Kathryn Bigelow & Benh Zeitlin Are Best Director Favorites + Michael Haneke Surprisingly Bypassed

Zero Dark Thirty Chris Pratt Joel Edgerton: Kathryn Bigelow Best Director front-runnerZero Dark Thirty with Chris Pratt and Joel Edgerton. With ten wins and two nominations to date, Kathryn Bigelow is the top Best Director choice this awards season for the controversial “war on terror” thriller Zero Dark Thirty, about a dogged CIA analyst (Jessica Chastain) and the hunt for Osama bin Laden. This is her second year at the top: during the 2009–2010 awards season, she was the runaway favorite for the Iraq War drama The Hurt Locker, which ultimately earned her the Best Director Academy Award. Earlier this month, Kathryn Bigelow became the National Board of Review's first female Best Director winner.

Kathryn Bigelow is Best Director front-runner

(See previous post: Awards season favorites include Anne Hathaway, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and two political thrillers pitting U.S. government vs. Islamic radicals.) Kathryn Bigelow is the 2012–2013 awards season's Best Director front-runner for the political thriller Zero Dark Thirty, about the hunt for and eventual assassination of Osama bin Laden.

The Best Screenplay category (original and/or adapted) has four movies running neck and neck: Argo (written by Chris Terrio), Zero Dark Thirty (Mark Boal), Lincoln (Tony Kushner), and Looper (Rian Johnson).

When Kathryn Bigelow made Oscar history

Back in late 2009/early 2010, Kathryn Bigelow was also the top Best Director pick – for the Iraq War drama The Hurt Locker. She eventually went on to become the first woman to take home the Best Director Academy Award.

Unlike Bigelow, that film's screenwriter, Mark Boal, faced some tough competition during awards season. But just like Bigelow, he ultimately came out on top at the Oscar ceremony. The Hurt Locker was also the year's Best Picture.

See below the 2012–2013 awards season's Best Director & Best First Film/Breakthrough Director favorites.

See also our initial post on the 2012–2013 awards season favorites, in which we discuss Jessica Chastain vs. Jennifer Lawrence for Best Actress, Daniel Day-Lewis as the runaway Best Actor choice, and ParaNorman as the animated feature fave.

    List of Best Director favorites

  • Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty with 10 wins: Boston, Chicago, Dallas-Ft. Worth, National Board of Review, Nevada (tied with Ben Affleck for Argo), New York, New York Online, Phoenix, San Francisco, Washington. Plus 2 nominations: Critics' Choice, Golden Globes.
  • Ben Affleck for Argo with 6 wins: Florida, Nevada (tied with Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty), Oklahoma, St. Louis, San Diego, Southeastern. Plus 2 nominations: Critics' Choice, Golden Globes.
  • Paul Thomas Anderson for The Master with 3 wins: Austin, Los Angeles, Toronto.
  • David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook with 2 wins: Detroit, Satellite Awards. Plus 2 nominations: Critics' Choice, Spirit Awards.
  • Ang Lee for Life of Pi with 2 wins: Kansas City, Las Vegas. Plus 2 nominations: Critics' Choice, Golden Globes.
  • Michael Haneke for Amour with 2 wins (neither one in the U.S.): Dublin, European Film Awards.
  • Wes Anderson for Moonrise Kingdom with 1 win: Utah. Plus 1 nomination: Spirit Awards.
  • Quentin Tarantino for Django Unchained with 1 win: Indiana. Plus 1 nomination: Golden Globes.
  • Steven Spielberg for Lincoln with 2 nominations: Critics' Choice, Golden Globes.
  • Tom Hooper for Les Misérables with 1 nomination: Critics' Choice.
  • Julia Loktev for The Loneliest Planet with 1 nomination: Spirit Awards.
  • Ira Sachs for Keep the Lights On with 1 nomination: Spirit Awards.
  • Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild with 1 nomination: Spirit Awards.
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    List of Best First Film/Breakthrough Director favorites

  • Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild with 10 wins: Austin, Chicago, Gotham, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, National Board of Review, New York Online, Oklahoma, Phoenix, Toronto (with Panos Cosmatos for Beyond the Black Rainbow).
  • David France for How to Survive a Plague with 2 wins: Boston, New York.
  • Gareth Evans for The Raid: Redemption with 1 win: Dublin.
  • Panos Cosmatos for Beyond the Black Rainbow with 1 win: Toronto (with Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild).

Michael Haneke & 'Amour': Glaring Best Director & Best Screenplay omissions

The one major omission in both the Best Director and Best Screenplay categories (see further below) is Best Director European Film Award winner Michael Haneke for his enthusiastically received old-age drama Amour, starring veterans Jean-Louis Trintignant (Z, My Night at Maud's), Emmanuelle Riva (Hiroshima Mon Amour, Kapò), and Isabelle Huppert (Coup de Torchon, Entre Nous).

Haneke's absence is particularly puzzling since Amour has been – by far – this awards season's favorite Best Foreign Language Film (see previous post), in addition to having been selected as the Los Angeles Film Critics Association's Best Picture. (Update: Haneke has finally received Best Director honors this awards season – but in Dublin, Ireland.)

Also worth noting, this year's Sundance Film Festival's Best Director – U.S. Dramatic winner was Ava DuVernay for Middle of Nowhere. Both DuVernay and her little-seen indie drama have been mostly bypassed this awards season.

Chris Terrio Argo Ben Affleck: Master of Disguise + The Great Escape meets HollywoodChris Terrio with Ben Affleck: Argo screenwriter and the film's director/star/co-producer. Antonio J. Mendez and Malcolm McConnell's book The Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA (no connection to the 2002 Dana Carvey comedy The Master of Disguise) and Joshuah Bearman's Wired article “The Great Escape” (no connection to John Sturges' 1963 adventure thriller) served as the basis for Chris Terrio's real-life-inspired, Hollywood-embellished Argo screenplay, about the rescue of six U.S. embassy employees after the Iranian Revolution of 1979.

List of Best Screenplay (Original or Adapted) favorites

Directed and co-produced by Ben Affleck, who also stars as CIA technical operations officer Antonio J. Mendez, Argo is to date this awards season's top pick in the Best Screenplay category, followed by another America vs. Radical Muslims political thriller, Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty; Rian Johnson's adventure sci-fier Looper; and Steven Spielberg's historical drama Lincoln.

In addition to Best Original Screenplay Oscar co-winner Ben Affleck (with Matt Damon for Good Will Hunting, 1997), the Argo cast features Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, and Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner Alan Arkin (Little Miss Sunshine, 2006). Affleck also produced the film, along with Grant Heslov and George Clooney.

As for Chris Terrio, he has two previous screenwriting credits: additional material for the 2005 romantic drama Heights, which he also directed, and the 2002 short Book of Kings.

Note: Some groups have only one screenplay category; others have two: original and adapted.

  • Chris Terrio for Argo with 8 wins: Austin, Florida, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Oklahoma, Phoenix, San Diego, Southeastern. Plus 2 nominations: Critics' Choice, Golden Globes.
  • Mark Boal for Zero Dark Thirty with 6 wins: Chicago, Dallas-Ft. Worth, New York Online, San Francisco, Satellite Awards, St. Louis. Plus 2 nominations: Critics' Choice, Golden Globes.
  • Rian Johnson for Looper with 6 wins: Austin, Florida, Las Vegas, National Board of Review, Utah, Washington. Plus 1 nomination: Critics' Choice.
  • Tony Kushner for Lincoln with 5 wins: Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, St. Louis (tied with Silver Linings Playbook). Plus 2 nominations: Critics' Choice, Golden Globes.
  • David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook with 4 wins: Detroit, National Board of Review, St. Louis (tied with Lincoln), Washington. Plus 3 nominations: Critics' Choice, Golden Globes, Spirit Awards.
  • Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola for Moonrise Kingdom with 3 wins: Oklahoma, Phoenix, Southeastern. Plus 2 nominations: Critics' Choice, Spirit Awards.
  • Paul Thomas Anderson for The Master with 3 wins: Kansas City, San Diego, Toronto. Plus 1 nomination: Critics' Choice.
  • Stephen Chbosky for The Perks of Being a Wallflower with 2 wins: Indiana, Utah. Plus 1 nomination: Critics' Choice.
  • Derek Connolly for Safety Not Guaranteed with 2 wins: Indiana, Sundance.
  • David Magee for Life of Pi with 1 win: Satellite Awards. Plus 1 nomination: Critics' Choice.
  • Quentin Tarantino for Django Unchained with 2 nominations: Critics' Choice, Golden Globes.
  • John Gatins for Flight with 1 nomination: Critics' Choice.
  • Zoe Kazan for Ruby Sparks with 1 nomination: Spirit Awards.
  • Martin McDonagh for Seven Psychopaths with 1 nomination: Spirit Awards.
  • Ira Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias for Keep the Lights On with 1 nomination: Spirit Awards.
Searching for Sugar Man Rodriguez. Malik Bendjelloul Best Documentary favoriteSearching for Sugar Man with Rodriguez. This awards season's clear Best Documentary favorite, Swedish filmmaker Malik Bendjelloul's Searching for Sugar Man traces the steps taken by two South African fans of Detroit-born singer Rodriguez in their late 1990s search for their – is he alive or is he dead? – icon. Following its debut at the Sundance Film Festival early this year, Searching for Sugar Man became the recipient of the Special Jury Prize and the Audience Award for best international documentary.

'Searching for Sugar Man' is Best Documentary favorite

Malik Bendjelloul's Searching for Sugar Man, the Special Jury Prize winner at this year's Sundance Film Festival and a potential Oscar 2013 contender, is the top Best Documentary Feature choice so far this awards season. This particular category, by the way, is probably the most diverse of all: 14 titles have won at least one award.

Curiously, Eugene Jarecki's Sundance winner and Oscar semi-finalist The House I Live In is not one of the winners/nominees listed below. Just as curiously, Jafar Panahi's widely acclaimed This Is Not a Film is another absentee.

Of the documentaries found below, those not in contention for a Best Documentary Feature Oscar nomination are: The Central Park Five, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present, The Queen of Versailles, Stories We Tell, and West of Memphis.

Note from the editor: This Is Not a Film was not submitted to the IDA Awards or to most U.S. critics groups, though the New York, Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco film critics did receive screeners. As a non-U.S. effort, it was ineligible for the Gotham and Spirit Awards.

    List of Best Documentary favorites

  • Malik Bendjelloul's Searching for Sugar Man with 7 wins: Dallas-Ft. Worth, Indiana, International Documentary Association, National Board of Review, Oklahoma, Phoenix, St. Louis. Plus 1 nomination: Critics' Choice.
  • Bart Layton's The Imposter with 3 wins: Austin, British Independent Film Awards, Kansas City. Plus 1 nomination: Critics' Choice.
  • Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon's The Central Park Five with 2 wins: New York, New York Online. Plus 2 nominations: Critics' Choice, Spirit Awards.
  • Lee Hirsch's Bully with 2 wins: Las Vegas, Washington. Plus 1 nomination: Critics' Choice.
  • David France's How to Survive a Plague with 2 wins: Boston, Gotham. Plus 1 nomination: Spirit Awards.
  • Kirby Dick's The Invisible War with 2 wins: Chicago, San Diego. Plus 1 nomination: Spirit Awards.
  • Lauren Greenfield's The Queen of Versailles with 2 wins: Florida, Southeastern. Plus 1 nomination: Critics' Choice.
  • Matthew Akers and Jeff Dupre's Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present with 1 win: Dublin. Plus 1 nomination: Spirit Awards.
  • Peter Nicks' The Waiting Room with 1 win: San Francisco. Plus 1 nomination: Spirit Awards.
  • Jeff Orlowski's Chasing Ice with 1 win: Satellite.
  • Dror Moreh's The Gatekeepers with 1 win: Los Angeles.
  • Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky's Indie Game: The Movie with 1 win: Utah.
  • David Gelb's Jiro Dreams of Sushi with 1 win: Detroit.
  • Sarah Polley's Stories We Tell with 1 win: Toronto.
  • Amy J. Berg's West of Memphis with 1 nomination: Critics' Choice.
Life of Pi Suraj Sharma: Best Cinematography fave Claudio MirandaLife of Pi with Suraj Sharma. Ang Lee's 3D adventure/survival drama Life of Pi is mostly set inside a lifeboat ultimately carrying two shipwreck survivors: Suraj Sharma and a CGI Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. Within these confines – the small boat, the Pacific Ocean, the sky above – Chilean cinematographer Claudio Miranda's work has earned him more Best Cinematography mentions than anyone else this awards season. Alfred Hitchcock and cinematographer Glen MacWilliams tried something similar – minus the 3D, color, and the tiger – in his thriller Lifeboat (1944), starring Tallulah Bankhead, John Hodiak, and evil Nazi Walter Slezak.

Best Cinematography + Best Music & Best Editing front-runners

Ang Lee's Life of Pi, Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master, and Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty are this awards season's leads in, respectively, the Best Cinematography, Best Music, and Best Editing categories.

Life of Pi cinematographer Claudio Miranda has a total of seven wins, The Master composer Jonny Greenwood has three, and Zero Dark Thirty film editors William Goldenberg and Dylan Tichenor have four.

Additionally, Goldenberg has three other Best Editing wins for his work on Ben Affleck's Argo.

This year's Sundance Film Festival winner in the Best Cinematography – U.S. Dramatic category was Ben Richardson for Beasts of the Southern Wild. Richardson, however, is not listed below as he hasn't received any awards season accolades.

Note: The Django Unchained and Moonrise Kingdom scores are not in the running for the 2013 Academy Awards. Moonrise Kingdom composer Alexandre Desplat, however, remains in contention for his work on Argo, Rise of the Guardians, and Zero Dark Thirty.

    List of Best Cinematography favorites

  • Claudio Miranda for Ang Lee's Life of Pi with 10 wins: Dallas-Ft. Worth, Las Vegas, Nevada, New York Online, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, Satellite Awards, Southeastern, Washington. Plus 1 nomination: Critics' Choice.
  • Roger Deakins for Sam Mendes' Skyfall with 4 wins: Los Angeles, Florida, St. Louis, Utah. Plus 1 nomination: Critics' Choice.
  • Mihai Milaimare Jr. for Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master with 3 wins: Austin, Boston, Chicago. Plus 1 nomination: Critics' Choice.
  • Greig Fraser for Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty with 1 win: New York.
  • Janusz Kaminski for Steven Spielberg's Lincoln with 1 nomination: Critics' Choice.
  • Danny Cohen for Tom Hooper's Les Misérables with 1 nomination: Critics' Choice.
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    List of Best Music favorites

  • Jonny Greenwood for Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master with 3 wins: Chicago, San Diego, Washington. Plus 1 nomination: Critics' Choice.
  • Alexandre Desplat for Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom with 2 wins: Boston, St. Louis (tied with Mary Ramos for Django Unchained). Plus 1 nomination: Critics' Choice.
  • Mary Ramos for Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained with 2 wins: New York Online, St. Louis (tied with Alexandre Desplat for Moonrise Kingdom).
  • Thomas Newman for Sam Mendes' Skyfall with 2 wins: Indiana, Phoenix.
  • Alexandre Desplat for Ben Affleck's Argo with 1 win: Satellite Awards. 2 nominations: Critics' Choice, Golden Globes.
  • Mychael Danna for Ang Lee's Life of Pi with 1 win: Las Vegas. 2 nominations: Critics' Choice, Golden Globes.
  • John Williams for Steven Spielberg's Lincoln with 1 win: Dallas-Ft. Worth. 2 nominations: Critics' Choice, Golden Globes.
  • Tom Tykwer, Reinhold Heil, and Johnny Klimek for Tykwer and Andy and Lana Wachowski's Cloud Atlas with 1 win: Austin. Plus 1 nomination: Golden Globes.
  • Dan Romer and Benh Zeitlin for Zeitlin's Beasts of the Southern Wild with 1 win: Los Angeles.
  • Dario Marianelli for Joe Wright's Anna Karenina with 1 nomination: Golden Globes.
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    List of Best Editing favorites

  • William Goldenberg and Dylan Tichenor for Zero Dark Thirty with 4 wins: Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles. Plus 1 nomination: Critics' Choice.
  • William Goldenberg for Argo with 3 wins: Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco. Plus 1 nomination: Critics' Choice.
  • Jay Cassidy for David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook with 1 win: Satellite Awards.
  • Tim Squyres for Life of Pi with 1 nomination: Critics' Choice.
  • Michael Kahn for Lincoln with 1 nomination: Critics' Choice.
  • Melanie Ann Oliver and Chris Dickens for Tom Hooper's Les Misérables with 1 nomination: Critics' Choice.

 

Los Angeles Film Critics Association website.

Image of Joel Edgerton and Chris Pratt in Best Director favorite Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty: Columbia Pictures.

Chris Terrio and Ben Affleck Argo image: Warner Bros.

Rodriguez Searching for Sugar Man image: StudioCanal.

Suraj Sharma Life of Pi image: 20th Century Fox.

“Kathryn Bigelow & Benh Zeitlin Are Best Director Favorites + Michael Haneke Surprisingly Bypassed” last updated in July 2018.

  Kathryn Bigelow & Benh Zeitlin Are Best Director Favorites + Michael Haneke Surprisingly Bypassed © 2004–2018 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s).
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{ 2 Comments }

  1. Alt Film Guide says:

    @Amy Grey

    We should be adding the more winners/nominees when this awards season series is updated.

  2. amy grey says:

    Dear ALT Guide – Can you please correct THE WAITING ROOM as it has:

    SF (won)
    camden (won)
    It is nominated for two indie spirit awards
    gotham (nominated)
    SF critics (won)

    Thank you so much! Happy Holidays!