Paul Thomas Anderson and Christopher Nolan: Filmmakers most overdue to win an Oscar

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. 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 more recently for Wild, though following that Brooklyn two years ago put him right back in play. Whether he gets into Adapted Screenplay again in the near future 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 a close eye on him.

9. Jason Reitman – Even though many are not huge fans of his latest output, I remain of the opinion that he’s among the best storytellers in Hollywood. Reitman is a two time nominee in Best Director and nearly won Best Adapted Screenplay for Up in the Air. Recent efforts have met with less acclaim, but he’s not just due a comeback, but a statue. One more hint and he’ll be close to the front of this list. I still believe in him…very much so, in fact.

8. Richard Linklater – One truly hopes that the closest to a win that Linklater will get won’t have been when Boyhood came up just short. Aside from his Before trilogy (and especially Before Midnight and Before Sunset), the Academy has had trouble worming up to his work. One suspects that Boyhood broke them of that, so something soon should entice them again. Everybody Wants Some didn’t do it last year, but Linklater still seems like a safe bet to be on that stage one day. He certainly deserves to be there.

7. 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 been up for Best Director, only having a Best Original Screenplay nod to his credit for Far From Heaven. Two years though, he seemed like an early favorite to get into Director with a nom for Carol. That citation didn’t happen, but he has Wonderstruck coming up next. Sit tight fans, his time might have finally come if that one turns out as well as the last one…

6. Darren Aronofsky – For many, Aronofsky is one of the most talented filmmakers in the industry. He’s only been cited by Oscar once, and that’s with a nominee in Best Director for Black Swan. This year sees him back competing again for a spot at the table, this time with the mysterious Mother!, written and directed by him. Very little is known about it, but it stars Jennifer Lawrence, so if it’s good, it’ll have her in play, with Aronofsky potentially along for the ride as well. Stay tuned!

5. David O. Russell – Few artists 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. There was a run where three outings in a row got 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). He wasn’t able to crack the code with Joy, so perhaps now he might seem more due to voters? Sit tight and we’ll find out if this is finally Russell’s time.

4. 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 was undoubtedly his comeback. A fourth nomination in Director just missed happening, and had he gotten nominated, there was a chance he would have won. Will he be back? That may or may not happen, given his inconsistent nature, but there’s no question that he’s among the most due directors in the business.

3. David Fincher – Is there a more exacting director out there than Fincher? The air of perfection surrounds him in a way not seen since Stanley Kubrick. As such, a Best Director prize seems a given for him one of these days. A two time nominee, for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button as well as for The Social Network, Fincher will win eventually. Honestly, it just really takes him deciding on a new film to make. Once he does, he’ll be even closer to the top of this list.

2. Paul Thomas Anderson – No longer a wunderkind, Anderson is simply just one of the masters out there. He has a half dozen nominations to his credit (Best Original Screenplay for Boogie Nights and Magnolia, Best Adapted Screenplay as well as Best Director and Best Picture There Will Be Blood, plus Best Adapted Screenplay for Inherent Vice), but no win, which makes him incredibly overdue for a victory. He’s working with Daniel Day-Lewis on another movie, this one currently untitled, so 2017 could be the year for Anderson. Sit tight there…

1. Christopher Nolan – The rare filmmaker who has as many comic book fanboys worshipping him as art house patrons, Nolan is the most due director in the business. A three time nominee (Best Original Screenplay for Inception and Memento, as well as Best Picture for the former flick), he’s never been nominated in Best Director, so that’s really where to look for an eventual victory. Nolan will be on all the short lists this year with Dunkirk hitting in the summer, so we’ll just have to see how that one plays. It would make a ton of sense for him to win for this one, but it all depends on the quality of the film, right? Right.

Honorable Mention: J.C. Chandor, Stephen Daldry, Guillermo del Toro, Drew Goddard, Spike Lee, Terrence Malick, Oren Moverman, Billy Ray, Taylor Sheridan, and Paul Weitz

Stay tuned to see if anyone here can pull off a win this year or in the years to come!

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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