Ranking the 88th Academy Award Nominees: Best Director


Possibly my favorite category, Best Director has never failed to amaze me. In past years, this award was nearly always given as a supplement to the Best Picture award. However, in the last few years, it has become an award almost independent from the Best Picture award, and while it does have some correlation still, a split happening now is not as scandalous of an idea as it was perhaps a decade ago. This year, the nominees are split between really average direction, to brilliant directorial achievement.

#5 – Thomas McCarthy for Spotlight

I like Thomas McCarthy very much – I think his film The Station Agent is one of the very best independent films ever made. However, his direction of Spotlight was nothing more than just a complex television procedural, and while he did fantastically well with the screenplay, I don’t think his direction was impressive or worthy of a nomination. However, the fact that he has finally achieved it will do wonders for him, as he is one of the best filmmakers working today. Much like Richard Linklater last year, it is strange when an indie auteur finally breaks through into the awards conversation with their least impressive film. Well done to McCarthy, but hopefully he can return to this race with a better directed film.


#4 – Lenny Abrahamson for Room

Our surprise nominee. I am not entirely sure why Abrahamson was nominated, especially when Steven Spielberg and Ridley Scott made films that were undeniably better directed. However, Room was a beautifully made film, and most of that was because of Abrahamson’s sensible and quiet direction. He is certainly not a bad nominee, but considering there were better directed films, it is slightly disappointing that Abrahamson was able to overcome the others to get an elite nomination.


#3 – Adam McKay for The Big Short

People seem to love The Big Short. It honestly left me very cold, and I think that part of that is because it wasn’t quite sure what it wanted to say. Adam McKay is a comedic genius, but as a man who is possibly in line to win Best Director, it worries me. I think he’s made some fantastic films, but The Big Short wasn’t one of them. He certainly directed it well, but ultimately it was disappointing. It is certainly flashy, and he definitely did direct it in a unique way, but it is his mode of direction that I have a problem with. For now, he is deeply in the middle, not any higher, and not any lower.


#2 – George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road

I love George Miller, and he was very close to ranking first in this category for me. I feel like Miller is an exquisitely intelligent director, and the fact that he made Mad Max: Fury Road, a mind-boggling, tense and crazy film, with almost no computer generated effects, speaks to his talents as a director. Mad Max: Fury Road is absolute off-the-wall, and George Miller is truly a creative genius, and he would not be undeserving of a win, because he is an extraordinary filmmaker, and Mad Max: Fury Road reminds us that Miller is a brilliant director.


#1 – Alejandro González Iñárritu for The Revenant

I am one of the biggest supporters of Alejandro González Iñárritu, and I was ecstatic that his previous film, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), was chosen as Best Picture last year. It seems like Iñárritu is well on his way to breaking records by doing that all again, and honestly, he would be truly very deserving. He may be a tyrant of a filmmaker, but he is an undeniable genius, and his direction of The Revenant is just extraordinary, and I truly believe he did a fantastic job, and he bared it all to make a truly brilliant film. I have been a fan of Iñárritu for many years now, but my love of his films don’t blind me, and I honestly think he did a fantastic job here, and hopefully the voters will feel the same, because the man is a genius, and he deserves recognition for what he achieved here.


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