Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
Alexander Payne, Nebraska
David O. Russell, American Hustle
CERTAINTIES: McQueen and Cuaron — the Oscar race is really between them, at least so far.
SURPRISES: Paul Greengrass had shifted into the background in the director race, especially given the eagerness of voters to see The Wolf of Wall Street from Martin Scorsese and the the growing momentum behind Spike Jonze for Her. This is a sign that his tense thriller made a deep impression with at least one group of voters.
SNUBS: No Jonze, and no Marty. The director’s branch of the Academy is a very different group from the Globes, and much more interested in experimentation and innovation. I’d expect at least two of the names on this list to be different come Oscar nominations morning.
PRIZE FIGHTER SCORE: 3 for 5. I had Cuaron and McQueen, but those were gimmes. Payne was a longer call, but the HFPA has a long history of adoration for him. I’m surprised they chose Russell over Scorsese, once again simply because Scorsese is the more famous of the two. And I thought the Globe voters would continue their love affair with the Coen brothers for Inside Llewyn Davis, but instead they went for Greengrass. In this category, I missed where it counted — on the tricky ones.