PAST LIVES, from left: Teo YOO, Greta Lee, 2023. ph: Jon Pack / © A24 / courtesy Everett Collection
ManOfTheCenturyMovie Awards Oscars 2024: Predictions for Best Director

Oscars 2024: Predictions for Best Director

PAST LIVES, from left: Teo YOO, Greta Lee, 2023. ph: Jon Pack / © A24 / courtesy Everett Collection

Voting for nominations will take place January 11-16, 2024, with the official Oscar nominations announced on January 23, 2024. Final voting is February 22-27, 2024. Finally, the telecast of the 96th Academy Awards will be broadcast Sunday, March 10 and live on ABC at 8pm ET / 5pm PT. We update the predictions throughout awards season, so keep checking IndieWire for all of our Oscars 2024 picks.

The state of the breed

As always, big filmmakers with big-budget projects get a marketing and awareness boost en route to the Oscars. But festivals offer a crucial edge in the prestige department.

Sundance introduced the acclaimed “Past Lives” (A24) by first-time director Celine Song, a Korean-American playwright who creates an auto-fiction relationship triangle about a married professional (Greta Lee) who meets her childhood sweetheart (Teo Yoo). The film is a special success and could follow A24’s “Everything Everywhere All at Once” in Oscar contention.

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It’s not unusual for a rookie director to be nominated or even win: two stage-to-screen directors accomplished that feat with Delbert Mann (“Marty,” 1955) and Sam Mendes (“American Beauty,” 1999). Winner James L. Brooks came from television with “Terms of Endearment” (1983), and movie stars Robert Redford (“Ordinary People,” 1980) and Kevin Costner (“Dances with Wolves” 1990) won the Oscar director for the first time behind the camera.

This season, “A Star is Born” director-star Bradley Cooper has a chance to get his first directorial nod for “Maestro” (Netflix), in which he directs as composer Leonard Bernstein. And Ben Affleck could get the directing nomination he was denied for Best Picture winner “Argo,” although “Air” (Amazon/Warner Bros.) was neither as popular nor critically greeted – grossed as much as it cost ($90 million) at the worldwide box office. However, the senior male members of the Academy are a mature target.

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Cannes launched several veteran directors, including “The Departed” Academy Award winner Martin Scorsese with his gangster epic “Killers of the Flower Moon” (AppleTV+/Paramount), starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert DeNiro and Lily Gladstone; and Todd Haynes, with his bizarre truer than fiction “May December” (Netflix) with Julianne Moore and Natalie Portman. Haynes is yet to get a directing Oscar nod. Emerging from Cannes as a box office hit is Wes Anderson’s “Asteroid City” (Focus), the auteur’s most accessible (and American) film since “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” which garnered nine nominations including one for the film and directed and won four Academy Awards for art. Anderson wouldn’t mind another shot at a directing Oscar.

British director Jonathan Glazer, never nominated, won first prize for ‘Zone of Interest’ (A24), a German-language holocaust film starring Sandra Huller, also stars in French director Justine Triet’s Palme-winning judicial thriller winner, “Anatomy of a Fall” (Neon), which is about 50% in English. Increasingly international Academy voters could push these films into contention in more categories, as did “All Quiet on the Western Front “, “Parasite” and “Drive My Car”.

Summer films “Oppenheimer” (Universal), a biopic with Cillian Murphy, and Mattel’s toy-inspired comedy “Barbie” (Warner Bros.) are eschewing festival launches in favor of intense marketing; directorial nominees Christopher Nolan (“Dunkirk”) and Greta Gerwig (“Lady Bird”) have never won the Academy Award for Best Director.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Lily Gladstone
Leonardo DiCaprio and Lily Gladstone in “Killers of the Flower Moon”screenshots/apple

Arriving at the fall festivals is Denis Villeneuve’s sequel to “Dune: Part One” (Warner Bros.), starring Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya. Sequels and sci-fi are often overlooked at Oscar time, especially when a third film is on the horizon, but while ‘Arrival’ directorial nominee Villeneuve was surprisingly overlooked for director, the first film ‘Dune’ has earned 10 nominations and six wins.

Another batch of expired Oscar nominees could be in contention for a directorial win. After four directorial nods, Ridley Scott has yet to take home a statuette; this year’s film is the bio-epic “Napoleon” (Apple Original Films/Sony Pictures) starring Joaquin Phoenix and Vanessa Kirby. After three directorial slots, Alexander Payne is back with the Christmas film “The Holdovers” (Focus), reuniting with his “Sideways” star Paul Giamatti.

Three-time nominee David Fincher puts a killer (Michael Fassbender) on the run in “The Killer” (Netflix). Michael Mann (“The Insider”) will also make a splash at the fall festivities with the Italian racing biopic “Ferrari” (Netflix), starring Adam Driver and Penélope Cruz as his wife. Sofia Coppola (“Lost in Translation”) has cast “Euphoria” star Jacob Elordi as Elvis opposite Cailee Spaeny (“Mare of Easttown”) in the biopic “Priscilla” (A24) and Yorgos Lanthimos (“The Favorite”) joins Emma Stone in a surreal sci-fi novel film “Poor Things” (Searchlight).

Also on the way are a number of promising titles from never-named directors. Taika Waititi’s Michael Fassbender’s football comedy “Next Goal Wins” (Searchlight) premieres at TIFF for audiences. Emerald Fennell’s portrayal of the wealthy aristocracy “Saltburn” (Focus) stars Rosamund Pike, Jacob Elordi and Carey Mulligan. Jeff Nichols’ motorcycle odyssey “Bikeriders” (20th Century Studios) stars Tom Hardy and Austin Butler.

Mexican Michel Franco directs Academy Award winner Jessica Chastain (“The Eyes of Tammy Faye”) and Peter Sarsgaard in “Memory,” set in New York, which is looking for a buyer. “Challengers” (Amazon/MGM) by Italian director Luca Guadagnino is a romantic triangle in the world of tennis with Zendaya, Josh O’Connor and Mike Faist. Reinaldo Marcus Green follows up on “King Richard” with the musical biopic “Marley: One Love” (Paramount) starring British actor Kingsley Ben-Adir in the title role.

In the same category is Academy Award winner Ethan Coen (“No Country for Old Men”), who directs the comedy “Drive Away Dolls” (Focus) for the first time solo without his brother Joel. Margaret Qualley and Beanie Feldstein play two women who stumble upon a gang of inept criminals on the run.

Potential candidates are listed alphabetically; no one will be considered a favorite until we’ve seen the movie.

Front row

Ben Affleck (“Aria”)
Wes Anderson (“Asteroid City”)
Martin Scorsese (“The Flower Moon Killers”)
Song by Celine (“Past Lives”)
Justine Triet (“Anatomy of a Fall”)


Ethan Coen (“Drive Away Dolls”)
Bradley Cooper (“Master”)
Sofia Coppola (“Priscilla”)
Emerald Fennell (“Saltburn”)
David Fincher (“The Assassin”)
Michel Franco (“Memory”)
Greta Gerwig (“Barbie”)
Jonathan Glazer (“Area of ​​Interest”)
Luca Guadagnino (“Challengers”)
Reinaldo Marcus Green (“Marley: One Love”)
Todd Haynes (“May December”)
Yorgos Lanthimos (“Poor things”)
Michael Mann (“Ferrari”)
Jeff Nichols (“Biker Riders”)
Christopher Nolan (“Oppenheimer”)
Alexander Payne (“The Holdovers”)
Ridley Scott (“Napoleon”)
Denis Villeneuve (“Dune: Part 2”)
Taika Waititi (“Next Target Wins”)

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