Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
And then what are we giving the fifth spot? A few weeks ago, Pablo Larrain and Martin Scorsese might've been my choice but their films are not crossing over, and Clint Eastwood is out of the picture. I think we can cross them out. After seeing Fences, I just have a hard time imagining that the director's branch will laud Denzel Washington's work. I think Jeff Nichols has faded for Loving as well, at least as a director.
That leaves David Mackenzie for Hell or High Water, Theodore Melfi for Hidden Figures, Garth Davis for Lion, Mel Gibson for Hacksaw Ridge, Tom Ford for Nocturnal Animals, and (wait for it) Tim Miller for Deadpool. Don't worry! I'm crossing him out. Tim Miller isn't getting in. Davis and Melfi seem pretty anonymous in this race, as does David Mackenzie. I think Hell or High Water is going to be considered a Taylor Sheridan film. That leaves two contenders who make me break out in hives: Mel Gibson and Tom Ford. I think the main question is whether there are more people in the director's branch that have worked with Mel Gibson the director AND actor who want to see him succeed or those who don't and would send their support elsewhere. To whom then?
So, Mel Gibson for Hacksaw Ridge.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver