Oscar Watch: Predicting Best Director

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The Best Director trophy seems to have Steven Spielberg written all over it. What, with the Ben Affleck snub for Argo, who is left in the category to challenge the helmer of Lincoln?

Now that the Academy Awards are quickly coming upon us, Movie Fanatic's weekly Oscar Watch will appear twice weekly and our newest edition focuses the spotlight on the directors! As soon as the Academy Award nominations were announced, the attention immediately turned to who wasn't nominated. But, let's look at who was... because in our opinion the rightful winner earned his nod.

Steven Spielberg Red Carpet Picture

Spielberg has failed to win any of the pre-Oscar awards, losing to Ben Affleck for his work on Argo from the Golden Globes to the SAG Awards. But, since that little Oscar snub of Affleck kept him from the category, it appears that Spielberg has had the path cleared to his next Academy Award. As teased in the Lincoln trailer, the work that the director did with his latest film is nothing short of extraordinary. He took a relatively small period of our greatest president's life and brought it to the screen in a manner that is powerful, profound and as timely as ever.

David O. Russell has long been an Oscar favorite, most recently with his work on The Fighter. But as we can simply see from a few short scenes in The Silver Linings Playbook trailer, the helmer has captured an emotional powerhouse with his latest starring Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Jennifer Lawrence and Jacki Weaver -- all Oscar nominees too. Russell won't win this year, but he should be thrilled that his little movie not only produced acting nominations for his four leads, but also Best Picture. It is an astounding piece of work.

Michael Haneke crafted a beautiful love story that focuses on the later years in life with those touching Amour quotes. His presence at this year's awards is a testament to the power of his film and the performance of his two leads -- Emmanuelle Riva (nominated for Best Actress) and Jean-Louis Trintigant. His chance of winning is slim, but look for him to clutch Oscar gold for Best Foreign Film.

What Ang Lee did with Life of Pi is a miracle. He took an un-filmmable book and brought it to life in stunning 3D. As shown in the Life of Pi trailer, the story of an Indian young man who is stranded in the middle of a vast ocean with a vicious tiger isn't exactly the type of thing that one would think would lend itself to a beautiful motion picture. But, that is exactly what we got with Lee's latest film... a further testament to the movie wizard's power. If voting was revealed (which it isn't of course), Movie Fanatic predicts that Lee would finish second, just behind Spielberg.

Life of Pi Suraj Sharma

Benh Zeitlin gets the award for "just glad to be nominated" this year. His Beasts of the Southern Wild was a small indie film that wowed at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and went on to become a $100 million blockbuster. The story of a young girl who battles the elements with her mentally challenged father is as touching as it is intense and the Oscar attention it's getting this year should only further the legions who see this film. Intrigued? Check out the Beasts of the Southern Wild trailer and tell us you don't want to watch the entire flick!

So, there you have it. In a race that finds Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty), Affleck (Argo) and Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained) missing from the list of nominees, this is Spielberg's honor to take. The fact that he totally deserves the award should make that even easier to swallow for those who were pulling for that talented trio of directors.

What Spielberg achieved with Lincoln is something the Academy should be proud to show off in 50 years when we look back at this year's Best Director category, even with the hubbub over perceived snubs.

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