Bennett Miller is in the strange position of receiving a nomination for his immaculate stewardship of Foxcatcher, a film that was (undeservingly) left out of Best Picture. For us, Morten Tyldum is the odd man out, he brought character and verve to his breakthrough film Headhunters, but his work on The Imitation Game seems slave to the conventions of heritage cinema.

Three of the best reviewed films of the year missed out on nominations here. Ava DuVernay's exclusion for the beautifully judged Selma could be partially explained by the fact that, although she's reasonably experienced (Selma is her third narrative feature and she has worked in TV and documentaries), she's only just appeared on the Academy's radar, something which also goes for Whiplash's Damien Chazelle, who's only on his second film. And it quite simply wasn't Mr Turner's year, its gruff working class protagonist and rejection of the period drama template meant it perhaps didn't fit with the Academy's often quite narrow idea of what a British film should look like, but it may be Mike Leigh's masterpiece.

The likely winner: Richard Linklater
The List's winner: Richard Linklater
Shoulda been contenders: Mike Leigh, Mr Turner; Ava DuVernay, Selma

Predicting the Oscars 2015: Best Picture, Best Actress / Actor, Best Supporting Actress / Actor, Best Adapted / Original Screenplay.

See the full list of Oscar 2015 nominees.

Watch the 87th Academy Awards live on Sky Movies Oscars Sun 22 Feb from 11.30pm.

Alfonso Cuarón Wins Best Directing: 2014 Oscars