Oscars Predictions: Best Director – Will There Be a Shortage of Women Directors in the Running?

Variety's Awards Circuit is home to the official predictions for the upcoming Oscars and Emmys ceremonies from film awards editor Clayton Davis. Following history, buzz, news, reviews and sources, the Oscar and Emmy predictions are updated regularly with the current year's list of contenders in all categories. Variety's Awards Circuit Prediction schedule consists of four phases, running all year long: Draft, Pre-Season, Regular Season and Post Season. The eligibility calendar and dates of awards will determine how long each phase lasts and is subject to change.

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2022 OSCARS PREDICTIONS:
BEST DIRECTOR

UPDATED: Aug 7, 2021

AWARDS PREDICTION COMMENTARY: One year after seeing Chloe Zhao win the Oscar for “Nomadland,” alongside Emerald Fennell as fellow nominee for “Promising Young Woman,” there could be a shortage of female filmmakers this year in the running. That’s not to say there won’t be worthy candidates among the films that have and will be released but the way the game is typically played, there just isn’t an abundance. The leading name among the women is Oscar-winner Jane Campion, who became just the second woman to be nominated for directing for “The Piano” (1993). She’ll have possible ladies like Halle Berry (“Bruised”), Sian Heder (“CODA”) and Eva Husson (“Mothering Sunday”) in the running.

The same goes for POC, as Latino Lin-Manuel Miranda could be a top-tier contender for “Tick, Tick…Boom!” along with Academy Award winner Guillermo del Toro for “Nightmare Alley.” After them, Jeymes Samuel’s camp should pray that the Academy can become as cool as “The Harder They Fall” looks, which will be opening the BFI London Film Festival.


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Netflix

AND THE PREDICTED NOMINEES ARE:

  1. Ridley Scott
    "House of Gucci" (MGM/United Artists Releasing)

    DIRECTOR: Ridley Scott
    SYNOPSIS: The story of how Patrizia Reggiani, the ex-wife of Maurizio Gucci, plotted to kill her husband, the grandson of renowned fashion designer Guccio Gucci.
    STARRING: Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Al Pacino, Salma Hayek, Jared Leto, Jack Huston, Jeremy Irons

  2. Adam McKay
    "Don't Look Up" (Netflix)

    DIRECTOR: Adam McKay
    SYNOPSIS: The story of two low-level astronomers, who must go on a giant media tour to warn mankind of an approaching comet that will destroy planet earth.
    STARRING: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Cate Blanchett, Rob Morgan, Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill, Timothée Chalamet, Ariana Grande, Himesh Patel, Matthew Perry, Tyler Perry, Ron Perlman, Chris Evans, Mark Rylance, Michael Chiklis

  3. Joel Coen
    "The Tragedy of Macbeth" (A24/Apple TV Plus)

    DIRECTOR: Joel Coen
    SYNOPSIS: A Scottish lord becomes convinced by a trio of witches that he will become the next King of Scotland, and his ambitious wife supports him in his plans of seizing power.
    STARRING: Denzel Washington, Frances McDormand, Brendan Gleeson, Corey Hawkins, Sean Patrick Thomas, Ralph Ineson, Brian Thompson


  4. Lin-Manuel Miranda
    "Tick, Tick...Boom!" (Netflix)

    DIRECTOR: Lin-Manuel Miranda
    SYNOPSIS: The story of Jon, an aspiring theater composer who is waiting tables in New York City while writing Superbia - which he hopes will be the next great American musical and finally give him his big break.
    STARRING: Andrew Garfield, Bradley Whitford, Vanessa Hudgens, Alexandra Shipp, Judith Light, Joanna Adler, Noah Robbins, Robin de Jesus, Joshua Henry

  5. Guillermo del Toro
    "Nightmare Alley" (Searchlight Pictures)

    DIRECTOR: Guillermo del Toro
    SYNOPSIS: An ambitious carny with a talent for manipulating people with a few well-chosen words hooks up with a female psychiatrist who is even more dangerous than he is.
    STARRING: Bradley Cooper, Rooney Mara, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, David Strathairn, Willem Dafoe, Ron Perlman, Mary Steenburgen, Holt McCallany, Clifton Collins Jr, Richard Jenkins, Tim Blake Nelson

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Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival

NEXT IN LINE CONTENDERS:

  1. Steven Spielberg
    "West Side Story" (20th Century Studios)

    DIRECTOR: Steven Spielberg
    SYNOPSIS: An adaptation of the 1957 musical, West Side Story explores forbidden love and the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, two teenage street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds.
    STARRING: Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler, Ariana DeBose, David Alvarez, Mike Faist, Josh Andrés Rivera, Ana Isabelle, Corey Stoll, Brian d'Arcy James, Rita Moreno

  2. Sian Heder
    "CODA" (Apple TV Plus)

    DIRECTOR: Sian Heder
    SYNOPSIS: As a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults) Ruby is the only hearing person in her deaf family. When the family's fishing business is threatened, Ruby finds herself torn between pursuing her love of music and her fear of abandoning her parents.
    STARRING: Emilia Jones, Troy Kotsur, Daniel Durant, Marlee Matlin, John Fiore, Eugenio Derbez, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Amy Forsyth, Kevin Chapman

  3. Jane Campion
    "The Power of the Dog (Netflix)

    DIRECTOR: Jane Campion
    SYNOPSIS: Charismatic rancher Phil Burbank inspires fear and awe in those around him. When his brother brings home a new wife and her son, Phil torments them until he finds himself exposed to the possibility of love.
    STARRING: Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, Thomasin McKenzie, Kodi Smit-McPhee

  4. Pedro Almodóvar
    "Parallel Mothers" (Sony Pictures Classics)

    DIRECTOR: Pedro Almodóvar
    SYNOPSIS: The story of two mothers who give birth the same day.
    STARRING: Penélope Cruz, Aitana Sánchez-Gijón, Israel Elejalde, Julieta Serrano, Rossy de Palma

  5. Asghar Farhadi
    "A Hero" (Amazon Studios)

    DIRECTOR: Asghar Farhadi
    SYNOPSIS: Rahim is in prison because of a debt he was unable to repay. During a two-day leave, he tries to convince his creditor to withdraw his complaint against the payment of part of the sum. But things don't go as planned.
    STARRING: Amir Jadidi, Mohsen Tanabandeh, Sarina Farhadi, Fereshteh Sadr Orafaie

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Flee Courtesy of NEON

TOP-TIER AWARDS CONTENDERS:

  1. Denis Villeneuve
    "Dune" (Warner Bros)

    DIRECTOR: Denis Villeneuve
    SYNOPSIS: Feature adaptation of Frank Herbert's science fiction novel, about the son of a noble family entrusted with the protection of the most valuable asset and most vital element in the galaxy.
    STARRING: Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Zendaya, David Dastmalchian, Chang Chen, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Charlotte Rampling, Jason Momoa, Javier Bardem

  2. Paul Thomas Anderson
    "Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson Project" (MGM/United Artists Releasing)

    DIRECTOR: Paul Thomas Anderson
    SYNOPSIS: Set in 1970s San Fernando Valley, the film follows a high school student, who is also a successful child actor.
    STARRING: Bradley Cooper, Cooper Hoffman, Alana Haim, Skyler Gisondo, Benny Safdie

  3. Aaron Sorkin
    "Being the Ricardos" (Amazon Studios)

    DIRECTOR: Aaron Sorkin
    SYNOPSIS: Follows Lucy and Desi as they face a crisis that could end their careers and another that could end their marriage.
    STARRING: Javier Bardem, Nicole Kidman, J.K. Simmons, Nina Arianda, Alia Shawkat, Jake Lacy, Clark Gregg, Tony Hale

  4. Denzel Washington
    "A Journal for Jordan" (Sony Pictures)

    DIRECTOR: Denzel Washington
    SYNOPSIS: 1st Sgt. Charles Monroe King, before he is killed in action in Baghdad, authors a journal for his son intended to tell him how to live a decent life despite growing up without a father.
    STARRING: Michael B. Jordan, Chanté Adams

  5. Reinaldo Marcus Green
    "King Richard" (Warner Bros)

    DIRECTOR: Reinaldo Marcus Green
    SYNOPSIS: A look at how tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams became who they are after the coaching from their father Richard Williams.
    STARRING: Will Smith, Aunjanue Ellis, Jon Bernthal, Saniyya Sidney, Demi Singleton, Tony Goldwyn, Dylan McDermott

  6. Jonas Poher Rasmussen
    "Flee" (Neon)

    DIRECTOR: Jonas Poher Rasmussen
    SYNOPSIS: "Flee" tells the extraordinary true story of a man, Amin, on the verge of marriage which compels him to reveal his hidden past for the first time.
    STARRING: Rashid Aitouganov

  7. Pablo Larraín
    "Spencer" (Neon)

    DIRECTOR: Pablo Larraín
    SYNOPSIS: During her Christmas holidays with the royal family at the Sandringham estate in Norfolk, England, Diana decides to leave her marriage to Prince Charles.
    STARRING: Kristen Stewart, Timothy Spall, Sally Hawkins, Sean Harris, Jack Farthing

  8. Paolo Sorrentino
    The Hand of God (Netflix)

    DIRECTOR: Paolo Sorrentino
    SYNOPSIS: Plot unknown. Set in Naples and said to be a very personal film.
    STARRING: Toni Servillo

  9. Joe Wright
    "Cyrano" (MGM/United Artists Releasing)

    DIRECTOR: Joe Wright
    SYNOPSIS: Follows the life of Cyrano de Bergerac.
    STARRING: Peter Dinklage, Haley Bennett, Ben Mendelsohn, Brian Tyree Henry, Kelvin Harrison Jr.

  10. Chloé Zhao
    "Eternals" (Marvel Studios)

    DIRECTOR: Chloé Zhao
    SYNOPSIS: The saga of the Eternals, a race of immortal beings who lived on Earth and shaped its history and civilizations.
    STARRING: Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lia McHugh, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, Don Lee, Gil Birmingham, Harish Patel, Kit Harington, Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie

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Screenshot Courtesy of Universal

ALSO IN CONTENTION:

  1. Stephen Chbosky
    "Dear Evan Hansen" (Universal Pictures)

    DIRECTOR: Stephen Chbosky
    SYNOPSIS: Film adaptation of the Tony and Grammy Award-winning musical about Evan Hansen, a high school senior with Social Anxiety disorder and his journey of self-discovery and acceptance following the suicide of a fellow classmate.
    STARRING: Ben Platt, Kaitlyn Dever, Amandla Stenberg, Nik Dodani, Colton Ryan, Danny Pino, Julianne Moore, Amy Adams

  2. Jeymes Samuel
    "The Harder They Fall" (Netflix)

    DIRECTOR: Jeymes Samuel
    SYNOPSIS: When an outlaw discovers his enemy is being released from prison, he reunites his gang to seek revenge in this Western.
    STARRING: Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Lakeith Stanfield, Regina King, Delroy Lindo, Zazie Beetz, RJ Cyler

  3. Jon M. Chu
    "In the Heights" (Warner Bros)

    DIRECTOR: Jon M. Chu
    SYNOPSIS: A film version of the Broadway musical in which Usnavi, a sympathetic New York bodega owner, saves every penny every day as he imagines and sings about a better life.
    STARRING: Anthony Ramos, Corey Hawkins, Leslie Grace, Melissa Barrera, Olga Merediz, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Gregory Diaz IV, Jimmy Smits

  4. Mike Mills
    "C'mon C'mon" (A24)

    DIRECTOR: Mike Mills
    SYNOPSIS
    : An artist embarks on a a cross-country trip with his young nephew.

    STARRING: Joaquin Phoenix, Gaby Hoffmann, Woody Norman, Jaboukie Young-White


  5. Kenneth Branagh
    "Belfast" (Focus Features)

    DIRECTOR: Kenneth Branagh
    SYNOPSIS: A young boy and his working class family experience the tumultuous late 1960s.
    STARRING: Judi Dench, Caitriona Balfe, Jamie Dornan, Ciarán Hinds, Jude Hill

  6. Justin Chon
    "Blue Bayou" (Focus Features)

    DIRECTOR: Justin Chon
    SYNOPSIS: As a Korean-American man raised in the Louisiana bayou works hard to make a life for his family, he must confront the ghosts of his past as he discovers that he could be deported from the only country he has ever called home.
    STARRING: Justin Chon, Alicia Vikander, Mark O'Brien, Emory Cohen

  7. Sean Baker
    "Red Rocket" (A24)

    DIRECTOR: Sean Baker
    SYNOPSIS: Mikey Saber is a washed-up porn star who returns to his small Texas hometown, not that anyone really wants him back.
    STARRING: Simon Rex, Bree Elrod, Suzanna Son

  8. George Clooney
    "The Tender Bar" (Amazon Studios)

    DIRECTOR: George Clooney
    SYNOPSIS: A boy growing up on Long Island seeks out father figures among the patrons at his uncle's bar.
    STARRING: Ben Affleck, Tye Sheridan, Lily Rabe, Christopher Lloyd, Sondra James, Max Martini, Michael Braun, Matthew Delamater, Max Casella, Rhenzy Feliz, Ivan Leung, Briana Middleton, Daniel Ranieri

  9. Ridley Scott
    "The Last Duel" (20th Century Studios)

    DIRECTOR: Ridley Scott
    SYNOPSIS: King Charles VI declares that Knight Jean de Carrouges settle his dispute with his squire by challenging him to a duel.
    STARRING: Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer, Ben Affleck

  10. Wes Anderson
    "The French Dispatch" (Searchlight Pictures)

    DIRECTOR: Wes Anderson
    SYNOPSIS: A love letter to journalists set in an outpost of an American newspaper in a fictional twentieth century French city that brings to life a collection of stories published in "The French Dispatch Magazine."
    STARRING: Benicio del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Lyna Khoudri, Jeffrey Wright, Mathieu Amalric, Stephen Park, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson

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Courtesy of Focus Features

MORE AWARDS CONTENDERS:

  1. Edgar Wright
    "Last Night in Soho" (Focus Features)

    DIRECTOR: Edgar Wright
    SYNOPSIS: A young girl, passionate about fashion design, is mysteriously able to enter the 1960s where she encounters her idol, a dazzling wannabe singer. But 1960s London is not what it seems, and time seems to fall apart with shady consequences.
    STARRING: Thomasin McKenzie, Anya Taylor-Joy, Matt Smith, Diana Rigg, Rita Tushingham, Terrence Stamp

  2. Rebecca Hall
    "Passing" (Netflix)

    DIRECTOR: Rebecca Hall
    SYNOPSIS: "Passing" follows the unexpected reunion of two high school friends, whose renewed acquaintance ignites a mutual obsession that threatens both of their carefully constructed realities.
    STARRING: Tessa Thompson, Ruth Negga, André Holland, Alexander Skarsgård, Bill Camp

  3. Fran Kranz
    "Mass" (Bleecker Street)

    DIRECTOR: Fran Kranz
    SYNOPSIS: Aftermath of a violent tragedy that affects the lives of two couples in different ways.
    STARRING: Jason Isaacs, Martha Plimpton, Ann Dowd, Reed Birney

  4. Paul Schrader
    "The Card Counter" (Focus Features)

    DIRECTOR: Paul Schrader
    SYNOPSIS: A gambler attempts to give guidance to a young man who is out for revenge against a mutual enemy.
    STARRING: Oscar Isaac, Tye Sheridan, Tiffany Haddish, Willem Dafoe

  5. Janicza Bravo
    "Zola" (A24)

    DIRECTOR: Janicza Bravo
    SYNOPSIS: A stripper named Zola embarks on a wild road trip to Florida.
    STARRING: Taylour Paige, Riley Keough, Nicholas Braun, Ari'el Stachel, Colman Domingo

  6. Will Sharpe
    "The Electrical Life of Louis Wain" (Amazon Studios)

    DIRECTOR: Will Sharpe
    SYNOPSIS: English artist Louis Wain rises to prominence at the end of the 19th century for his surreal cat paintings.
    STARRING: Benedict Cumberbatch, Claire Foy, Andrea Riseborough, Toby Jones, Sharon Rooney

  7. Destin Daniel Cretton
    "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" (Marvel Studios)

    DIRECTOR: Destin Daniel Cretton
    SYNOPSIS: Shang-Chi, the master of unarmed weaponry based Kung Fu, is forced to confront his past after being drawn into the Ten Rings organization.
    STARRING: Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Tony Leung, Michelle Yeoh, Fala Chen, Meng'er Zhang, Florian Munteanu, Ronny Chieng

  8. Eva Husson
    "Mothering Sunday" (Sony Pictures Classics)

    DIRECTOR: Eva Husson
    SYNOPSIS: A maid living in post-World War I England secretly plans to meet with the man she loves before he leaves to marry another woman.
    STARRING: Odessa Young, Josh O'Connor, Olivia Colman, Colin Firth, Sope Dirisu, Glenda Jackson

  9. Maggie Gyllenhaal
    "The Lost Daughter" (No U.S. Distribution)

    DIRECTOR: Maggie Gyllenhaal
    SYNOPSIS: A woman's beach vacation takes a dark turn when she begins to confront the troubles of her past.
    STARRING: Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley, Dakota Johnson, Peter Sarsgaard, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Ed Harris

  10. Clint Eastwood
    "Cry Macho" (Warner Bros)

    DIRECTOR: Clint Eastwood
    SYNOPSIS: A one-time rodeo star and washed-up horse breeder takes a job to bring a man's young son home and away from his alcoholic mom. On their journey, the horseman finds redemption through teaching the boy what it means to be a good man.
    STARRING: Clint Eastwood, Dwight Yoakam, Eduardo Minett

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Neon

ALL AWARDS CONTENDERS (UNRANKED):

AWARDS CATEGORY HISTORY (Best Director)

The Academy Awards, better known as the Oscars, is Hollywood’s most prestigious artistic award in the film industry. The most awarded films in Oscar history are “Ben-Hur,” “Titanic” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” at 11 statuettes. The most nominated films in Academy history are “All About Eve,” “Titanic” and “La La Land” at 14. “La La Land” is the only film of the three to have lost best picture. The biggest Oscar “losers,” meaning most nominated and walk away with zero awards, are 1977’s “The Turning Point” and 1985’s “The Color Purple” at 11 each. John Ford has the most wins in this category with four, with Frank Capra and William Wyler behind with three. Wyler has the most nominations of any director with 12, with Martin Scorsese next in line with nine. Clint Eastwood was the oldest winner in Oscar history at 74 when he won for “Million Dollar Baby” (2004), while the oldest nominee ever is John Huston at 79 when he was nominated for “Prizzi’s Honor.” The youngest winner in history is Damien Chazelle for “La La Land” (2016) at 32, while John Singleton was the youngest nominee of all-time at 24 when he was shortlisted for “Boyz N in the Hood.” (1991).


2022 Academy Awards Predictions

  • Best Picture
  • Best Director
  • Best Actor
  • Best Actress
  • Best Supporting Actor
  • Best Supporting Actress
  • Best Original Screenplay
  • Best Adapted Screenplay
  • Best Animated Feature
  • Best Production Design
  • Best Cinematography
  • Best Costume Design
  • Best Film Editing
  • Best Makeup and Hairstyling
  • Best Sound
  • Best Visual Effects
  • Best Original Score
  • Best Original Song
  • Best Documentary Feature
  • Best International Feature
  • Best Animated Short
  • Best Documentary Short
  • Best Live-Action Short

2021 Oscars predictions are here.

About the Academy Awards (Oscars)

The Academy Awards, better known as the Oscars, is Hollywood’s most prestigious artistic award in the film industry. Since 1927, nominees and winners are selected by members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). 17 branches are represented within the near 10,000 person membership. The branches are actors, associates, casting directors, cinematographers, costume designers, directors, documentary, executives, film editors, makeup and hairstylists, marketing and public relations, members-at-large, members-at-large (artists’ representatives), music, producers, production design, short films and feature animation, sound, visual effects and writers.

  • The date for the 94th Oscars will be held on Sunday, March 27, 2022

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