2. Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty)
3. Ben Affleck (Argo)
4. Tom Hooper (Les Misérables)
5. Michael Haneke (Amour)
Alternative: David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook)
My brain tells me that leaving Ang Lee (Life of Pi) off the list is not smart as his films is one of the most visually impressive of the year and that's a key factor in this race. It is very... Directed. But I'll go with my gut and assume that the directors' branch likes to see itself as high-minded and will go for the man behind the year's most acclaimed foreign film. With LAFCA choosing homeboy Paul Thomas Anderson for The Master could the voters be persuaded to give the American auteur their fifth spot? Possibly, but then again, LAFCA was always going to stand up for Anderson, so that's a non-event. Could Hooper fall off the list? I say no, but stranger things have happened.
Best Original Screenplay
2. Amour (Michael Haneke)
3. Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola)
4. The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson)
5. Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino)
Alternative: Looper (Rian Johnson)
Looper has enjoyed a healthy dose of support from the early rounds of critics' awards, but there is absolutely no overlap between the Academy and those bodies. Django Unchained, a film I'd written off on the account of the majority of Tarantino's film not sitting well with the Academy, has now become a real threat in many races, this one included. It will have to fight for the final slot, however, as I see no way the top four films can fall. Yes, even the foreign entry Amour has a stronger shot here than with the directors and the voters are aware of that. I'm confident they won't let Haneke down.
Best Adapted Screenplay
2. Argo (Chris Terrio)
3. Silver Linings Playbook (David O. Russell)
4. Beasts of the Southern Wild (Lucy Alibar, Ben Zeitlin)
5. The Sessions (Ben Lewin)
Alternative: Life of Pi (David Magee)
Possibly a competitive category for the win, but in the nomination stage I see few films outside the top six that can really pose a threat. Anna Karenina seems destined for crafts nominations only. Les Misérables will hardly be a factor given the nature of the dialogue. Perks of Being a Wallflower skews too young to appeal to voters. On the Road wasn't a big enough hit and Bernie, for all its critical approval is too small to register with the Academy.