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David O. Russell and Ridley Scott: Which filmmaking contenders this year are most due for their first win?

Ridley Scott

Much like I said last week, of the many storylines that begin during awards season, few are usually as compelling as the ones centered around who’s most due for an Academy Award. I think that it’s usually pretty satisfying to see a former bridesmaid finally become a bride, as it were. As such, below I’ve made up a list of ten filmmakers who’ve previously been nominated for Oscars but have yet to win one who are in contention this year, after doing the same for actors and actresses previously. I’ve more or less ranked them by how due they are, and just to be fair, I’ve excluded anyone who has already won a prize elsewhere, or any of the myriad contenders who are seeking their first ever nomination by the Academy. Take a look at the writers/directors below and I hope you all enjoy!

Here now are the ten writers and/or directors most due for their first Oscar win:

10. Guillermo del Toro – A bit of a long shot to be sure, but del Toro in some ways is a filmmaker that folks are waiting to deliver an Oscar player once again. He was nominated for Best Original Screenplay when Pan’s Labyrinth came out and now will hope to compete in that category (or even Best Director) for Crimson Peak. I wouldn’t bet on it, but he’s still due to lift up a statue one day, perhaps in Best Foreign Language Feature. It just likely won’t be this year…

9. Billy Ray – Very much under the radar, Ray is one of the industry’s go to screenwriters for prestige fare, and he’s developing into a solid director as well. Nominated in Best Adapted Screenplay for Captain Phillips two years ago, we have Ray in the race this year for both Adapted Screenplay as well as Best Director for the remake of The Secret in Their Eyes. It’s an awards season X factor, but even if it doesn’t happen this time around, his writing will likely get him in before too long.

8. Stephen Frears – Frears is the sort of steady hand that doesn’t always win, but at the same time you would never be surprised to see him rewarded by a group such as the Academy. A two time Best Director nominee (for The Grifters as well as The Queen), he’ll potentially be in play for Director again with The Program, should it officially come out in 2015. Keep him in mind, either this year or next…

7. Oren Moverman – A bit more challenging of a filmmaker than Oscar tends to go for, Moverman has two projects this year hoping to get him back in play after he was nominated in Best Original Screenplay for The Messenger. Now, he’s up for awards with Time Out of Mind as well as Love & Mercy. The former represents a shot in Best Director and Best Original Screenplay, while the latter will have him in either Adapted or Original contention, depending on category placement. The latter might be his best shot, but stay tuned, as he’s the sort of guy you can expect to win one day.

6. Tom McCarthy – After the disastrous reception that The Cobbler got last year at Toronto (even though I don’t hate it), McCarthy was basically at a make or break point with his new film Spotlight. The reviews earlier today from Venice have been very kind, so this prior nominee for co-writing the Original Screenplay of Up could finally get in for something he’s directed. This one will have him in Best Director as well as Best Original Screenplay contention. He’s due, and if the reviews hold, he might emerge as a pretty big contender too.

5. Nick Hornby – I have a suspicion that Hornby is going to win an Oscar one day. He’s already been nominated in Best Adapted Screenplay for An Education and just missed last year for Wild, so my hunch is that Brooklyn this year will have him right back in play. Whether he gets into Adapted Screenplay for it remains to be seen, but he’s putting forward the type of work that the Academy could easily give him a statue for within the next couple of years. Keep an eye on him.

4. Paul Weitz – If Grandma is any indication of where Weitz is headed with his career, an Academy Award could be inevitable. He’s already been nominated in Best Adapted Screenplay for co-writing About a Boy, but now he’s back in the game with Grandma, possibly up for both Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. The latter category is his shot, but even if this one doesn’t make it, he could be on the path now to a win. He’s officially due.

3. Todd Haynes – I feel like if Haynes had worked more over the past decade, he’d almost assuredly have had a win by now. In fact, he’s never even ben up for Best Director, only having a Best Original Screenplay nod to his credit for Far From Heaven. This year though, he seems like an early favorite to at least get into Director with a nom for Carol. Sit tight fans, his time might have finally come…

2. Ridley Scott – Most folks are shocked to learn that Scott has always been a bridesmaid but never a bride. A three time Best Director nominee (for Black Hawk Down, Gladiator, as well as Thelma & Louise), Scott has been in a bit of a funk of late, but The Martian potentially could be his comeback. A fourth nomination in Director isn’t out of the question, and obviously I’m currently predicting him to win. That may or may not happen, but there’s no question that he’s among the most due directors in the business.

David O. Russell

1. David O. Russell – No one in Hollywood seems more determined to finally win an Oscar than Russell. I don’t mean it as a bad thing either, just that his work of late is so Academy friendly, his candidacy feels inevitable. His last three outings have gotten him his first nominations, totaling five (Best Adapted Screenplay for Silver Linings Playbook, Best Original Screenplay for American Hustle, and Best Director for American Hustle, The Fighter, and Silver Linings Playbook). Now, he’s looking to finally crack the code with Joy, which will have him in Director and Original Screenplay contention again. Sit tight and we’ll find out if this is finally Russell’s time…

Honorable Mention: Stephen Daldry

Stay tuned to see if anyone here can pull off a win this year!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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