Alejandro González Iñárritu is poised to repeat Oscar history this year. If he were to win Best Director, it would be the first time since 1950 when a director won back-to-back Oscars (the last being Joseph Mankiewicz for A Letter to Three Wives and All About Eve). This would be an astonishing achievement. Even more astounding would be if The Revenant were to win Best Picture, which would be the first time in Oscar history that there were two Best Picture winners that were directed for a director who won back-to-back Oscars for their respective films.
When Alejandro González Iñárritu won the Golden Globe for Best Director, he immediately became the frontrunner over the presumptive winner: Ridley Scott for The Martian. This rattled most pundits who believed Scott was guaranteed the eventual Oscar for his stunning directorial work and with the sentiment that this ‘was his due.’ However, fresh off his Birdman win last year, Iñárritu managed to outmaneuver the legendary director with a stunning film that required a close attention to detail. Then, Ridley Scott was snubbed even being nominated for an Oscar, thereby taking him out of the competition, further solidifying Iñárritu’s status as a frontrunner. Lastly, Iñárritu won the DGA (Director’s Guild Award), which not only makes him the frontrunner in the Best Director category, but he is practically guaranteed the win. The DGA and Oscars have been in agreement with each other for the last 13 years, only deviating in agreeing in 2002 when the DGA awarded Rob Marshall for Chicago, while the Oscars awarded Roman Polanski for The Pianist.
It is understandable why Iñárritu is the frontrunner because his work with The Revenant was some of the best directing in recent years, completely pushing the boundaries of what a film experience can be with audiences. Iñárritu deserves an Oscar for his work. Aside from the DGA win, his Best Director wins in both the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs all but confirm that he will be victorious on Oscar night unless a tremendous upset occurs that contradicts everything regarding precursor awards.
There are only two ways Iñárritu could lose on Oscar night. The first would be nostalgia towards another film. The only director capable of that is George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road. Voters clearly admire and appreciate the film, which is a visually appealing film. George Miller was even the Best Director winner at the Critics Choice Awards, which gives him a lot of clout entering the Oscars. Therefore, If the voters show extra love for Mad Max: Fury Road, which they are already expected to show much love for, Miller could see himself with an upset win.
The other way for Iñárritu to lose would be for a momentum boost for a director of a film that wins Best Picture. Currently it appears that The Big Short and Spotlight are fighting it out for Best Picture, which means that Adam McKay or Tom McCarthy could see themselves getting a voter boost for their respective films. It is unlikely to happen, but it is possible.
The sad outlier to this category is Lenny Abrahamson for Room, who deserves much more acknowledgment than he has been given for his incredible directing work. Room was one of the most profound films of the year, which voters clearly didn’t want to ignore. The mere fact Abrahamson was nominated over Ridley Scott emphasizes the voters’ desire to at least have him nominated for a film that very easily could have been deemed as pretentious or manipulative. Unfortunately, Abrahamson’s nomination is his award, but is still worth writing that he deserves the Oscar just as much as any other nominee in this category.
Adam McKay – The Big Short
George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road
Alejandro González Iñárritu – The Revenant
Lenny Abrahamson – Room
Tom McCarthy – Spotlight
Will Win: Alejandro González Iñárritu – The Revenant
Could Win: George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win: Alejandro González Iñárritu – The Revenant
Could Upset: Adam McKay (The Big Short) or Tom McCarthy (Spotlight)